Sweet, savory make-ahead treat that's sure to be a hit with everyone!
Hemp Honey Walnut Shortbread Bars
(Adapted from Mindy Segal)
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cube
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup Colorado Hemp Honey (any flavor)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup walnut halves plus 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Step 1 Make the shortbread
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, allowing 1 inch of overhang on the sides (this will help you lift the bars out of the pan). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add the flour and salt and beat on low speed until combined. Dough will be crumbly, and have the texture of sand. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake the shortbread for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown; rotate the pan from front to back halfway through baking. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Step 3 Meanwhile, make the walnut caramel
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Whisk in the honey, both sugars and salts and the vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the caramel reaches 220° on a candy thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add the cream and cook until the mixture reaches 238°, 3 to 4 minutes. Switching to a wooden spoon, stir in all of the walnuts and cook until fragrant and toasty and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes longer. Note: The caramel can be made without a candy thermometer. Use the time guidelines above as a loose framework, and let your eyes and nose tell you when things are done.
Immediately pour the walnut caramel over the shortbread and spread in an even layer using a spatula. Let cool completely. (Optional Chocolate Layer, see Step 5) Using the parchment paper, lift onto a cutting board. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cut into bars and serve.
Optional Step 5 (Millionaire Bar Version)
Melt 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate in short bursts, stirring often. Spread melted chocolate in an even layer over caramel. Chill until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut the parchment-free sides away from the pan with a sharp knife, then transfer the shortbread to a cutting board using the parchment overhang.
The bars can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.