Salted Maple Butter Tarts
Around the holidays in Canada, butter tarts—a pastry case full of a sort of butterscotch goo often with raisins added—are everywhere. The filling is very sweet, a little grainy and delightfully in between liquid and solid. The original recipe is simply butter, brown sugar and eggs, and it’s wonderful. But swapping some of the sugar for maple syrup, adding a hint of nutmeg, some extra salt on top and an optional lime spiked whipped cream brings some depth. I find these perfect for a moment of quiet reflection with a cup of hot tea.
The crust I’m using here is kind of between pie and tart dough. A bit flaky, but not sweet and easier to work with than pie dough.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more for finishing)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lime
- Freeze the butter for 10 minutes.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture and gently mix with hands so flour is coating the butter.
- In a small bowl, crack the egg and add the 2 Tablespoons of water and whisk. Pour it into the bowl and quickly and gently mix the dough until is forms a reasonably coherent dough. You are not going for smooth, just together.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill for 1 hour or longer.
- When ready to make the tarts, set the oven to 375 F. Set out a 12 tin muffin tray.
- Cut the cold dough into 12 equal pieces and roll them into rough circles, being careful not to overwork. Sprinkle some flour on the counter to prevent sticking and roll out each piece until it is about wide enough that you can fit it into the muffin tray like you would be making a little cup with at least ½ inch of excess pastry coming above each tin.
- Do this for each of the 12 tins then set the whole tray in the fridge while you make the filling.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are slightly lighter yellow, about a minute. Grate in the fresh nutmeg if using, then add the salt and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Finally pour in the melted butter and whisk until light and smooth.
- Using a ladle, fill each pastry lined muffin tin with filling, fill a little below the top so the filling has a bit of room to expand.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned and the filling is bubbling all the way through. After you pull them out, sprinkle each one with a generous pinch of sea salt or flaky finishing salt like fleur de sel if you have it. Let them cool in the tins completely or remove while still warm to fully cool on a rack or plate.
- If making the whipping cream simply whisk the cream, sugar and lime zest together until soft peaks form. Dollop onto the tarts and enjoy!