These Maple Bacon Squares feature a flaky, shortbread crust, with a maple syrup based filling, studded with a mixture of bacon, pecans and raisins.
Spring has sprung and that means it's time to do some baking with maple syrup! These Maple Bacon Squares were a big hit here, so I wanted to share.
I was initially going to call these Maple Bacon Butter Tart Squares, but like all Canadians, I have definite opinions about what belongs in a butter tart. Raisins? Absolutely. Bacon? Go for it! But nuts? Never. (in my opinion :). So while these are absolutely delicious squares, I just couldn't bring myself to officially attach the butter tart name to them. I have to stick to my butter tart principles ;)
All that said, there are definitely shades of butter tart goodness going on here, with a delicious, maple syrup based filling, that caramelizes as it cooks in the most wonderful way. Inside all that caramelized maple filling is a great combination of flavours, from sweet raisins, to nutty pecans and of course, the bits of salty and smokey bacon. It's a winning combination and a great way to do a little maple syrup baking this Spring.
Cook's Notes for Maple Bacon Squares
If you wrinkled your nose a bit at the thought of bacon in these squares, fear not! You can totally leave out the bacon here (though I really do urge you to try it at least once :) Simply increase the raisins and/or nuts slightly and you're good to go.
You could use walnuts very easily in place of the pecans here.
Dark brown sugar provides the best results here, but in a pinch, light brown sugar can be used.
If you don't have a food processor, you can cut the butter into the flour mixture by hand, using a pastry blender or two knives. You want the texture to be sand-like, with no large pieces of butter visible.
You can make these squares in either a 9-inch or an 8-inch square baking pan. The squares shown here were baked in a 9-inch pan. If you only have an 8-inch, your squares will be a little bit thicker and baking time may be a few minutes more.
I like to pop the whole pan of squares in the fridge for an hour or so after it mostly cools on the counter. It makes them super easy to cut.
Speaking of the fridge, I always keep these squares in the fridge, because of the bacon. I'm not sure I actually need to, but I feel better going that route (taking the better safe than sorry approach and noting that it really doesn't hurt them to store them in the fridge :). That said, these are best eaten at room temperature I think, so maybe take them out of the fridge a few minutes before you want to eat them.
Maple Bacon Squares
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (cubed)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup cooked and finely chopped bacon (from about 3 slices)
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup raisins
- Cook bacon: Cook bacon until just starting to brown and most of the fat has rendered off (you don't want it super crisp). Remove to a paper towel to cool, then finely chop. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare and 8x8 or 9x9-inch metal baking pan by spraying with cooking spray and lining the bottom and two sides with a piece of parchment paper that extends a few inches over the edges (to make getting them out of the pan easier later). Set aside.
- For the crust: Add the flour and sugar to a food processor. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until mixture is sand-like with fine bits of butter. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press down lightly with your hands to even.
- (*Alternately, you can use a bowl and a pastry cutter or two knives to mix the butter with the flour mixture. Be sure to cut in until butter pieces are very small).
- Bake in the centre of 350°F oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
- For the Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together melted (and mostly cooled) butter, eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and whisk well until smooth. Stir in bacon, pecans and raisins. Pour over base. If necessary, use a fork to evenly distribute the raisins etc over the top.
- Bake in centre of 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until top is evenly flat, set and deep golden. Let cool in pan on a cooling rack until completely cooled. *To make cutting easy, I like to pop the whole pan into the fridge for 30 minutes or so before cutting. Using the parchment overhang, lift the squares out of the pan to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 x 4). Eat right away or transfer to an airtight container and REFRIGERATE to store, but allow to come to room temperature before eating.