Friday, 7 June 2013

My First Authentic Canadian Foodie Memory

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
2 eggs
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. 


  1. My mom never made buttertarts but I certainly do remember them as a highlight of childhood along with maple syrup and baked beans.

  2. My mom made a ton of baked beans. I haven't thought about them in so long! Thanks for reminding me about them!

  3. Butter tarts are a staple at our house...but, I think our family recipe is older than the 1900's... I know they were around before Corn Syrup was invented and that changed them considerably when people started to use that. My grandmother's recipe uses it, too... so, who knows. Definitely an important tradition and very interestingly uniquely Canadian concoction. However, thought the Americans claim their All American Apple Pie, I have no problem laying claim to my Canadian Prairie Apple Pie. Heavens... I bet apple pie was invented in Canada. No one really knows... and the hamburger? I claim it, too. It is so tightly woven into our cultural fabric, that it certainly doesn't belong to them... kind of like how I think about Polish and Ukranian food. Very very similar, yet different.
    Thrilled to have you in the project and you got me thinking!

  4. Hi Sarah :-) As a fellow participant in this, I have to say it's great to see you! I didn't know butter tarts originated in Canada!

  5. I guess I have a little more research to do on butter tarts. Maybe I should make another batch of these for snacking during my research!

  6. I very seldom had butter tarts growing up but as soon as I had a kitchen of my own it was one of the first sweets I learnt how to make.

    I like mine a bit runny please!

    Great post.

  7. I love your way of eating butter tarts! It's all about the filling anyway. Great contribution this month. Looking forward to next month.