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Ontario influence: Rose Murray’s butter tarts in phyllo

Butter tarts in phyllo - ontario influence: rose murray's butter tarts in phylloRose Murray has been a key player in the Canadian food scene for almost three decades and is considered a national expert on the agricultural traditions that shaped our food systems. Having grown up on a selfsustaining mixed farm near Collingwood, Ont., Rose learned the art of growing, cooking and preserving food at a young age. Her travels brought her to Paris, where she studied at renowned cooking schools like the Cordon Bleu, La Varenne and École de Gastronomie Française Ritz-Escoffier. Rose has channeled decades of knowledge into her writing, teaching and television and radio appearances, as well as 10 cookbooks, including A Taste of Canada (Whitecap) and her newest book, Canada’s Favourite Recipes, scheduled to release this fall. Rose shared a recipe for butter tarts – a uniquely Canadian treat – fancied up with store-bought phyllo pastry.


Butter Tarts in Phyllo

Uniquely Canadian, butter tarts were probably adapted from old-fashioned sugar or maple syrup pies. There is constant controversy as to how runny they should be, or whether they should include currants, raisins or nuts. Everyone agrees, however, that if the pastry is too thick, the tarts just aren’t as good. Rose eliminated this problem and created a recipe for those who don’t make pastry by using readily available and easy to use phyllo pastry. They even look prettier than usual.


6 sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
3 tbsp (45 ml) melted butter

1 egg
½ cup (125 ml) packed brown sugar
½ cup (125 ml) corn syrup
2 tbsp (30 ml) melted butter
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (85 ml) coarsely chopped pecans



1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Place the phyllo pastry between two sheets of waxed paper and cover with a damp tea towel. Place one sheet on a work surface, keeping the remaining sheets covered.

3. Brush the phyllo with some of the melted butter; top with a second sheet. Continue stacking the sheets of phyllo, brushing each with melted butter, until you have a stack of 6. Brush the top sheet well with butter. Cut into 12 even squares.

4. Press the squares evenly into 12 muffin cups.

5. In a bowl, beat the egg well with a whisk, then whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir in the nuts.

6. Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared phyllo cups, being careful not to let the filling come up above the pastry. (They will appear about half full.)

7. Bake in the bottom third of the oven until the pastry is golden, about 15 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 tarts.

Adapted from

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