I am proud to be Canadian, but Canadian food specialties often seem to meld into North American food specialties. The USA claims the All-American apple pie and the uber popular hamburger, but what does Canada get to call it's own besides the French fry, gravy, and cheese curd concoction of Poutine?
I'll tell you what else is Canadian - butter tarts! Canada's claim on butter tarts dates back to 1900 when a recipe was first published in the Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook in Barrie ON. And since I grew up mere minutes from Barrie, in Collingwood ON, it seems only fitting that my first foodie memory involves the sweet treat of a butter tart.
I was a small girl of maybe five years old and I'd get excited every time my Nana and Papa would drive up for a visit. I would of course be excited to see my family, but I'd also be excited for that white cardboard box hiding a slew of delicious butter tarts.
My way of eating them was not the most obvious of choices, but it was a wonderful way to me. I'd take a little sugar spoon and eat the filling bite by bite and then enjoy the pastry on it's own. Well that's what I'd do if my mom was watching, if she wasn't watching I'd eat the filling of two tarts and leave the pastry shells for later.
Now that I'm older, and know how much work goes into making the pastry, I eat butter tarts a little differently. I still love them all the same though!
Butter Tarts - makes 12
Pastry, store bought or homemade - enough to cut into 12 tart shells
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warmed to plump up if hard
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Roll pastry to 1/4 inch thick and cut pastry into 12 even circles. Place each circle in a muffin tin or metal tart shells. Chill in the fridge while you're making the filling.
3. In a bowl stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Then add in the eggs, vinegar, and vanilla.
4. Divide the raisins evenly among the pastry lined tart shells and pour the filling over top.
5. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees and then lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake another 20 minutes.
6. Let butter tarts cool in the tin before removing them.
Maybe it's not that Canada doesn't have as many food specialties as the USA, maybe it's just that we like to keep our food memories to ourselves. I think we need to start sharing our memories more so that everyone can see how wonderful they are!
The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.