Buttery and crisp on the bottom and gooey and nutty on the top, these bar cookies from pastry chef and cookbook author Mindy Segal combine honey and two types of salt in the rich caramel topping.
Slideshow: More Dessert Bar Recipes
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
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 pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup walnut halves plus 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the shortbread
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing 1 inch of overhang on the long sides. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, 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 baking. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Step 3 Meanwhile, make the walnut caramel
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the honey, both sugars and salts and the vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches 220° on a candy thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add the cream and cook until the mixture reaches 238°, 3 to 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.
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