Butter Tarts and the Sweetest Showdown of the Year

This past weekend, my family and I ventured out to take in the sites and smells at the second annual Midland Butter Tart Festival which took place up and down King Street, Midland, Ontario. Everyone in our family loves butter tarts. What’s not to love?! Buttery crust filled with a sweet, gooey filling. A true Canadian delight that everyone’s grandmother has made.

Maple Butter Tarts
Homemade gluten free maple butter tarts, Chef at Heart.

Thankfully, we arrived early because many of the vendors were sold out in the early hours of the day, unbelievable given some of them had taken upwards of 70 to 100 dozen tarts to sell. There were butter tarts EVERYWHERE! More than 50,000 tarts in total from vendors that lined both sides of King Street. Whatever your pleasure, the festival had the tart of your dreams: with raisins or without, with walnuts or pecans, gluten-free tarts, chocolate butter tarts, and so many more!

Midland Butter Tart Festival 3
Sampling butter tarts during the judging of the professional category.

The tarts were being judged in two categories: professional and homemade. We were lucky enough to attend some of the professional judging in the morning and were able to sample a few of the entries and we knew right then that we weren’t going home empty-handed.

Once back out on the street, we purchased tarts from a couple of the top vendors from last year’s competition: ones with walnuts, and some plain/traditional. Naturally, this meant having our own Father’s Day taste-off and the tarts we brought home were put up against my own gluten-free maple version. I’m happy to say, my tart won for overall appearance and even received one vote for best tart overall (no, that doesn’t include my vote, lol). Pretty good for putting a gluten-free version up against two other ‘normal’ award winning tarts made by professionals.

I have no doubt there will be a third annual Midland Butter Tart Festival and I highly recommend you check it out. Early!

Maple Butter Tarts
Chef at Heart Maple Butter Tarts

Maple Butter Tarts (gluten-free)

This is my own recipe for a gluten-free butter tart that will have even gluten-eaters coming back for seconds and thirds. This maple version uses 100% maple syrup in place of corn syrup.

For the pastry:

1/3 cup water, ice-cold

2 tsp cider vinegar

2 egg yolks

1 cup brown rice flour

1 & 1/2 cups tapioca starch

2 tsp guar gum

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup butter, cut into chunks

For the filling:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tbsp white vinegar

pinch sea salt

raisins (optional) – soak raisins in warm water for a few minutes to soften if desired


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine water, vinegar, and egg yolks.

In a food processor, pulse the rice flour, tapioca starch, guar gum, and salt to combine.

Add the chunks of butter and pulse until butter is coated in flour and resembles small peas.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the water mixture just until the ingredients come together. Do not over mix.

Remove the dough from the processor and place on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper coated with a light dusting of tapioca starch. Knead to form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, syrup, eggs, vinegar and salt. Slowly add the melted butter and mix well. Set aside until pastry is ready.

Roll out pastry on dusted surface and form into rounds for tart/muffin pan. If using raisins, place a few raisins in the bottom of each tart shell. Pour maple filling into unbaked shells, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 375 F until filling is set, about 20 minutes (decrease baking time a few minutes if you prefer a runny filling over a firm one).

Cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.





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