Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cashew Butter Blondies

With school right around the corner, I could not help but to notice the amount of spreads and butters on the grocers shelves these days. Today you will find chocolatey hazelnut spread, almond butter, sunflower butter....and the list goes on. Children's sack lunches are no longer filled with the same old peanut butter sandwiches.

With such a variety, the spreads are fun to experiment with by using them as a baking ingredient. Today, I bring you a recipe for blondie bars. Not just any blondies, but ones made with 2 components of cashews, along with some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Teaming these ingredients together resulted in a moist, chewy bar with a little crunch. One square of these bars will take care of your sweet tooth. Also, the cashew, chocolate and brown sugar flavor combination will satisfy your tastebuds as well.

The recipe makes enough dough to fill a half sheet baking pan, so there will be plenty of bars for those sack lunches.

Cashew Butter Blondies
adapted from 

Ingredients/Cashew Brittle
1 2/3 cup cashews
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar

Ingredients/Blondie batter
1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz unsalted butter (room temp)
1/3 cup cashew butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs plus 1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
3 cups cashew brittle (recipe included)
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Start by making the cashew brittle.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Also, grease the interior of another baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Grease surface of parchment paper. Butter a silicone spatula.

Place the cashews in a shallow pan, spreading out evenly. Toast in the oven for about 7 minutes. Set aside. Fill a saucepan with the water, sugar, salt, light corn syrup and butter. Place over medium high heat and stir only until butter is melted and mixture is blended. Let cook in saucepan and place a candy thermometer in the liquid. The liquid will start to boil and thicken. Watch the thermometer temperature, once it reaches 300 degrees- remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and cashews. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed and then let rest for 30 seconds. Lastly, mix in the baking soda.

Transfer the candy mixture to silicone lined pan and flatten/spread with the prepared spatula. Let cool completely. Crack into pieces and place pieces in a sealable plastic bag. Crush the brittle into smaller, pebble-sized pieces with a rolling pin.

Fill a bowl with the cashew brittle and chocolate chips. Whisk together so ingredients are evenly distributed.

Using a sieve place over a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the blend and add to the bowl of brittle and chocolate chips. Toss all together so pieces are evenly coated. Set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with both types of butter and both types of sugar. Combine the ingredients by using a paddle attachment with the mixer set on medium speed. Continue to beat together, stopping at intervals to scrape down sides of bowl, until batter is fluffy. Switch the speed down to low and add one egg and vanilla extract. Beat for 30 seconds or until blended. Repeat the process, one egg at a time until all have been mixed into batter.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the sifted ingredients with a wooden spoon. Then fold in the blend of chocolate chips and brittle until no dry streaks or loose pieces remain. Empty batter into prepared baking sheet and smooth evenly.  Bake until tester comes out clean, approximately 25-30 minutes. Surface should be golden brown when done.

Cool completely prior to cutting into 1 1/2 inch squares.

Tips and Notes:
1. if I was to make this recipe again, I would reduce the amount of sugar, starting the reduction at 1/3 of a cup for the brown and regular sugar. Recipe is very sweet.

2. My cashew butter was natural (no salt or sugar)and the cashews did not have any salt. Using salted cashews may tone down the sweetness of the recipe.

3. When baking, a little of the batter dripped onto the floor of the oven, so place a larger pan on the next rack underneath the bars to catch the drips.

4. Coarsley chopping the nuts prior to adding to the brittle mixture will help disperse them more in the candy.
                                **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake**