I like chocolate – in moderation. I’ve sort of chocolate-d myself out lately, so I needed a break from it. I decided to focus on caramel this week instead.
These salted caramel cashew bars were inspired by an ice cream sundae. I found myself ordering the sundae, eating the caramel and cashews, and then just picking at the ice cream. So, I decided to try to recreate the dessert minus the ice cream.
Now, it may sound like these bars would be too salty (salted butter, salted cashews, pinch of salt on top), but they need the salt to balance out all of the sugar in these guys. Otherwise, the bars would taste really sweet and sort of flatly boring.
The salt keeps interesting. Mini science digression – salt allows you to more fully taste sugar, so it tastes better with a bit of salt. The day that we talked about baking and taste in chemistry was the day that chemistry finally started to be interesting for me.
While we’re talking about salt, please don’t use regular table salt on top of these bars. It has smaller grains and is saltier than a finishing salt like fleur de sel, so they may end up too salty if you use iodized (table) salt.
Salted Caramel Cashew Bars
- 1/2 c . salted butter softened, 8 T.
- 1/2 c . powdered sugar
- 1/8 tsp . kosher salt
- 1 T . vanilla extract
- 1 c . all-purpose flour
- 2 c . salted cashews
- 2 c . salted caramel sauce
- Pinch of fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 300 F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well-combined.
Stir in flour until just incorporated.
Press crust evenly into prepared pan.
Prick the crust with a fork all over the base.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and middle is light golden brown.
Remove crust from oven, and top with cashews.
Pour caramel evenly over cashews and crust.
Return to oven for 1 minute.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel.
Let bars cool to room temperature.