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Toronto’s Best Butter Tarts Aren’t in Toronto

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I’ve been obsessing over this lately and I have come to the conclusion that in Toronto, you can’t get a decent butter tart. The options seem to be between supermarket, mass produced monstrosities (with tasteless, bland pastry and gelatinous, corn syrup interiors) and high-end four-dollar works of art.

A butter tart is a homey, simple thing. It should be a little clunky and not too sophisticated. It should offer thick, flaky and buttery pastry, ideally with a consistency close to shortbread. Its interior should be rich, syrupy and in keeping with the name of the tart, buttery! When you bite into the tart, the filling should immediately start to ooze. Acceptable inclusions to the tart’s filling? Pecans or walnuts. Raisins are completely unacceptable. Frankly, if done correctly, than the tart does not need any add-ons.

I’ve looked at some of the old posts about butter tarts in Toronto, and I’ve pretty much been disappointed by most places, though I’ve yet to get to the Hot Oven in Etobicoke. They all seem to lack something. Which brings me to my point. During the summer, I happily visited the Farmers Market at Nathan Phillips Square and bought the tarts made by one of the farmers. These tarts sold 6 for 8 bucks, and hit all my requirements.

Now we’re into November, I can’t rely on this source any more. My sister in law’s recent trip to cottage country brought back the amazing butter tarts made by a small bakery in Haliburton – the Ingoldsby Junction Buttertarts Café. These tarts are, as the kids say, off the hook! Super flaky pastry barely holding back the impending ooze, these fragile babies need to be handled with care or they erupt. They obviously use brown sugar for the filling, and occasionally, a clump of sugar may caramelize with the pastry to form a startlingly delicious new form of candy.

So with the long winter coming, I’m hoping someone can give me a recommendation. Hopefully, some place reachable by TTC?

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  1. Ingoldsby's are pretty good, but tell you sister to grab some from Yummy's just west of Argyle next time. It's on the way to Haliburton, on the Glen Arm Sideroad.

    This summer we did a taste off between Ingoldsby's and the ones from Yummy's. Yummy's won. Some liked the filling better, but IIRC we thought the crust from Ingoldsby was a little too dry (only shortening possibly?). Mind you, I think that butter tarts should contain raisins so you can take my opinion as you will.

    Can't help you in Toronto unfortunately,

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikeb

      I'm going to have to agree about the raisins, my mom makes insane butter tarts and they have raisins and are delicious

      1. re: mikeb

        Those yummy ones are nasty - my kids wouldn't even eat them.
        The place at the corner in argyle are very good.
        They have good coffee as well - so it is a good place to stop.

        The ingoldsby ones are very good - but a bit steep in price - almost 10 bucks for 6.

      2. Do not bother with Hot Oven - they are not good, at least not in the way that you and I "know" good.

        There IS a drippy buttery tart in Toronto! It is excellent and homestyle. Be careful because the filling RUNS out! It is a small french bakery in a strip mall. I believe it is called Patisserie Daudet. It is in the mall with McDonalds, Brunos and the TD Bank. 4335 Bloor Street West. Just west of the 427. I really hope you try it and of course that you love it.

        In a pinch, Dufflet has a very good small butter tart that is very buttery, just not runny. I imagine if you heated it, it would loosen right up. I think it is a very good balance of flavours...had one yesterday.

        1 Reply
        1. re: deelicious

          UPDATE: Although I think Daudet is still the better runny tart because it has so much flavour, I stumbled across a very runny, quality tart this afternoon. There is a small place on Bloor, east of Islington called Bake Sale. They have amazing stuff!

          The butter tart is a perfect shell that has a cookie crunch to it. There are no raisins and it is RUNNY. I only wish it were a bit more complex in flavours. I should add that it was still warm out of the oven so I don't know if the centre congeals after a few hours. The one I had was liquid gold!

          I also sprang calorically for a chocolate cupcake. I found the cupcake part to be perfect - light and airy, rich chocolate flavour. Not dense like a muffin. The icing is probably perfect to many tastes too, but I prefer a bit more of a butter cream feel. This was on the verge of being too sugary and granular. Overall a real cupcake!

          The cakes (not cheap) and other treats look fantastic.

          RUN, don't walk to Bake Sale. (it's that good, plus you'll be glad you burned the calories)

        2. Pantz...had the opportunity to meet the owner of Marty's in Bracebridge this week, and he brought me some of his world famous butter tarts. Apparently Marty has been featured in the Toronto Star & BT. All I can tell you, is that they were absolutely the most amazing tarts that I have ever tried. OMG...took one and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and nuked it for 15 seconds, almost fell off my chair. Worth the trip for sure. Say hello to Marty and tell him that BBQ Mike in Barrie says hello.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pitboss

            I had the experience of eating Marty's Famous Butter Tarts and I thought they were terrible. The fact the they are high in sugar and fat is enough to send your cholesterol level through the roof and not to mention your arteries will clog up instantly.

          2. Now you're messing with my traditions, Pantz. My mother has made butter tarts with raisins for at least 60 years. Her pastry is not 'of a consistency close to shortbread'. They are fantastic butter tarts. I think if you check the history of butter tarts, you'll find that the type of pastry you are recommending and the nut fillings are more recent additions.
            Furthermore, there is a 'runny' school and a non-runny school of butter tart lovers. I'm a runny guy myself. But that doesn't mean that the others are no good. There...I said it.

            1. I really like the butter tarts made by the people who run the baked goods stall in the North (farmer's) market at the St. Lawrence Market. Their butter tarts have a nice, buttery, crumbly, and, most importantly, light, shortbread-style crust. The filling is excellent. Although, I can not vouch for any filling other than raisin because the only butter tarts that should be allowed to be made or allowed to be sold are Raisin butter tarts. The rest are travesties of butter-tart tradition!

              I should also add that I completely disagree with the Dufflet rec. I find their crust has much, much, much too much Browned-Butter falvour and is, therefore, too nutty in flavour. Not only does the pastry have this browned flavour it also is too much a unltra-crumbly tart shell pastry and not the right consistency. The filling is also wrong -- it has currants not raisins and that makes it much too chewy!

              I will agree with you that Ingoldsby is fantastic. I rented a cottage several years ago that was too close to them and I think I gained some 10 pounds!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Atahualpa

                mmmmm reading that makes me want to head back to dufflet for another one today!! so buttery good.

                But I don't want atahualpa's tart bashing to get in the way of Pantz trying the very runny tarts at Patisserie Daudet...they are completely different from dufflet.