The only thing better than a recipe that is dead easy is one that is dead easy to make, doesn’t require many ingredients and tastes fantastic. These Cashew Brittle Bars happen to fall into that category. The recipe has just four ingredients and takes just minutes to throw together. The bars consist of a thin layer of crisp shortbread that is studded with toasted, salted cashews. Some of the cashews are mixed in with the shortbread for flavor, while others are pressed into the top to give the bars a beautiful nut-studded look (and they add flavor there as well, of course). It’s the cookie version of candy nut brittle.
I’ve made this recipe before with peanuts and it’s always a big hit when served. Peanut brittle is more common than cashew brittle, but cashews are a great fit for this recipe because they have a naturally buttery flavor that really suits the buttery shortbread base.
Roasted and salted cashews are the only way to go for this recipe. The shortbread layer is a bit sweet and the salty nuts give the bars a tasty – and addictive – salty/sweet taste. I used packaged roasted and salted cashews, but you can lightly toast raw nuts in a skillet until they turn a light golden color. Toss the nuts with salt while they are still warm in the pan so that some will adhere to the nuts. If your nuts are toasted but unsalted, add in about 1/2-tsp of salt to the recipe and sprinkle a pinch over the top of the bars before baking.
Cashew Brittle Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup roasted, salted cashews, coarsely chopped and divided
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cream together butter and sugar. Gradually add in flour, mixing at low speed, until fully incorporated. Dough will be crumbly. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cashews.
Turn dough into an ungreased 10×15-inch jelly roll pan and press batter into thin layer and out into the corners of the pan. It helps if you flour or lightly grease your fingertips for this step. Evenly sprinkle remaining cashews over the dough. Cover with a piece of wax paper and press cashews into the dough and smooth everything into an even layer. Remove wax paper.
Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cookies cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then slice into bars with a spatula or knife. Let the bars cool completely in the pan. They will be quite firm when completely cooled and easy to break apart onto the cut lines. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 24 bars.