The Butter Tart: Canada’s Sweetest Contribution To The Dessert Canon
by Nathalie Atkinson, The Globe And Mail
Posted: 2017-09-06 15:42:49 EST

A dessert by any other name might be just as sweet, but no other high-calorie bomb is quite the same Proustian madeleine as a butter tart. Whether the filling is firm or runny, the three-bite Canadian delight is canon at truck stops, county fairs and bake-offs from the local farmers' market to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

The sugary, butter-filled pastry has kissing cousins around the world – Southern pecan pie; the custardy Portuguese pasteis de nata; Quebec tarte au sucre; even Harry Potter's favourite treacle tart – but the butter tart itself is one of the few pastries genuinely Canadian in origin. Culinary historians trace its creation back to les filles du roi, the hundreds of young women sent from France to populate Quebec in the late 17th century. The first known published "filling for tarts" recipe is brief, made up of a few common pantry ingredients and outlined on page 88 of the fundraising cookbook compiled by Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital Woman's Auxiliary in 1900, attributed to a Mrs. Margaret MacLeod.

The Lake Simcoe area's long history with the sweet treat has generated a self-guided butter tart tour of the Kawarthas and Midland's sprawling annual Ontario's Best Butter Tart Festival (at its 2017 edition in June, 50,000 visitors consumed more than 160,000 butter tarts). The pecan butter tarts by sisters Pam Lewis and Debbie Hill of the Maid's Cottage took best in show for the second year in a row.

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