My Cherished Canadian Recipe

I feel lucky to have grown up and still live in such a beautiful country.  I had parents that came to a new country not knowing what their future would turn out to be.
Growing up I enjoyed playing with my friends and making mud pies as I think most kids did. My parents never questioned my baking skills, although they never did want to taste my delicious chocolate looking mud pies! Thinking back to them now, I don't think as I parent I would have wanted to taste much either.

We set out on a path perhaps not knowing where it will take us, I certainly did. My love of food and family came from my parents and grandparents who showed me what they did and how they came to be Canadians and what food meant to them. It was and still is a very important part of our lives. I can't say that I have a cherished Canadian recipe, well not one for sure. I think there are many, one in particular is the Dream Whip cherry cheesecake. I think that was one of the first "Canadian" desserts my grandmother learned how to make and man, could she make it well. I loved that dessert, graham cracker crust, billowy cream cheese and whipped cream centre then topped with a can of ruby red and super sweet cherries. I would eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner if you let me. As a child, I thought my grandmother and mother were the best cooks ever! And you know what they still are. I tried making that cheesecake for myself but it just never tasted the same. Now the last time my grandmother made it, it still tasted as delicious as I remember it did as a child. How does that happen?

I realized that I hadn't experienced many homemade Canadian desserts or treats growing up. Sure I had had butter tarts in a box but had anyone ever made them from scratch? I can't remember or maybe I don't want to remember them! LOL

My career at Canadian Living taught me so much. Working in the test kitchen with my cooking idols Elizabeth Baird, Daphna Rabinovitch and Anne Lindsay was truly unreal for me. I was able to experience Canadian Food like I had never before. The vast knowledge that these women had made me realize what I had been missing or had I?
My families' food had become Canadian as we are the vast multicultural society that has embraced so many cultures that we can showcase a wide variety of flavours, tastes and ethnicities as our own. I love that.

So where does this leave me for The Canadian Food Experience Project* for this month? Easy answer the Butter Tart. And the one that I enjoy making is the one I learned to make from Canadian Living when I worked in the test kitchen Canadian Living's Best Butter Tarts. Truly a no fail recipe that is tested 'till perfect.

Andrew Coppolino
I love them so much that when I got the opportunity to be a judge for a butter tart competition, a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance! Who wouldn't want to taste a variety of local butter tarts. The sweet competition was held at The Culinary Studio and fellow judge Andrew Coppolino enjoyed every moment. I also realized you can really put anything in a butter tart. But my favourite is the classic, simple and true and very Canadian to me, something I will always cherish and share with future generations of Canadians.

*The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.


  1. Oh - I remember the Dream Whip no cook Cherry Cheesecake, too! Isn't it amazing how mass marketing in the 60's and 70's influenced our Canadian food culture? Didn't any of your homemade Italian recipes take on a Canadian transition due to the ingredients available here, Emily? I am really curious about that. It would be an interesting conversation to have with your mom or grandma, if that is still possible. How did they have to adjust their recipes to Canadian ingredients? You have probably already had that conversation - but I want to learn more about this.
    Loved the read!

  2. Valerie, you and others will learn more, as I write my next cookbook! Yup, lots to share there, so excited and can't wait to tell the stories:) xo

  3. I cannot wait to read about it all in your new cookbook. Elizabeth Baird told me you were writing one about your family's traditional recipes around holidays and religious celebrations. YUM! I also want to have a butter tart tasting! Lucky you. I still think MINE looks better than any of these (she says modestly) I may have to whip up a batch to bring for a harsh critique during my Christmas in November stay! The one in the 6 oclock position looks the best to me... but I wonder which one tasted the best.... hmmmm?


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