SMS: Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Self-described butterscotch hater, my mom was never meant to like this recipe. But one bite into the tender, crumbly shortbread base, topped with lightly toasted cashews, married by a layer of ooey-gooey butterscotch caramel, and she grew weak in the knees. If these Butterscotch Cashew Bars could convert her, then there’s surely hope that you’ll enjoy they’re sticky sweet nutty goodness too! And as long as you have a bag of butterscotch chips nearby, chances are you have all the other simple ingredients you need to make a batch in your pantry.

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Primarily made of brown sugar and butter, the confectionary butterscotch can also contain additional ingredients including corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt. While similar to toffee, the main difference is in the preparation- the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage for butterscotch but the hard crack stage for toffee. Now widely available in most supermarkets, butterscotch chips contain hydrogenated (solid) fats, which allow them to be used in baking like chocolate chips. Instead of having to break out a candy thermometer and whip up a homemade version of butterscotch from scratch, these Butterscotch Cashew Bars utilize the pre-made chips to simplify the process. The chips are melted down along with light corn syrup and water to create the butterscotch caramel layer, and though it takes a bit of patience and some stirring, it couldn’t be easier to create the bars’ confectionary glue.

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A wonderful foil to the chewy and sweet butterscotch center, the cashews are a perfect match for these bars and add a delightful salty crunch. Though considered a nut in the culinary sense, the cashew is not really a nut at all, rather a seed found within the fruit of the cashew tree. A nice change of pace from the more often used pecan, walnut, or peanut, the cashew is a welcome addition to my baking ingredient arsenal, and I hope to utilize it again in many future recipes.

Providing a sturdy base for these scrumptious bars, the brown sugar shortbread cookie bottom contributes a subtle, final textural component and the signature melt in your mouth quality of great shortbread. It couldn’t be simpler to pull together, and once pressed in the pan, spends some time in the oven while the other parts of the bars are prepared. With little prep work and measuring required, this recipe provided a fun stress-free activity for my Saturday morning, and after cooled, set, and cut, they were happily devoured by my tasters as a luscious afternoon snack!

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Thank you to Pamela of “Cookies with Boys” for this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays selection- I recommend you head over to her site to get the recipe and give these bars are try! Also, don’t forget to check out the SMS blogroll to view all the other baker’s fabulous sweets.

And one quick tip that I found helpful: After cutting these bars and seeing how sticky they were, I decided to cut out little squares of wax paper to wrap around each one and separate them prior to stacking in my container. Worked like a charm, and I avoided a gluey mess of stuck together cookies!

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17 responses

  1. Great job on your bars – they look amazing! So glad they were a hit! I love that you used the wax paper when storing them but I’m way too lazy to cut that many little squares 🙂

  2. Your bars turned out great. Love your close-up pictures. I like how some of the butterscotch layer landed on top of the nuts. I will definitely come back to these and make them. They remind of the caramel turtle bars I make. Which is also made with a shortbread crust, pecans (but I like almonds cuz I can’t eat pecans) and from-scratch caramel. With the exception of the crust, this recipe seems easier. My recipe calls for melted butter which makes the crust a bit faster to make. I also like to drizzle melted chocolate over them for decoration. I won a blue ribbon at the State Fair for them last year :o) Do you have a State Fair with baking contests?
    Btw, what a great tip on the individual wax paper squares.

  3. Hi Joy,

    From someone who has never liked butterscotch… these bars converted me!! They were fantastic and they tasted as good or better than the pictures look. I loved them from the cashews to the crust and everything in between. I really like to read about making them as well, and all of the comments of your fellow bloggers. The whole experience was a definite WOW!
    With love,
    Mom

  4. Ahhh your bars look amazing! They look so so cute in the wax paper.

    I’m feeling great, thank you very much for asking. I’m much happier now I can be let loose in my kitchen again 🙂

    Katie xox

  5. Great photos, Joy! I ended up giving some to my guests to take home on Father’s Day, so those individual wrappings would have been perfect.

    You asked about my favorites from the Perfect Scoop: I still have a lot to try and have yet to not like a recipe in that book; I loved the almond-cherry and the raspberry. That book has also made me a huge fan of fruit sorbets, particularly the citrus ones.

    And seriously, my dog is definitely my biggest baked good fan, glad to know you have one too!

  6. “Happily devoured by my tasters as a luscious afternoon snack!” I love quoting you! Those bars look absolutely luscious. I didn’t know that cashews were fruit seeds. Very interesting.

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