Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

These cashew salted caramel bars are the easiest salty/sweet treat, and take only 15 minutes to prep!

I’ve come to the realization that I am one of those people who gets fixated on stuff, and can get a little obsessive at times.

I know I wasn’t the only twelve year old whose room was plastered with Jonathan Taylor Thomas posters from Teen Beat magazine.  Oh, JTT…

I also know I’m not the only person to get fixated on a TV series and power through it on Netflix.  {What on Earth am I going to do when we are finished watching Friday Night Lights?!}

Clearly I am also a little obsessed with food!  I tend to get fixated on certain ingredients in particular: coffee…kalestrawberrieschocolate…and now: salted caramel.  Enter these Cashew Salted Caramel Bars.

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

 

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

I have made salted caramel before for these Salted Caramel & Chocolate Espresso Thumbprint Cookies, and they were To.  Die.  For.  Seriously, I don’t know why it took me so long to make more salted caramel!

The caramel in those thumbprint cookies was a tad too syrupy, and I wanted to find the best salted caramel to top these cashew salted caramel bars, so I went on a bit of an obsessive mission.  I’m not sure how many batches of salted caramel I made, I actually lost track.  I tried with corn syrup, without corn syrup, more cream, less cream, less butter, with vanilla…I had lumpy caramel, grainy caramel, liquidy/syrupy caramel, and too firm of caramel.

And you know what?  I ended up with something very close to the original recipe {facepalm}.

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

 

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

Although, I learned a LOT of lessons about making caramel.  Namely, what NOT to do.

Like: do not make your caramel in a teeny tiny pot.  Use a medium-sized, heavy bottomed pot, because when you add the cream and butter, it will bubble up quite a bit.  And smelly burning caramel stuck on your stove top is not so fun.

Also: resist the urge to stir your caramel.  I just had to get in there and stir things up.  Then had bits of caramel stuck on the side of the pot that turned into a big old clumpy mess later.  Blerg.

And: maybe don’t try to make this while your baby is in his high chair.  He will inevitably get grouchy at the exact moment when the sugar begins to caramelize, leaving you with a very important question: screaming baby and perfect caramel?  Or happy baby and burnt caramel.

I tried making my caramel without corn syrup, but I actually liked it with a bit of corn syrup.  For one thing it helps get things boiling faster.  And the resulting texture was a touch softer.

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

And then, because I guess it’s not really much of a dessert to eat the salted caramel by the spoonful {although in my world, that’s totally acceptable}, I stirred in some roasted cashews and poured it over a buttery shortbread crust….let it set for a few hours…

…And proceeded to chip away at these cashew salted caramel bars, sliver by sliver.  Calories totally don’t count when you only take a sliver…you heard that here first.  And I’m a scientist, so I tell scientifically accurate truths.

Cashew Salted Caramel Bars

More salty/sweet desserts for us!

4.3 from 3 reviews
Cashew Salted Caramel Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 25
Ingredients
Shortbread Base
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter {170g; at room temperature}
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar {48g}
  • 1½ cup all purpose flour {187g; fluffed, spooned & leveled}
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
Salted Caramel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar {200g}
  • 3 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream {whipping cream, 35%}
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter {42g}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt {plus more for sprinkling}
Toppings
  • 1 cup roasted cashews
Instructions
Shortbread Base
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9X9 inch pan with aluminum foil. Spray bottom and sides and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet for several minutes until it is no longer crumbly and forms a dough ball.
  3. Using your hands, press the dough into the bottom of the 9X9 pan.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges have *just* begun to brown. Allow to cool .
Salted Caramel
  1. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the mixture becomes liquidy and begins to simmer, do not stir. Allow to simmer for 4 or so minutes, until it turns a dark amber color. {*If it starts to caramelize faster on one side than another, gently swirl the pot to mix}.
  3. Stir in the butter, and gently pour in the cream, vanilla and salt {careful, it will bubble up and may spit}, stir with a clean spatula. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another two or so minutes until it thickens slightly.
  4. Stir in half of the cashews. Pour the caramel/cashew mixture over the cooled shortbread crust. Tilt the pan to get the base completely covered. Scatter additional cashews and sea salt.
  5. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then an additional hour or two in the fridge.
Notes
I recommend storing the bars in the fridge, however you will want them to sit at room temperature for 10 or so minutes before eating to allow the caramel to soften up a bit.

Shortbread base adapted from Allrecipes

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