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Classic Butter Tarts with Raisins Recipe

Classic Butter Tarts with Raisins Recipe: My grandma’s famous recipe, a Canadian classic.

Butter Tarts with Raisins Recipe: My grandma's famous recipe, a Canadian classic. We love our butter tarts with raisins added to them.

I recently learned that Butter Tarts are a Canadian thing.  All I can say to my American readers is you’ve been missing out.  I appreciate some of your specialties…the Olive Garden, Target, Hobby Lobby, Disney World.  But, right up there with some of the great Canadian contributions to the world, like maple syrup and back bacon, are butter tarts!

What Are Butter Tarts?

Butter tarts are a little bit hard to describe if you’ve never had the pleasure of having one.  The filling is made from butter, syrup, egg, and sugar.  It’s typically a bit runny.  Butter tart filling is similar but not quite the same as a pecan pie filling, but with less or no nuts, and no cornstarch or flour used to thicken it.  Butter tarts truly a Canadian fare.  The earliest published recipe dates to 1900.  It was published from Barrie, Ont. in a Women’s Auxiliary cookbook.  It may have been an adaptation of sugar pie, influenced by French immigrants in Quebec, American pecan pie from the southern states, treacle pie from the UK, or shoofly pie made with molasses from the Pennsylvania Dutch.  Perhaps early settlers were influenced by the ingredients available to them and developed the recipe for the gooey filling with maple syrup.   Today it’s often made with dark corn syrup. Butter tarts have become a Canadian tradition, and one of my favorite quintessential Canadian dessert recipes.

 Canadian butter tarts are very sweet, but the flaky tart pastry provides some contrast and relief to the runny sugary filling.  They come as plain tarts, with raisins, or with nuts.  Which kind is best is a great debate.

Butter Tarts with Raisins Recipe

This is the butter tart recipe that my mom makes and my grandma used to make.  At every family holiday or special occasion her famous butter tarts are always on the menu! When I was a little girl my mom often baked pies, secretly I always hoped she would use the leftover pastry dough and make us a dozen or two of these little beauties.  Which she often did.

how to make Butter Tarts with Raisins

I’d have to say they are one of my absolute favourites, and a real Canadian treat.

Pie Pastry 

I had tried to make them a few times in the past, but I’ve usually been a little disappointed in them because of the pie crusts.  The filling is a winner, winner, but the pastry shells, are a bit tricky to get tender and flaky.  My mom is AMAZING at making flaky crust…me, not so much.  She has tried to encourage me, eating my attempts and praising me.  Last time I made my own pastry and it didn’t turn out great, she promised I was just not using her pie crust recipe.  So I went back to her tested and true favourite pie pastry recipe, it’s the Crisco No-Fail Pie Crust.  And it didn’t fail me.  You can use this pastry recipe for the tarts shells, use frozen ones, or use your own favourite pastry recipe

rolling out pastry for tarts

Now that I’ve secured the perfect pastry recipe; on to the filling….  My mom learned to make them with her grandmother, she even still uses my great grandma’s old tart tins.  And the tart tins that I use, were actually my grandmas, so it’s a little sentimental for me.  

Tart Pans or Muffin Pans

We always make these in tart pans.  Lots of people like to use muffin tin pans for butter tarts.  You do get more runny filling with a muffin cups, but you also get more pastry, because the sides typically have to kind of fold over.  Tart pans are more shallow, but along with less filling they also use less dough as the crust.  In my opinion making these in a tart pan makes a much for delicate, tender butter tart.  And again in my opinion they’re superior.  I was raised with them made this way, so that might account for some of my preference, but I do think they’re just better proportions.  Some people even make these as tart squares, similar to pecan pie bard, but again it’s a question of proportions of filling to crust, that make the tarts the best option.

Raisins or No Raisins

In our family, we always make butter tarts with raisins.  You can make them without raisins if you prefer.  Others make them plain or sometimes use nuts.  I like them best with raisins -but I have to say -I’ve never really met a butter tart I didn’t like.  I think the raisins add a little bit of texture and tiny bit of tartness to this very sweet little tart.  Raisins or no raisins, nuts or plain is hotly debated by many Canadians.

filling pastry with butter tart mixture

Yield: 2 Dozen Tarts

Butter Tarts with Raisins

Butter Tarts with Raisins Recipe: My grandma's famous recipe, a Canadian classic. We love our butter tarts with raisins added to them.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of double crust pie pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp corn syrup
  • 4 tbsp soft butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. To make the filling, combine the egg, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, salt, raisins, and milk in a large bowl, and stir to combine well.
  2. Prepare 2 dozen tart shells from pie dough, and fill with about 1 tbsp of filling, depending on their size.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
  4. Remove from the pan while they are still hot as the filling becomes sticky as they cool.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 1g
fresh Butter Tarts with Raisins

Take care when you’re filling your tart shells with the butter tart filling not to overfill the tart shells.  If you do they may overflow and then cause the tart to stick the tart tin, and break when trying to remove them.

Store these butter tarts in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.

Butter Tarts

The tart filling for these butter tarts is not typically that runny.  Again it’s a matter of opinion how runny the filling should be.  I prefer these more firm tarts.

This classic Canadian dessert is such a favorite.  It is so nostalgic for me and always reminds me of my childhood and happy memories of family when I eat them.  I hope you love this new recipe as much as I do.

With homemade butter tarts, life really is a party.

More Recipe Inspiration

You might also enjoy our Nectarine and Blueberry Galette recipe here.

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette: literally make in minutes with frozen puff pastry, so easy and the perfect way to enjoy fresh nectarines and blueberries.

Also check out our Brown Butter Raspberry Tarts recipe here.

Brown Butter Raspberry Tarts: the perfect combination of gooey sweet filling, and tart fresh raspberries, with a really easy pastry.  Great for a beginner.

You might also enjoy our Strawberry Cheesecake Pie recipe here.

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