Thursday, February 11, 2010

Caramel Nut Bars

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Makes 18 3 x 2” bars

DP5 160

2 sticks, plus 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (plus more for greasing the pan)
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 cup salted cashews
1 cup salted peanuts
3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cup flour
1 Tbl, plus a pinch of salt
4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9 x 12” brownie pan, then line with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch overhang on the long sides. 

Spread the pecans, cashews and peanuts on another parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Place in the oven and cook until fragrant and slightly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan about half-way through. Remove from the pan and cool to room temperature. 

Combine 2 sticks of butter with the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed, using the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the flour and a pinch of salt and mix on low until just combined. 

Transfer the dough into the prepared baking pan.  Press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon, then cover with another sheet of parchment paper, and using a wine bottle or small rolling pin, roll along the length of the pan to smooth the dough.   Bake until lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, a tablespoon of salt and a cup of water in a medium saucepan.  Without stirring, cook over high until the sugar is melted and begins to turn golden, about 5-7 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.  Cook until the sugar mixture is deep golden brown and registers 300°F on a candy thermometer. 

Carefully pour cream down the sides of the pan, stirring constantly until combined.  Remove from the heat, add 1/4 stick butter and stir to combine.  Transfer to a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the nuts to the caramel sauce and stir to combine.  Pour the caramel nut mixture over the cooled cookie crust.  Bake until the caramel is set, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature  on a wire rack.  Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator.  Cut into 3 x 2” bars.  Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.




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