Just a quick post today as I have such a busy weekend what with the Easter holiday AND a family birthday to shop-plan-cook for, but it’s been a while since I posted and I’m anxious to check in with you all.
First, I had a GREAT week working my new gig at America’s Test Kitchen. Everyone I’ve met, and especially my teammates at Cook’s Illustrated have been awesome. They’ve been incredibly helpful, welcoming and PATIENT as I work to quickly learn the ropes and become a fully contributing member of the team. After a few days of HR and IT “new hire” stuff I was in the kitchen getting started on two new recipes I’m developing. I’ve got a ton to learn, but I’m already having a blast in the mix with some seriously talented cooks. So fun!
Anyway, these bars are a little something I whipped up last weekend and absolutely LOVED! As caramel goes these are pretty low stress, and paired with the buttery shortbread base, they are totally addictive. Enjoy!
Cheers – Steve
for the shortbread crust:
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
for the walnut caramel:
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, soiftened
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup walnut halves plus 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
to make the shortbread:
- Heat the oven to 350℉. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, allowing 1-inch of overhanfg on the long sides.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the flour, sugar and salt at medium speed until a crumbly dough forms, about 6 minutes. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Bake the shortbread for 25 minutes, until golden brown; rotate the pan from front to back halfway through cooking. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
- Meanwhile make the walnut caramel. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the honey, both sugars, salts and the vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches 220℉ on a candy thermometer, 2-3 minutes. Carefully add the cream and cook until the mixture reaches 238℉, 3-4 minutes. Stir in all of the walnuts and cook until fragrant and toasty and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes longer.
- Pour the walnut caramel over the shortbread and let cool completely. Using the parchment paper, lift onto a cutting board, cut into bars and serve.