This is something of a Canadian family tradition. A Christmas without butter tarts would simply not be the same. My mom and all my aunts make butter tarts for Christmas every year.
A butter tart is basically just a tart with normal (not sweet) crust filled with a butter, sugar, and raisin mixture. When I was a kid, I thought these were disgusting, probably because I abhorred raisins in baking back then, but maybe also because of the sweetness and richness packed into these tarts.
When you grow up, your tastes change, though, and I found during the first Christmas I spent in Burma that I was just really craving butter tarts, so I grabbed a recipe off the internet and away I went with my kitchen adventures. The results were… disappointing. Butter tart filling is supposed to have a more solid consistency so that you don’t have to use a plate and spoon to eat them. You ought to be able to eat them with your hands without getting syrupy filling all over yourself because the filling shouldn’t be even a little close to runny.
Determined to have the butter tarts if my childhood, I swallowed my pride and emailed my mom to ask for the recipe, which is what I should have done in the first place except my mom and I don’t have the greatest relationship (for however much I love her) and I try to keep our contact to a minimum. Anyway, she got back to me with my paternal grandmother’s recipe, which is the recipe all the women in my family use.
2 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cups raisins
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream
Beat eggs only until blended. Beat in sugar, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir in butter, cream, and raisins. Line tart tins with pastry (I use the Crisco method or, if I’m feeling lazy, I use the premade frozen tart shells). Fill tarts 1/2 to 2/3 full with mixture and bake 5 minutes at 400F. Reduce heat to 300F and bake a further 15-25 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!