At the risk of sounding bonkers, I must admit that I test recipes for holiday desserts at this time of year. I collect them at Thanksgiving and Christmas time - like an almost sane person - but my dervish life leaves no time for holiday experimentation. It's now or never. I've been playing with a recipe from one of the Fine Cooking Annuals. They called this cookie a Mexican-Style Pecan-Chocolate Square. I've made a few changes to a wonderful base recipe. Bob's not crazy about pecans, so they've been replaced with salted cashews. Salted peanuts would also be wonderful with the caramel topping. These are easy to prepare and quite tasty. A definite maybe for next Christmas. Here's my adapted version.
Toasted Cashew and Caramel Squares
1-1/4 cups cold unsalted butter, divided use
2 cups unbleached flour
1-1/2 cups packed golden brown sugar, divided use
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon table salt, divided use
3 ounces butterscotch chips
3 cups toasted, salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
2) Place 3/4 cup butter, flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Press crumbs into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake until lightly brown and firm, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread butterscotch chips over top; spread with a spatula as chips soften. Set aside.
3) Melt reserved 1/2 cup butter in a heavy bottomed pan set over medium-high heat. Stir in reserved 1 cup brown sugar, honey, cream and reserved 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in cashews. Pour mixture over cookie base, spreading evenly. Bake until most of the filling is bubbling, about 18 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into 16 squares. Store, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. These do not freeze well. Yield: 16 squares.