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9 September, 2020

Butter Tarts

Gooey and delightful, butter tarts are a staple treat at any Canadian holiday—usually Christmas, but I’ve seen them at Thanksgiving and Easter as well. I actually had no idea that they were a Canadian speciality until I move to Australia and my tart-loving family (hehe, I had to!) had no idea what they were.

There are two main varieties of butter tarts—those with “impurities” such as raisins or pecans, and those without. I guess I’m a purist because I prefer them without the added bits, but I’ll let you decide for yourself! I did cheat a bit for these ones and used pre-made pastry, which made making these an absolute cinch to make.

Canadian Butter Tarts

Makes: 12
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 12 premade shortcrust pastry tart bases
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey, golden syrup, or corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp each vanilla extract and white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup currants, raisins, pecans, or coconut (optional)

Optional: If using raisins or currants, soak in a few tablespoons of warm brandy, rum, or triple sec for about 20 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 450 F / 230 C. In a microwavable bowl, soften 2 tbsp of butter and whisk together with the sugar until creamy. Add the honey or syrup, egg, vanilla, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and mix well. If using extra fillings, divide these between the pastry shells now. Spoon the liquid mixture over top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until filling has gone golden and is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy!

I’m not sure why all of my butter tarts didn’t go golden at the same rate—if needed, just pop a couple back in the oven for a few minutes!

French Canadian Maple Syrup Pie

I’m going to make a bold claim here: I think that maple syrup is as good as chocolate. (Gasp! Shock! Horror! Disbelief!) And much like chocolate, it’s really only worth having if it’s the good stuff. My grandmother’s family on my dad’s side has been in Canada since the 1690s, meaning that they were some of the first French settlers in Canada. Three hundred years is more than enough time to develop a unique cuisine, and the French Canadians really know their maple syrup, pies, and other tummy-warming dishes for long, freezing winters.

I’m not entirely sure where this version of the recipe came from, but my dad’s scribbled note at the bottom of it says, “This resembles what my grandmother Latour made often.” I never met my great grandmother Latour, but I’ve heard the stories of their large family gatherings on holidays, and my dad’s recollection of the sheer number of pies has me reeling. Maple, pumpkin, chocolate, apple, cherry, so on and so forth—my mouth is watering at the thought.

So here you go. One authentic, French Canadian maple syrup pie. Make sure you use “the good stuff” for this—it’s worth it.

Maple Syrup Pie

Makes: 1 pie
Cooking time: 30 minutes hands on, plus cooling time
Difficulty: Moderate


  • 1 pre-baked large pie shell
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp gelatin (1 envelope)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup real, good quality maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or essence)
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream (thickened cream)

Dissolve the gelatin in the 2 tbsp water and set aside for a few minutes.

In small saucepan on low-medium heat, whisk the egg yolks, milk, and salt together until the mixture thickens slightly (this means the yolks will have cooked, be sure to stir it slowly and constantly so that you don’t end up with any clumps). Remove from heat, and stir in the softened gelatin, vanilla, and maple syrup. Cool in the fridge (or outside if you’re in a cold climate) just until the mixture is cool to the touch (not cold, because the gelatin will begin setting).

While the mixture is cooling, beat the two egg whites with the 3 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff as well. It’s best to do this right before you think the mixture will be cool, as if you leave beaten eggs or beaten cream for too long they will begin to deflate and separate.

Once the maple mixture is cooled, fold it into the stiff egg whites, then fold in the whipped cream. Stir just until all the lumps are gone and you have a smooth mixture. Pour into baked pie shell, refrigerate for 2-3 hours (or more) until pie has set.

Serve with more whipped cream on top, and/or a drizzle of maple syrup, and/or some chopped pecans or walnuts.


  • Don’t bother making this pie unless you use real, good quality maple syrup!
  • I used “Ward’s” gelatin, which is the standard brand you’d find at most Australian supermarkets, and it was a bit stronger than what we would normally use in Canada (Knox brand). I would recommend using 2 1/2 tsp instead of 1 tbsp for this recipe, if using Ward’s brand gelatin.
  • Don’t leave the maple syrup and gelatin mixture in the fridge for too long. You want to mix it with the egg whites and the whipped cream just when it’s cool (if it’s warm it will deflate the whipped cream and eggs), but if you leave it too long then the gelatin will set. You can warm it again (do it very slowly) if you need to unset the gelatin, though it means you’ll have to restart the cooling process again. It should be roughly the consistency of liquid egg whites when you fold it into the whipped cream and beaten egg white meringue.
  • I have not attempted to vegan-ise this recipe; most plant-based milks I can think of would overpower the subtlety of the maple flavour.