Buttering you up to get your vote for best butter tart in Oakville

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Published June 5, 2024 at 4:23 pm

A great butter tart contains the usual ingredients such as sugar, brown sugar, butter and, of course, eggs.

But want it to be an award winner, one that will earn your vote for the best butter tart in Oakville as part of Visit Oakville’s 2024 Talk of the Town Awards, well there’s one ingredient that should be considered an absolute must – love.

And lots of it, says Erin Nocent, owner and head Pastry Chef of The Sweetest Thing on Kerr Street.

“We have a little sign by our cash register that says, ‘Everything is made with the finest ingredients and lots of love,’” said the bakery owner of what goes into making her buttertart squares.

That’s right. Nocent adds a couple of little twists on the customary butter tart.

“A good butter tart comes down to a tender crust and lots of butter in the filling,” she explained. “We like to use pecans in our fillings, which adds a little something extra.

“We also don’t actually do a tart shell. We make them in bars, so it’s the perfect crust to filling ratio.”

When it comes to making the sugary goodness that Canadians list among their favourite treats, Nocent goes with the tried-and-true method of going with what works.

“We just do them with pecans. We don’t make the plain or with raisins,” she said. “Pecans are our favourite and our customer’s favourite, so that’s what we stick with.”

Will that be enough to earn the crown of best butter tart in Oakville? We’ll soon find out once voting wraps this Sunday, June 9.

Either way, it’s all about making treats that customers love for The Sweetest Thing owner and contests like this are a great way to bring the town together and have a little tasty fun.

“It’s fun to get the customers involved and it’s nice that [Visit Oakville] runs little contests like this,” said Nocent. “It’s always fun when it’s a category that applies to your business, so you can sort of engage in it.”

While butter tart festivals litter the map across Ontario come summertime, Oakville residents are fortunate to have plenty of local bakeries around town to satisfy that sweet tooth.

And there are plenty of varieties of butter tarts to choose from. From the classic favourites like traditional butter, pecan and raisin to specialties like salted caramel, chocolate hazelnut and coconut, there seems to be one for everyone’s tastes.

What better way to celebrate Canada than having a butter tart? After all, they’re as Canadian as maple syrup, beaver tails and poutine.

Unknown to many Canadians, it’s believed butter tarts are a Canadian invention at the kitchen table. They were common in Canadian pioneer cooking.

The earliest published recipe for a butter tart is dated back to 1900 in Barrie in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook.

According to the canadianencyclopedia.ca, they could date back to between 1663 and 1673 when 800 young women were sent to Quebec from France to help colonize.

The young ladies apparently brought traditional European recipes but had to adapt once in Canada and use what was available. It’s believed the sugar pie, with a filling of flour, butter, salt, vanilla and cream, is likely the “precursor” to the butter tart.

Regardless of its origins, butter tarts are easily one of the most recognizable Canadian desserts there is today.

Nocent offers up plenty of other baked treats every day at The Sweetest Thing.

They bake over 20 kinds of cookies every day, six different cupcakes and five different bars and squares. When it comes to raisins in her butter tarts, she’ll stick with pecan.

“We don’t have three other kids of butter tarts just because we’re baking so many other things every day,” she said. “That’s why we do them with pecans. Plain is a little boring. I don’t love raisins in my butter tarts.”

The butter bars go over just fine.

“We sell lots of them,” said Nocent.

Voting for Visit Oakville’s 2024 Talk of the Town Best Better Tart Award is open until midnight on June 9. To submit a vote for your favourite, visit here.

Ontario, Oakville, butter tarts, talk of the town, voting, pecan

Editor’s note: This article was edited to clarify that the contest is being held by Visit Oakville and not the town itself. 

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