Best-ever butter tarts

When I was young, my grandmother used to make butter tarts at this time every year and it’s safe to say they were a family favourite. If you’re not Canadian, you may not understand the need to find a suitable vegan substitute for butter tarts. Combining flaky pastry shells with a deliciously sweet filling made of butter, brown sugar and eggs, they are considered a quintessential not-so-vegan Canadian dessert. For my family, they were a highlight of special occasions.

If butter tarts are one of your favourite pre-vegan desserts, or a comfort food from your childhood, I think you’ll love this vegan, gluten-free version, which I adapted from this recipe from Tori’s Bakeshop. Tori uses coconut milk and maple syrup but all the flavour comes from the pecans and raisins (and yes, the sugar, too).

Oh, and I have no words to describe the gluten-free pastry, other than it is the best and easiest version I have ever made. This recipe will most definitely be added to my regular repertoire.

Since I love all things mini, that’s what I went for here. They are perfect for a holiday buffet because they qualify as finger food and are much easier to serve than pie or cake. They’re also easy to store and they freeze beautifully if you prefer to make them ahead. Enjoy!

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Best-ever butter tarts (vegan and gluten-free!)

Yield: 3 dozen mini tarts

Ingredients:

Pastry crust:

  • 3/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance shortening
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp sorghum flour
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup each (approx.) pecans and raisins

Directions:

For the pastry crust:

    1. In a large bowl, sift the first six ingredients and whisk together.
    2. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork, until you have pea-sized balls.
    3. Stir together the water, vinegar and vanilla extract in a small measuring cup. Add to the flour mixture a little at a time to create a dough. The dough should be moist but not sticky. If it is sticky, add some brown rice flour.
    4. Form the dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
    5. After the dough has chilled and you are ready to roll it out, preheat your oven to 325F and lightly oil mini or regular size muffin pans.
    6. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick, using brown rice flour on the rolling pin and counter to prevent sticking.
    7. Using a circular cookie cutter or the top of a glass, cut circles in the dough and fit into your pan. If they are two large, just experiment with folds until you find the shape you like best.

For the filling:

  1. Whisk together all filling ingredients until smooth. You can add the pecans and currants at this point or add a few to the bottom of each tart shell instead.
  2. Spoon or pour the filling into the tart crusts, filling up to 3/4 from the top of the crust.
  3. Bake at 325F for about 10 to 12 minutes (or a little longer for larger tarts), or until the crusts are lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.

These freeze beautifully, so feel free to make them ahead and store them in a tightly sealed container in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature.

      

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