We’ve all be eating better this month, right? Sticking to our resolutions, exercising more, healthier eating choices, yes? Excellent! Then I don’t feel guilty about introducing you to a crazy crazy good treat, award winning actually. Take a look at the Cashew Butterscotch Bar…
This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The New York Times Cookbook, edited by Amanda Hesser. In her intro to this recipe she writes, “I never thought I’d recommend a recipe containing butterscotch chips, but I’m open to change. Are you?” Like Amanda, I never thought I’d use butterscotch chips, but let me tell you- I’m eating humble pie now, or actually Cashew Butterscotch Bars and I’m not going back.
I do have some standards though. The original recipe called for corn syrup; I couldn’t do butterscotch chips AND corn syrup at once, so I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead. The Golden Syrup actually adds a warmer more buttery flavor which compliments the butterscotch nicely. Corn syrup would have been just too straight up sweet.
Ooops, I almost forgot. In case you’re still on the fence… this is an award winning recipe; I have the trophy to prove it. My friend holds a cookie swap most years; but it’s not just any cookie swap. This is serious business. There is voting. A winner is declared. And in 2012, I was the winner, Jean “The Cookie Machine” with these Cashew Butterscotch Bars. You may notice there hasn’t been a cookie swap since… something about blizzards, busy lives, etc. I’m not buying it. They’re scared. You, on the other hand, should not be scared. These bars are easy, addictive, and well worth the occasional indulgence.
Cashew Butterscotch Bars
*adapted from the New York Times Cookbook
2 sticks plus 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
One 10-ounce bag butterscotch chips
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
5½ teaspoons water
2½ cups salted cashew pieces
Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350°F degrees. Line a 13-by-18 inch rimmed baking sheet with foil, including the sides. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar together (or mix in a bowl with a rubber spatula) until smooth. Stir the salt into the flour, then add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until the dough is well combined but still crumbly (if the dough is mixed until a ball forms, the crust will be tough).
Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Bake for 5 minutes. With a fork, prick the dough deeply all over, return the pan to the oven, and bake until the dough is lightly browned, dry, and no longer soft to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack (leave the oven on).
Combine the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, the butterscotch chips, golden syrup, and water and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and butterscotch chips are melted, about 5 minutes. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it evenly all the way to the corners. Sprinkle the cashew pieces on top, pressing down lightly.
Bake until the topping is bubbly and the cashews are lightly browned, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before cutting into bars.
Note: These are rich and sweet; I cut them into approximately 1-1½ inch squares.