These Caramel Nut Bars are made with an easy shortbread base and loaded with salted peanuts and cashews, topped with marshmallows and caramel for the perfect sweet and salty treat!
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These Caramel Nut Bars are a last minute addition to the Christmas cookie lineup on The Recipe Rebel, and only because we were instantly obsessed!
With not much else to do, out Christmas baking bucket list is an epic one this year.
We have been working our way through all the treats we want to make for the blog, plus a slew of other ones we want to try just for fun — then we are making up plates of goodies to share with friends and family!
These Caramel Nut Bars were one we just wanted to try, and although my expectations weren’t that high, we loved them.
They are sweet and salty and buttery, crunchy and chewy and crumbly, and basically the perfect combination of everything we love.
This is a quick overview with some extra tips — see the full step by step recipe below!
- Line your pan: this is a step I never skip when making bars! Lining your baking dish with tin foil or parchment paper is an easy way to remove your bars so you can slice them perfectly. It also makes for easy clean up!
- Make your crust: the shortbread base is an easy, multi-purpose base that is also used in these Butter Tart Squares and these Lemon Cheesecake Bars. Just mix up some flour, sugar and cold butter until crumbly. If it holds together when you squeeze it in your hand, that’s what we want! Press it firmly into the pan and don’t worry if some spots have more butter. Bake until just dried looking but not browned.
- Sprinkle the peanuts, cashews and marshmallows over the crust — the kids love to help with this part!
- Melt your caramels with the cream, and pour over your nuts on the crust. Bake the caramel just a few minutes until it starts bubbling around the edges.
- Cool completely before slicing — I find it’s easiest to slice them after they have been refrigerated for several hours. I promise they won’t get too hard when they are cold!
- Swap out the crust: you can use a graham cracker crust, crushed shortbread cookie crust or a Golden Oreo crust — combined with melted butter so that they hold together, then bake for 10 minutes until slightly dried. (I am partial to a thick, buttery shortbread crust in this recipe though 😉 )
- Swap out the filling: don’t have peanuts or cashews? Feel free to use other nuts, or add in dried fruit, chocolate chips, toffee bits, anything goes!
- Add a sprinkle of flaked sea salt on top of the caramel after it comes out of the oven, for an even saltier hit.
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- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
- 1 cup roasted, salted cashews
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- 36 caramel candies, unwrapped (like Kraft)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13" pan with tin foil or parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Cut butter into cubes and add to flour, mixing with a pastry cutter, mixer, or your hands until crumbly — if it holds together when you squeeze it, it's ready.
- Press into prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, until dry looking but not browned.
- Sprinkle peanuts, cashews and marshmallows over the crust after it has baked.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together caramels and cream until melted and smooth.
- Pour over nuts and marshmallows on crust, drizzling in a thin line to get as much coverage as possible.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, until caramel is just bubbling at the edges.
- Remove and cool completely before slicing.
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