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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