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The top 10 butter tarts in Ontario, according to two Torontonians who are on a mission to try every one

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For something that’s almost entirely sugar, the butter tart—a quintessentially Canadian creation—can be a very divisive dessert (especially where raisins are involved). There’s a festival devoted to them, and two Ontario townships have come to blows over which has the OG “butter tart trail.”

Michael Deforge and Jillian Tamaki, both Toronto-based artists, have taken it upon themselves to settle things once and for all—or at the very least, eat as many tarts as they can. “We’ve always had an interest in both Canadiana and local history, and the butter tart is a uniquely Canadian pastry,” says Tamaki. “We started documenting all the tarts we were eating a few years ago, and began to get a little obsessive over it.” Because of this, Deforge has had the honour of being a judge at the Midland Butter Tart festival, where he got to add another 20 tarts to their ever-growing list. Here, Tamaki shares her and Deforge’s favourites in and around the GTA.    

Sweet Bliss

10 A very pleasing tart to look at, with a frilled edge. The first time we had these was at the very end of an east-end tart crawl, and it definitely topped all the others we had along the strip. We were impressed, despite the sugar coma. 1304 Queen St. E., 416-916-7895, sweetblissleslieville.com    

Doo Doo’s

9 This place has a corner devoted to the ribbons and prizes their tarts have won over the years, so they obviously mean business. If you’re anywhere in the area, it is an essential visit. 187 County Rd. #28, Bailieboro, 705-939-1394, facebook.com/doodoosbakery    

Karelia Kitchen

8 “This is a great Scandinavian restaurant run by two very friendly people. They offer a butter tart in addition to an impressive selection of Nordic baked goods. Finding out they made butter tarts was a really nice surprise. Their tart also has some booze in it, which was like a second nice surprise.” 1194 Bloor St. W., 647-748-1194, kareliakitchen.com    

Harbord Street Bakery

7 “There’s not much to say about these extremely solid, unassuming tarts. I generally remember the filling here being much more syrupy than buttery.” 115 Harbord St., 416-922-6767, harbordbakery.ca    

Maid’s Cottage

6 “Maid’s Cottage is based in Newmarket, but like Bakerberry’s, they end up supplying a lot of spots downtown. If you’re not getting them directly from the source, the freshness and quality can vary a bit (depending on the grocery store or coffee shop putting them out) but when they hit, they really hit.” 223 Main St. S., Newmarket, 905-954-0202, themaidscottage.com    

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Andrea’s Gerrard Street Bakery

5 “This is one of Michael’s favourites. It’s a little unique in that I swear you can taste crystallized sugar bits in the filling, but my one quibble is that it’s kind of large. Michael doesn’t mind, though.” 635 Gerrard St. E., 416-465-4567, andreasbakery635.com    

Bakerberry’s

4 “It feels odd ranking a commercial tart this highly, but we’re never unhappy to eat one, so we’re including them here. It’s also one of the more aesthetically pleasing tarts around—it’s very neat and tidy.” Various locations, bakerberrys.com    

Hansen’s Danish Pastry Shop

3 “Hansen’s is a neighbourhood institution. Everything from the crust to the filling is perfectly considered here.” 1017 Pape Ave., 416-425-8877, danishpastry.ca    

Grandma’s Beach Treats

2 “Grandma is a powerhouse of Ontario’s tart scene and often places at the Butter Tart Festival competition. Their tarts have a simple, delicate crust, strong maple flavour and good goo all around.” 1014 Mosley St., Wasaga Beach, 705-429-2243, grandmasbeachtreats.com    

Betty’s

1 “Some of the best butter tarts are found outside of the GTA—I they just taste better in country air. Most ‘best butter tart’ discussions end up including Betty’s, and they’ve won a ton of awards (deservedly so). Their classic tart is perfect in consistency and flavour: it has a runny, buttery filling which still manages to hold its shape without spilling all over the place. We’ve generally been skeptical about novelty butter tart flavours, but we’re also big fans of their peanut-butter-and-jam variation.” 7380 County Rd. #2, Cobourg, 905-377-7437, facebook.com/BettysPiesandTarts

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