Canadian Butter Tart Christmas Cake Recipe

Twisted’s Canadian Butter Tart Christmas Cake recipe pays homage to the maple syrup-mad Canadian Mounties.

Done in 2 hours

Serves 8

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Butter tarts are the traditional Christmas cake dessert from Canada and are regarded as one of the country's quintessential sweet treats. This butter tart-inspired Christmas Cake recipe is straight from the heart of Canada.


Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line three 8-inch cake tins with butter, flour and parchment. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat on medium for about a minute. It may look curdled, that is okay. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and spices.

Add one third of the flour mix followed by half of the milk. Repeat with one third flour and milk finishing off with the flour. There should be 3 additions of dry and 2 additions of wet in total. Scrape the bowl in between. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool or a few minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely. If the tops of the cakes are domed when cool trim them off so they’re flat. 

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs. In a pot over medium heat, add the sugar, syrups and butter. and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and very slowly drizzle the mixture into the whisked eggs while whisking continuously. Once all smooth pour back into the pot and continue to cook until it starts to boil again and thicken. Once it is thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the salt, lemon juice and toasted pecans. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely.

For the caramel: Put the maple syrup into a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. Bring the syrup to a boil and boil until it reaches 225F - 230F. Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Then add the cream and salt and mix in gently. Set aside to cool. It will thicken as it sits.

For the icing: add the egg whites and maple syrup to a heatproof bowl. Whisk them together to combine.  Place them over a pot of simmering water being sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water.

Cook the egg white mixture until it reaches a temperature of 155ºF.  Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, whip the egg mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form.  Then switch to the paddle attachment and gradually add the butter a few pieces at a time. The mixture may curdle but that's okay, just keep mixing and it will come together. Add a little bit of vanilla to the mix and if it's too loose for your liking, sift in some starch and mix through.  

Lay one cake layer on a board,  place a ring of icing around the edge and a thin layer on the bottom and fill the centre with half of the butter tart filling. Repeat with the second layer.  Cover the entire cake with frosting and smooth the sides and top. 

Pipe rosettes on the top of the cake and drizzle caramel to drip down the sides between the rosettes and some in the middle. Top each rosette with a pie crust leaf and toasted pecans. Slice and serve!

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Hugh Woodward

Hugh Woodward

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