Southern Food

The single greatest dish to come out of Canada is the Butter Tart (sometimes called Taffy Tarts – or maybe just Husband calls them that?).  Now, if you know how much I lovvvvve Poutine you will know how serious of a declaration is it for me to make, but Butter Tarts are the awesomest.

Butter Tarts are sort of like miniature pecan pies without the pecans.  You make small, very shallow crusts with ultra flaky pie crust dough using about 900 muffin tins.  Then you fill them up with a syrupy, buttery filling and bake them.  The filling forms a shell on top when baked so when you take a bite out of one you get this snappy crunch thing happening, then your mouth is filled with the syrupy insides.  Just when your tongue and taste buds have wrapped their brains around all this, they’re hit with the flaky, buttery crust that soaks everything up.   It’s like Sir Thomas More climbed in your mouth and created the ultimate utopian environment.

I have never actually made these.  I’m afraid they won’t be as good as my mother-in-law’s and I’ll end up stabbing Husband in the face with a fork.  But I think I’ve isolated a great recipe.  This isn’t MIL’s.  MIL doesn’t actually have a recipe – she makes these from heart – and, though I’ve tried, I cannot successfully document the process.

These little boogers are all over Oh Canada.  You can buy them at the gas station.  Really.  And, much like many of the South’s greatest culinary contributions, the recipes vary from province to province, city to city and gas station to gas station.  Some have raisins or dates, some have nuts, etc.

This is your basic Butter Tart recipe.  Which I’ve never made.  I’m such a hack.

Canadian Butter Tarts

Recipe and Photos from Radishes & Rhubarb

Pastry:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4-5 tablespoons ice cold water

Filling:

1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
a few drops of lemon juice
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the pastry first. In a small bowl mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a fork or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cold water and stir just until the dough starts to pull together.

Turn out onto a well floured surface. Quickly shape into a ball and roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 4 inch circles and fit the cut pastry into the cups of a muffin tin.

In a medium bowl cream together all of the filling ingredients until smooth.  Fill the prepared cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from muffin tin and let stand until completely cool.

And if you’re looking for something a little more suited for Fourth of July, check out the Covered Dishes post on my website.

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Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy lives in Lexington, South Carolina, is a contributing writer for the Food & Drink section and is currently working on her first cookbook. Mandy is an award winning recipe writer and judges regional cook-offs and other culinary contests.

“I'm just a gal that likes food. Of course I like to eat, but what I've discovered about myself over the years is that there are more ways for me to enjoy food than just eating it. I like to shop for it, read about it, cook it, entertain with it and write about it. And when it's really good, sometimes I'm tempted to throw it on the floor and roll in it."