Hello BIWB Posse and welcome back for National Bourbon Heritage Month! It's been far too long since my last post. Let's just say, life has been full. Fuller than full, actually. Ever had a to-do-list that keeps growing and growing? Well, welcome to my world. Great news, though, is that I can see the end in sight. What better way to celebrate that "end-in-sight feeling" than to make some luscious buttery bourbon bars!
These bars are so good and not really that sweet, yet very rich and buttery. I changed up the butterscotch caramel layer by adding a little butter and RaveReview! Bourbon Blend. Really, a bar that is the perfect combination of browned sugar, bourbon and butter. Easy to pull together and, because butterscotch chips are used as the base, not as scary a making caramel from scratch. I love how these bars were soft and not runny, yet held their crust with a good crumb. All around, a keeper!
Have we talked about RaveReviews! Culinary Spirits...Well, keep reading.
I found this recipe on a baking blog that, I have to admit, I've rightly obsessed over this year. The blog is Bake or Break, created by Jennifer in NYC, where everything is so well photographed and baked that I just couldn't stop searching, post-after-post. I appreciate a baking blog where I know that the recipes will work AND that the finished goodies will be thoroughly baked and NOT RAW. Jennifer has wonderful recipes and great baking book reviews, so I highly recommend checking out her blog.
A huge THANK YOU to the wonderful folks over at RaveReview! for providing us with a complete sampler pack of their culinary spirits. After careful research RaveReview! has developed spirits that are formulated just for baking and cooking. Genius! We here at BIWB have learned over the last 3 years that baking with booze is not as easy as it might look. Often times, the alcohol content of a particular spirit is too high for what we'd like to achieve in flavor and texture. With higher alcohol contents (40% and above), it's super hard to bring out the real flavors of the spirits. Too little booze often results in no flavor. Too much booze and the result can be an overpowered boozy finish.
The way I see it, RaveReview! Culinary Spirits are like the Goldilocks of the Bake It With Booze World: not too boozy, not too weak on flavor, but just right! We have 3 others culinary blends to give it a go, so you'll be seeing more of these again in the months to come.
Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.
First, get all your ingredients ready. I always really try to do this before I start a recipe. Although I ~think~ I'm carefully reading the recipe, I often times forget something. This time I forgot to dock the crust before baking. No big deal, but leaving out an ingredient can make all the difference in how your goodies will turn out.
I only use Guittard butterscotch chips. They are the only brand I can find where I live, so I'm lucky. You can also purchase them from King Arthur Flour or buy directly from Guittard.
Preheat the oven and prepare your pan. I used the foil method and it worked out great. Set this aside while you pull together the crust.
Make the crust in a stand mixture. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and 1 tbsp Bourbon on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Just mix until well combined (not light and fluffy). Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in large spoonfuls. Mix just until combined. I forgot to photograph this part, but it's very similar to making cookie dough.
Next, lightly press the dough evenly into the pan. Don't press too hard or your crust will be tough. Just enough pressure to pull it together. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. [Note, I forget to dock the crust and all went well).
Bake as directed. Mine took 30 minutes. Melissa's recipe called for 35-40 minutes, which would have been too long in my oven using the glass pan. Rotate the pan half-way and continue to bake until the crust is a golden color. Remove to a wire rack to cool while you make the butterscotch bourbon caramel. Yum.
I don't know about you, but I don't think I could handle measuring certain sticky ingredients, like corn syrup, without my Wonder Cup. Truly, a thing of beauty.
To make the butterscotch bourbon caramel, in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together the butterscotch chips, corn syrup and the remaining 2 tbsp (each) unsalted butter and Bourbon. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer and the butterscotch chips are melted. It will take some time. If the heat is too high, it might burn. So, low and slow. And, it does have to simmer for maybe 30 seconds. Otherwise, it will not set and will be a runny mess when you cut the bars. Too long and it will be rock hard. Again, think Goldilocks...
Carefully pour the butterscotch bourbon caramel over the crust. It's very hot and will burn, so be careful with this pan of very hot sugar!
Sprinkle the cashews over the caramel layer. Then, return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan of butterscotch cashew greatness and cool completely on a wire rack.
I let mine cool overnight and did not refrigerate. Once you are ready to cut these into bars, remove the entire block of bars from the pan using the the foil handles (or parchment) from pan. Place on a cutting board.
Invert on the board and remove all the foil. You can proceed with cutting the bars as you like. However, I opted to use Melissa's method for cutting these bars. It's super easy and you get perfectly cut bars with no cashews sinking into the caramel layer.
First, invert the entire sheet of bars and score the bottom of the crust with a serrated bread knife.
Next, using a straight edged heavy chef's knife, cut though the crust, caramel and cashew layers. This method worked like a champ and no nuts crushed into the crust! Finally, a neatly cut bar all ready for a photograph!
Last step: flip over the bars and place in a sealed container, with wax paper placed between each layer of bars. The filling will remain soft at room temperature and might ooze a bit. Not enough oozing to be scary, just nice oozing. I did not refrigerate these, but you might want to if you're not eating them soon. I also froze a few bars, wrapped individually in plastic wrap, and they thawed wonderfully well.
Great with morning coffee!
I brought these into work becasue I really can't have this volume of luscious bourbony bars around the house...A BIG hit at work, too. So, lots of taste testers agreed that these were a winner.
Bourbon Butterscotch Cashew Bars
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
Makes 13x9" pan (24 bars)
Makes 13x9" pan (24 bars)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
I cup, plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp Bourbon, divided (I used RaveReviews! Culinary Bourbon Blend)
11 oz butterscotch chips (almost the entire bag, I used Guittard)
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups roasted salted whole cashews (I used jumbo, from Target)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13″ pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with foil making sure that the foil hangs over the short ends of the pan. You’ll need that extra to lift the bars out of the pan. [Note: You can also use two sheets of parchment paper, and line the pan’s width and length, thus creating a parchment “sling.”] Spray the foil (or parchment paper if you are using the sling method) with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixture, beat the 1 cup butter, brown sugar, and 1 tbsp Bourbon on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Just mix until well combined, scrap bowl once. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in large spoonfuls. Mix just until combined. Lightly press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan half-way, and until the crust is a golden color. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
5. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together the butterscotch chips, corn syrup and the remaining 2 tbsp (each) unsalted butter and Bourbon. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer and the butterscotch chips are melted. Pour the butterscotch caramel over the crust.
6. Sprinkle the cashews over the butterscotch caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove the bars from the pan using the foil handles (or parchment) and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 24 bars.
[Note: I used Melissa’s method for cutting these bars. I inverted the entire sheet of bars, scored the bottom of the crust with a serrated bread knife, and then used a single blade knife to cut though the butterscotch caramel and cashew layers. Worked like a champ and no nuts crushed into the crust!]
Thanks for hanging in there with us during our blogging hiatus! It's great to be back baking and blogging again...
Note on content: RaveReviews! provided us with products to sample in our baking creations. The opinions stated here are all my own.