I’m a sucker for shortbread anything and that’s mainly because it tends to not be overly sweet and has a touch of saltiness to it. That’s my kind of sweet treat. I don’t like when desserts are over the top, hit you across the face, with sweetness. These Nutty Shortbread Bars are the perfect blend of slightly sweet and salty. Don’t let all the nuts fool you though because they’re not healthy. It’s still very much a decadent treat. And if these shortbread bars aren’t for you, then maybe this peanut butter shortbread is more your taste or these millionaire cashew bars are what you need. There’s something for everyone.
Let’s start with the crust, which is my favorite part to any pie or bar. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add the cold diced butter and work it in with your fingers or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs the size of peas.
**Tip: You want to work rather quickly here because you want the butter to stay as cold as possible. Cold butter will create a flakier more tender crumb.**
Add the beaten egg and mix gently with a rubber spatula until it roughly comes together. It doesn’t have to be a solid mass, but rather just evenly combined.
Transfer to a 9×13-inch baking pan that has been lined with foil (making sure there is overhand on either side to easily lift up the bars later) and greased lightly with cooking spray. Press down firmly into an even layer. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Let’s turn our attention to the topping. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the honey, brown sugar, and salt. Set over moderate heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring at this point.
Then stir in the butter and cream, and cook for one minute longer, stirring often until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and add in the vanilla, nuts, seeds and flax meal. Stir until evenly combined and everything is well coated in the syrupy caramel sauce.
**Note: I’m using a mixture of hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, honey roasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds. You can use all of them or just pick and choose your favorites. Take advantage of your bulk bins section at the grocery store and just grab what you need without having to buy big bags of each nut.**
Immediately pour into the baked crust and spread out into an even layer. Bake until the topping is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled, using the excess foil, lift up the slab from the pan. Cut into 24 bars or smaller if you want more bite-sized pieces since they are pretty hefty!
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge, wrapped well or kept in an airtight container, for up to 1 week. Just allow to come to room temperature before serving.
**Tip: They can also be stored in the freezer for a longer period of time if you’re looking to plan ahead. You can thaw them out at room temperature and just serve.**
I love how customizable these bars are because they can be made with whatever nuts you have in the pantry or can be adapted to your specific needs and wants. They’re not too sweet either, so they’re the perfect salty and sweet treat.
You can eat these for breakfast to hold you over until lunch time (because they’re that hearty), but they also make the best dessert or late night snack. I’m obsessed with them.
Give these a try the next time you’re looking for a hearty dessert that won’t knock you out with sweetness. And even though this is a dessert that masks itself as “healthy” let’s just say it’s not really that healthy, but nuts are packed with protein and so in a way you can call them healthy if you want. Let me know what you think below!
Nutty Shortbread Bars
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter diced
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts roughly chopped
- 1 cup salted cashews roughly chopped
- 1 cup salted roasted almonds roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup roasted pecans
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, making sure there is overhand on either side to easily lift up the bars later, and grease lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
- To make the crust, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix with a rubber spatula until it roughly comes together. Transfer to the prepared pan and press it down firmly into an even layer. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- To make the filling, in a large heavy saucepan, combine the honey, brown sugar, and salt. Set over moderate heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring, and then stir in the butter and cream. Cook and stir for one minute, or until smooth. Remove from the heat and add in the vanilla, nuts, seeds and flax meal. Stir until evenly combined and everything is coated well.
- Immediately pour into the baked crust and spread out into an even layer. Bake until the topping is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. once cooled, using the excess foil, lift up the slab from the pan. Cut into 24 bars and serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Just allow to come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!