My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory – Butter Tarts

By / Food / August 15th, 2013 / 4

This summer, Valerie Lugonja over at A Canadian Foodie embarked on an interesting journey. She founded The Canadian Food Experience Project.  Beginning June 7, 2013, participants are encouraged to share their stories about their own remarkable encounters with Canadian regional foods. By doing so, we can all gain a clearer perspective on what makes the Canadian culinary identity.

No doubt many people across this great land of ours boast of their own wonderful rendition of the classic butter tart. Some places, like Wellington County, Ontario, even celebrate their own butter tart trail. Is this little sweet thing really worth all of that adulation? Well, I had my own little butter tart epiphany about 20 years ago, and I think, yes, it does indeed deserve all that and more. The butter tart, as far as I can tell, has been elevated to the status of something akin to a superfood in Ontario. It may not be able to claim all those antioxidant or energy boosting benefits. It can, however, fill you with a very cozy emotional warmth, and isn’t that just as good as any other health benefit?

I didn’t experience the gooey goodness until my teens. I think it was my brother-in-law, being of British heritage, who first opened my eyes to them. He loved them. The sweeter, the better, he’d say. He also preferred them with raisins. You might wonder how it is that it took until then to discover them. Blame it on my Italian heritage. We don’t do butter tarts. So, here was a challenge I could sink my teeth into. To be fair, I didn’t really like them when I first tried them. I wasn’t used to anything that sweet, and in all honesty, I didn’t like raisins. But, that first taste launched me onto a journey to find “my” butter tart. It was while on that quest that I learned a couple of very important facts about them. First, I discovered that butter tarts don’t have to be filled with raisins. To my delight they could be perfectly plain. Ok, that was the first hurdle scaled. But, what to do about that sweetness? Recipe after recipe I tried … variation after variation, they were all just too sweet for me. That was when I discovered the second very important fact. Butter tarts can be whatever you want them to be. It was then, after some experimenting that I landed on the recipe that’s become a family favourite. The secret? All I did was substitute honey for the corn syrup, and voilà, a super scrumptious (not too sweet) butter tart.

Butter Tarts

My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory – Butter Tarts


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Salt
  • 12 tart shells


  1. Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan set over medium heat.
  2. Add maple syrup, honey, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Let it come to a boil.
  3. Slowly pour the honey mixture into the eggs. Strain and cool.
  4. Pour the mix into pre-baked tart shells. Bake at 350°F until set, about 10 minutes.

Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

One response to “My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory – Butter Tarts”

  1. […] doesn’t love a butter tart? Well, Rosemary at Quench Magazine from Brampton, Ontario, didn’t until she tinkered a bit with the old tried and true recipes. […]

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