The best butter tart squares! These have a buttery shortbread crust and a layer of gooey brown sugar filling. You can add in walnuts, raisins, currants or leave them plain. Easier, quicker and more delicious than the original.
I love butter tarts. To all my non-Canadian friends, butter tarts are a classic Canadian treat. They have brown sugar filling that’s similar to pecan pie. Only they’re a little sweeter and a little gooier. These bars are just like the classic tart recipe but easier to make because there’s no fiddling around with homemade pastry. I also prefer the ratio of crust to filling because they aren’t quite as sweet and I love a buttery cookie crust.
Making Butter Tart Squares
As mentioned earlier – this recipe is easier than making tarts because the base layer is much easier than homemade pastry and there’s no need to form tart shells.
For the Crust
You’ll simply beat together softened butter and powdered sugar until soft, then mix in the flour. Be careful not to over mix here – the mixture will be quite thick. You’ll press the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan and bake the crust on its own first so that it doesn’t get soggy.
For the Filling
I like my filling for butter tarts slightly gooey. Because these butter tart squares don’t have the support of a tart shell, the filling can’t be too runny or gooey – otherwise, the bars will fall apart. As the crust is baking, you’ll beat together softened butter, brown sugar and a little flour, then mix in the eggs and vanilla extract. Then goes in the corn syrup and vinegar.
Why is there vinegar in butter tarts? There’s a lot of sugar in butter tarts, so the vinegar helps to balance out the sweetness. I personally find the flavor is superior when you use vinegar.
There’s a bit of a debate when it comes to butter tart filling. Some people like to add in raisins and/or walnuts, others like to keep them plain. I’m not going to get in the middle of this age-old dilemma – so feel free to do as you please. I like to use a combination of currants and chopped walnuts.
You’ll want to let the squares cool before slicing, otherwise, the filling can get pretty messy. I know the struggle – but even 30 minutes can make a big difference (although I do recommend letting them cool for at least 4 hours before slicing).
Personally, I love eating butter tarts cold from the fridge – but that’s another debate. These bars freeze well too if they’re wrapped tightly and placed in a freezer container or bag. Then simply thaw in the fridge overnight.
I love to make these over the holidays with other favorite Canadian treats, such as:
- Confetti Squares – AKA peanut butter marshmallow squares
- Nanaimo Bars
- Puffed Wheat Squares
- Date Squares
Butter Tart Squares
- 9x13 Inch Pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Butter Tart Filling
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup brown sugar light or dark
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup*
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar*
- 1 cup raisins, currants or chopped walnuts - optional I use 1/2 cup currants and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang around the edges.
- In a large bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.
- Mix in the flour - the mixture will be thick.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top looks set and is a pale, golden color. Remove from the oven and leave the oven turned on.
- Make the filling as the base layer is baking.
- Beat the butter, brown sugar and flour until evenly combined.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
- Mix in the corn syrup and vinegar. Stir in the optional raisins, currants or walnuts.
- Pour the mixture over the gently baked crust.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top looks set and if you give the pan a nudge the filling layer doesn't look liquidy.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing for clean cuts and to ensure 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. If the edges seem too crispy, simply slice off the edges.
- For gooier bars, leave out the 2 tablespoons of flour from the filling.
- Corn syrup can be substituted with pure maple syrup. However, I do recommend using corn syrup because it is how the recipe was developed.
- The vinegar helps to cut the sweetness of the recipe - therefore I do not recommend leaving it out.
- Feel free to use currants, raisins or chopped walnuts, or leave them out. I typically use 1/2 cup currants and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
- I really recommend waiting for the bars to cool fully before slicing so that they are less messy.
- Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days after slicing. Bars can be frozen for up to 2 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only. It is based on 1 bar, assuming the recipe is made with 1 cup of raisins and sliced into 15 equal-sized squares.