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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Toasted Cashew and Caramel Squares




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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

23 comments :

Lisa said...

Interesting and different. I think I'd like these but then what's not to like. Honey, cinnamon, nuts. It sounds like a winner!

Selba said...

This toasted cashew and caramel squares looks so yummy...

Mary said...

Hi Lisa! Selba, I'm so glad you've stopped ion to visit. I hope you'll come back often.

Ning said...

Sticky, gooey and yummy! Your photo looks so sinful! :)

Donna-FFW said...

Mary, you are my hero. Trying Christams cookies out now is a BRILLIANT idea. Then you are not scrambling during the shopping season!

Hootin' Anni said...

My husband would LOVE these!!! Cashews are his favorite.

Happy Wednesday Mary.

Susan said...

Keeping the holiday spirit going all year. I could adjust to that. These look very good, you know.

Julie said...

Mary those look wonderful!

Martha said...

What a great idea -- Christmas time is too hustle bustle and now WOULD be a great time to try new things for the following December -- these look yummy!

Allie said...

Oh wow these sound good and they look amazing! Great idea to start testing now instead of waiting till the holiday's sneak up.

Cathy said...

You're so smart to do your testing now when you have time to tweek a good recipe. I like the butterscoth chip flavor and, of course, the caramel nut topping. Sounds like a winner.

Netts Nook said...

Mary They are the best I have made these bars before and you have to keep them under lock and key. Maybe even through away the key. Love it.

Maria said...

The squares look wonderful, great sweet treat!

Aggie said...

I love everything about this!! I'm a big fan of cashews.

Pam said...

Oh Mary, can I come over for one of these squares? These look heavenly.

The Blonde Duck said...

I think it's wonderful! For you, the holidays are every day!

ChefBliss.com said...

These look so so good! And I love the testing now idea, one I should be using! Terrific idea and a great way to enjoy treats this time of year!

Lisa said...

OOOh, sounds so good.

noble pig said...

This is a great time of year to try holiday recipes. There are this peppermint ball cookies I'm dying to make. These look awesome!

Mary said...

I saw those also, Cathy. They do look good but it will be murder to get peppermint candy at this time of year. We'll see. One of my "to test" desserts is the fruit cake recipe you posted. I believe someone sent you the cake. It was gorgeous. I also want to do the Guinness gingerbread cake. I got 4 other cookies to try before I get to the cakes though.

Allie said...

Wow.

It does not sound bonkers at all to me that you pre-test holiday recipes. Especially when you're feeding a bunch of people treats, you want to know they'll be good!

Usha said...

These cashew and caramel squares look absolutely delectable! I would love to try these. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leading me to your wonderful space :-)

Mary said...

Usha, I'm so glad you found my place. Come often. We love company.

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