A few weeks ago I was asked the following question:
“…TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON RAISINS IN BUTTER TARTS…YAY OR NAY?”
I looked at the question, and thought how am I going to answer this? How I am going to admit to this food loving group that I had never eaten a butter tart? I contemplated all this while others passionately make their case for raisins…
The question was put to all of the contributors to Food Bloggers of Canada (FBC). That’s right I’m a contributor for FBC, a little something I haven’t shared with you all before. Last July I started writing a monthly series exploring Canadian wine producers for FBC.
The past few years I have been exploring Canadian wine, learning more about the regions across the country, and the unbelievable wines that are being produced in our backyard. Writing about Canadian wine was a passion project that I pitched to FBC last year. I was beyond excited when they loved the idea and even more so when it became a monthly series.
Canadian wines are all kinds of awesome, and wine lovers around the world are certainly starting to take notice.
As I wrote for my most recent article…
The Canadian wine industry has undergone a dramatic evolution in the past 20 years. It’s an undeniably exciting time for Canadian wine. There’s a young cohort of passionate winemakers from coast to coast who are pushing boundaries and exploring what their land and vines can produce.
Back to these butter tarts…
I finally owned up to my fellow contributors, who let me say are an awesome group of writers who I admire immensely, I had never had a butter tart before. They were all very nice about it, and the suggestion was put forth I should a) try butter tarts right away and b) find a wine to pair with them.
I knew that butter tarts were “Canadian” but I have to admit I did not know they were such a big deal, classic, national delight.
Did you know there is a butter tart festival in Ontario?! That’s right annual festival in Midland, Ontario.There is a whole entry on butter tarts in the Canadian Encyclopedia. The first printed recipe for butter tarts appears in a cookbook published in 1900 by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital, in Barrie, Ontario. However it is generally agreed that butter tarts are much older, and adopted from European family recipes of new settlers in the 1700 and 1800s.
To sum up butter tarts in the culinary history of Canada, I share with you this passage from the Canadian Encyclopedia entry…
Forget the beaver, forget the glorious maple leaf, forget the majestic and haunting loon — for all these years the country has completely overlooked the most important contribution to our identity as a nation, the butter tart. The delicate crust supports the rich and creamy centre just as the oceans border our natural resources and the people and the animals that dwell here. Variations and sizes of butter tarts abound, just as there are so many varied cultures living harmoniously in our wonderful country. The Americans have their symbols and sayings, eagles and apple pies, bombs and movie stars. We have the butter tart. Born and baked in this incredible land of ours to be a constant reminder of how sweet and likeable we are.
Given that butter tarts are Canadiana at its’ sweetest, they could only be paired with a wine that is distinctly Canadian – Icewine.
While I’ve been verging on a diabetic coma these past few weeks researching the best butter tart recipe (discovering that I’m firmly in the nay to raisons camp), and testing Icewines with these various recipes – I have to say I learned a lot.
First that I have been clearly missing out, a life without butter tarts is just wrong.
Second I think Icewine gets a bad rap. As I’ve been telling people about my project the general reaction is not overly positive about Icewine. Too sweet has been the response heard most often.
Yes Icewine is sweet wine, but it is also luscious, boasting intense flavours and beautiful aromas. Like all wines, some are better with others. Icewines with high acidity are remarkably well balanced, and when paired with a sweet dessert (like butter tarts) it is a match made in Canadian heaven!
In the name of research I tried three recipes and three Icewines. The clear winner for me was Chatelaine’s classic butter tart recipe and Tinhorn Creek Kerner Icewine 2012.
This was the only recipe I tasted that included maple syrup, and butter tarts need maple syrup. You can not claim to be the ultimate Canadian dessert and not include maple syrup… Right?!
Tinhorn Creek Kerner Icewine 2012 is made with 100% Kerner grapes from the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard (Golden Mile). The grapes were hand harvested at -11C in January 2013. For me this Icewine was unique to the others I tasted because of the high acidity of the wine. The high acidity really cleaned my palate from the sweetness of the wine and tarts.
Plus the palate had a slight nuttiness that worked amazing with my favourite topping for butter tarts…. pecans.
This has been such a fun experiment, I have decided to explore other classic Canadian dishes and find their perfect Canadian wine pairing. For me I can not think of a better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th!
I hope you will follow and enjoy my monthly Canadian wine articles
BUTTER TARTS & ICE WINE
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ¼ cup cold lard, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ¼ cup ice water
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup white corn syrup
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Whirl flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and lard. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Whisk yolk, vinegar and ice water in a small bowl. With motor running, pour through feed tube while pulsing until just combined. Wrap with plastic wrap and press into a disc. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Position rack in bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 450F.
- Whisk sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt in a bowl until smooth.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-in. thickness. Cut into 12 rounds using a 4 ½-in. round cookie cutter, re-rolling scraps. Gently press rounds into a 12-cup muffin pan. Press sides to adhere. Refrigerate for 20 min. Spoon 2 tbsp filling into each pastry.
- Bake for 8 min. Reduce heat to 400F and open oven slightly for 10 sec. Bake until filling is puffed and pastry is golden, about 7 more min. Let stand on rack for 3 min. Run a small knife around the edges of tarts and transfer to rack to cool completely.