Times-tested cookies perfect for holiday giving.
photoButterscotch Shortbread Bars

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
Butterscotch topping:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashews
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 9- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with foil; extend foil over pan edges. Butter foil; set aside.

For crust, in a medium mixing bowl combine flour, the 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and the baking powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crust mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, for butterscotch sauce, in a heavy medium saucepan melt the 1/4 cup butter. Stir in sugars, corn syrup, water and salt; stir in the chopped nuts. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in whipping cream and vanilla.

Spread butterscotch mixture evenly over the baked crust. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes more or until most of the surface is bubbly. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Lift foil out of pan; cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.

Times testing notes: Warning! The top layer will look soupy at the end of baking, and you will be worried you’ve done something wrong. Hang tight. The butterscotch layer firms as it cools. Also, make sure the butter for the crust is very cold and that you don’t work the mixture too much. We loved the flavor of this sinful cookie.

Source: “Cookies for Christmas” by Jennifer D. Darling (Meredith Books, 1999).

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