Sandy’s Cape Breton Pork Pies

Cape Breton pork pies1 are date-filled tarts topped with a citrus butter icing. Sandy introduced me to them when I was but a lad. Since then, Christmas/Festivus hasn’t been Christmas/Festivus without a Cape Breton pork pie. This recipe is quick, and enjoyably messy.

The recipe should make roughly 30 mini tarts.


1 cup butter
4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 cups flour (I use 1 cup bleached all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour)

Prepare yourself a glass of Bailey’s and milk. Mix the flour and icing sugar. Cut the butter into small cubes and kneed into the flour. Within a few minutes, you’ll get a greasy ball. Press the dough into small muffin tins. When you’re pressing you can make the shell quite thin (3 or 4 millimeters) – it will expand impressively as it cooks. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.


2 cups tightly packed chopped brown dates
.75 cup brown sugar
1.5 cups water
Lemon juice (from half a lemon)

Enjoy a glass of rum and eggnog (if you have a little coffee and nutmeg, toss those into your drink for good measure). Simmer the ingredients together until they get a soft, mushy consistency. Allow to cool. Fill shells.


The icing makes the pie. It should be citrus-y and sweet. Sandy’s recipe didn’t include her mix for the icing, so I’ve had to reverse engineer it. With a little help from teh intarwebs, this is my current knock-off:

1/2 cup butter
1.5 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon of milk
Juice of 1/2 lemon (you can add more)
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

You’ll need your wits for this bit, so mix a little rum or irish cream into hot chocolate and savour that before beginning. Cube the butter and kneed it into the icing sugar. Mix the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla together with a spoon and beat it like it owes you money. You’ll end up with a thick sugary gooey mass. Add a little more icing sugar to give it some body. This recipe makes about twice as much icing as you’ll need, so find some way to enjoy the remainder.

Top the tartlets with the icing.

Store the tartlets in a the fridge. The icing can turn to goo and pour off if you aren’t careful.