You want to know a shocker?  My MIL and I were looking at the calendar on Wednesday, talking about events coming up, who is going where when and so forth when mom pointed out that next weekend is the end-of-summer bank holiday weekend.  How did that happen? 

Meanwhile, my garden hasn’t gotten the news – my tomato vines are only just now starting to produce fruit, so I’m wondering if they’ll have time to ripen before the cool fall weather sets in. 

So, we’re trying to do some end-of-summer hanging out with friends before it’s too dark and too cold to sit outside.  Last night, we went to see some friends who are having work done on their house.  To keep things simple for them, we decided to do take-out for dinner (yummy, yummy curry!), but I still felt like taking over a little home-baked sweet.  So, looking through my Peyton and Byrne cookbook of classic British treats, I came across this fantastic recipe – it’s basically a (slightly tweaked) recipe for shortbread covered with toffee and nuts.  I mean!  There is just nothing wrong with that sentence, is there?  It makes for a lovely “afters” or would make a nice afternoon treat.

So, today, I’m going outside to do a little gardening and give the garden a mow – enjoying the waning summer sun.

Toffee Cashew Bars

Shortbread base

  • 4 1/2 oz butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt

Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cream or whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups roasted, salted nuts (I used cashews, but you can use any nuts you like)

First, make the base so that it has time to cool.  Preheat the oven to 350F and butter an 8″ square pan, then line with parchment paper.

In a standing mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar and salt, then add the flour and mix until combined – this should be a crumbly mixture that comes together when pressed.  Tip the batter into the square pan, then press across the bottom – I used a juice glass to roll it even.  Place in the oven and bake 15 minutes or so until golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.

Now comes the fun part – making the tofee nut topping!  In a large pot, pour in the sugar and water and place over medium-high heat.  It will dissolve, then bubble, then slowly start to color – the secret to a successful caramel?  DO NOT STIR!  Feel free to swirl the pot around a couple of times, but do not, under any circumstances, stir!  And once the sugar starts to change color, don’t leave it – it will go from beautiful to burned in the blink of an eye.  So, when it turns a deep golden color and it smells of caramel, remove from the heat.  Next, pour in the milk or cream – it’s going to steam and bubble like mad, so be careful not to scorch yourself – whisk it all together then add the butter and whisk again.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes or so then add the nuts and stir well to combine and coat before pouring onto the shorbread base.  Pop it back into the 350 F oven for another 7-10 minutes, then remove and let cool.  Cut into squares and serve!

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