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Butter tarts - only in Canada?

rworange Nov 4, 2006 02:52 AM

There was a hot post about the best butter tart in Toronto.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/339781

I've never heard of these and I've worked and vacationed in Canada. Are they ever made in the US and why not? This doesn't seem to have anything in it that is Canadian-specific. Have they crossed the border and if not, I wonder why not. Is it just pecan pie without the pecans?

Wikipedia on butter tarts with a picture.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_tart

CBC on What makes a great butter tart?
http://archives.cbc.ca/400i.asp?IDCat...

  1. v
    VickiL Nov 17, 2006 02:08 AM

    In Southeastern Michigan I've only seen butter tarts at Tim Hortons, a Canadian bakery chain affiliated with Wendy's.

    1. a
      Atahualpa Nov 16, 2006 11:21 PM

      I saw some butter tarts while on vaction in New York City. At one of the local convenience stores in the 51st and 3rd/2nd area. I remember becuase I shocked that they sold many more varieties of "Canada Dry" pop than we have in Canada and then I saw a buttertart at the cash area. They seemed to be home-made or from a local bakery (i.e. in cellophane and no label).

      1. buttertart Nov 16, 2006 04:56 PM

        How could I not pitch in? (I'm originally from southwestern Ontario, mother was a fabulous pie baker, made THE BEST butter tarts - lard pastry.)
        I've lived in various parts of the States since 1974 and have never seen them sold here, or met anyone who knew of butter tarts.
        The tartmaking itself being a bit fiddly, see
        http://www.canadianliving.com/Canadia...
        for a very nice butter tart square recipe, which is now my fallback for this confection.
        It calls for pecans, which I would never use and which I think must be a recent affectation - my mother used either dark raisins or (my favorite) dried currants - or very occasionally chopped walnuts.
        Oh Canada!

        1. blue room Nov 4, 2006 02:59 PM

          I'll post the recipe I've got for "English Butter Tarts" under Home Cooking. I remember being *shocked*, on first making, how such simple/few ingredients add up to SO unique a flavor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: blue room
            rworange Nov 4, 2006 04:03 PM

            Thanks so much for taking the time to post that. It does look simple. Here's the link to blue room's recipe
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. Davwud Nov 4, 2006 02:07 PM

            To all non Ontarians.

            I would get a good recipe (Google it) and try making some. They are absolutely great.

            They're not like a pecan pie without pecans. They are similar though.

            DT

            1 Reply
            1. re: Davwud
              John Manzo Nov 16, 2006 01:26 AM

              Butter tarts are all over the country- well, maybe not Quebec but I assure you that Alberta has ample butter tarts.

            2. Candy Nov 4, 2006 01:53 PM

              I did my HS years on the NY state border of Quebec. Whilst waiting table at the Ho Jo's near the city beach I was constantly asked for Sugar Pie never butter. All I could offer was pecan which was eaten very happily.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Candy
                f
                FlavoursGal Nov 4, 2006 03:45 PM

                Tarte au sucre, as sugar pie is called in Quebec, has an intensely sugary filling, but no buttery flavour.

                1. re: FlavoursGal
                  Candy Nov 4, 2006 03:51 PM

                  I know. Just on our side of the border when asked for sugar pie all we coudl offer that came close was pecan.

                  1. re: Candy
                    f
                    FlavoursGal Nov 4, 2006 03:56 PM

                    Were you in the Plattsburg area?

                2. re: Candy
                  j
                  julesrules Nov 16, 2006 08:26 PM

                  Sugar pie (tarte au sucre) is very Quebec and distinct from butter tarts, although they are similar enough that I can see why they don't really co-exist - except maybe in Ottawa? Sugar pie generally has a more solid, opaque filling.

                  1. re: julesrules
                    p
                    piccola Nov 17, 2006 12:41 AM

                    They do co-exist in Ottawa, but individual bakeries usually carry one or the other, not both.

                3. f
                  FlavoursGal Nov 4, 2006 12:42 PM

                  I grew up in Montreal, moving to Toronto about 10 years ago. I'd never heard of butter tarts before the move to Toronto. I think they might be an Ontario thing.

                  I've had some good ones, usually while stopping at little bakeries while antiquing in the countryside. I love them with pecans or walnuts. There is one place I've been in Toronto, on Yonge St. just south of Eglinton - Hannah's Kitchen - that has yummy ones. Here's a little blurb from Toronto Life Magazine (copied from Hannah's Kitchen's website).

                  "Butter Tarts"-Toronto Life

                  "Before all else, and pre-empting indignant letters, we acknowledge that nobody makes butter tarts like the ones you had at Grandma's cottage on Manitoulin Island. That said, it's remarkable how many unassuming places bake their own-and how few do bad ones. Saying as much, though, reveals our relationship to them: most buttertarts taste like someone's grandmother made them (and how could you say anything bad about Granny?). Even so, some grans have the genius. The stickiest, yummiest butter tarts ($1.65) come from Hannah's Kitchen (2221 Yonge St., 481-2828). The top third is a chewy caramel layer that'll loosen dental work. A bare touch of runny sweetness fills the center, and the base is a buttery pastry that beats anything else in town. Still not sold? Two words might help convince some of you: no raisins."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: FlavoursGal
                    a
                    Atahualpa Nov 16, 2006 11:18 PM

                    'I think they might be an Ontario thing.'

                    I don't think so. Some of the best butter tarts I've ever had were in the maritimes. Down east they're everywhere -- including some really good ones I had while crossing from St. John to Digby!

                    I think they are absent from Quebec due to the presence of tarte au sucre as mentioned below.

                  2. k
                    KevinB Nov 4, 2006 12:16 PM

                    A butter tart without raisins is just lame. Sadly, due to my diabetes, I can't enjoy these treats anymore.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: KevinB
                      Davwud Nov 4, 2006 02:04 PM

                      Raisin ruin butter tarts.

                      DT

                      1. re: Davwud
                        a
                        Atahualpa Nov 16, 2006 11:13 PM

                        Davwud, for once I vehemently diagree with you. A buttertart without raisins isn't a buttertart. It may be an 'something'-buttertart (e.g. walnut-buttertart), but it isn't a buttertart. If you go to a bakery and buy a buttertart, and don't specify anything, you expect raisins. If you want soemthing else, including no-raisins, you usually need to say so.

                        1. re: Davwud
                          MaggieMuffin Nov 17, 2006 02:15 AM

                          I agree. Who needs the raisins getting in the way of all of that buttery goodness.

                      2. sweet ginger Nov 4, 2006 03:25 AM

                        After reading the wiki article, I compared the ingredients with some of Marion Cunningham's "Old American Pie" recipes in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book- a butter tart sounds very similar to a chess pie or an "osgood" pie. She says that many of these recipes were created by early American rural families and went by the wayside over the past century as fresh fruits became more widely available in supermarkets.
                        That said, your guess that it sounds like a pecan pie without the pecans may be a good start- I had a similar first impression upon making my first chess pie- however, it was "buttery-er", and not as cloyingly sweet as pecan pie filling can be.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sweet ginger
                          a
                          Atahualpa Nov 16, 2006 11:14 PM

                          More buttery and less cloyingly sweet -- that'd describe the diffence pretty well. Throw in that many pecan pies are made on a crumbly tart base and many buttertarts on a firmer shortbread-style base. Buttertarts tend to have a less 'browned' flavour to their crusts as well (which goes along with the tart dough/shortbread difference).

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