Dessert Squares Recipes

Canadian Nanaimo SquaresTry the Nanaimo Squares Recipe Below
(Source: ©Fotosmurf/

You'll want to add these old fashioned dessert squares recipes to your recipe box. Keep them handy for whenever you need to make an extra-special, mouth-watering treat for family, guests, or for taking to a party. They're the best.

And, my thanks to Robert for taking time to share his family's treasured hermit squares recipe with us. I'm sure many will want to try it. And your Aunt Rose's homemade Ga Ga Hermits are also mouth-watering and delicious.

Old Fashioned Dessert Squares Recipes

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

Squares are always a popular sweet to serve on any occasion, and these old fashioned dessert squares recipes are some of the best I've seen. I just know you'll love them.

Canadian Nanaimo Squares, or Bars

Custard PowderBird's® Custard Powder for Nanaimo Bars

The traditional Nanaimo Bar consists of three delicious layers: Chocolate Wafer, Custard Filling, and Chocolate Icing.

Chocolate Wafer Layer:

1/2 cup butter, softened
5 tablespoons white sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Place softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and egg into bowl. Set bowl in pan of boiling water, stirring until the mixture has completely melted and is the consistency of custard.

2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut, shredded
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and walnuts. Add wafer mixture to cocoa mixture. Pack into ungreased 9x9x2-inch pan. Cover with filling.

Custard Filling Layer:

Note: Bird's® Custard Powder is the distinctive, traditional filling called for in Nanaimo Bars. It's an egg-free imitation custard powder that's quite popular in the UK and Commonwealth countries.

If the brand-name product is unavailable in your area, substitute any vanilla custard-style pudding mix.

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons Bird's® Custard Powder, or vanilla custard pudding mix
2 cups icing sugar

Cream 4 tablespoons butter. Combine milk and vanilla custard pudding powder. Add to butter. Mix in two cups icing sugar. Spread evenly over chocolate wafer base. Allow to harden. Cover with icing.

Chocolate Icing Layer:

2 squares semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter

Mix 2 squares melted semisweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Spread evenly over filling and allow to harden in fridge, or a cool area.

Butterfinger® Chocolate Squares

Did you know the famous Butterfinger® candy bar was invented way back in 1923 by the Curtiss Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois?

Believe it or not, the company dropped the new candy bar from airplanes in selected cities across the U.S. to boost its popularity, and it became a huge overnight sensation.

The Nestle® company purchased rights to the Butterfinger® bar in 1990.

These chocolate squares are chocolatey, crispy and delicious. The big reason they taste so good is they contain actual Butterfinger® bars and miniature marshmallows, favorite treats for generations of candy lovers.


6 Nestle® Butterfinger® candy bars, the 2.1 oz/60g size
6 cups toasted rice cereal
4 cups miniature marshmallows
3 tbsp butter


Buy 6 Butterfinger® bars, standard size. Chop up 3 bars into a bowl, then mix in about 6 cups of toasted rice cereal and set aside.

Now, melt 3 tablespoons of butter into a saucepan and add 4 cups of miniature marshmallows. Carefully heat on stove top until somewhat melted. Add the chopped bars and cereal mixture, then gently stir it all up.

Pour the results into a 13 in x 9 in baking pan and let it cool until hardened. Crumble the rest of the Butterfinger bars across the top and then cut the pan contents into squares. Serve like fudge squares. Delicious!

You've got to try this chocolate dessert squares recipe; it's so good tasting.

Note: This recipe could be made using almost any favorite chocolate bar if Butterfingers® bars are unavailable.

Old Time Nut Dessert Squares

This old fashioned dessert squares recipe is taken from an old newspaper clipping. Baked treats like this were quite popular in the first half of the 20th century.

Cream 1/2 cup shortening. Blend in 1 cup white sugar, 2 eggs beaten well, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add 1-1/2 cups flour which has been sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Pour into a shallow greased cake tin. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Beat the white of 1 egg until stiff and then fold in 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Spread carefully over the nuts and bake in a slow oven (275°F) for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 15 delicious squares.

Rice Krispies® Marshmallow Squares

30 marshmallows, 1/3 cup butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 pkg Rice Krispies (5-1/2 oz). Melt butter and marshmallows in double boiler. Add vanilla, beat thoroughly to blend.

Put Rice Krispies® in large buttered bowl and pour on marshmallow mixture, stirring briskly.

Press mixture into shallow buttered pan. Cut in squares when cool. Yields 16 2-1/2-inch squares from a 10x10-inch pan. Nutmeats and coconut may be added, if desired.

Vintage Raisin Squares

1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup quick cooking oats

Rinse raisins and drain liquid. Melt shortening, stir in brown sugar and molasses. Add unbeaten egg and beat thoroughly. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add with oats and raisins to first mixture.

Turn all into greased 8-inch square pan and bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes until done.

Raspberry Cream Squares

Fluffy and fruity and so vintage, this old fashioned dessert squares recipe is a keeper!


16 Graham wafers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 package frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 package whipped topping

Roll Graham wafers and mix with sugar and butter. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs for topping. Press remaining crumbs in 8 x 8-inch pan and bake at 325°F for 5 minutes or until brown.

Defrost package of frozen raspberries. Drain off juice, then heat, and thicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. When cool, add berries and spread on crust.

Whip 1 package of topping and when stiff, spread evenly on berries and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top.

Colored Marshmallow Squares

Shortbread Base Layer:

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt

Mix as shortbread, press in pan, and prick with fork. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F.


2 tablespoons gelatin powder in 1/2 cup water; soak as directed on gelatin package.

Bring to a boil 2 cups white sugar and 1/2 cup water, let boil 2 minutes. Add hot sugar mixture to gelatin and beat by hand or mixer until like marshmallow. Spread over baked layer.

May add chopped cherries, or almond flakes with a bit of almond extract to all or part of mixture.

Color all or part of mixture pink, white, or green to suit the occasion.

Old Fashioned Dessert Squares

Submitted by E. Pearson

Marshmallow Shortbread Squares

Hi! Here's a good vintage dessert squares recipe. My grandmother got it from a neighbor back in her day. We make these marshmallow shortbread treats every year for Christmas and other holidays.

The "Marshmallow Squares Recipe" is written on Grandma's recipe card with brackets and directions on each side of the sets of ingredients, so I'll try to make it clear. —E. Pearson

Baked Layer:


3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups flour

Pat in 8 x 8 inch or larger pan — bake 15 minutes at 350°F.

(We double this quantity for a 9 x 13 inch pan and then it's a little thick, so it has to bake longer; check at 25 minutes, in this case.)

Topping Layer:

Bring to boil, simmer 15 minutes...

1 envelope Knox gelatin
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar

Add coloring of choice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, as desired), dash of salt. Add 3/4 cup powdered confectioners sugar slowly to gelatin mixture. Beat until stiff, then pour over baked layer. Optionally, sprinkle coconut on top.

I hope this dessert recipe is close enough that you can make it like the ones that you fondly remember! :)

Old Fashioned Dessert Squares Recipe

Second Edition of the Neighborhood Cook Book (1914)

Chocolate Walnut Squares

Beat one egg with one cup brown sugar. Pinch of salt; then add one cup of chopped walnuts, one tablespoon grated chocolate, six tablespoons sifted flour with a little, very little, baking soda. Bake for twenty minutes. When cold, cut in squares.

Old Fashioned Dessert Squares Recipes

Submitted by Robert of Portland, PA

Hermits are a type of spiced cookie bar. These old hermit squares recipes have been passed down in my family for generations.

The first old fashioned dessert squares recipe is from my Grandmother's cookbook, and the second is from my Aunt Rose's cookbook, Aunt Rose was my Grandmother's sister. I suspect that my Grandmother's recipe is a version of my Aunt Rose's modified by my Great Grandfather.

My Great Grandfather was in the food service industry for much of his life. He worked as the head chef/kitchen manager in a country club for many years and at one time owned and ran an old time ice cream parlor.

I believe he modified the hermit recipe during the Great Depression or possibly during Wartime when fresh milk was not readily available; hence, the nonfat dry milk powder. Enjoy!

Grandma's Hermit Squares

3 cups flour
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup (Karo)
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream margarine and sugar, add corn syrup, water, and egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture and stir in raisins. Spread in a greased and floured 13x9-inch pan.

Bake at 375°F until done — about 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool and cut in squares. Store in a tight box or tin.

Ga Ga Hermit Squares

I found this old cookie-style dessert squares recipe in Aunt Rose's cookbook:

1 cup dark Karo (corn syrup)
1 cup Crisco (shortening)
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 cup raisins

Mix Crisco, Karo, brown sugar and spices. Mix baking soda with hot water; add. Beat in whole eggs. Add flour and raisins.

Bake in a shallow sheet pan (jellyroll pan) that has been greased and floured. Bake at 350°F until done — about 20-25 minutes. Cool and cut in squares. Keep in closed tin for freshness.

This is an old fashioned dessert squares recipe that's really great! Hermits were always served at our family functions, and this one was REALLY tasty. :)

Thanks for the great recipe! —yamfry50

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