Maple Butter Tarts. This is Butter Tarts 2.0! A delicious twist on a Canadian favourite, using a new method to intensify the maple flavour.
After tasting many versions over the years, I finally got down to perfecting my own version of Maple Butter Tarts. They turned out to be the best I’ve ever tasted.
If you’ve done any travelling across the country at all, you will soon see that butter tarts are a real national favourite. By favourite, I mean obsession, of course.
Particularly in the eastern half of the country, during my many road trips over the years, they can be found practically everywhere. From gas pit stops, to farmers markets to local bakeries and restaurants, these temping sweet tarts abound.
Venerable Canadian snack cake company Vachon, even makes a version under it’s brand umbrella. And if Vachon makes them, they rightly deserve to be called a Canadian ico.
I’ve written about these phenomenal sweet treats before in my incredibly popular recipe for Classic Canadian Butter Tarts. The recipe always gets a good flow of traffic to it, but during any holiday season, the website hits go through the roof.
A Canadian icon.
Whether it is Easter, Thanksgiving, Canada Day, or even Labour Day, Canadians flock to this recipe. During the Christmas Holiday season however, this recipe explodes in popularity on Rock Recipes.
It seems every year, the searches for butter tarts trend steadily upward as the Holiday season approaches. In the last week before Christmas, they will be in our top ten recipes, often in the top 3.
It seems that when Canadians celebrate, butter tarts are always there.
I have come across many variations over the years too, like Loaded Butter Tarts. Many versions just add an individual ingredient to share centre stage with the flaky pastry and sweet filling.
Pecans walnuts, chocolate chips, or currents are often added to the base recipe to create personal favourite versions. None could be more iconically Canadian though, than Maple Butter Tarts. That red maple leaf on our flag is there for a reason. 🙂
Maple Butter Tarts, perfecting the recipe.
My first criterion for maple butter tarts was simple. They have to taste like real maple!
That may seem obvious, but with brown sugar also adding a sweet flavour element, it would be easy to lose some of the maple in the competing flavours. My solution? Simmer the Maple Syrup to decrease it in volume but intensify it in flavour.
Simmering the maple syrup also has another major benefit. It makes a thicker syrup, which can be important to the texture of the filling.
In my traditional recipe, corn syrup is used, which of course is far less runny than pure maple syrup. This can lead to a runny centre, which is fine if you like it. I have zero objection to it myself, I think it is a delicious part of the enjoyment.
The debate over a runny vs firm centre in butter tarts has raged for decades. I won’t step into that fray in this recipe, it’s too close to the Holidays to court that sort of controversy. 🙂 I’ll just say that it’s another way we are passionate about our butter tarts.
The end product.
Other than the thickened Maple syrup, there are no other changes to my basic butter tart recipe. I didn’t feel it needed any.
In my opinion the pastry used in the recipe was already perfect. Using both butter and shortening in the recipe yields a pastry that is both strong enough t0o hold the filling while crumbling to tender buttery perfection in the mouth. It doesn’t get better than that.
My confession is that I ate three of them as soon as they were cooled down. Spouse and number one son, both declared them to be the best butter tarts ever.
I did manage to save the rest to share with my parents on a visit to them the net day. Both of them and my aunt and uncle, who also came for lunch, absolutely loved them.
believe me, there were some ardent butter tart fans in that group and if they give them a rave review, this recipe is certainly worth a try. I’m sure you will love them as much as everyone else does.
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For the Pastry
- 2 ¼ cups flour, pastry flour is best to use but all-purpose will do
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/2 cup shortening, Very cold and cut in cubes
- 1/2 cup butter, Very cold and cut in cubes
- 6 tbsp ice water, approximately, enough to bring the dough together
For the Filling
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup pure maple syrup (simmered down to a half cup; see instructions)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
To prepare the maple syrup
- Start by simmering the maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium low heat.
- Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the maple syrup has reduced to a half cup. Cool the maple syrup to room temperature before using it in the recipe.
To prepare the pastry
- Pulse the cold butter and shortening into the flour sugar and salt using a food processor until the shortening or butter is reduced to pea sized pieces.
- Sprinkle the water over the surface and toss with a fork until the water is just incorporated into the dough. Do not overwork the dough; handle it only enough so that the dough stays together.
- Form the dough into two rounds about an inch thick.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about a half hour.
- Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut into rounds with 4-5 inch cutter. (I use a 5 inch cutter)
- Fit the pastry circles into muffin cups.
- Chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling. Cold pastry heading into a hot oven will always be flakier.
To make the filling
- Combine all filling ingredients & whisk together well.
- Fill 2/3 to 3/4 full with syrup mixture.
- Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Cool completely on a wire rack and remove tarts from from pans.
I've added no raisins, currents, chocolate chips or other ingredients to the tarts. You can, of course, add some to the bottom of the pastry cases before adding the filling.
Amount Per Serving Calories 350Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 51mgSodium 248mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 1gSugar 19gProtein 3g
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.