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Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Butterscotch Cashew Bars are sweet, gooey, crunchy, and delicious! From the shortbread crust to the gooey filling to the cashews on top, there’s so much to love here!

Butterscotch Cashew Bars on parchment paper

Cashews are woefully underused in baking. More often, you’ll find plenty of recipes featuring almonds or pecans or walnuts. But cashews deserve the spotlight, too. And combine them with a gooey butterscotch filling, and you’ve got a real winner!

These bars start with a simple shortbread crust made of butter, brown sugar, salt, and flour. Shortbread crusts are one of my favorite base layers for bars. They add wonderful flavor without overwhelming the stars of the show. In this case, that buttery crust is just the thing to go along with the bolder flavors on top.

sliced Butterscotch Cashew Bars on parchment paper

If I have any hesitation in making these bars, it’s that butterscotch chips can sometimes leave something to be desired. After many years of baking, I can attest that not all butterscotch chips are created equally. My preferred brand is Guittard, but just use any brand that tastes good to you.

I know some of you will want to use a substitute for the corn syrup in these bars. There are several options you can try. Honey works well, but keep in mind that you’ll get quite a bit of its flavor here. Agave nectar or golden syrup should work fairly well, too. Another alternative is to dissolve sugar in warm water. For this recipe, I’d try using 3/4 cup granulated sugar dissolved in about 3 tablespoons of warm water.

sliced Butterscotch Cashew Bars on a parchment paper-lined baking pan

The recipe for these bars comes from Sweet Melissa, a favorite New York bakery that is sadly no longer open. Luckily, many of their great recipes are collected in a cookbook that I’ve linked below the recipe. It’s filled with many great recipes that I’ve enjoyed baking for many years.

These Butterscotch Cashew Bars are deliciously different. The combination of simple flavors with bolder ones works so well here. If the thought of something gooey, crunchy, and rich whets your appetite, then give them a try!

Find more bar recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Cashew-Filled Treats

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Yield 24 2-inch bars
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Butterscotch Cashew Bars are a delicious blend of sweet shortbread, rich shortbread, and crunchy cashews.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars on parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 & 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 11 ounces (312g) butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 cups (280g) roasted salted whole cashews

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9″x 13″x 2" pan with cooking spray. Using two sheets of parchment paper, line the pan’s width and length, creating a parchment “sling.” Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and salt for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix just until combined. Lightly press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a golden color. Remove to wire rack to cool.
  3. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together the butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until the mixture comes to a simmer and the butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over the crust.
  4. Sprinkle the cashews over the butterscotch caramel. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove from pan and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

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    84 Comments on “Butterscotch Cashew Bars”

  1. I can’t wait to get this book. I am reviewing it too. If this is an example, I will be watching my mailbox.

  2. butterscotch AND cashews? lordy, lordy, that’s a winning combination. they look heavenly!

  3. If I were small enough, I would sleep on that.
    It’s beautiful.

  4. this looks absolutely delicious.

  5. I’m so glad you made these! I received my review copy and decided just this morning what I’ll be making as my test recipe (pistachio thumbprints).

    As everything on your blog goes, these look terrific!

  6. Yum! These look delicious! I’m curious… is the shortbread crust super moist or more dry/crumbly? I’ve been trying to find a moist, very buttery shortbread crust recipe and from the pictures… this one looks like it might fit the bill.

  7. These bars look good! Like you Jennifer, I’m not a big fan of butterscotch or caramel. But I just might have to give these a try.

  8. Those bars look amazing! I love cashews!

  9. Peabody, I’m anxious to see what you make from this book.

    a. grace, the combination is definitely a winner.

    Cafe Johnsonia, that is an accurate summary. 😉

    Graeme, you’ve certainly given me a good laugh for the day. These might feel a bit lumpy, but somehow I don’t think I’d mind.

    Andreea, they really are!

    Deb, I gave some serious thought to those Pistachio Thumbprints. I’ll be on the lookout for yours.

    Amy, the crust is not very crumbly. It’s quite compact. It is definitely buttery, but I wouldn’t really describe it as either dry or moist. That’s not helpful, is it? I think it would seem moister if it were not as thick. Plus, the caramel is so soft that it really emphasizes the firmness of the crust.

    Cindy, let me know what you think if you try them!

    Brilynn, I love cashews, too, but I usually just eat them instead of baking with them.

  10. I am usually not a caramel/butterscotch fan, but after reading your description of this recipe, I may give this recipe a try sometime. 🙂 Of course I need to hunt for some nice butterscotch chips first.

  11. It doesn’t get any better than this!! I can’t wait until I can get a copy of this book in my hands!

  12. Mmmm, those Butterscotch Cashew Bars would work perfectly for my sweet tooth. Delicious!

  13. Those look so delicious and the photos are making my mouth water! I’m saving this one to del.icio.us!

  14. Without question I am making these, I already know that I will love them.

  15. i need that book, because i need to make these bars. they will last all of 3 second in my house.

  16. Ohh, that melty butterscotch looks fantastic. Beautiful photos.

  17. You´re great darling. Great for posting and sharing these wonderful recipes and great for the pictures¡¡ they´re beautiful. Best regards from Spain.

  18. Cashews definitely are used too little in baking. But the problem with them is that almost every time I find a cashew recipe and decide to try it, the flavour gets lost and I’m unhappy because I’ve spent so much on the precious nuts. I LOVE LOVE cashews, but this is just unfair. The only time the flavour has been a real success was when I made kajoo barfi – now these I could eat and be happy! I’d love to try this recipe too, the flavour just CAN’T get lost in here!:)

  19. Drool! That looks to good. Sorry I wish I could say more but I am drooling too much!

  20. Thanks, everyone!

  21. Holly molly! Does that look good or what??? that’s the gooesiest thing I have seen in a while! Gorgeous!

  22. Wow……Great photo….. another must try….. 🙂

  23. Jen, I bought a bag of salted cashew nuts to nibble but there’s a ton left still… Now I know what I’ll do with them!

    These look superb, my friend.

  24. I’m a huge fan of *anything* butterscotch, so clearly these look fab to me…

  25. Thanks, y’all! I still don’t have adequate words for how good these are.

  26. Those look incredible! I am going to have to make them now too! I just tested the Fluffy Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling from her book and it was divine. You can see the photos at http://www.mysweetandsaucy.com

  27. mmm..butterscotch and cashews? wow, what a fantastic combination!

  28. My Sweet & Saucy, I remember liking the sounds of that cake. Coconut cake is one of my favorites.

    marye, it truly is delicious.

  29. These just made my mouth water! The saltiness of the cashews alongside the sweet butterscotch sounds dreamy.

  30. OMG, those bars look extremely scrumptious and dirty! Wow, a fantastic combination!!!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  31. Wow, those bars look incredible. I just made some butterscotch bars that were just “eh” — wish I had thought of cashews!

  32. I made these last night! oh my god. Delicious. I could eat them allll night long! If you like butterscotch and cashews (both are my favorites) you’ll love these. I highly recommend them.

    • I also made them and the recipe calls for softened butter, when I baked it as instructed the butter melted and it became a flat mess. what did I miss here?

      • Hi, Jeanne. My first thoughts if you didn’t change anything about the recipe are that your oven might be too hot (check its accuracy with an inexpensive oven thermometer) or that you’re using a dark pan. It could also be a result of over-mixing.

  33. I made these last night. Very good! My husband
    really liked them. I brought some to work with me this A.M. and they liked them as well! I will be making them again.

  34. Looks delicious!

    Do you think I could substitute golden syrup or honey (or something else entirely) for the light corn syrup?

  35. Thanks, Marq and Rosa!

    Tracy, I’m not much of a butterscotch fan, but these cashews really made a great flavor combination.

    Laura, I’m so glad you liked them!

    Cindy, it’s good to hear that these were a hit for you!

    Chrissie, I don’t do much baking with either golden syrup or honey, so I really can’t give you an informed answer to your question. I can only suggest giving it a try. Something else may very well work, although it might change the consistency. Let me know what works if you give it a try.

  36. I am reviewing too this weekend. I was on a lemon kick with some of her recipes and they all turned out great! These were high on the list too but have not got the chance to make them yet, but now that I see how they turned out, I know what I’ll be making this weekend! Yum!!

  37. Hi everyone, I am the author, Melissa!, and I want to thank you for the kind words! You can buy the book many ways, one of which is through my website, http://www.sweetmelissapatisserie.com.
    I assure you, as Jennifer said, these bars are awesome. Chrissie, you can absolutely sub out the corn syrup with Lyles Golden or a mild honey, just stir a bit more. No problem. I LOVE honey in caramel and butterscotch. Let me know how you like the others!!

  38. Tartelette, your recipes from this book look delicious! Of course, your baking creations always do.

    Melissa, thanks so much for stopping by! I am loving getting to know your new book.

  39. oooo-great!! Keep baking Jennifer- I won’t let you down!!

  40. These cashew bars look simply fabulous. Cashews are my favorite nuts. I’ll have to try this recipe and pick up Melissa’s book.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  41. Thanks again, Melissa!

    Sheltie Girl, I hope you like them! There are so many tempting recipes in that book.

  42. i think i want to just snuggle in bed with a plateful of these

  43. Steamy, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

  44. I thought I’d mention I tried making these after seeing your wonderful picture and I found them to be incredibly sweet and a rather disturbing bright orange colour. I’m thinking not all butterscotch chips are created equal? They tasted a bit chemically too.

  45. Jenny, that’s interesting. I don’t know what to tell you. I loved these bars! Sorry you had bad luck with them.

  46. I really think the key to making these bars taste good is having good butterscotch chips. I can only find Nestle chips and they aren’t too good and they are too orange. Do you have any suggestions? I thought about buying some from the King Arthur site. Has anyone tried those?

  47. Judy, I’ve never used Nestle’s butterscotch chips. That very well could be the difference. I am 99% sure that I used Guittard brand that I picked up at World Market. I’ve not used the ones from King Arthur, but if their other products are any indication, I’m sure they would be good quality.

  48. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy what else can I say. Those cashew bars look amazing!

  49. Thanks, Chuck! They are quite delicious.

  50. I made 2 batchs of these over the weekend after hearing about them on a radio show. Tried 2 different versions, calling for the same ingredients, but different measures.. This recipe was fantastic!!! The are gooey and VERY rich. I have to make another batch tonight for my husband to take to work tomorrow. They keep well in an airtight container. Thanks for sharing!!

  51. T Severino, aren’t they delicious? I’m glad you liked them.

  52. Can’t believe you would post such scrumptious pictures and leave us hanging with no recipe. I love cashews and would love to have tried this recipe. I cannot afford to buy an entire cookbook for just 1 recipe.

  53. So sorry!!! Didn’t see the “Printable” link at the top of the page. My mistake!

  54. How should I store these want to give as gifts for Christmas how LNG will they keep out of fridge?

  55. Gallmarie, I would store them either in a single layer or with parchment paper or waxed paper in between layers. In an airtight container, they should keep for about 3 days. You shouldn’t need to refrigerate them.

  56. I would love to make these. I have checked both Guittard and King Arthur sites and neither have butterscotch chips. I know I dislike the Nestlé brand. Any suggestions?

  57. JEP, I’m not a fan of Nestlé’s butterscotch chips, either. Try World Wide Chocolate: http://worldwidechocolate.com/shop_guittard_105.html.

    Or, nuts.com has these, although I’ve not tried them: http://www.nuts.com/chocolatessweets/toppings/chips/butterscotch.html

  58. Thanks for your research! I will order from the the nuts.com site

  59. is there a substitute for butterscotch chips?

  60. Hi, Maria. You can substitute another flavor chips – chocolate, peanut butter, etc. If you want butterscotch chips but don’t have access to them, google “how to make butterscotch chips,” and you’ll find many homemade versions. I’ve not tried any of them.

  61. Nutritional information would be great, if you can provide it. I am a type 2…but would love to try this…even in small servings. thanks

  62. Hi, Bruce. I don’t generally provide nutrition information for recipes. I view these recipes as indulgences for occasions when you aren’t counting calories. There are several nutrition calculators online at sites like My Fitness Pal.

  63. Would you say these ship well???
    I bake goodies for all the mommas in my life and ship them.
    thanks!

  64. Made these and they are WONDERFUL! I did the boozy version and embellished the butterscotch caramel layer with a bit of bourbon and butter. And, I did bring it to a simmer which is key to getting a soft caramel. I used Guittard butterscotch chips, which I’m surprised one of your readers couldn’t find. Plus, KAF carried the Guittard bs chips. Excellent bar, Jennifer! P.S. I even purchased Melissa’s book, so I’m very excited to bake even more of her creations…So appreciate your review and recipe. Thank you!

  65. I just made these and I agree with the others… the butterscotch chips & corn syrup were not that great.. I happened to have a fantastic “from scratch” butterscotch recipe, so I made an alternative batch of butterscotch just in case the orange one didn’t taste good, and it didn’t. Try simmering 4 TBL butter in a sauce pan and adding a cup of brown sugar, stir with wooden spoon as sugar melts and blends with the butter. Then add 1 1/2 c cream (a half cup at a time). The sugar will seize at first and then it will melt again and all blend into an incredible homemade caramel/butterscotch. Put that on top of the shortbread crust and it’s heavenly!

  66. I used chopped pecans instead of cashews (coz I didn’t have any) and they turned out AWESOME!!!!
    Hubby said….”mmmm very good dessert!” I served them with a little bit of vanilla ice cream!!!!
    Thank you for the recipe!!!!

  67. I want to make these gooey delicious bars! I have butterscotch syrup. Would that work the same or should I stick with the chips?

  68. Fabulous and easy? I added whole roasted almonds too and sprinkled top with just a tiny bit of kosher salt. Over the top good!

  69. “Bake for 5 minutes”?? I don’t think so. At the top of the recipe, it says 55 minutes, which seems like too long. Does anyone know the correct baking time?? Thank you!

    • Oops!! I read the recipe 3 times and completely missed the earlier baking time for the base. Now the 5 minutes makes sense for the topping . . .

    • The 5 minutes is just the last step of baking. If you look at step 2, there’s an initial baking of the crust. The remaining cook time listed is for the stovetop portion of the recipe in step 3.

  70. Yesterday I had my way with this dead simple recipe.

    The word “simple” is not a slur whatsoever. I used that word to illustrate that amazing treats can be made AND be simple at the same time. Why do I continue to try various chocolate chip cookies or brownies when they have so much in common, I can’t say….but yes, I still do that….in this instance, the flavors of butterscotch and cashews together on the brown sugar crust is an entirely new flavor profile ever experienced in my 65 years on the planet….these simple cookies were absolutely incredible. Yesterday before having our Butterscotch Cashew bars, I gifted some to our best friends Denise and Alan. At around 10 p.m. I get an iMessage from Denise, just before we were to have ours for the first time….I swear on my whisk that the following words are hers, as cut and pasted from the iMessage <<>> Thank you for this one Jennifer. One final note….Because of the above, I snagged a copy of the cookbook that was the impetus for what you shared….cannot wait for it to arrive! Oh, sorry, but I have one more comment….I noted in the picture how stunning the bar would be, but I decided to leave out the water in the topping, thinking that the caramel would be less prone to drip down the sides of the bar. The caramel was so tender, and yet a bit more firm when leaving out the water. I used the microwave to melt the chips and syrup.

  71. Holy moly you can make $1 million with this cashew bar. No you could make 10 million. Amazing !!!!!!!!!!!

    Above is my friends message. It did not populate for some reason in my review.

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