Just like there’s no wrong time to eat ice cream, there’s no right or wrong time to go on a picnic either.
Even if it’s that time of the year when the trees have already lost most of their leaves, a pain since I’m the one that has to pick them up from my terrace, the weather is cold enough for a scarf and layers of clothing and the winter fog is already creeping into many mornings, it’s still always a good moment to have a picnic. Or a picnic state of mind.
A sweet, gooey, nut bar is a much needed picnic ingredient, just as are good sandwiches.
The base is a shortbread. A very standard one (using cups as the volume unit) with 4 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar and a pinch of salt. Works every time for lemon bars and stuff like that.
LOADED BUTTERSCOTCH BARS
Yield 12 large squares
For the crust:
- 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- 2 cups flour
- Large pinch of salt
For the topping:
- 8oz. (225) unsalted butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- ¼ cup coconut cream (or double cream)
- Zest of 1 orange
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 5 cups nuts and dried fruits, any combination (I used 1 ½ cups whole almonds, 1 ½ cup walnuts, about ½ cup each dried pears, dried cherries, raisins and macadamia nuts)
For the crust:
- In a bowl mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or handheld electric mixer. Add flour and salt in two or three additions, mixing well. It will all come together in a shabby ball. Be sure the flour is well mixed and no dry patches remain.
- You can line a 13×18-inch (23x33cm) baking pan with 2 inch sides, with aluminum foil that hangs a bit over the long edges. It will cover the bottom and both long sides, but not the short sides. This will aid when unmolding the whole piece before cutting. Or just leave it bare.
- Distribute the dough in small mounds on the bottom of the pan. With floured hands, slowly and patiently, pat the dough to cover the entire surface and go 1-inch up the sides. Start with the sides and work your way to the middle, flouring your hands as necessary.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Bake the dough for 15 or 20 minutes, until beginning to color.
For the topping:
- When the dough is baking, start with the topping.
- In a large bowl mix the 5 cups assorted dried fruits and nuts with the citrus zest.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter with honey. Add both sugar, mix well, turn on the heat and, when it starts to boil, cook for exactly 2 minutes without stirring.
- Remove from heat and add coconut cream, careful because it will bubble furiously. Immediately pour over the nut mixture and mix well to coat everything.
- Pour this caramel nut mixture over the dough, carefully covering the whole surface. Don’t dump everything in the middle because it will be hard to spread to the sides without tearing the dough.
- Some parts will have more caramel than other, but it will even up in the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes, remove and let cool on wire rack.
- If the caramel spilled to the sides of the dough, run a thin knife around the egdes after it’s cooling for a few minutes, so it doesn’t stick. If it does stick and you have trouble to unmold it, simply pop it in the oven 4 or 5 minutes until the caramel is warm.
- Lift the aluminum foil and put the whole piece on a surface to cut it.
Are you ready for a picnic?
Salads and Slaws:
- Bacon Ranch Potato Salad from Juanita’s Cocina
- Caprese Spinach Salad from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
- Chicken Chopped Salad from Table for Seven
- Cold Pea Salad from Shockingly Delicious
- Creamy Potato Salad with Roasted Pears, Cilantro and Romano Cheese from Gourmet Drizzles
- German Potato Salad from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
- Hawaiian Cole Slaw from Curious Cuisiniere
- Italian Chopped Salad from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Kale Pasta Salad from Hip Foodie Mom
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad from Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Mizeria (Polish Cucumber Salad) from From Fast Food to Fresh Food
- PA Dutch Pepper Cabbage from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Pineapple Slaw from I Run For Wine
- Spaghetti Salad from Country Girl in the Village
- Tortellini Pasta Salad from Supper for a Steal
Sandwiches and Mains:
- Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich from Momma’s Meals
- Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Tomato Sandwich from Magnolia Days
- Grilled Bratwurst and Onion Open-Face Sandwiches from The Urban Mrs
- Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Green Goddess Sauce from Foxes Love Lemons
- Herbs-Garlic and Parmesan Croissants from Basic N Delicious
- Indian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks from Soni’s Food
- Japanese Picnic Bento Box from The Ninja Baker
- Mini Chicken Salad, Avocado and Cheese Subs from Big Bear’s Wife
- Moroccan Fried Chicken from MarocMama
- Pepper, Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Quiche from Happy Baking Days
- Picnic Basket Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Noshing with the Nolands
- Salmon in a Jar from Healthy. Delicious.
- Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Spam Musubi fromKimchi Mom
- Apricot Oat Nut Bars from Pies and Plots
- Chocolate Dipped Rice Krispie Treat Pops from In The Kitchen With KP
- Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Fruit Salad from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
- Fruit Salad with Honey Port Drizzle from Family Foodie
- Nathan’s Cookies from What Smells So Good?
- Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treat Truffles from Chocolate Moosey
- Shandy Popsicles With Raspberries from Ruffles & Truffles
- Texas Sheet Cake with Pecan Frosting from Food Lust People Love
- Triple Chocolate Punch Bowl Cake from Neighborfood
- Fresh Limeade with Chia Seeds from girlichef
- Pineapple Sangria from Growing Up Gabel
- Strawberry Basil Lemonade from The Messy Baker Blog
- Strawberry Lemonade from Gotta Get Baked
- Top 10 Wines for Picnic #SundaySupper from ENOFYLZ Wine blog
- Watermelon Agua Fresca from Daily Dish Recipes