If Canada had a national dessert, the butter tart would be it. These handheld pastries have been baked in kitchens across the country for more than 100 years, with the earliest published recipe dating to 1900.
These sweet treats traditionally consist of a mini pie shell filled with a butter, egg, sugar and syrup mixture. Common variations include raisins, pecans and/or walnuts with some bakeries creating specialty butter tarts using coconut, chocolate, berries, or butterscotch.
In my short time here I've seen them offered in grocery stores, bakeries and even food trucks. I avoided trying them for many months because they look so plain and colorless, but after sampling the raisin butter tart at Carousel Bakery in St. Lawrence Market, I realized that their simplicity is part of their charm. These sticky-sweet hand pies are so primitive and unassuming that it's hard not to admire how they've managed to secure a spot in Canadian culinary history. Much like America's apple pie, butter tarts are an addictive throwback to simpler days gone by.
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