There is something you might not know about that I like to call the Canadian Trifecta of Love and Desserts: Nanaimo bars, date squares and butter tarts. Oh, how to describe a butter tart? A sweet, almost salty melt in your mouth pastry that can (or cannot) contain raisins. I suppose you might compare the filling to the bottom part of a pecan pie, but it should be much less sweet than just that on its own and should be ever-so-slightly runny. It’s decidedly unvegan, what with the butter and the eggs, but the good news is that in my experience, margarine actually makes a tastier filling! As for the eggs, luckily this isn’t one of those times when the specific proteins in eggs makes for the texture, so we’re just trying to fulfill the thickening needs of this dessert, which can definitely be achieved with ease.
I don’t approve of what I think is the un-Canadian insertion of walnuts or pecans into the recipe, so please don’t add them, especially if this is your first time trying them. Butter tarts are about enjoying a pure, sweet pastry treat and nuts would add a texture that would detract from the slightly runny, rich filling. I did up a new pastry crust and I think it’s even better than the previous one, but you can still find my other tips for better gluten-free pastry here. I have found that splitting the fat content of the pastry between shortening and non-dairy margarine lends itself to a more tender, but still plenty flaky crust. Of course, these do not need to be made gluten-free, as a good old-fashioned pastry will be just as amazing. I think some rum raisins would be incredible in here, but it’s entirely up to you!
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (My gluten-free one is here; use brown rice for the rice portion)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup non-dairy margarine, well chilled
~1/2 cup ice cold water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the shortening and non-dairy margarine into the flour until it looks a bit like oatmeal. Add the cold water in tablespoonfuls until the crust comes together in a loose ball. Form into a disc shape, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Flour and roll out to a 1/4 inch. Cut into large circle and fill the muffin tins with the cut out pastry. Bake for about 5 minutes, in the lower third of your oven, just to make sure the crust is cooked at the bottom. Take out, let cool a little before filling.
Butter Tart Filling
Adapted from here
3/4 cup seedless raisins, soaked in warm water (if they’re already soft, you can skip this all together), optional
2 tablespoons boxed egg replacer
1/2 cup maple syrup, or golden corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch, or potato starch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (only if using corn syrup)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup melted non-dairy margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Set raisins aside to soak, if using. Beat all other ingredients together until they are smooth. Add about 1 teaspoon of raisins to each prepared tart shell. Scoop about half a tablespoon of filling over the raisins, making sure they’re not too full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling has set and the pastry is starting to turn golden brown. Using a knife to loosen the sides of the tarts, remove and let cool completely on a baking rack. You can refrigerate or freeze these until you’re ready to serve at room temperature.
Note: You can also use tart shells, but you’ll get more tarts in the end. Same rules for filling apply, just make sure it’s not too full.