You know what? Some of the cookbooks that I've seen for sale at my favorite thrift store are hilariously horrible. I'm talking about cookbooks that would be right at home in the Gallery of Regrettable Food. Like this one time, I saw a cookbook that was nothing but Jello recipes, and it had a recipe for savoury beef Jello with little pieces of onion floating in it! Ick! And this other time, I found a cookbook from the fifties that recommended cooking a whole chicken in the microwave! And the picture that accompanied this recommendation? It showed a chicken that was just as pale and rubbery as you'd expect a microwaved chicken to be! LOL! I guess there were no food stylists in the fifties..
Anyway, while most of the cookbooks I see at the thrift store are laugh-inducingly bad, I do occasionally find a diamond in the rough, so to speak. For example, I picked up Taste of Home Cookies for $6 at Goodwill last week, and I absolutely love it. It's packed with all sorts of yummy-looking recipes and the photos are truly gorgeous. On top of that, the recipes are neatly laid out and each recipe includes a cute little comment from a Taste of Home reader. Overall, it's a great cookbook.
Anyway, just for fun, I let my fiance pick out the first recipe for me to make from Taste of Home Cookies, and boy, did he ever pick a winner! These caramel cashew cake bars are absolutely delicious! They're sweet and salty and chewy and crunchy and just plain tasty! The soft, sweet cake-like base of these bars is rich and dense and pairs perfectly with the caramelly broiled cashew topping. Partner one of these bars with a nice cold glass of milk, and you have a pretty darn good dessert!
This recipe is adapted from the caramel-cashew cake bar recipe found in Taste of Home Cookies:
Caramel Cashew Cake Bars
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 c salted cashews (chopped)
1/2 c salted cashews (chopped)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tbsp butter (melted)
1 1/2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1. Preheat your oven to 350º.
2. To make the cake layer, whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and stir until everything is just combined. Gently fold in the cashews.
3. Spread the batter evenly around the bottom of a well-greased 8 inch square cake pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
4. While the cake layer is baking, make the topping by placing the cashews, brown sugar, melted butter, and cream into a small bowl and stirring until all of the ingredients are well combined. Evenly spread the topping over the still warm cake layer.
5. Turn on your oven's broiler and set it to high. Place the cake under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and has browned slightly.
6. Allow the pan to cool slightly before carefully cutting the cake into into bars. Carefully remove the bars from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.