The holidays aren’t complete without Vegan Butter Tarts! Pie pastry is moulded into a muffin pan and then filled with raisins, nuts and a gooey and sweet buttery, maple filling. These little tarts are a Canadian tradition & make a great holiday or Canada Day dessert!
1teaspoonwhite or apple cider vinegar , or lemon juice
½ cup / 72grams golden raisins / sultanas
½ cup / 73gramspecan nuts, chopped. Or walnuts (omit for nut-free)
12pecan halvesOptional for decoration
Prepare the oven
Move a shelf in your oven to about a third up from the bottom and place a large flat baking tray on it. Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C) and let the baking tray preheat in there. You will place the muffin pan of tarts on it when you come to bake them in case of any overflow and to radiate the heat better for perfect pastry.
For the pastry (see detailed process photos in the post above)
Put the water and ice cubes in a small jug or bowl and set aside.
Put a 12 hole empty muffin pan(or 2 x 6 holes) in the fridge (it must be a metal one) so it gets nice and cold while you make the pastry dough.
To a large bowl or a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt. Mix them up to combine.
Cut the vegan butter into smallish chunks and add it to the flour mixture. Cut it in either with a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. You can also use your fingertips to gently rub it into the flour if you prefer. The mixture should look like coarse bread crumbs when you've finished.
Gradually add the ice-cold water (making sure the ice cubes don't fall in), stirring with a knife or pulsing the food processor until the dough starts coming together. You might not need all of the water. Use your hands to bring the pastry dough together (removing the blade first if using a food processor) and turn it out onto a well floured, clean surface.
Sprinkle the top of the pastry with a light dusting of flour and roll out to just under ¼ inch / 4 to 5 mm thick. Cut out circles that are 4½ to 5 inches in diameter. You can use a cookie-cutter, or a mug or glass or small bowl that is the right size. Cut as many circles out as you can then reroll the pastry and cut more until you've got 12 circles.
Transfer each circle to the chilled wells of the muffin pan. Gently hold them over and let them fall in, carefully helping them get right into the bottom with your fingers. If you get any tears just pinch them together and smooth out. Crimp the edges however you like. I like the traditional rustic, wavy edges on mine rather than a super neat crimp. Return the pan to the fridge while you make the filling, being careful not to knock the soft pastry.
For the filling
To a medium bowl, add the softened butter, brown/coconut sugar and arrowroot powder. Mix them up then add the maple syrup, coconut milk (be sure to give it a really good stir before using so the separated hard cream and water are mixed and combined well), vanilla extract, salt and vinegar. Whisk it all up well. A few small lumps are fine but make sure any big ones are worked out.
Remove the muffin pan from the fridge and add enough raisins to cover the bottom of the tarts. Then add a layer of chopped pecans.
Pour over the saucy filling to about ¼ inch below the top of the crust, then place a pecan half on the top of each one (optional for decoration) and sprinkle some brown/coconut sugar all over the top of each one. This last sprinkle of sugar is what develops the signature crusty butter tart top so don't skip.
Place the muffin pan on the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, keeping a close eye on them from about 15 minutes of bake time, (especially important if you are using a dark coloured muffin pan). I like to put the oven light on and watch through the glass door. If they start bubbling up a lot and look like they might overflow, or the pastry gets too dark, remove them a bit earlier, but in all my tests (and there were many!) this didn't happen. In a light coloured muffin pan, it will take the full 20 minutes. Darker muffin pans radiate the heat differently and cook a little quicker so the tarts might be ready a few minutes earlier. Pay special attention in the last few minutes just in case!
Once done, remove from the oven and let the tarts cool completely in the muffin pan before attempting to remove.
Use a good non stick muffin pan or you will struggle to get them out. I highly recommend USA Pan Muffin Pans. Nothing sticks in them.
If you are at all worried about the quality of your muffin pan and how your tarts will release, put a narrow (1/2 to 1 inch wide) strip of parchment paper into the pan before you put in the pastry. The two ends should stick out on either side of the tart shell. Once baked the strip gives you little handles to lift out / release the tart.
I don’t recommend using a silicone pan or molds because they don’t distribute heat properly. This will affect how the pastry cooks and it won't be at its best. They also they don't provide enough structure and stability for these tarts
Don't handle the pastry too much and keep it nice and cold.
Don't roll the pastry too thin or it will be difficult to handle and won't hold the filling. The last thing you want is it to leak through the pastry or you will never get them out.
I love to roll out my pastry on a silicone baking mat. It makes cutting and sliding off the pastry rounds really easy.
Don't skip the vinegar! Just a tiny splash helps balance the sweetness in the filling and makes the world of difference. to the flavour balance. Lemon juice is a great alternative though if you prefer.
Don't skip the extra sprinkle of sugar on top of the filling. It makes a delicious light sugary crust above the molten insides!
Don't attempt removing them from the pan until they are completely cool.
If some of the filling has bubbled up and made the pastry stick around the tops of the pan, run a toothpick around the edges to loosen it.
Hot tip! - Try adding 2 tablespoons of dark rum or brandy to the filling for a delicious boozy hit!Making ahead, storage and freezing tipsPastry - You can make the pastry ahead of time if you wish. Leave it as a ball and wrap it thoroughly in plastic wrap then refrigerate for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months either as a ball or already shaped in the muffin pan. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight.Filling - Make the filling as instructed, then cover the bowl and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Leave it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes after taking it out of the fridge and give it a quick whisk before using.Storage - Completely cooled butter tarts can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge. They are also fine left in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. Enjoy them chilled or at room temperature, or warm them up for 7-10 minutes in a 350ºF (175 °C) oven.Freezing - Keep them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Pop them in the fridge overnight to thaw.Gluten-Free? Make some gluten-free pastry or buy ready-made gluten-free pastry or tart shells. The filling is naturally gluten-free.