Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars

Hey Everyone!

You know what I’ve been thinking today? In addition to life’s big milestones (you know, birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.) sometimes, we all really should make sure we take time to celebrate the little moments. It can be super small everyday things, like:

“Go Me! I made it through the entire Netflix season of Fuller House in just one day! I’m amazingly focused!”
or
“I just drove right up to the Timmies window today! No waiting in line for this guy!”
or
“I did five loads of laundry today, and then immediately folded and put every piece of it away! Incredible work, self!”  (and if this ever happened, it would FOR SURE be worth celebrating.)

Sometimes it seems like we schedule our lives around these huge events and holidays. Not that we don’t all love these days – and the truly amazing baked goods that we get to chow down as a result. I love a good birthday cake or pumpkin pie as much as the next gal!
But just imagine for a second how many more opportunities to snack on tasty baking there would be if we celebrated all the small stuff. Just think of it:

“These cookies are for you –  I can’t believe you bought that sweater on sale!”
or
“I made you this cake to celebrate another successful optometrist appointment!”
or
“Hope you enjoy this pie! You so deserve it – you shoveled that driveway like a boss!”

So why was I thinking about this today? Well, we’re right in the middle of that humdrum time of the year. It’s winter (enough said). Christmas seems like a million years ago, and  the deliciousness of summer seems like it’ll never get here. February just dragged on forever (thank you VERY much, leap year!) Luckily, this year we do have an early Easter, so of course there are many large bags of Mini Eggs to be eaten in preparation for that. But still. It can get a little bit “blah”.

Well, I say no more blahs! Let’s celebrate, people!

What, you ask, am I celebrating today?! Well, I’m wishing myself a VERY Happy Last-Day-of-My-Student-Loan Day!! 😀
This might be a slightly larger-sized deal that my previous examples, in the grand scheme of life (though I do thoroughly enjoy getting a sweater on sale!) — but I’m SUPER excited to be loan-free! I feel like this also means I’m officially an adult, having broken off the last ties to my student life…. but I’m wisely choosing to ignore that part, and will continue to think of myself as not-quite-yet grown up, thank you very much.

Here’s the big question, though … What amazingly delicious baked good is my celebration treat of choice today? Why, it’s these Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars, of course!

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Confession time: I don’t really like nuts in my baking, as a general rule. I know, I’m a terrible baker lady. That’s not to say I don’t bake with nuts — you gotta give the people what they want! — but if I’m making something just for me, I’m for sure leaving them out.

The exception… cashews. Hoo boy. I could eat my way through a barrel of those babies in no time. They’re CRAZY good. Hence these bars making an appearance for my celebration day!

These really are quite easy to make – they’re a bar cookie, so right away they’ve won me over. The bottom cookie layer is packed full of toffee bits, and pairs perfectly with the dreamy caramel and salty cashews. I should also say, a 9 x 13 pan is just about right for a single-person serving, so you probably shouldn’t mention to anyone else that you’re making these.

So, my suggestion? Break open that barrel of cashews, and find yourself a reason to celebrate!

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 400 grams caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 2 cups salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, or foil, extending the paper over the edges of the pan.

In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, vanilla and baking powder. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour just until combined, be careful not to over mix. Stir in toffee bits. Spread entire mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown, and center is set.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and milk. Microwave, uncovered for 1-2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
Carefully spoon caramel over the warm crust, and spread evenly. Immediately sprinkle with chopped cashews.

Cool completely in the pan. Using the ends of the paper, remove from pan and cut into bars. Keep them hidden for yourself, or share if you must, and enjoy!

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