Butterscotch Cashew Bars

I was recently lucky enough to be offered an advance copy of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. The book’s author is Melissa Murphy, the chef and owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie in Brooklyn, New York.

This book is packed with over 100 recipes, and I would love to try just about all of them. There is s Sweet Almond Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce that I’m saving for a special occasion. I’m also eyeing her Brooklyn Brownout Cake and Lemon Coconut Macaroons. After bookmarking several, I decided on these bars. They feature a shortbread crust, topped with butterscotch caramel and cashews. Melissa laments that cashews aren’t used nearly enough in baking, and I have to agree. Along with pecans and hazelnuts, cashews are one of my favorite nuts.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars are sweet, gooey, and crunchy, with just the right amount of saltiness. - Bake or Break

I was certainly not disappointed by my first recipe attempt from Sweet Melissa. The shortbread crust is so simply delicious. A simple combination of butter, brown sugar, salt, and flour lends itself to a crust so good I could have stopped right there and been happy. I am not usually much of a butterscotch or caramel fan. I used the best butterscotch chips I could find, and I really think that made a big difference. I thought the finished bar had more of a mild caramel flavor than butterscotch. I really liked the saltiness that carries through from one layer to the next. These bars are certainly unlike anything I have ever made.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars are a delicious blend of sweet shortbread, rich shortbread, and crunchy cashews. Dessert perfection! - Bake or Break

While we are frequent New York visitors, I’ve never been to Sweet Melissa Patisserie. I intend to remedy that on one of our next trips. I can’t wait to sample some of her delicious baked goods in person.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 24 2-inch bars

Butterscotch Cashew Bars


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 11 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 cups roasted salted whole cashews


Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x 13″ pan with cooking spray. Using two sheets of parchment paper, line the pan’s width and length, creating a parchment “sling.” Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix just until combined. Lightly press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a golden color. Remove to wire rack to cool.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over crust.

Sprinkle cashews over the butterscotch caramel. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove from pan and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars.


Recipe adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.


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  1. peabody March 11, 2008 Reply

    I can’t wait to get this book. I am reviewing it too. If this is an example, I will be watching my mailbox.

  2. a. grace March 11, 2008 Reply

    butterscotch AND cashews? lordy, lordy, that’s a winning combination. they look heavenly!

  3. cafe johnsonia March 11, 2008 Reply


  4. Graeme March 11, 2008 Reply

    If I were small enough, I would sleep on that.
    It’s beautiful.

  5. andreea March 11, 2008 Reply

    this looks absolutely delicious.

  6. Deb Schiff March 11, 2008 Reply

    I’m so glad you made these! I received my review copy and decided just this morning what I’ll be making as my test recipe (pistachio thumbprints).

    As everything on your blog goes, these look terrific!

  7. Amy March 11, 2008 Reply

    Yum! These look delicious! I’m curious… is the shortbread crust super moist or more dry/crumbly? I’ve been trying to find a moist, very buttery shortbread crust recipe and from the pictures… this one looks like it might fit the bill.

  8. Cindy March 11, 2008 Reply

    These bars look good! Like you Jennifer, I’m not a big fan of butterscotch or caramel. But I just might have to give these a try.

  9. brilynn March 11, 2008 Reply

    Those bars look amazing! I love cashews!

  10. jennifer March 11, 2008 Reply

    Peabody, I’m anxious to see what you make from this book.

    a. grace, the combination is definitely a winner.

    Cafe Johnsonia, that is an accurate summary. 😉

    Graeme, you’ve certainly given me a good laugh for the day. These might feel a bit lumpy, but somehow I don’t think I’d mind.

    Andreea, they really are!

    Deb, I gave some serious thought to those Pistachio Thumbprints. I’ll be on the lookout for yours.

    Amy, the crust is not very crumbly. It’s quite compact. It is definitely buttery, but I wouldn’t really describe it as either dry or moist. That’s not helpful, is it? I think it would seem moister if it were not as thick. Plus, the caramel is so soft that it really emphasizes the firmness of the crust.

    Cindy, let me know what you think if you try them!

    Brilynn, I love cashews, too, but I usually just eat them instead of baking with them.

  11. Mandy March 11, 2008 Reply

    I am usually not a caramel/butterscotch fan, but after reading your description of this recipe, I may give this recipe a try sometime. :) Of course I need to hunt for some nice butterscotch chips first.

  12. Deborah March 11, 2008 Reply

    It doesn’t get any better than this!! I can’t wait until I can get a copy of this book in my hands!

  13. Chuck March 11, 2008 Reply

    Mmmm, those Butterscotch Cashew Bars would work perfectly for my sweet tooth. Delicious!

  14. Nicole March 11, 2008 Reply

    Those look so delicious and the photos are making my mouth water! I’m saving this one to del.icio.us!

  15. Julie March 11, 2008 Reply

    Without question I am making these, I already know that I will love them.

  16. michelle @ TNS March 11, 2008 Reply

    i need that book, because i need to make these bars. they will last all of 3 second in my house.

  17. Indigo March 11, 2008 Reply

    Ohh, that melty butterscotch looks fantastic. Beautiful photos.

  18. Inmaculada (Adi) Lucas March 11, 2008 Reply

    You´re great darling. Great for posting and sharing these wonderful recipes and great for the pictures¡¡ they´re beautiful. Best regards from Spain.

  19. Evelin March 11, 2008 Reply

    Cashews definitely are used too little in baking. But the problem with them is that almost every time I find a cashew recipe and decide to try it, the flavour gets lost and I’m unhappy because I’ve spent so much on the precious nuts. I LOVE LOVE cashews, but this is just unfair. The only time the flavour has been a real success was when I made kajoo barfi – now these I could eat and be happy! I’d love to try this recipe too, the flavour just CAN’T get lost in here!:)

  20. Meeta March 11, 2008 Reply

    Drool! That looks to good. Sorry I wish I could say more but I am drooling too much!

  21. jennifer March 11, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, everyone!

  22. Holly molly! Does that look good or what??? that’s the gooesiest thing I have seen in a while! Gorgeous!

  23. Hendria March 12, 2008 Reply

    Wow……Great photo….. another must try….. :)

  24. Patricia Scarpin March 12, 2008 Reply

    Jen, I bought a bag of salted cashew nuts to nibble but there’s a ton left still… Now I know what I’ll do with them!

    These look superb, my friend.

  25. Dana March 12, 2008 Reply

    I’m a huge fan of *anything* butterscotch, so clearly these look fab to me…

  26. jennifer March 12, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, y’all! I still don’t have adequate words for how good these are.

  27. My Sweet & Saucy March 12, 2008 Reply

    Those look incredible! I am going to have to make them now too! I just tested the Fluffy Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling from her book and it was divine. You can see the photos at http://www.mysweetandsaucy.com

  28. marye March 12, 2008 Reply

    mmm..butterscotch and cashews? wow, what a fantastic combination!

  29. jennifer March 12, 2008 Reply

    My Sweet & Saucy, I remember liking the sounds of that cake. Coconut cake is one of my favorites.

    marye, it truly is delicious.

  30. Marq March 12, 2008 Reply

    These just made my mouth water! The saltiness of the cashews alongside the sweet butterscotch sounds dreamy.

  31. Rosa March 13, 2008 Reply

    OMG, those bars look extremely scrumptious and dirty! Wow, a fantastic combination!!!



  32. Tracy March 13, 2008 Reply

    Wow, those bars look incredible. I just made some butterscotch bars that were just “eh” — wish I had thought of cashews!

  33. Laura March 13, 2008 Reply

    I made these last night! oh my god. Delicious. I could eat them allll night long! If you like butterscotch and cashews (both are my favorites) you’ll love these. I highly recommend them.

  34. Cindy March 14, 2008 Reply

    I made these last night. Very good! My husband
    really liked them. I brought some to work with me this A.M. and they liked them as well! I will be making them again.

  35. Chrissie March 14, 2008 Reply

    Looks delicious!

    Do you think I could substitute golden syrup or honey (or something else entirely) for the light corn syrup?

  36. jennifer March 14, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, Marq and Rosa!

    Tracy, I’m not much of a butterscotch fan, but these cashews really made a great flavor combination.

    Laura, I’m so glad you liked them!

    Cindy, it’s good to hear that these were a hit for you!

    Chrissie, I don’t do much baking with either golden syrup or honey, so I really can’t give you an informed answer to your question. I can only suggest giving it a try. Something else may very well work, although it might change the consistency. Let me know what works if you give it a try.

  37. Tartelette March 14, 2008 Reply

    I am reviewing too this weekend. I was on a lemon kick with some of her recipes and they all turned out great! These were high on the list too but have not got the chance to make them yet, but now that I see how they turned out, I know what I’ll be making this weekend! Yum!!

  38. melissa murphy March 16, 2008 Reply

    Hi everyone, I am the author, Melissa!, and I want to thank you for the kind words! You can buy the book many ways, one of which is through my website, http://www.sweetmelissapatisserie.com.
    I assure you, as Jennifer said, these bars are awesome. Chrissie, you can absolutely sub out the corn syrup with Lyles Golden or a mild honey, just stir a bit more. No problem. I LOVE honey in caramel and butterscotch. Let me know how you like the others!!

  39. jennifer March 16, 2008 Reply

    Tartelette, your recipes from this book look delicious! Of course, your baking creations always do.

    Melissa, thanks so much for stopping by! I am loving getting to know your new book.

  40. melissa murphy March 18, 2008 Reply

    oooo-great!! Keep baking Jennifer- I won’t let you down!!

  41. Sheltie Girl March 22, 2008 Reply

    These cashew bars look simply fabulous. Cashews are my favorite nuts. I’ll have to try this recipe and pick up Melissa’s book.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  42. jennifer March 22, 2008 Reply

    Thanks again, Melissa!

    Sheltie Girl, I hope you like them! There are so many tempting recipes in that book.

  43. steamy kitchen March 26, 2008 Reply

    i think i want to just snuggle in bed with a plateful of these

  44. jennifer March 26, 2008 Reply

    Steamy, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

  45. jenny April 10, 2008 Reply

    I thought I’d mention I tried making these after seeing your wonderful picture and I found them to be incredibly sweet and a rather disturbing bright orange colour. I’m thinking not all butterscotch chips are created equal? They tasted a bit chemically too.

  46. jennifer April 10, 2008 Reply

    Jenny, that’s interesting. I don’t know what to tell you. I loved these bars! Sorry you had bad luck with them.

  47. judy April 11, 2008 Reply

    I really think the key to making these bars taste good is having good butterscotch chips. I can only find Nestle chips and they aren’t too good and they are too orange. Do you have any suggestions? I thought about buying some from the King Arthur site. Has anyone tried those?

  48. jennifer April 11, 2008 Reply

    Judy, I’ve never used Nestle’s butterscotch chips. That very well could be the difference. I am 99% sure that I used Guittard brand that I picked up at World Market. I’ve not used the ones from King Arthur, but if their other products are any indication, I’m sure they would be good quality.

  49. Chuck April 14, 2008 Reply

    Yummy, Yummy, Yummy what else can I say. Those cashew bars look amazing!

  50. jennifer April 15, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, Chuck! They are quite delicious.

  51. T Severino September 18, 2008 Reply

    I made 2 batchs of these over the weekend after hearing about them on a radio show. Tried 2 different versions, calling for the same ingredients, but different measures.. This recipe was fantastic!!! The are gooey and VERY rich. I have to make another batch tonight for my husband to take to work tomorrow. They keep well in an airtight container. Thanks for sharing!!

  52. jennifer September 18, 2008 Reply

    T Severino, aren’t they delicious? I’m glad you liked them.

  53. Gwen April 7, 2012 Reply

    Can’t believe you would post such scrumptious pictures and leave us hanging with no recipe. I love cashews and would love to have tried this recipe. I cannot afford to buy an entire cookbook for just 1 recipe.

  54. Gwen April 7, 2012 Reply

    So sorry!!! Didn’t see the “Printable” link at the top of the page. My mistake!

  55. Gailmarie December 22, 2012 Reply

    How should I store these want to give as gifts for Christmas how LNG will they keep out of fridge?

  56. jennifer December 22, 2012 Reply

    Gallmarie, I would store them either in a single layer or with parchment paper or waxed paper in between layers. In an airtight container, they should keep for about 3 days. You shouldn’t need to refrigerate them.

  57. JEP March 8, 2013 Reply

    I would love to make these. I have checked both Guittard and King Arthur sites and neither have butterscotch chips. I know I dislike the Nestlé brand. Any suggestions?

  58. jennifer March 8, 2013 Reply

    JEP, I’m not a fan of Nestlé’s butterscotch chips, either. Try World Wide Chocolate: http://worldwidechocolate.com/shop_guittard_105.html.

    Or, nuts.com has these, although I’ve not tried them: http://www.nuts.com/chocolatessweets/toppings/chips/butterscotch.html

  59. JEP March 8, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for your research! I will order from the the nuts.com site

  60. maria alice coelho March 8, 2013 Reply

    is there a substitute for butterscotch chips?

  61. jennifer March 8, 2013 Reply

    Hi, Maria. You can substitute another flavor chips – chocolate, peanut butter, etc. If you want butterscotch chips but don’t have access to them, google “how to make butterscotch chips,” and you’ll find many homemade versions. I’ve not tried any of them.

  62. Bruce A. April 22, 2013 Reply

    Nutritional information would be great, if you can provide it. I am a type 2…but would love to try this…even in small servings. thanks

  63. jennifer April 26, 2013 Reply

    Hi, Bruce. I don’t generally provide nutrition information for recipes. I view these recipes as indulgences for occasions when you aren’t counting calories. There are several nutrition calculators online at sites like My Fitness Pal.

  64. Cori May 7, 2013 Reply

    Would you say these ship well???
    I bake goodies for all the mommas in my life and ship them.

    • jennifer May 7, 2013 Reply

      Hi, Cori. These bars are pretty sturdy. If you wrap and pack them well, I think they’ll ship just fine.

  65. Ellen@BakeItWithBooze September 1, 2014 Reply

    Made these and they are WONDERFUL! I did the boozy version and embellished the butterscotch caramel layer with a bit of bourbon and butter. And, I did bring it to a simmer which is key to getting a soft caramel. I used Guittard butterscotch chips, which I’m surprised one of your readers couldn’t find. Plus, KAF carried the Guittard bs chips. Excellent bar, Jennifer! P.S. I even purchased Melissa’s book, so I’m very excited to bake even more of her creations…So appreciate your review and recipe. Thank you!

  66. Julie November 8, 2014 Reply

    I just made these and I agree with the others… the butterscotch chips & corn syrup were not that great.. I happened to have a fantastic “from scratch” butterscotch recipe, so I made an alternative batch of butterscotch just in case the orange one didn’t taste good, and it didn’t. Try simmering 4 TBL butter in a sauce pan and adding a cup of brown sugar, stir with wooden spoon as sugar melts and blends with the butter. Then add 1 1/2 c cream (a half cup at a time). The sugar will seize at first and then it will melt again and all blend into an incredible homemade caramel/butterscotch. Put that on top of the shortbread crust and it’s heavenly!

  67. Salma May 21, 2015 Reply

    I used chopped pecans instead of cashews (coz I didn’t have any) and they turned out AWESOME!!!!
    Hubby said….”mmmm very good dessert!” I served them with a little bit of vanilla ice cream!!!!
    Thank you for the recipe!!!!

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