These butter tart squares have a delicious buttery, shortbread base and a top layer of gooey goodness! I like them with a few pecans but you can leave them plain or add in things like raisins, currants and/or other nuts!Jump to Recipe
Let me give you my back-story on what place butter tarts have in my life…
Back when my kids were young, I used to bake for a golf course and I made butter tarts 3 times a week for 4 years -I could make butter tarts in my sleep. But, even though the old adage says “practice makes perfect”, these butter tarts may not fall into that category. Not because they aren’t great, but because there are so many idiosyncrasies when it comes to this lowly tart, that my perfect version may not be yours.
My version uses my favourite crust recipe and the filling is perfect – not too runny and not too firm. And, never, ever raisins (long story but I have an aversion to them!!) and just a few pecans for good measure. So, when it’s done, it is a sweet, semi-solid, gooey filling with a pecan half for the additional crunch all encased in the flakiest pastry on the planet…it doesn’t get better than that! If you’d like to take a peek at these awesome tarts, these are my famous butter tarts (and you can get the recipe in my cookbook – formulated for muffin tins – here).
The History of Butter Tarts:
Butter tarts have long held a special place in Canadian culinary heritage. They are said to have originated in Ontario during the early 1900s, and quickly became a beloved treat across the country. The classic butter tart consists of a flaky pastry shell filled (and today, many use a short crust base) with a gooey mixture of butter, sugar, honey/brown sugar/maple syrup and eggs, often enriched with raisins or pecans. But, many people won’t make them because they think they are labour-intensive. So, that ‘s why I thought if I simplified it a bit by making these into bars, offering the same irresistible flavors but in a more convenient and shareable format, people might try them.
How Did This Idea Of Butter Tart Squares Come to Me?
I remember years ago, flipping through an Ina Garten cookbook and finding a recipe for her brownies (which is what I based my brownie recipe on!!) and the reason I loved it was because it is made in a very large pan! It’s actually made in an 18×12″ baking pan and is perfect for brownies.
She also had a similar recipe (made in the same pan) for pecan squares and I did think about using the same format for these butter tart squares but I decided against it because I didn’t have enough pecans and I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store!! But, if you’d like to give it a go, just double the recipe. Here is her original recipe if you want to take a peek!
What You’ll Need for These Butter Tart Squares:
- icing sugar
- orange zest
- brown sugar
- heavy cream
How Do You Store These Butter Tart Squares?
- If you don’t wait for the bars to cool fully before slicing, they will be messy and a bit too gooey to slice well. Plus the sugar mixture is soooo hot you’ll get a wicked burn.
- To make it easier, make sure you use a sharp knife and you can spray your knife with cooking spray before slicing.
- Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days after slicing.
- Bars can also be frozen for up to 2 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge (although I eat them frozen – my new fave treat ;)).
More Square Recipes (on this blog):
- Italian Bocconotti Bars
- Big Batch Brownies
- Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bars
- Buttery Rhubarb Oatmeal Crumble Bars
- Apple Almond Crumble Bars
- The Original Magic Bar
- Rustic Peach and Almond Bars
- Chocolate Toffee Bars
I seriously think you’ll love this recipe! It’s easy (well, easier than real butter tarts!), it makes quiet a bit and it freezes easily (warning…they taste good frozen too!!). Give them a shot and leave a comment below on how you will change yours up to make this recipe your own!!
Butter Tart Squares
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Butter Tart Filling
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar*
- 4 cups pecans (you can sub in walnuts and also add in currants and/or raisins)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Prepare a 9×13" pan with parchment (only because it will make lifting out the finished bars easier).
- In a large bowl beat the butter and icing sugar until fluffy; mix in the flour (the mixture will be thick) and press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top looks set and is a pale, golden color (you'll maybe only notice the colour change around the edge). Remove from the oven and leave the oven turned on.
- Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zest in a large saucepan; cook over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring, then raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes; remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, vinegar and pecans.
- Pour the mixture over the partially baked crust and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top looks set and is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing (to ensure clean cuts and that the bars are set).
- When ready to slice, lift the bars out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper. Place on the cutting board and slice using a sharp knife.