honey nut squares
I have a Cookie Calendar on my desk. It’s a day to day calendar and it’s got tons of recipes for cookies plus photos. The cookie on March 4th this year looked so good, I knew I had to try it right away. It was called ‘Honey Nut Squares’. They don’t really look like cookies to me, they’re more like bars. Tasty, tasty bars. It has a shortbread like cookie bottom and a soft toffee like topping with tons of nuts in it. Yes! Not all of the cookies look divine though. For instance, today’s cookie is called “Caraway Snaps” which sounds and looks unappealing to me (I also don’t like caraway seeds), so sometimes the calendar is hit or miss. I will probably throw the caraway snaps recipe right into the trash after the day is up.
Here’s the recipe for the Honey Nut Squares. Couple of things to note: I used a 6oz. jar of macadamia nuts since that’s all I could find at the store. The extra 2oz. is not really missed (just try not to eat the nuts while you’re baking…). Also, I was silly and I didn’t have any eggs. I had already blended all the ingredients together for the crust when I discovered this, so I used water to bring the crust together. My crust turned out to be a little flaky – I’m sure the egg would have binded it together better, but water still worked in a pinch.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup superfine (or baker’s) sugar
1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) lightly toasted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Recipe says to use a 9 x 13 in. pan, but I used one slightly smaller than that (though, I’m not sure what the size is on it). Use parchment paper to easily get it out if you want to – I did not, but parchment paper is helpful. Put butter into a food processor with the flour, salt and sugar. Process until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until it comes together in a dough. Press into the baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes (I baked mine at 20 minutes, but it will depend on your oven) until golden. Pull out of the oven and start on your topping mixture. Leave the oven on!
Process the macadamia nuts in the food processor for about 30 seconds, until they’re chopped into little pieces (but not finely ground). Do it in pulses so you don’t over do it. Put the nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 5 minutes (until you can smell the nuts). Pull out and set aside. Put the sugar, honey, butter, and cream into a tall heavy saucepan and use a candy thermometer. Cook the mixture to a medium ball stage – 240 degrees F (118 C). I only stirred it in the beginning to make sure the butter mixed well into it, and pretty much just left it on medium heat until it got up around the right temperature. I did stir it when it got close to the right temperature and found when I did that, the mixture was already over 240 degrees. So you might want to stir it now and again. Once you reach the right stage, pull the mixture off of the heat and quickly add the nuts. Stir well, and pour on top of the crust. Place it back into the oven for 5 minutes. Remove it and allow it to set for 2 hours. You can speed it up by placing it in the fridge, but I would not leave this in the fridge. It gets a little too hard being in the cold and is harder to cut through. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for 5 to 7 days.