Canadian DYK: How butter tarts became an iconic dessert of Canada

Where do butter tarts come from?

photo courtesy of Anna Olson's cookbook "Back To Baking".

Midland, Ontario holds The Best Butter Tart Festival every June with the goal of finding the best butter tart in all of the land. Elsewhere in the province, in Kawarthas Northumberland, the delicious gooey tart gets a dedicated tour of 50 different butter tarts.  

So, how did these sticky treats rise to fame in the first place?

One of its influences dates back to the 1600s, when young French women immigrated to what was then New France in an effort to help boost the population. In the kitchen, the women made sugar pieces, or tarte au sucre, with the ingredients available to them, which were different than the ones they had back home. So, with an abundance of sugar, maple syrup and dried fruit, they created what would evolve to become an iconic Canadian dessert that we all know and love: butter tarts.

It wasn't until closer to 1900s that an actual recipe for the dish was published. Today, our favourite recipe comes courtesy of Anna Olson from her book Back to Baking. The recipe calls for raisins, but the debate over them is a discussion for another day.