July 1st is Canada’s 150th birthday. There is a funny YouTube video going around of a Canadian explaining Canada Day to his American neighbour. Watch it here. The Canadian highlights all the things that Canada does right—health care, maternity leave, beer, and of course, my favourite—butter tarts which he describes as putting sex and gold in a blender! Happy 150th Birthday Canada!
The last time we posted about butter tarts, we had a lot less readers. So in fairness to those of you who haven’t been following us from the beginning, we are re-posting our butter tart recipe! We just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and I made 4 dozen tarts to bring to our family potluck so butter tarts are on my mind. Here is the post from 12/2/2015.
Butter tarts make me happy. Maybe it’s because they aren’t readily available in the US that I have elevated them to a magical, anti-depressant art form. Or maybe it’s just because they taste so good. And I am not the only one that feels this way about butter tarts. In the 1999 song Steal My Sunshine the opening dialogue suggests that the way to cheer up Marc’s glum mood is with butter tarts!
They are Canada’s quintessential dessert. A domestic staple, definitely not an export. You only know about them if you have a Canadian friend.
I have to explain them to people in the US as a pecan tart without the pecans. But they are so much more than that.
There is an ongoing debate about what constitutes the best butter tart:
- corn syrup or maple syrup? (maple syrup always)
- raisins or no raisins? (raisins)
- runny or firm? (runny!)
Let us know where you fall on the butter tart personality test! And tell us your favourite place to buy them. If you are in southern Ontario, check out the Butter Tart Trail, a series of bakeries that feature butter tarts.
And finally, if you want to make them at home, I have included the recipe from the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook—you are on your own for the pastry!
Prepare sufficient pastry to line 15 medium-sized muffin cups. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour boiling water over 1/2 cup raisins. Let stand 5 minutes and drain. Stir together 1/4 cup soft butter and 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar. Blend in 1 cup maple syrup, 2 slightly beaten eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir in drained raisins. Fill pastry-lined muffin cups 1/2 full. DO NOT OVER FILL if you want runny tarts! Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is golden.
My colleague sent me a link to an article from earlier this week in the NYTimes titled For Canadians, Thanksgiving is a ‘Quieter’ Affair in October.
For all our American readers who aren’t really aware of Canadian Thanksgiving — read the article. It is insightful, but mostly funny.
I sent the article to various family members and my son said he is going to share it with his work colleagues who just don’t understand why he won’t be at work on Columbus Day. His explanation of Canadian Thanksgiving has always been – it’s a harvest holiday – who wants to eat their crops in late November?
My mom chimed in on the family email exchange with her bit of history and informed us that the First Canadian Thanksgiving took place in 1578 when Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, safely arrived in the new world aka Newfoundland. It was a thanksgiving celebration for a safe arrival but also coincided with the harvest celebration by the indigenous people.
Whatever the backstory, Canadian Thanksgiving and the NYTimes article are my Friday Favourite. Now I have to go make butter tarts to take to Canada for Thanksgiving!