One of the best butter tarts within the metropolis come from this Toronto baker’s basement

“Strive it frozen first,” urges baker Eric De Garie as he affords a plate of his maple butter tarts served 3 ways: from the freezer, room temperature and proper out of the oven. When chilly, the filling is nearly like a pate de fruit: gentle however not gummy, and as De Garie notes, not as candy. “You can even eat extra of them like this.”

At room temperature, the filling loosens to a gel, sweeter than frozen however not as sugary as the standard butter tart because of the maple lending a little bit of smokiness. When heat, the crust is crisper and extra flavourful, and the maple butter combination runs like lava. Maybe it’s the continued summer time warmth, however these tarts are much more scrumptious when frozen, significantly for a palate like mine that normally shies away from butter tarts as a result of I all the time thought-about them to be too candy. I can think about them being chopped into small items and sprinkled on vanilla ice cream. Really, I did simply that with the pecan variation after I purchased a spread pack from De Garie that additionally had Skor, banana crunch and Brazil nut flavours.

Eric De Garie says the key to good buttertarts is to use a combination of dark and light maple syrups and for the crust to be thin.

Relationship again to at least the 1800s, the butter tart has turn into a dessert synonymous with Canada — final month, 1000’s flocked to the Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland after a two-year hiatus. The tart itself is straightforward: a pastry shell with a gooey syrup-and-butter filling, which implies it may well function a clean canvas for various interpretations (howdy, raisins or no raisins debate).

De Garie, a former financial institution dealer turned self-taught baker, is behind Eric’s Handcrafted Butter Tarts, which he runs out of his basement dwelling kitchen in Etobicoke’s Lakeshore Village, and that is the place a number of the finest butter tarts within the metropolis are made. For De Garie, he needed to create a tart that mixed the maple flavours of the Quebecois tarte au sucre with the crust-to-filling ratio of the butter tart.

In a typical day Eric De Garie will make about 30 dozen tarts in his kitchen. Depending on the store he supplies, different flavours will go to different shops.

“I grew up in Montreal and we had sugar pies. In Ontario, I noticed a butter tart and thought it was a hand-held sugar pie. But it surely was filled with corn syrup and had a thick tart. Yearly I’d attempt to make a greater tart. After 20 years I got here up with this recipe,” he says. “Everyone has a distinct opinion, however for me, tart makes use of actual butter, eggs, maple syrup and good brown sugars. I exploit a mixture of darkish and lightweight maple syrups. An excessive amount of darkish and it’s too sturdy, an excessive amount of mild and there’s not sufficient flavour.” (The ratio of the syrups, he says, is the key).

De Garie provides locations within the metropolis like Cheese Boutique, San Remo Bakery, La Rocca Artistic Kitchen and close by espresso store, Huge Man’s Little Espresso Store. Exterior of Toronto, his tarts can be discovered at Port Credit score’s Backroad Espresso Roasters; Oakville’s Boffo’s Nice Meals and Tribeca Espresso Store; Orangeville’s Depraved Shortbread; Hamilton’s Ward IV Espresso and Bar and Murray’s Farm Butcher Shoppe; and Burlington’s Familia Nice Meals.

Relying on the place you go, count on completely different flavours. Cheese Boutique has a spread pack with flavours like cinnamon-raison, hazelnut, coconut and crème brûlée; whereas San Remo has toasted marshmallow and Brazil nut, for instance. De Garie doesn’t do supply for particular person orders, however individuals can electronic mail him for a no-contact pickup from outdoors his dwelling.

De Garie makes about 20 flavours of buttertarts, some are exclusive to grocers and bakeries that he supplies.

Now semi-retired, the 56-year-old spends his time in his tiny kitchen sufficiently big for precisely one individual. It’s been retrofitted to carry a freezer chest, two sinks, a industrial oven and cooling rack, sufficient to make 30 dozen tarts every day, maybe making it one of many smallest kitchens with a inexperienced DineSafe signal within the metropolis. Earlier than that, in 2016, he began out of a commissary kitchen in Hamilton, studying about meals manufacturing from different distributors, whereas additionally providing monetary recommendation to first-time enterprise house owners and testing whether or not his tarts would promote by going to farmers’ markets. “It’s the simplest strategy to get speedy suggestions,” he says.

He’s since gotten affords to inventory bigger grocers and considered hiring one other individual, however in the end De Garie is conserving it a one-man present and isn’t thinking about opening a retailer. “If I simply needed to make tarts, why would I pay for an area that’s 3 times the scale of what I want?”

Eric De Garie pipes his maple syrup filling into trays of frozen pie crusts.

And from a buyer perspective, butter tarts are a easy dessert with roots in dwelling kitchens, loved on tenting journeys or small city festivals. To choose up a pack of tarts made on a big scale from a large grocer doesn’t have the identical enchantment as getting a field from a neighbourhood cafe, or in my case, have De Garie pack me a field that’s been freshly baked.

“It’s a small gig to maintain me busy six hours a day, 4 days every week, and I get some discretionary revenue. I’m 56 and my ‘conquering the world time’ is over,” he says. “In finance I may make 1,000,000 bucks and I’d get a slap on the again and be informed to do it once more the subsequent day. However while you see somebody eat your tarts after which there’s a giant smile on their face, that’s all I want.”

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