A sweet choice for a sec­ond ca­reer

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - STORY AND PHOTO BY JOHN RENNISON

“Ba­si­cally, what we’re do­ing is of­fer­ing a hand­crafted but­ter tart made with the best in­gre­di­ents: fresh eggs, fresh but­ter, maple syrup and two types of brown sugar,” says Eric De Garie, founder of Eric’s Hand­crafted But­ter Tarts.

“I make my own crust. It’s a sandy crust ... de­signed to blend with the fill­ing so that you have a mouth­ful of fill­ing rather than a bat­tle be­tween the goo and the pasty crust.”

He says for most peo­ple, the crust is an af­ter-thought. “For me, it is an in­te­gral part of the but­ter tart.”

He started with the clas­sic, un­em­bel­lished ver­sion of the Cana­dian favourite, and is up to seven vari­a­tions in­clud­ing white choco­late co­conut, salted caramel and smooth cayenne, “and then, of course, your sta­ples: pecan, raisins, wal­nut.”

The ini­tial strat­egy was to whole­sale. How­ever, af­ter get­ting into lots of stores, the com­pany “didn’t make much money. “So now we’re tak­ing it di­rectly to mar­ket.” De Garie bakes his tarts at the Kitchen Col­lec­tive on King Street. A café is open­ing in the store­front, where var­i­ous vendors who cook at the col­lec­tive will be sell­ing their prod­ucts.

He has also sold at farm­ers’ mar­kets.

Since he started the busi­ness in March of last year, he figures he’s made 12,000 but­ter tarts. They are priced at $2.50 each, or $14 for a six-pack. “It’s not a lard and corn syrup tart.” De Garie started his work­ing life as a trader for Bank of Mon­treal. At 50, he turned from banker to baker. “I dropped one N,” he jokes.

He moved to On­tario from Que­bec in 1991. The first but­ter tart he saw here was mostly corn syrup and raisins.

“What’s that?” he won­dered. He as­sumed it was a sugar pop.

His suc­cess to­day comes af­ter try­ing dif­fer­ent recipes over the years, work­ing with sweets here and in Que­bec.

“I had 20 friends over for Christ­mas (two years ago) and they said, ‘Yeah, you def­i­nitely have to sell these.’”

Eric De Garie of Eric’s Hand­crafted But­ter Tarts loads up the oven at the Kitchen Col­lec­tive. His pre­mium tarts will soon be avail­able in a new café at the front of the King Street col­lec­tive.

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