Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Butterscotch Cashew Bars - November 7, 2009

If you like butterscotch, try these bar cookies. The bottom layer is a brown sugar shortbread topped with butterscotch caramel then cashews. Toast the cashews first before using and make sure you bake the shortbread enough so it gets somewhat crisp and provides a nice contrast to the butterscotch layer. It's a trifle sweet for me because of the butterscotch but still pretty good.

I wouldn't consider this a care package bar cookie simply because the butterscotch caramel layer would make it too sticky to stack on top of each other. Let it cool for at least 45-60 minutes before you cut it so the butterscotch layer has time to set and won't stick to your knife. I took this out of the oven and did a 45-minute workout before I cut it so I know it's okay to cut at least 45 minutes out of the pan.

One tip - I always line my baking pans with aluminim foil (regardless of what the recipe says) with enough overhang at the sides that I can simply lift the baked good right out of the pan and put it on a cutting board. This makes cutting much easier and saves your pan so you're not cutting directly in the pan itself. Not to mention it makes cleaning your baking pans much easier since, for the most part, they're protected by the foil.

This recipe is from the Sweet Melissa Baking book, a gift I got for my birthday this past summer. I had some time on my hands this afternoon so I made these bars, a batch of brownies, a peanut butter cookie dough and a chocolate cookie dough. I have the cookie doughs in the freezer and will be baking those off later this week. The brownies are baked but I'll also be putting them in the freezer for use this week.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
11 ounces butterscotch chips
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
2 cups roasted salted whole cashews

1. Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Line with parchment paper or aluminum foil with overhang so you can lift the finished bar out of the pan.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and salt on medium speed, 1 to ½ minutes. Decrease the speed to low, add the flour, and mix until just combined.
3. Press the dough lightly and evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan and poke holes all over with a fork. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust turns a golden color. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
4. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stir together the butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water and heat, stirring until the mixture comes to a simmer and the chips are melted. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture evenly over the prebaked crust.
5. Sprinkle the cashews over the butterscotch caramel and return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Use a sharp knife to loosen the edges and, with the excess paper, lift the bars out of the pan.

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