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Show them how much you care with sweet bars

I think every Canadian family has a treasured bar or square recipe that brings back memories of Christmases, parties, baby showers or afterschool treats.

I think every Canadian family has a treasured bar or square recipe that brings back memories of Christmases, parties, baby showers or afterschool treats.

My sisters and I still make our family favourites - Nanaimo bars, date squares (which we always called "matrimonial cake") and my No. 1 pick, cherry coconut squares. Any time I've made a selection of squares for a shower or book club meeting they've been greeted with delight - people just don't seem to bake them much any more.

Here are three delicious square recipes that are sure to become favourites with your family and friends - make some soon!


From "Great Canadian Cookies, Bars & Squares" compiled by Sheila Peacock and Jennifer Abrams. These are sensational - the texture of the icing is very unique.


1 cup graham wafer crumbs

½ cup butter, melted

½ cup brown sugar

1 heaping tsp flour


2 cups coconut

1 300ml can sweetened condensed milk Icing:

½ cup soft butter

¾ cup icing sugar

2 Tbsp cream or milk

2 Tbsp boiling water

1-2 drops of red food colouring

½ tsp vanilla

Base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the four base ingredients and press into a greased eightinch square pan. Bake at 375 degrees for five to 10 minutes; let cool.

Middle: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Mix together coconut and condensed milk and spread on cooled base. Bake for 15-20 minutes until gold around the edges. Cool completely.

Icing: Note that after each addition you must beat with an electric mixer for two minutes to achieve the desired texture.

Beat butter for two minutes; add icing sugar and beat for two more minutes. Add cream or milk, beat two minutes. Add boiling water, beat two minutes. Add food colouring, beat two minutes; add vanilla and beat two minutes. Spread the icing over cooled squares. Keep squares in the refrigerator. Makes two to three dozen.



1 cup flour

½ cup butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

Pinch of salt


1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp flour

¼ tsp baking powder Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (approx 3 Tbsp juice)

2 beaten eggs

Crust: Blend ingredients well and press into an ungreased nine-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Custard: Mix all ingredients well and pour over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set but not dry. When squares have cooled sift icing sugar generously over top. Makes about two dozen squares.


My family calls these "Mrs. Ralph's Squares"; my sister baby-sat for Mrs. Ralph and got the recipe from her.

½ cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup Roger's golden syrup (or corn syrup)

½ cup peanut butter

2 cups corn flakes

1 cup Rice Krispies

Combine brown sugar and syrup in a saucepan over low heat until sugar is melted.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter; add cereals, stirring to coat well. Press into a greased nine-inch pan. Ice with vanilla butter icing or caramel frosting (see below).

Makes about 2 dozen squares.

Caramel Frosting:

2 tsps butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsps milk or cream Icing sugar, start with ½ cup

Measure sugar, cream and butter into saucepan; bring to a boil and let boil for one minute. Cool, then add icing sugar until thick enough to spread.