Experience the joy of Canadian cuisine this Christmas with our Butter Tart Squares! If you love butter tarts, you'll adore this easy-to-make twist. Combining gooey, rich butter tart filling with a crisp shortbread crust, these squares are the perfect festive treat for your holiday table.
What are Butter Tart Squares?
Butter Tart Squares are a delectable adaptation of Canadian classic butter tarts, transforming them into a convenient square form. This scrumptious dessert merges the gooey, delicious taste of classic butter tart filling with a buttery shortbread crust. Maintaining all the cherished flavors of the original butter tarts, these squares offer a delightful twist on the classic, making them perfect for easy serving and enjoyment.
The Origin of Butter Tarts
The origin of butter tarts, a quintessentially Canadian dessert, can be traced back to the early 20th century in Canada. While the exact origins are somewhat unclear, they are believed to be a variation of pecan pie, which was brought to North America by French settlers. The butter tart evolved as a distinctively Canadian recipe with the absence of pecans, which were less available in Canada, and the inclusion of other ingredients like raisins.
The earliest known recipe for butter tarts appears in the 1900 cookbook “The Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook,” published in Barrie, Ontario. This suggests that butter tarts have their roots in Canadian pioneer cooking, reflecting the ingenuity and resourcefulness of early Canadian cooks who often had to make do with locally available ingredients.
Over the years, butter tarts have become a beloved treat across Canada, with variations in the filling – ranging from runny to firm – and the addition of ingredients like nuts and raisins. They hold a special place in Canadian culinary history and continue to be a staple in Canadian bakeries and households.
What are Butter Tart Squares Made Of?
Our Butter Tart Squares recipe uses simple, high-quality ingredients. The crust is made with all-purpose flour, sugar, and unsalted butter, creating an absolutely irresistible shortbread base. The filling ingredients include dark brown sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract, with optional raisins or chopped pecans adding a delightful nutty crunch.
How to Make Butter Tart Squares – Overview
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make homemade butter tart squares from scratch!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your baking pan with parchment paper.
For the crust, combine flour and sugar, then beat the butter into this mixture. Press it firmly into the prepared pan and bake until lightly golden brown.
Combine melted butter with brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and a little all-purpose flour to make the filling. At this point you can add in some optional ingredients if you like; either raisins or chopped pecans (or both) work wonderfully in this recipe! Pour this over the baked crust and return to bake in the oven until set – about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.
Recipe Variations & Substitutions
Feel free to omit raisins or nuts if they're not to your taste – these are optional and the squares taste great without them too, so no worries!
Substituting brown sugar with corn syrup can give these butter tart bars a unique flavor. You can also try adding a little more flour to the filling mixture for a firmer texture if you like.
Another nice variation is to sprinkle a little powdered sugar or icing sugar over the top of your butter tarts before serving.
Homemade Pastry Touches
If you're feeling adventurous, you could try making homemade pastry tart shells or use a store bought tart shell as a base in this recipe.
To make mini individual butter tarts, all you have to do is cut a premade store-bought pie crust into circles using a pastry cutter or cookie cutter and place them into a muffin tin, pour the butter, brown sugar, and egg mixture into these little tarts, and bake according to the recipe. This gives your butter tart squares an authentic, homemade touch reminiscent of classic recipes.
Baking Tips for Perfect Butter Tart Recipe
Ensure your butter is at room temperature before you start. This makes the butter easier to beat and mix with the other crust ingredients. If you're using a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until they form a crumbly mixture. For a slight twist, add a pinch of baking powder to the crust mixture for a lighter texture.
Common Questions About Butter Tart Squares
- Are butter tarts a Canadian thing? Yes, butter tarts and butter tart squares are a classic Canadian treat.
- What makes butter tarts runny? The runny consistency in butter tart filling typically comes from the butter and sugar mixture. To prevent crystallizing, ensure the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Can you freeze homemade butter tart squares? Absolutely, and you can also freeze butter tart bars for later enjoyment.
- How do you get butter tart squares out of a pan? To make removing them from a pan easier, line the pan with parchment paper before pouring in the ingredients. Once the baked goods are finished and have cooled down, lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Place the parchment paper with the tart squares on a cutting board and then cut them into squares.
The Perfect Bake: Preheat your oven properly – a preheated oven ensures that your butter tart squares bake evenly. Place your square pan in the oven and check for the perfect golden brown crust. If the filling has a slight jiggle in the center, it's done!
How to Serve Butter Tart Squares
Most often, traditionally, butter tarts and butter tart squares are served at room temperature. Chilled are nice too, I find, but it's up to you!
Store your butter tart squares in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Serve them at room temperature for the best flavor and texture. These squares are always a hit at gatherings!
To freeze Butter Tart Squares, cool them to room temperature, then store in an airtight container with parchment paper between layers. They'll stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What to Serve with Butter Tarts
Serve these delicious squares with coffee or tea. They're perfect for Christmas baking or as a part of any festive dessert spread.
In conclusion, butter tart squares are a perfect recipe that combines the classic Canadian treat of butter tarts with a delightful shortbread base. Whether you prefer your tart squares with or without raisins, these treats are sure to be a hit.
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (regular brown sugar is fine too)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
- In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend in 1/2 cup softened butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake the crust for 15 minutes until lightly golden.
- In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup melted butter with brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and 1 tbsp flour until smooth. Stir in raisins and nuts if using.
- Pour the filling over the baked crust.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set.
- Allow to cool in the pan, then cut into squares.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Canadian
Keywords: Butter Tart Squares, Canadian Dessert, Christmas Baking, Shortbread Crust, Gooey Filling, Easy Recipe, Festive Treat, Classic Butter Tarts, Holiday Dessert, Traditional Canadian, Family Baking, Sweet Treat, Comfort Food, Homemade Squares