A pecan butter tart
|Place of origin||Canada|
|Main ingredient(s)||Pastry shell, butter, sugar, syrup, eggs, raisins|
|Variations||Substitution of walnuts or pecans for raisins|
|This article is part of the series on|
A butter tart is a type of small pastry tart highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and considered one of Canada's quintessential desserts. The tart consists of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg filled into a flaky pastry and baked until the filling is semi-solid with a crunchy top.
Recipes for the butter tart vary according to the families baking them. Because of this, the appearance and physical characteristics of the butter tart – the firmness of its pastry, or the consistency of its filling – also varies.
In general, the English Canadian tart consists of butter, sugar, and eggs in a pastry shell, similar to the French-Canadian sugar pie, or the base of the U.S. pecan pie without the nut topping. The butter tart is different from pecan pie in that it has a "runnier" filling due to the omission of corn starch. Raisins are in the traditional butter tart, but walnuts, or pecans are commonly added. However purists contend that such additions should not be allowed.
Butter tarts were common in pioneer Canadian cooking, and they remain a characteristic pastry of Canada, considered one of only a few recipes of genuinely Canadian origin (for example, by the 6th edition of the Collins English Dictionary). It is primarily eaten and associated with the English-speaking provinces of Canada. However the origins of the tart, its name, and its recipe are unclear. Some suggested pastries with similar origins to the butter tart include:
- Sugar pie (tarte au sucre): which possibly came with the arrival of the "King's Daughters" "filles du roi" in Quebec during the 1600s, where the imported brides used maple syrup, butter and dried fruit to make a possible precursor to modern examples of the butter tart,
- Pecan pie: which possibly came north from the southern United States with the slaves,
- Backwards pie: which is found in the maritimes and western Canada and made with corn syrup,
- Shoofly pie: which is made with molasses and comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch community,
- Treacle tart: which is an English pastry made with golden syrup or treacle.
The earliest published Canadian recipe is from Barrie, Ontario dating back to 1900 and can be found in The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook. Another early publication of a butter tart recipe was found in a 1915 pie cookbook. The food was an integral part of early Canadian cuisine and often viewed as a source of pride.
Similar tarts are made in Scotland, where they are often referred to as Ecclefechan butter tarts from the town of Ecclefechan. In France, they are related to the much more common tarte à la frangipane, that differs from the basic Canadian recipe only by the addition of ground almonds.
Nutritional information 
A typical recipe of Butter tarts has the following nutrition facts per serving (around 100g):
- Calories: 577
- Total fat (g): 25.2
- Cholesterol (mg): 60
- Carbohydrates (g): 84
- Protein (g): 6.4
- Presenter:Peter Gzowski Guests:Max Burns, Marion Kane, Charles Pachter (1991-12-05). "What makes a great butter tart?". Morningside. CBC Radio. CBC Radio One.
- Sampson, Susan (2007-05-09), "The art of the tart", thestar.com (Toronto Star)
- "Better butter tarts", The Ottawa Citizen, 2006-10-26,
- Sweet Oven bakery, Butter tart flavours
- Jacobs, Hersch (2009), "Structural Elements in Canadian Cuisine", Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures 2 (1)
Popular Culture 
Butter tarts are casually mentioned in the song "Steal My Sunshine" by the group known as Len; a Canadian alternative rock group from Toronto which began in 1991.
|Look up butter tart in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on|
- CBC radio program on butter tarts
- Scottish recipe at Scotland For Visitors
- Canadian Butter Tart recipe from the BBC Good Food Magazine
- Shelley Posen on butter tarts