Friday, May 16, 2014

Caramel Cashew Bars

I haven’t made a recipe with caramel in a while. The last few times that I’ve attempted to make caramel, my tries have ended in utter failure. I’ve made caramel quite a few times, so I’m not really sure what happened on those last few attempts. I figured that I would give it another try and hoped for the best. This time, thankfully, everything worked out great. I was very relieved as the folks at work are big fans of anything with caramel. 

You do have to be careful with caramel, the hot sugar that’s a part of making it burns really easily. I got a tiny bit on my finger and I have a bit of a burn. So be careful! I made this on a day which was fairly warm in my house, again not the best idea as it does take some time to make the caramel and you have to be there stirring it on the stove. 

These bars have a few steps: toast the nuts, make the crust, chill, bake, make the caramel, bake again. Each stage is fairly quick but these do take some time with all those stages. I let my bars cool for over 2 hours and the caramel was still fairly soft. Maybe that’s because my house is warm. They are very sticky and buttery, but they sure are decadent! 

Caramel Cashew Bars
2 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place the cashews on a baking sheet and toast them, stirring frequently, until golden. Set aside to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, add the flour in two parts, mixing until the dough comes together.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Chill for 20 minutes.

Bake for about 23-25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool while you prepare the topping.(Keep the oven on.)

Make the caramel: place the sugar and brown sugar in a heavy, deep saucepan. Heat on medium until the sugar starts to melt around the edges of the pan. Continue to cook the sugar, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. There should be no visible sugar granules on your spoon. Be patient, otherwise you will have grainy caramel.

Add the cream to the saucepan. The mixture will boil furiously and solidify. Keep stirring the mixture over medium heat until it is again smooth. This will take several minutes. Once the mixture is smooth, gradually add the butter and stir to melt. Stir in the vanilla and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix in the cashews and pour the mixture evenly over the baked crust and sprinkle with an additional ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars.

Lift the bars from the pan by the foil and peel the foil away. Cut into bars.
Recipe from Hungry Gems

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