Butter Tart Bars are two treats in one! A buttery shortbread crust forms the base, and a sweet gooey filling is baked on top. It's a delicious way to enjoy this classic Canadian treat without all the fuss of making pastry tart shells.
What is a Butter Tart?
These delicious treats are a bit similar to a pecan pie. But not the same. If you are Canadian, then you know exactly what I mean. One thing for sure, classic butter tarts are delectable, sweet, gooey treats, and they are an especially popular indulgence during the holiday season here in Canada.
Butter tarts are really a very simple recipe. There's a pastry tart shell, and the sweet and simple filling, which is made with eggs, brown sugar, (or sometimes maple syrup) and, of course, butter.
There is, almost always, an addition of either raisins, walnuts, currants, or pecans. Canadians tend to feel strongly about their traditional butter tarts, and people can have very strong preferences about the add-ins!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Making one big pan to cut into squares is much easier than individual tarts, and there is no pastry to roll out.
- The filling here is a bit firmer than some tarts, so that the squares will hold their shape.
- The filling has minimal ingredients. Just brown sugar, eggs and butter combine to make their magic, and pecans add a delicious, nutty crunch.
- As they bake, the squares form a light caramelized crust on top, while the filling stays gooey.
- Butter Tart Squares freeze beautifully.
- Flour I use a 1:1 ratio gluten free flour, however, you can use all purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue.
- Butter If you have unsalted butter, use it, but salted butter is fine. Butter should be softened.
- Brown Sugar This is a brown sugar shortbread. Use light brown (also called golden yellow) sugar.
- Vanilla Extract
- Eggs You'll need three large eggs.
- Melted Butter It goes without saying, you must use real butter for a butter tart recipe. There is no substitution.
- Brown Sugar Light brown sugar which is also called golden yellow sugar is what gives the filling it's delicious caramelized flavour.
- Vanilla Extract
- Pecans You can use walnuts or raisins instead, or omit them.
How To Make It
- Combine the crust ingredients to form a crumbly dough.
- Press the dough evenly into a parchment lined baking pan.
- Bake the crust
- Beat together the filling ingredients
- Stir in the pecans
- Smooth the filling over the pre-baked crust.
- Bake until the top is golden and the filling is set.
- Use a sharp knife to cut into bars
- Have your butter soft at room temperature. I let it sit out overnight.
- For best results, have the eggs at room temperature as well.
- A stand mixer works well for both the crust and the filling, but you can also use an electric hand mixer or a food processor.
- Line your baking pan with parchment, leaving a couple of inches of overhang. This will make it easy to lift the uncut squares out of the pan. Use a knife first to loosen the sides.
- The crust should be completely cooled before spreading the filling on top.
- Make sure the butter tart bars are completely cool before slicing them.
They freeze very well. (But be warned, it won't stop anyone from eating them up. They are even delicious when frozen! To freeze: After slicing, flash freeze the bars on a tray until they are firm, then transfer them to an airtight container or bag. Freeze for up to three months.
The squares will keep covered, at room temperature for a couple of days, otherwise, put them in the fridge for up to a week.
The filling, while still gooey, is not as runny as many butter tart recipes.
Butter Tart Bars
- ¾ cup butter softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups brown sugar packed
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pecans chopped
For the Base
- Pre heat oven to 350°
- Prepare a 9 x 13" baking pan by lining with parchment paper
- Use a mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until combined
- Add the flour and continue mixing until incorporated. The dough will be crumbly, but will press evenly together.
- With your hands, press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake in centre of oven 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling
For the Filling
- Using a mixer, beat eggs. Add sugar and beat, then butter, vanilla, flour, and salt.
- Beat for a couple of minutes, then stir in pecans.
- Spread filling evenly over crust
- Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. The top should be golden brown and the filling should still have a slight jiggle when you move the pan.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan. Cut into squares