Cookies Desserts

butterscotch cashew bars

dreamy recipe ::::

I am currently listening to some B-rated vampire movie in the background, tires screeching, bullets pinging off glass and metal, and lots of testosterone-filled yelling and bloodsucking. It’s not my cup of tea. I often find myself, in the main room of the house where the computer and TV are located at the end of the day, trying to write to the strains of Eat’s fascination with watching crap movies. My soundtrack to many posts are not as folky or Shawn Colvin-y as I’d like. I finish my writing stints to go to bed, trying to erase the sounds of anthemic swells of music mixed with gunfire. I could work on the laptop, upstairs crouched in an un-ergonomic position, in low lighting so as not to wake the kids, absolutely hypocritical to my medical training. I deserve the periscapular pains, left-sided neck stiffness, and the achy low back.

But I want to be true to my advice, as much as I can. My office ergonomics are commendable, though could be better sometimes. My commute in the car needed some work in the beginning, but now I can exit the car without back or butt pain. And my sleep, my oft-discussed long history of sleep issues, is improving. All it took was observing some of the Pain Management classes. In addition to medication management, psychology, and physical therapy, there are numerous relaxation techniques introduced. Richard, one of the program’s health educators, gave us some simple advice on sounder sleep. Focused breathing. A pattern of touch: a pat, a squeeze. That’s it. Not deep breathing, just focused breathing. Listening to the breath, letting the rise and fall of the chest lull you. The vampires swirling in my head easily evaporate in a breath or two. Save for Grub’s ever-present awakenings, I sleep more deeply and awake refreshed. Well, refreshed enough.

My first and last thoughts are usually food, especially now that the second trimester energy has arrived, even if I’m not hungry, much like the acclaimed and ubertalented Jiro, the sushi chef in Tokyo. His restaurant is one of the few 3 Michelin starred restaurants in the world. And it’s in a subway station. It is impeccably clean. There is a standard that never wavers. It is an art to strive to. In the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi  made by David Gelb, Jiro recounts his connection with sushi, how he dreams of it, how it pervades every part of his life. I’m not surprised: the man has been making sushi for 75 years.

I don’t pretend to even be in the same category of Jiro. His creations and talents are boundless. I just like to think about what I can create the next day, win or lose, and that sometimes gets in the way of my sounder sleep. Too much thinking. I used to joke that my insomnia was that I was coming up with a solution for world peace. Now I wonder if it was really just because the recipe in the new Food & Wine for some-atypical-unique-produce-salad distracted me because of the ingredients and pretty colors in the accompanying photograph. This was especially evident when I worked a nightshift for a month while in residency, suddenly craving hamburgers for breakfast before I went to bed for the day. I never crave meat like that. Something like a vegetarian vampire, though I never am as enthralling as Edward Cullen.

This is one of my dreams, something that often pushes me back to lucid wakefulness before trundling down to sleep for the night. This recipe for butterscotch cashew bars is something one could easily find in dreams: it’s a weird balance of salty and sweet, buttery and nutty, chewy and crumbly. Sometimes our dreams are a little off with a little too much red, or too many bicycles with wings, or maybe faceless people saying strange things in tongues.

It’s a dreamy recipe from a dreamy website. Once again, I couldn’t resist a recipe from the Bake or Break foodblog. If you want the quintessential virtual tome for bars, cookies, brownies, cakes, and such, Bake or Break is the site. And she’s got a book!

One year ago: rooibos chai

Two years ago: rosemary focaccia


butterscotch cashew bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
  • ½ pound (2 sticks, or 1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 11 ounces butterscotch chips
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 cups roasted, salted whole cashews
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray/grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray (or neutral oil). Using two sheets of parchment, line the pan's width and length, creating a parchment sling. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray (or lightly grease).
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat better, brown sugar, and salt for 60 to 90 seconds. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix until just combined. Lightly press dough into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until crust is golden in color. Remove to wire rack to cool.
  4. In a heavy saucepan over a low heat, stir together butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over crust.
  5. Sprinkle 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. I cut into 16 squares. These are very rich, so each square really is enough for one person.



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