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Butter Tarts Recipe & Video

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Butter Tarts have that perfect ratio of pastry to filling. That is because they are traditionally made as individual tarts. Butter Tarts are not to be eaten daintily with a fork, but should be picked up and eaten in a few delicious bites. I like them warm from the oven, at room temperature, or even cold from the fridge. 


Canadians definitely have their own opinions as to what makes the perfect Butter Tart. Over the years I have had many discussions on what is the best pastry to use for the crust. Should the filling be firm or runny. And should the filling contain raisins or walnuts, or even both.

For me, I like a Butter Tart with a crisp and crumbly pastry that is made with butter. And I like a filling that is soft but not runny, which means no corn syrup is added. I waiver on whether I prefer raisins or walnuts and sometimes I simply use both. As far as the raisins, I like the dark Thompson variety. If nuts are used, Canadians like walnuts but Americans may want to use pecans to emulate the pecan pie. These little gems are baked in a fairly hot oven until the crusts have nicely browned and the filling has set.

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Pie Crust: In your food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Add about 3 tablespoons water and process just until the dough holds together when pinched. (See video for demonstration.) If necessary, add more water.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour or until firm. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, and roll the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll. Always roll from the center of the pastry outwards. Then, using a 4 inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds. Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you preheat your oven and make the filling.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place your oven rack in the center of the oven.

Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until creamy smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of walnuts and/or raisins on the bottom of each tart shell. Then evenly fill the tart shells with the filling. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is puffed and set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 12 tarts.

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Pie Crust:

1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

3 - 4 tablespoons ice cold water

Butter Tart Filling:

1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar

2 large (100 grams) eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60 ml/grams) light cream (or half-and-half)

1/2 cup (55 grams) chopped walnuts and/or raisins

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