Peach Pecan Squares


After a verrrrrrrrrrrrrry long hiatus, I’m back! (at least for now)  This has been a busy year with a move to Ohio, starting a new fellowship, making new friends and additionally, I lost the really sunny patio space I was lucky to be able to use for my photography “studio” in Boston.  This week after a minor baking spree, I finally found motivation (and a small sunny corner in my apartment) to photograph food and blog again.

My baking spree was inspired by The Peach Truck.  As a New Englander, I had no idea about the amazing deliciousness that is The Peach Truck. This company was started by a husband and wife team out of Nashville, to spread the joys of Georgia peaches every summer.  They run a tour a few times each summer selling boxes of peaches in several southern and midwestern cities.  Luckily, one of the stops is Columbus!

I decided I HAD to buy a 25 pound box (this is the minimum that you can purchase) and go crazy making peach EVERYTHING!  And yes, I of course waited in an about 100 person long line for them (it moved quickly). So far I have made peach lambic sorbet (courtesy of Jeni’s Ice Cream), peach liqueur (still infusing), peach, tomato, and burrata salads, and these peach pecan squares which are a slight modification of these smitten kitchen apricot pistachio squares.  The brown color of the pecan aren’t quite as pretty as the green of the pistachios but they are delicious!  Next baking projects are a peach creme fraiche pie and ginger peach muffins.  And I’ll still have a lot more peaches to go….


Peach Pecan Squares (from smitten kitchen apricot pistachio squares)

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine

3/4 cup (a scant 4 ounces or 110 grams) pecans
1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour
Few pinches of sea salt
6 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
1 large egg
1 pound peaches

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (If you have an 8-inch square springform, you can skip this and just butter it well.)

Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — that’s right, just keep running it; it might take 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to come together, but it will. Transfer the dough clumps to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. For the sake of speed, transfer to a cooling rack in your freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the filing.

Make the filling: In your food processor bowl (which I never bother cleaning between these steps), grind your pecans, sugar, flour and salt together until the nuts are powdery. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the machine. Run the machine until no buttery bits are visible. Add the egg, blending until just combined.

Spread filling over mostly cooled (warmth is okay but it’s hoped that the freezer will have firmed the base enough that you can spread something over it) crust. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Cut them into strips, then slide each cut half onto a butter knife or offset spatula, tilt it so that it fans a little, and slide it onto your pecan filling decoratively.

Bake the bars for 60 minutes, or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the pistachio portion comes out batter-free. This might take up to 10 minutes longer depending on the juiciness of your apricots and the amount you were able to nestle in. Let cool completely in pan; you can hasten this along in the fridge.

Cut bars into squares — chilled bars will give you the cleanest cuts. Keep leftover bars chilled.




Roasted Beets with Pistachio Beet Green Pesto, Honey Yogurt, and Blood Orange Vinaigrette


Last weekend was one of my favorite holidays-Passover.  Something about Passover just immediately brings me back to my childhood.  All it takes is the smell of chicken soup simmering away on the stove or the pungent smell of horseradish and I am instantly transported back to my home in Western Massachusetts where I can envision a mini-version of myself, wearing one of my nicest dresses, setting the dinner table before the seder.  Since I graduated from college, I have made it a point to cook a Passover dinner every year that I have been in Boston (except last year when I was interviewing all over the country) and every year I cook almost the same menu: brisket, matzoh ball soup, and chocolate flourless cake from the April 2006 issue of Bon Appetite magazine.  Each year I refine the dishes a little more and try to add something new to the dinner.  A few years ago I invented chocolate covered matzoh ice cream which was such a hit, I have made it again every year since then!  This year I added in a ribbon of the hot fudge from the hot fudge thumbprints I made earlier this month.  Other recipes such as the charoset ice cream with Manischevitz sauce were not as well received.

This year, I wanted to add some color and vegetables to the table so I set out to make my first beet dish ever!  I actually didn’t really like beets until a few years ago which is probably why I never learned to make them.  However, after repeatedly trying them they found their way into my heart and I realized that their earthy taste eventually gave way into a sweetness that paired perfectly with tart and creamy flavors (like goat cheese or yogurt).  I decided to get creative with my roasted beets and created multiple components to add varied textures and flavors to the beets.

In full disclosure, I hadn’t planned on posting the recipe on my blog.  However, after multiple people requested the recipe after seeing the photos that I posted, I racked my brain for the ingredients and proportions and below is what I came up with.  Therefore, if you make it, taste is as you go (as you always should) and adjust as necessary!

Roasted Beets with Pistachio Beet Green Pesto, Honey Yogurt, and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

(serves 6-8 people)

Roasted beets:
8-10 medium sized beets of varying color
olive oil

Pistachio beet green pesto:
1/4 cup pistachios (plus more to top the final dish)
1/2 cup packed chopped beet green leaves
1 small piece of garlic
1/4 cup of oil

Blood orange vinaigrette:
2 blood oranges
1 Tbs honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Honey yogurt:
10 oz (2 small containers) greek yogurt
2 Tbs honey

For the roasted beets: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub beets with olive oil and salt.  Wrap beets of same color together in foil packets so they are sealed.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 45-60 minutes until they are fork tender.  Cool for 10 minutes and then run under cool water and remove the skins.  Cut into 4-6 wedges depending on the size of the beets.

For the pesto: Place first 3 ingredients in a mini food processor.  Slowly add oil until pesto is of a consistency that can be easily drizzles over the beets.  Season with salt.

For the vinaigrette:  Supreme or slice the blood oranges.  Reserve any juice that accumulated while cutting and then squeeze the remnants of the oranges to get more juice.  Whisk in honey, olive oil and salt.

Honey yogurt: Mix honey and yogurt together.

Assembly.  Spoon yogurt as the first layer on a large plate.  Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Top with the cut beets and blood orange segments/slices.  Top with a few more spoonfuls of drizzled pesto.  Spoon the vinaigrette over the beets.  Top with chopped, toasted pistachios if desired and herbs such as parsley or dill (if desired).






Hot Fudge Thumbprints

Every so often you come across something new and amazing that changes your life forever.  For me…it was this cookie.  You might think I’m being a bit dramatic waxing poetic about a cookie.  But this cookie was beyond incredible.  Probably the best cookie I have ever had and I’ve had my fair share of cookies.

I had wanted to try Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, a bakery and cafe owned by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Mindy Segal, for some time.  However, its Wicker Park location in Chicago was just a touch out of the way on each of my visits.  A few weeks ago, however, I was in Chicago for a conference and discovered Revival Food Hall. Revival Food Hall is a foodie’s dream with several of Chicago’s best fast-casual concepts all under one roof!  Everything looked and smelled delicious and I definitely wandered around for a good half hour before deciding what I wanted to eat.

However, when I stumbled upon a small Mindy’s Hot Chocolate outpost, there was no hesitation about where I was going for dessert.  Deciding what to order was a bit harder, though, because I wanted it all!!! Eventually with some help from the friendly staff I decided on a chocolate chip cookie, a Buckeye bar (aka peanut butter and chocolate goodness), $8 hot chocolate (yes $8 but TOTALLY worth it), and finally, these life-changing Hot Fudge Thumbprint cookies.  They essentially taste like you took the best and richest hot chocolate you can find (like their $8 version) and somehow condensed it into a soft and fudgy cookie.  Wow!  As soon as I tasted it I knew I need to learn how to make them and immediately bought Mindy Segal’s cookbook, Cookie Love, online.

The cookies are a bit labor intensive and start with you making about 4 cups of hot fudge (you only need about 1 cup for the recipe so you can make more cookies with rest or use it as ice cream topping…or just eat it with a spoon because it is that good).  My hot fudge didn’t quite separate the way it is described in the recipe but after about an hour of simmering (which is longer than what is called for in the recipe) it seemed like it was as done as it was going to get!  I made these over 2 days so that the dough could rest overnight.  I also added some extra sea salt to the top (because salty and sweet in the best combination) and coated the cookies in green sugar since it was St. Paddy’s Day that weekend.  Everyone at work raved about these cookies so I will definitely be making them again!  Recipe below is provided by Eater.

Hot Fudge Thumbprints (By Mindy Segal, Cookie Love):
Makes about 54 cookies

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

1 heaping cup smoked sugar or demerara sugar
1 cup Hot Fudge (page 236)

To make the cookies:

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
• Put the egg, yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla into a small cup or bowl.
• In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salts.
• On medium speed, add the egg and yolk to the butter mixture and mix until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 10 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
• Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed. Mix until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
• Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
• Heat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper.

To shape the cookies:
• Cut the dough into 6 even strips. Roll the strips back and forth into logs to round out the edges. Sprinkle the smoked sugar on the work surface and roll the logs in the sugar to coat. Using the top half of your thumb as a guide, cut each log into 9 pieces but keep the log together. Roll the logs again to round out the edges, then pull the pieces apart and place cut-side up on the prepared pans, evenly spacing up to 20 cookies per pan. With the tip of your index finger, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
• Bake one pan at a time for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and tap down the centers with the rounded end of a wooden spoon or a cocktail muddler. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies have slight cracks on the top and are set, another 4 to 6 minutes. When ready, the cookies will have set around the edges and you will be able to gently move them. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat with the remaining pan.

To fill the cookies:
• Heat the hot fudge briefly in a pot over high heat until the sides start to melt. Stir well, then transfer to a squeeze bottle or have a teaspoon ready.
• Once the cookies are completely cool, squeeze enough hot fudge onto the cookies to fill the indentation or spoon the hot fudge into the center. Refrigerate the cookies until the hot fudge has set, approximately 30 minutes.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Hot Fudge

Makes a generous 4 cups

Hot fudge was one of the first things I learned how to make in my early days as a pastry cook (thank you, Judy Contino), and I’m still fascinated by the alchemy of the process. Chocolate, sugar, syrup, and cream are simmered until the oils separate from the solids. At first it looks like chocolate gone wrong, but then I add butter and a generous helping of vanilla and whisk the whole thing thoroughly. The hot fudge magically comes together. Because the chocolate and cream need to cook for a while, use a sturdy pot to avoid scorching the bottom. Once made, the hot fudge lasts for weeks and weeks in the refrigerator.

3 cups heavy cream
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle’s, see page 269) or light corn syrup
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

• In a 6-quart or larger heavy pot over medium-high heat, combine the cream, sugar, and syrup until dissolved, approximately 3 minutes. Add the chocolate and salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer so that the bubbles percolate in the center of the pot. Cook, stirring periodically to avoid scorching the bottom, until the mixture breaks and the oils separate from the solids, 40 to 45 minutes.
• Whisk in the butter and vanilla thoroughly (you can also use an immersion blender to do this if you want it extra smooth) and let cool.

Hot fudge keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie


Yesterday (March 14th) was one of the best holidays of the year (IMO): Pi day!!!  I remember first celebrating this holiday in high school in my pre-algebra class.  In honor of this momentous holiday, we held a pie making contest.  At this point in my life, my love for food and baking was only just beginning and my culinary adventures were mostly limited to easy things like chocolate chip cookies, pizza, scrambled eggs, and brownies.  I remember searching through one of my mom’s Pillsbury cookbooks and settled on a chocolate cherry pie with a traditional pie crust and a filling that essentially combined instant chocolate pudding and cherry pie filling.  It was quite amateur at best, but somehow I won, mostly because people couldn’t quite figure out what was in it and were curious to find out more.  My baking and pie making skills have come quite a long way since then… I would shudder at the thought of using a canned filling now!

This year, Pi day happened to fall the day after a huge snow storm.  Nothing gets me more in the mood for baking than inclement weather!  Luckily I was able to leave work a little early because I had an ambitious pie in mind: coconut cream pie!  Since returning from Thailand, I’ve been on a coconut kick and had some coconut milk and cream on hand.  I also had some milk, cream, and cream cheese leftover from the last batch of ice cream I made so I didn’t need to brave the blizzard to buy ingredients.  I then decided to add a chocolate (black) bottom layer to it because chocolate makes everything better. All of this culminated together in this newest creation: Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie.  What is beautiful about this pie is that it layers rich chocolate, with a sweet coconut pudding, and a light, salty, but only slightly sweet, whipped topping.  It is neither too coconutty (this was tested on a coconut hater) nor too sweet.  It really is the perfect harmonious blend of sweet and salty with chocolate and coconut.  Hope you all had a delicious Pi Day!

Small confession: This crust recipe is actually supposed to make 2 pie crusts but I messed up, in a good way, and just made one.  The crust is one of my favorite parts so in my mind, more crust is better! If you want a thinner crust (or less butter in a slice of pie), then just use half of the pie dough and reduce the baking time.


Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie


Crust (From Epicurious):

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons (about) ice water

Coconut Pudding (adapted from Epicurious):

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1.5 cups whole milk
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp salt


Chocolate layer:

4 oz chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 Tbs butter

Coconut Whipped Topping:

1/2 cup whipping cream
the top creamy/firm part from a 14 oz can of coconut cream (it is best to chill the can for a few hours and then just scoop out the top creamy part and leave behind the coconut water and reserve for another use)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Coconut Topping:

Dang toasted coconut chips or toasted shredded coconut (enough to cover pie)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream


It may seem weird to be posting about ice cream when there is an impending snow storm but a) I’m from Massachusetts and we loooooove ice cream no matter the temperature (we are one of the top 10 ice cream consuming states) and b) this ice cream is soooo good and tastes just like Thai Iced Tea!

Last month I went on an amazing vacation to Tokyo, Thailand, and Vietnam.  It was a whirlwind trip, visiting 5 cities in 2 weeks!  We visited museums and temples, went island hopping off the coast of Thailand, hiked, took cooking classes and of course ate A LOT of delicious food.  In Thailand, food is super cheap (aka $3 for a large lunch) and amazingly tasty with many fresh herbs and spices.


One of my favorite things about Thailand was that everywhere you turned there were vendors selling fresh fruit, coconut water, and Thai iced tea- each for less than a dollar!  I probably had at least 1 coconut and 1 Thai iced tea everyday!  Predictably, upon returning home I’ve been going through Thai iced tea withdrawal.  After a few weeks of this I decided to take matters into my own hands and came up with the brilliant idea to make an ice cream with Thai iced tea (well not that brilliant since others have done so before me…).  I found Thai iced tea mix online and set out to experiment with it this past weekend.  As I’ve posted before, I love Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (coincidentally, I will be moving to Columbus, Ohio in a few months where they are based!) and all of my ice cream creations are based on their recipes.  I used their basic algorithm but infused the milk mixture with Thai iced tea and then substituted all the sugar and some of the cream for a can of sweetened condensed milk.  The result is a perfectly creamy, frozen version of Thai iced tea that transports me back to the colorful and vibrant streets of Chiang Mai.


Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups milk
1 Tbs and 1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Thai iced tea mix


In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese and salt, set aside.

In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside.

In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sweetened condensed milk, and thai iced tea mix.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes and then let steep for 10 minutes.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with one layer of cheesecloth (you can do it without cheesecloth but you’ll get some flecks of tea in it).  Reheat to a simmer and then stir in milk-cornstarch slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Whisk milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled, about 30 min.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place into a storage container and freeze at least 1 hour before eating.




Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns (from Smitten Kitchen)

The other weekend on a whim, I decided to tackle a baking project that had been on my list for a while: these chocolate tahini challah rolls by Smitten Kitchen.  I have been gravitating more towards tahini in desserts so these caught my eye.  Last year I made these tahini molten cakes for dessert after a Middle Eastern themed dinner and they were delicious.  For those unfamiliar with tahini, it is a sesame paste that is akin to a natural peanut butter but with a nuttier taste to it.  It is often used in Middle Eastern cooking (aka hummus) but has been trending in a lot of desserts lately (see the My Name is Yeh blog).

I figured anything with chocolate, tahini and challah couldn’t go wrong!  This recipe was pretty simple but does require some advanced planning and time (mostly inactive time waiting for the dough to rise).  They are best served warm, in my opinion.  Enjoy!


Chocolate Tahini Challah Buns

    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral oil, or melted butter
    • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk or water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed
    • 3 3/4 (490 grams) cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter
    • 1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
    • Butter or nonstick spray for baking pan
    • 4 ounces (115 grams) dark (semi- or bittersweet) chocolate (or approximately 3/4 cup chocolate chips)
    • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
    • Scant 1/2 cup (25 grams) powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder
    • 1/4 cup tahini (30 grams), well-stirred
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • Sesame seeds
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon or orange juice
Make dough: Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, oil and milk or water in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl. Add flour, yeast and salt and combine with dough hook until it comes together, then let machine knead it for 5 to 7 minutes. Oil a large bowl and let dough rise in it at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until slightly shy of doubled.You may need 30 to 45 minutes longer if your ingredients were cold. You can speed this process along by turning your oven on to 150 degrees F and turning it off and then placing bowl the dough inside. Keep an eye on it because it will rise more quickly.

Butter a 9×13-inch or equivalent size baking dish, or coat it with nonstick spray.

Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and tahini; mixture should be a spreadable consistency.

Assemble buns: On a very well-floured counter, roll out dough into a rectangle about 18 inches wide (side facing you) and as far away from you (i.e. length) as it comfortably goes, usually 12 to 15 inches. Dollop chocolate mixture over and spread it smooth. Roll dough in a tight spiral.

Cut log very gently — it’s going to be a soft mess, use a sharp serrated knife, sewing thread works well here too — into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch segments. Arrange cut side up in prepared pan. Beat egg in small bowl. Brush tops of buns and tops of sides with egg and cover with plastic wrap. You can either fefrigerate overnight, along with leftover egg wash or leave it at room temperature to proof for another 60 to 90 minutes, until puffed a bit.

Bake buns: If in fridge, remove buns from fridge and let warm up for 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush tops tops of sides with egg with egg wash again (I forgot and skipped the sides, which is why they are pale in the photos) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes, until bronzed all over and buns have an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. Let cool slightly before serving.

To glaze (optional): If using glaze, whisk ingredients until smooth. You can drizzle this over the buns or serve it alongside with a spoon. If drizzling over, it’s best to let the buns almost fully cool before putting it on or it may melt off.


Sesame Cashew Bars

img_0763It seems I unexpectedly took a sabbatical from blogging…  Don’t worry, I’ve still been cooking/baking (although less than normal…)!  Life just got a bit hectic to fit photographing and blogging into the mix!


The past 6 months have been a bit of a whirlwind with work, fellowship interviews all over the country, a month-long elective in NYC, new photography jobs, a quick trip to Iceland and everyday life.  I’ve managed to do some cooking and baking here and there…and obviously a lot of eating!

I’ve actually been meaning to post about these Sesame Cashew Bars from Sofra for a few months.  Have you ever purchased a cookbook just for one recipe?  These bars are that recipe!  It was love at first taste for me…salty, roasted cashews paired with smooth, silky caramel and buttery shortbread all together in one scrumptious bite.  I bought them one day while strolling through the Boston Public Market and meandering through the produce at Sienna Farms (run by the team behind Sofra and Oleana).  They called out to me inside their glistening cellophane packaging.  One bite was all it took and I was hooked.  I tried to save the rest of the bars by freezing them but it was a futile attempt.  Last summer I tried to recreate them by making these caramel cashew bars; they were very good but not as good as the Sofra version.

Lucky for me (and my friends), Sofra recently published a cookbook, Soframiz, featuring 100 recipes from Sofra…including these sesame cashew bars!!! I immediately bought the cookbook and made my first batch…and soon a second.   They were just as heavenly as I remembered!  They are relatively easy to make with only a handful of ingredients- just remember they need to be made the day before you are going to eat them so they can cool.


Sesame Cashew Bars (From Soframiz)

For The Crust:
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For The Filling:

  • 3½ cups salted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Line a 13 by 9-inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure it extends over the sides (or else caramel seeps in between the foil and pan and makes it hard to get out…you might want to double layer). Very lightly spray or butter the foil. (see note below)
  2. Make The Crust: Combine the flour, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the butter forms pieces the size of small pebbles, 20-30 seconds. Pour the crust crumbs into the prepared pan and press down to form an even layer. Cover and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the crust until golden, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Make The Filling: While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Combine the cashews, sesame seeds, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and honey, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves and begins to turn to caramel, forming large bubbles and thickening, or reaches 240ºF on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and vanilla. Add cashew mixture to the pot. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cashew mixture into the caramel until well combined.
  6. Pour the filling on top of the baked crust in an even layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the caramel bubbles along the sides of the pan only and the center is still liquid, 26 to 28 minutes. The filling will appear unbaked. It is very important not to over-bake. The filling will set up as it cools.
  7. Set aside to cool completely and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Lift the foil out of the pan to remove the bars in one large block. Cut into thirty-six 1½-inch squares.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  They taste best when allowed to come to room temperature for 30 min to an hour.