Hope everyone had a great week!
It’s been a cold and rainy one where I am, but what better time for a sweet and sticky comfort food: Taffy Tart Squares (also known to some as Butter Tart Squares). My husband goes away into the wilderness this time every year with his Dad and a group of men for several days, and I always make these for them. (A crowd favourite, I’m told.)
I’ve also been baking these squares as a classic holiday treat for the past few years, because they are so loved, and because you can make them ahead of time and freeze. You can eat them as they are (delightful), or if you want to make it even more divine and turn it into a full-on dessert, you can cut a nice big square and microwave for about 20 seconds, then place on top of vanilla bean ice cream, breaking it up a bit with a spoon. With every bite you get a bit of everything: warm gooey topping, crunchy pecans, cold and creamy vanilla, and rich cookie.
Not to state the obvious, but it is heaven. They are so super easy, which is almost impossible to believe, considering their insane decadence. They are amazing freshly baked. They are amazing refrigerated. They are amazing frozen. They keep forever, seemingly, and there is quite simply no escaping their deliciousness and, well, addictive-ness. This has been my secret recipe for several years now, but I just can’t possibly keep it from you one more day.
This is another one of the I-feel-so-authentic-when-mixing-with-a-wooden-spoon desserts. Like I’ve said before, I love my KitchenAid mixer, but, to me, desserts seem so homespun when using only a bowl and wooden spoon. These squares taste exactly like Taffy Tarts, but no fussing with flaky pastry. The crust (aside from simple to make) is almost shortbread-like, and the topping is ooey, gooey, sticky, and sweet — just the way it should be. I always add chopped pecans because they seem to hold the topping structure together and just taste so darn good. You could add raisins as well as, or instead of the pecans as it’s really personal preference. I love them without raisins, but that’s just me.
So I made a tray of these this morning and decided to write this post. When I decided to pull these out of the fridge and take photos, I thought I was being inconspicious, but I was found out. I really thought I had my little Neve fooled when I put Elmo on and set her up with an array of toys, all facing the opposite direction to my photoshoot. There was no hiding them from her. She came looking for me, she came looking for them. She found me and, well, she found them . . .
Aww, look at that adorable little face and excited finger-point at her discovery. How could I even think she’d be capable of anything devilish? Come on, wouldn’t you trust this innocent and harmless creature with a tray full of Ooey Gooey Taffy Tart Squares at her arms’ reach?
Me neither. I think she may have inherited her mama’s sweet-tooth . . .
- 2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 tbsp (90 g) melted unsalted butter
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups (684 g) packed brown sugar
- 6 tbsp (42 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp (7 g) baking powder
- 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1-1/2 cups (150 g) coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. (Make sure there is an overhang of paper to allow for removing from pan after baked.)
- In medium bowl, combine flour and granulated sugar, cutting in butter with pastry blender until crumbly. Press into pan and bake for 15 minutes (or until very light golden brown on edges).
- In large bowl, mix melted butter and eggs, blending in brown sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Stir in pecans and pour over base.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. *It should not feel firm--it's really important that you don't over-bake, or they won't be "ooey gooey!"
- Let cool on rack, then cover and refrigerate until very firm. Using the parchment overhang, remove from baking pan and place on cutting board. Cut into squares.
- Keep refrigerated until about an hour before you need them, if you can (they get really gooey otherwise, which isn't necessarily a bad thing). They can also be frozen (and they really do taste delicious right out of the freezer!).
Good luck & enjoy!