It’s been a while since I last talked about how I don’t like nuts in baked goods. So, if you are new here, I don’t like nuts in baked goods. I like nuts, I like baked goods but I don’t like them together.
And yet, I like people. I like cooking and baking for people and some people do like nuts in baked goods. Hence these bars.
For just about every yoga retreat, I have made some kind of cookie and some kind of bar for dessert. I was leaning heavily toward lemon bars this time but to me, lemon screams spring and this was a winter retreat. So along came the nuts.
Several years ago, when I was eight months pregnant with my second child and we had just moved into a new house, I thought it was a great idea to tell my then clients that I was making gift bags for the holidays. One client ordered five large bags and 20 small bags. Do you call that nesting? Or maybe you call it being a crazy person? Either way, every night I was in my brand new kitchen baking my pregnant little heart out. I made these bars and I filed the recipe away in the “I would never eat this but they sure do look good” category. Honey. Mmmm. I love honey. Almost enough to eat it with nuts.
One Year Ago: Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese Grapes and Honey
Honey Nut Squares
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 25 1-inch squares
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup whole almonds with skins, toasted
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and any loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan (2 inches deep) and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.
Blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add egg and stir with a fork (or pulse) until a crumbly dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Press dough evenly onto bottom (but not up sides) of baking pan and bake in middle of oven until edges are golden and begin to pull away from sides of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.
Bring honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart 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 completely coated.
Pour nut mixture over pastry crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into 25 squares.
(Honey nut squares keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.)