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Joy of baking

Cashew butter-chocolate chip bars

(Styling/Karoline Boehm Goodnick; Erik Jacobs for The Globe)
January 20, 2010

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Makes 25

Bars are the easiest confections of all. Pour the batter into a rectangular pan, bake it, and cut the mixture into bars. These contain creamy cashew butter, along with brown sugar and butter, which produce a deluxe cookie. Add chopped cashews and semisweet chocolate chips for a little crunch. Chocolate and peanut butter is a classic combo; here the nut butter is cashew for some variation. The creamier and denser the cashew butter, the better the texture of the bars. If you like the contrast of sweet-salty, use lightly salted cashews and reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon. The moist, dense bars are excellent for keeping in the cookie jar, stacked like logs, or for taking to a casual gathering. To give them another dimension entirely, replace 3/4 cup chocolate-covered raisins for the same amount of chips. See how long those bars sit around.

Butter (for the pan)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-natural cashew butter
2 eggs plus 1 extra yolk
2 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted cashews
2 cups miniature or regular semisweet chocolate chips
1. Set the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In another bowl, stir the butter, light brown and granulated sugars, cashew butter, eggs and extra yolk, and vanilla. When they are smooth, blend in the flour mixture. Stir in the cashews and chips.

4. Scrape the batter onto the pan, spreading it into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is just set. Set on a wire rack to cool.

5. With a sharp knife, make 4 vertical cuts and 4 horizontal cuts to shape 25 bars. Use an offset spatula to remove the bars from the pan. Store in an airtight container. Lisa Yockelson