Butter Tarts for All

29 Aug

My dear friend Roisin and I both love drinking tea and scarfing down something home-baked on the side. Since she lives in Montreal and I’m in Toronto, we can’t meet up very often these days, but we still fantasize about retiring together (we’ve already picked out a seniors’ residence in the UK). And in the meantime, there’s always the phone. We still have a cuppa while we’re chatting, just not from the same pot. And we’ve been friends long enough to forgive noisy snacking on longer calls.

So I’m excited to be sharing today’s recipe, because not only does my bestie love sweet stuff, but she doesn’t eat dairy products, and I hate to think of her missing out on butter tarts. I’m hoping she’ll cook up a batch to nibble on next time I have her on the line, so we can talk about how tasty they are. I’m also hoping you’ll share these treats with those dearest to you.

Butter tarts for all!

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Gluten- and dairy-free, these butter tarts were created by Tori Vaccher of Tori’s Bakeshop in Toronto’s East End.

This place is utterly charming, with its twine-bound sandwiches, bow-tied serving staff and handwritten ingredient cards.

While gluten-free baked goods have a reputation for turning out a little tough and dry, Tori and her team of bakers experimented until they found the right mix of flours to give their tarts a tender pastry. Garbanzo flour gives moisture, while rice flours and potato starch neutralize any bean-y flavours that might spoil a sweet tart. A little xanthan gum helps bind everything together.

Instead of butter, Tori uses Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks–a creamy yet dairy-free fat. While gluten-free pastry is a little less flaky than the regular kind, the trick is not to overblend it and to keep some larger pieces of fat in the dough.

Once cooked it will get an outer layer of bubbles and a nice texture and colour, just like traditional pie crust.

The butter tart filling itself uses the same fat, but just a couple of dollops in the bottom of the shell before a maple, sugar, oil and vanilla mix is poured in. Once baked, the syrupy sweetness and raisin and pecan flavours of the traditional butter tart are all there, but the end result is less greasy and a little more set like pudding. Here’s Tori’s recipe:

Gluten free dough recipe
1 & 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
3 tbsp potato starch
3/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp cane sugar
1 1/2 cup earth balance
11/4- 1 1/2 water

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Sift all flours into a large bowl.
3. Add sugar.
4. Cut the butter into the flour mix, until you have pea size balls.
5. Mix in water, start with the smaller amount and if your dough is dry add more water tbsp by tbsp.

– This dough is a more wet dough then your traditional gluten pie dough so don’t worry of it looks a bit different.
– The dough should be moist but not sticky, if it is sticky add some more brown rice flour.

6. Form dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.
7. After the dough is chilled roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
8. Depending on the size of tarts you are going to make, find a cutter the size of your pan. Most of the time if you do not have the right cutter, a water glass will work just fine.
9. Cut out the tarts and place them in your pan. There are tons of ways you can put folds in the tarts so experiment until you find the one you like the best.


2/3 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup coconut milk
3/8 cup sorghum flour
1/8 cup arrowroot
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup each (approx.) Pecans and currants

1. Whisk all ingredients together
2. Pour into raw tart shells
3. Add your choice of filling, I like pecans and currants

Bake at 350F for about 15 mins, till golden brown.



12 Responses to “Butter Tarts for All”

  1. mira August 29th, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

    SCRUMPTIOUS! And a lovely post to read as well.

    • Johnny August 30th, 2012 at 1:17 PM #

      OK to use real butter?

      • Valerie Howes September 1st, 2012 at 11:23 PM #


  2. Cathy/Butterfly girl. August 31st, 2012 at 3:53 PM #

    Butter Tart recipe, no good for diabetics,glueten-free crust, looks lovely.
    Anything you could suggest for Type 1 or Type 11 Diabetics?
    Your resturant looks great! and so does your food!

    • Mary September 1st, 2012 at 2:57 PM #

      I use Xylitol cup for cup to replace cane sugar, perfect for diabetics, google it to check out the facts on xylitol. Yes it’s more expensive but well worth the cost.

      • Valerie Howes September 3rd, 2012 at 1:11 AM #

        And as well as using sugar substitutes, go small! These could easily be made as tiny bites in mini-muffin pans.

  3. Marlene Erskine October 11th, 2012 at 11:28 AM #

    Would you have a recipe for Raspberry Jam for diabetics (type 2). Thank you for your help. Marlene Erskine

  4. Tracey September 12th, 2013 at 12:45 AM #

    Hoping to make these for a family reunion on Saturday. Are you able to advise if the coconut milk that is used in the filling is the carton or tin kind? As well, could a different oil be used than sunflower? Thanks!

    • Valerie Howes September 13th, 2013 at 10:27 AM #

      Hi Tracey,
      It would be the tinned kind, full-fat. I think sunflower oil would make a good substitute, although I’ve not tested that out. Hope tyhey turn out well!

      • Tracey September 15th, 2013 at 5:01 PM #

        Thanks Valerie! Unfortunately they tasted quite “bean-y”. Maybe I will try again with a little less garbanzo and a bit more rice flours.

        • Valerie Howes September 15th, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

          Oh, that’s a shame. Flavours of gluten-free flours can vary very much from brand to brand. I’ve been told Cup for Cup is very good, although it does contain milk powder, which may be a problem if dairy’s out. I usually use Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour in gluten-free cooking, and I find it’s quite good.

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