Butter tarts rank right up there as one of the foods considered to be quintessentially Canadian. Their origin is hotly debated – as is the inclusion of raisins – but they are nearly universally loved. If you’re pressed for time, these squares are a great alternative as they are easier to prepare than tarts, with the quick shortbread base a perfect substitute for pastry. I make these squares often because of their simplicity; if you want to go old-school, here’s a fantastic recipe for classic, corn-syrup free butter tarts.
- 2 cups (500 mL) flour
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
- 1 cup (250 mL) butter
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250 mL) raisins (if you must)
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) chopped pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line a 9 x 13 inch (22.5 x 32.5 cm) pan with parchment paper.
- Make crust by combining flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl. With a hand or stand mixer, beat together until crumbly.
- Press crust firmly into the parchment-lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
- While crust is baking, prepare topping. In a large bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, flour, melted butter and vanilla until well blended (I use a stand or electric mixer; a whisk works fine too).
- Pour topping over baked crust. Sprinkle raisins (if you must) and/or nuts over the topping.
- Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- Let cool thoroughly and cut into squares.
- Refrigerate or freeze if not serving within 48 hours.