rustic nut bars.

nut bars.

last week, in the splashing rain, i wandered into one of my favourite coffee shops and plunked myself down on a bench. coffee in hand, i needed to find breakfast, and while their croissants come from the french baker (and therefore should be indulged in from time to time), out of the corner of my eye, i saw nut bars.

i go in streaks with food. i will crave oatmeal for a week or so and then not really want it every again. same can be said for tofu, for different fruits and for some meats.* and that is how i seem to have become with nuts. for this nut bar was the perfect combination of sweet and salty. so perfect, in fact, that i insisted upon a trip to the bulk food store where i bought several cups of salted mixed nuts so that these could be reproduced.

word to the wise, use the tin foil to line the pan. or parchment paper. don’t think that butter alone will do it. because it will not. and then you’ll have nut bar crumble. which is tasty, but difficult to pass along to your coworkers, when you’re all craving sweet bliss after last night’s election. (just saying.)

rustic nut bars
adapted from gourmet

crust:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces or grated**
1 large egg, lightly beaten

preheat the oven to 375F. line a 9×13 pan with buttered tin foil or parchment, in criss-crossed patches, allowing for overhang.
whisk together the dry ingredients.
add the butter, mixing with a pastry fork or your hands.
add the egg and mix with a fork until the mixture starts to form a ball.
turn the dough out on to a clean surface and push the heel of your hand in to incorporate the butter into the flour, smearing it.
press the dough into the base of the pan, but not up the sides.
bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

topping:
3 cups mixed salted nuts
2/3 cup mild honey, molasses or maple syrup, or a combination
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream

bring honey (or molasses or maple syrup), brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 2 minutes.
add butter and cream and boil, stirring, 1 minute.
remove from heat and stir in all nuts until coated.
spread mixture evenly over crust and bake at 375F until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 15 to 25 minutes.
cool completely in pan on a rack.
lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into 64 bars.
peel bars from foil.

*which reminds me that i have duck prosciutto in the fridge that should get used.
**grating butter is my preferred way of integrating it into pastries, should i not be using a food processor or stand mixer.

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