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Butter Tart Bars

Butter Tart Bars
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My buddy Alison’s dad, Harry, is 94 years-old. He’s a great old guy. A Canadian in his childhood, he grew up hardscrabble in Nova Scotia. They don’t make them like him anymore. His favorite dessert is butter tarts, which is to Canada what chocolate chip cookies are to us in the U.S. Baked in little gem tins (like mini muffins), they are quite time consuming to make. Little rounds of dough line the cups and are then filled with a gooey pecan filling and baked. I wanted to make a holiday batch for him as a little treat, but just couldn’t find the time to make all those little cups. So, I came up with this easier-to-accomplish version which is just as delicious. Just ask Harry.

It’s that easy: Don’t even think about skipping the parchment paper lining the pan. If the filling gets between the crust and the pan it will become as cement and you’ll have to chip them out. Also, they will firm up as they cool, so be patient. I cut mine before they cooled completely and though it looks beautiful in the photo, they were a bit on the oozy side.

Butter Tart Bars

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

For the Filling

  • 1 3/4 cups corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs and 1 yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chopped pecans


  1. Line a 9 by 13-inch pan with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a mixer or with a fork until crumbly. Spread the crumb mixture evenly in the pan and press firmly to compact and make a good base layer.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm.
  4. While the base bakes, combine the syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, vinegar and salt with a mixer or by hand until thick and well blended. Stir in the pecans.
  5. Pour the filling over the base layer and return to the oven for another 30 minutes or until bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Butter Tart Bars

Butter Tart Bars

Carla Snyder

By Carla Snyder

Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

Recent Reviews

  1. Dear Ms. Snyder,
    Fantastic recipe.
    Although pecan and other nuts as replacements or additions is an individual choice, you may find in your research that raisins were more of the original historical “Butter Tart” recipe.
    Just an affectionate note from a 75 year old Canadian who grew up on and continue to bake traditional butter tarts for my family and friends.
    And, yes, there are “occasional” divergents from the recipe as soaking the raisins in , or adding, bourbon or cognac for a nuance of personality.
    This was fun!
    Off to the kitchen.
    Thank you.

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