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Mocha Toffee Cashew Bars

January 12, 2012

I make mostly savory appetizers when we host parties, but I do try to add a few sweet things into the mix for variety! This year for our Christmas open house I tried this new recipe for bar cookies from the Gourmet Cookbook. Added to the coffee flavor, the salty-sweetness of the cashews and chocolate was a delicious combination. My one issue with this recipe was that it called for pressing the base layer into an ungreased pan, but I found that even though my pan is nonstick, I had a difficult time removing some of the bars, which crumbled easily with the force I had to use to get them out of the pan. I recently made a similar recipe with a shortbread crust and even though that recipe also called for an ungreased pan, I wasn’t risking a crumbly base again! Lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper worked very well, so I’m sure that method would also work here.

I don’t own a 15.5 x 10.5 baking pan, so I actually made these bars in a 13 x 9 pan. The baking time for the base was on the longer end of the range given, but I didn’t find that anything else in the recipe needed to be adjusted. The bars can be kept refrigerated in between sheets of waxed paper for up to 2 weeks, so this is a perfect make-ahead dessert!

Cashew toffee espresso bars

Makes 4 dozen bars

Ingredients

  • 2  sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1  cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1  large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3  tablespoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 8  ounces good-quality bittersweet (60% dark) chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4  cup (4 ounces) salted roasted cashews, chopped

Directions

  1. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 15.5-by-10.5-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in yolk and vanilla, then gradually add espresso mixture, beating until well combined. Add flour and salt and mix at low speed until just combined.
  3. Spread dough evenly in lined pan. Bake until top puffs slightly and sides pull away from edges of pan, 16 to 22 minutes. Watch carefully toward end of baking; base can burn easily.
  4. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from heat.
  5. Spread chocolate over warm base and immediately sprinkle with cashews. Cool completely in pan on a rack.
  6. Cut into 48 bars and chill until chocolate is firm, at least 15 minutes.

One comment

  1. […] recipe from the Gourmet cookbook is very similar in structure to the mocha cashew bars I made at Christmas last year – shortbread base with a gooey, nutty topping. A great […]



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