Luscious squares of shortbread topped with cashews and sesame seeds in honey and brown sugar caramel.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Soframiz by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick
For The Crust:
- 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For The Filling:
- 3 1/2 cups salted cashews, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (more on toasted sesame seeds in the notes below)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line a 13 by 9-inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure it extends over the sides. Very lightly spray or butter the foil. (for more on how to line the pan, see notes below)
- Make The Crust: Combine the flour, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the butter forms pieces the size of small pebbles, 20-30 seconds. Pour the crust crumbs into the prepared pan and press down to form an even layer. Cover and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the crust until golden, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Make The Filling: While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Combine the cashews, sesame seeds, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and honey, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves and begins to turn to caramel, forming large bubbles and thickening, or reaches 240ºF on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and vanilla. Add cashew mixture to the pot. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cashew mixture into the caramel until well combined.
- Pour the filling on top of the baked crust in an even layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the caramel bubbles along the sides of the pan only and the center is still liquid, 26 to 28 minutes. The filling will appear unbaked. It is very important not to over-bake. The filling will set up as it cools.
- Set aside to cool completely and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Lift the foil out of the pan to remove the bars in one large block. Cut into thirty-six 1 1/2-inch squares.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Note on Lining the Baking Pan: When lining the baking pan with foil, if your foil isn't wide enough to cover the whole pan without any seams, I suggest you use a double layer of foil. The first time I made these some of the caramel slipped between the foil seams and glued the foil to the sides of the pan. It took some knife work before I could lift the foil out of the pan.
Note From Soframiz on Toasted Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. They have a high oil content and are the main ingredient in tahini. You can buy them toasted or un-toasted. We prefer to buy them toasted for baking purposes because they are drier and will stick to what you are baking more easily. To toast your own sesame seeds, use a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat and spread sesame seeds in an even layer in the pan. Stir them every 30 seconds and continue to toast them until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Purchase Ana's cookbook Soframiz on Amazon.
- Prep Time: 40 min
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Dessert
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Seed and nut bars, cashew and sesame dessert bars