A sweet choice for a second career
“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.