As much as I love the butter tart recipe here, I am so happy that I’ve finally found a delicious butter tart recipe that doesn’t use corn syrup and that, in the true Canadian spirit, uses maple syrup. In case you didn’t already know, butter tarts are a Canadian dessert. This pastry was beautifully flaky and airy, but it was a bit too delicate for my taste. I prefer the still flaky yet slightly sturdier crust of my other butter tarts (recipe here).
Best Maple Butter Tart Recipe
makes approximately 12 tarts; adapted from Canadian Living
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup real maple syrup (Note: I used light maple syrup but a medium maple syrup would give you a stronger maple flavour.)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher sea salt
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves or scant 1/2 cup of golden raisins (optional)
for the sour cream pastry
1/4 cup butter cut into tablespoons and cold straight from the refrigerator
1/4 cup cold home rendered lard (recipe here) or vegetable shortening (preferred brand: Crisco)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sour cream, cold from the refrigerator
a few tablespoons of ice water
pinch of coarse sea salt
vegetable oil cooking spray
Start making the pastry by placing the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the cold butter and cold lard and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs or wet sand. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream with 2 tablespoons of the ice cold water. Then, with the food processor motor running, add the water and sour cream to the flour and butter mixture in a slow steady stream. Process until the dough comes together. If it is too dry, pulse in a little bit of water at a time. If it is too sticky, pulse in a little bit of flour. Give the dough a few quick kneads on a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a disc shape, wrap it in syran wrap and refrigerate it until it is chilled through, at least 1 hour and for up to 3 days.
On a lightly floured silpat (silicone) mat, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the pastry out to 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Use a 4 inch (10 cm) round cookie dough cutter, cut out 12 circles. You will need to combine scrap dough and re-roll it. If the scrap dough is warming up, chill it in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes before re-rolling and cutting it.
Using vegetable oil cooking spray, grease a muffin pan. Using your fingers to gently stretch the dough where necessary, fit one dough circle into each muffin pan cup, ensuring that the dough comes almost all of the way up the sides. You want the dough to maintain and even thickness throughout. Use scrap dough to fill holes and tears if necessary. Then place the muffin pan with tart shells into the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack set in the middle of the oven. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar maple syrup, melted butter, eggs, cider vinegar, and salt until very smooth. Place an even number of pecans or raisins in a single layer at the bottom of each tart shell. Then ladle an even amount of the filling into each of the tart shells, approximately a scant 1/4 cup of the filling per tart shell. Bake until the filling is just set and the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Run a small cake decorating metal spatula (or a thin knife) along the outside of the crust edges to release the tarts from the muffin pan. Once the tarts are cool enough to handle and the crust has crisped up, approximately 20 minutes, carefully and gently remove the butter tarts from the muffin pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. The crust will be flaky, airy, and delicate. The filling should be soft and gooey, but it should not drip or run. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 day.