Taste Test: Searching for Toronto’s best butter tarts


This month we put the ultimate Canuck dessert to the test, as chef Grant van Gameren samples a roster of T.O.’s top butter tarts. He tells us which  pastry gives him a sugar high.

LEAH’S, 621 St. Clair Ave. W., $2.75
“Butter tarts are all sugar!” chef exclaims, noting that his sweet tooth means he’ll eat them ’til the cows come home. “This is a very rich, sticky butter tart.” It could be slightly less gelatinous (bring on the mess), but overall it’s a winner. “It’s tasty and the flavours are bang on!”

Temperamental tart
MABEL’S1156 Queen St. W., $1.95
“Sugars and fats are so temperamental,” chef notes, “that if you deviate from them, it changes the flavour profile.” Unfortunately, this tart is a touch overcooked.

Bites for the booze hound
GRAMMA’S OVEN CAFE & BAKERY9325 Yonge St., Unit 5, $1.95
Impressed by the pastry’s appearance, chef is surprised upon biting into the tart: “This one’s boozy!” The touch of alcohol ups the ante, and chef’s also impressed by the raisins and the consistency of the filling. It’s a close silver medallist.

Pastry perfection
HARBORD BAKERY, 115 Harbord St., $1.95
Though chef didn’t grow up eating butter tarts, he does enjoy baking his own, making him quite familiar with the dos and don’ts of the genre. Here, the pastry impresses him, but the filling is somehow too sweet, despite his love for sugar.

Fab filling
PHIPPS DESSERTS, 1875 Leslie St., #21, $2.50
Right off the bat, van Gameren isn’t wowed by the crust, finding it fat and butter heavy. However, the “really nice” filling is another story — though the caramel drizzle is “a little overkill.”

Capital crust
DUFFLET PASTRIES, 2638 Yonge St., $2.50
Van Gameren notes that this buttery crust is great for the shortbread aficionado. Though chef likes his tarts studded with raisins, he finds it a tad raisin-heavy and would’ve preferred a golden raisin for added sweetness

What a flake
OMG BAKED GOODNESS, 1561 Dundas St. W., $3.75
“Here we’ve got more of a puff pastry thing going on,” chef observes, noting that it’s a unique take on the crust. He likes the flavours of the filling but would prefer if the tart were a bit smaller and deeper.

A royal ratio
THE FLAKY TART, 711 Mt. Pleasant Rd., $2.75
Though initially put off by the excessive crust on this pick, van Gameren falls for the filling, which is paler in colour than usual (likely due to white sugar). “This one’s nice and runny,” he notes. “The ratio of raisins is perfect, and there’s nice caramelization on the top.”

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