Monday, December 5, 2011

Butter Tarts

Before Christmas I love sitting down with my mom's book of 
hand written recipes to decide which ones I'll be making.
Every year without fail I make these butter tarts.
Each pretty pastry shell is filled with golden raisins
and topped with brown sugar buttery goodness.

Ingredients for filling:
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup golden raisins, plumped
  1. Beat very soft butter, brown sugar and egg together until creamy.
  2. Add salt and vanilla.
  3. Pour boiling water over raisins. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Do not add to filling. Once you have the pastry shells made, place raisins into each shell. This will keep them uniform.
Pastry: this is Lovella's favorite pastry recipe that came from our friend Dorothy, but you can use your favourite pastry recipe. 
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pound lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • water
Method for Pastry:
  1. Measure flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Cut in cold lard until you lard is broken up into pea sized pieces.
  3. In a glass measuring cup beat 1 egg well. Add vinegar and then enough cold water to make 1 cup.
  4. Pour water mixture over flour mixture and stir, incorporating all the dry ingredients. Use your hands to pull the dough together into a ball. 
  5. Sprinkle some flour on your counter or pastry mat. Roll out 1/3 of the dough fairly thin. Using a cup or fluted cookie cutter, but out rounds and place into lightly greased tart tins.
  6. To ensure that each tart gets the approximately the same amount of raisins, I spoon the raisins into the bottom of each unbaked shell. (About 5-8 raisins, depending on the size of your shells.
  7. Pour the butter tart filling over each raisin filled shell.
  8. Bake at 375º for 18-20 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
This filling recipe makes 2 dozen tarts. I often double or triple the recipe as they freeze well for several months. You will have left over pastry. Shape into discs or line a pie plate or two. Wrap well and freeze.


  1. Tony would love these. They look so pretty.

  2. They look delicious. Hint:If you add a tablespoon or 2 of cream (half and half works) to your filling your tarts will not boil over the edge.

  3. Those look delicious and out of the usual. I must try them. I wonder if this is Lovella's favorite pastry dough for taste or ease of rolling out?

  4. OH I love the shape of them pretty. I must do mine like this next year. I might not feel so guilty eating one this size.

    I am intrigued by the anonymous tip of adding cream to the filling to keep it from boiling over.

    Vee. .this pastry really rolls out like a charm..and it is flaky too.

  5. I have never made tarts and I'm wondering if you need a special tart tin or is it the same as a muffin tin? Thank you, they are beautiful and I can't wait to try them.

  6. What size of cutter do you use for the pastry circles? I've used a four inch cutter and then put them in a muffin tin but these look smaller and so cute! also, do you grease your tin before putting the pastry in?

  7. I've already decided not to be the overachiever with Christmas baking and do the Butter Tart Squares instead of the tarts. I came to my computer this morning to pull up the squares recipe from your site and what's staring at me? Those gorgeous, tiny little tarts. I might just have to make them afterall!

  8. shirley reimer bertheletteDecember 5, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    oh boy Kathy!!! they look so delicious, did you use a med. size muffin tin, for this cuties I really want one NOW

  9. I love the thought of you lovingly looking through your mothers recipes, these tarts are gorgeous!!

  10. These are truly utterly gorgeous. Like flower petals - too good to eat.

  11. Oh wow - these look amazing! I must try Lovella's pastry recipe too.
    I could eat a few of these right now!

  12. I get the feeling these are really good. Going to have to print this one. Thank you.

  13. This is the same receipe as my grandma's from her 1932 purity cookbook! I made so many when I was younger (teenager living at home!) It's time to make them again! Thanks!!! BTW I love you website. I recently found out that my very great grandparents were mennonite so it's fun to connect with the community!

  14. Mmmm, butter tarts are one of my very favourite Christmas goodies, and always remind me of my mom and grandma. Our recipe has corn syrup in it, currants instead of raisins, and the secret ingredient is rum flavouring. So, so good.
    And that's my favourite pastry recipe too.

  15. I'll make you a hazelnut roll if you make me some tarts...they look so delicious.
    Great tip from Anonymous.

  16. Lovella: What is your experience with this crust? Is the use of lard necessary? Can I use shortening? Also, what size pan did you use?

  17. Coleen, yes I have only ever used lard so I can't advise you to try something else. We don't eat pies everyday. :)
    What size pan do I use for pie? or the butter tarts? I use lots of different sizes and bake until browned.

    I know. ..that doesn't help much.

  18. Thank you for the GREAT tip on adding the cream. I will be doing that for sure. Always love hearing from the resources in other kitchens where yummy things are baked.

  19. Lovella, what size of cutter do you use to cut out the pastry for the tarts? these are quite small - did you bake them in a mini muffin tin? Love them!!

  20. These look so good! I am planning on making them soon, either today or tomorrow! I do have a question though, I am not sure if it is the camera angle or not, because these look so tiny and cute, but are these made in the tiny little muffin tins, like the size of a two bite brownie, or are they the regular standard size muffin tin? Using different sized pans would adjust the baking time right? Thanks for your help! I am looking forward to trying these... I stole my mom's orange tupperware set of cookie cutters when I was home this summer after seeing Anneliese use them for tarts!!

  21. Anonymous, you asked what size cookie cutter I used. The tart pan makes 24 and the cups are 2". The flower cutter I used was 4" . When I lined the cups the petals stuck up above the tops a wee bit.
    I fill the shells almost to the top. I hope that helps you.
    Happy baking....Kathy

  22. I used shortening and the results were wonderful. A very flaky pastry. Only problem was that I was short filling by three tarts after I had filled them.

  23. To keep them from boiling over, as the tend to do, start with a pre-heated 200ºF oven – baking for 15 min and then raise the temperature to 350ºF for another 10-15 min until pastry is golden. Also, to avoid the pastry crumbling, leave the tarts to completely cool in the pan. I recently found these tips and tried them out with great success.

  24. Kathy,

    So I thought that Mennonite Guys could only eat, but I was way wrong. So Lynda and I visited Kathy and my extended family this past week in BC and had these tarts. My older sister Rhoda phoned yesterday and told us that she was making moms butter tarts. So Lynda is working tonight and I went wild. I friggin' made the butter tarts myself (for the first time in my life) and they are "artery filling awesome." Thanks sis for sharing mom's recipe with the world. Mennonite Guys Can Cook.......stay tuned.


  25. Kathy
    Your tarts look great do you ever have a problem with the filling crystalizing at the bottom of the tart? Any suggestions.


  26. Barb, the only thing I can think of is that the mixture was not mixed well enough. I hope they turn out perfect next time. Thanks for stopping by and asking. Happy Baking Kathy

    1. I dont think that is the reason. Both times I made them they did that. First time they werent perfectly mixed, but the second time they were. I'm trying a third time with margarine.

  27. 3rd try and still have the crystallized sugar on the bottom. Do you mix your butter, brown sugar and egg with a blender or by hand?

    1. Niki, try melting the butter first before mixing it with the other ingredients. And you could try using a little more butter too, to help the sugar dissolve better.

    2. I mix with a hand mixer. I'm scratching my head on this one. I'll try and make them again soon and see if I come up with any other thoughts on why you are getting that crystallization.

    3. Niki,
      Maybe try this recipe
      I think the biggest difference is the corn syrup and you can omit the pecans. It may just help.

  28. Lol, I was mixing it by hand, maybe that was the problem. I'll make them again and use a mixer. I'll get it right sonner or later lol.

  29. I still have not had success. I have tried so many different things to get them to not crystallize but still no luck. I know there are different recipes but I am determined to get this one right, I dont give up easily.

  30. Actually do you think maybe just adding a bit of corn syrup to this recipe might work?