Honey is amazing, especially if you find the good stuff. Personally, I get tired of the honey bear tube of sugar syrup that they sell at the grocery store. But not so long ago, we had the good fortune to meet a honey grower right here in Orange County. Their honey is the real stuff. Thick, dark, and fragrant.

These honey almond squares need the best quality honey to taste their best. Of course, the buttery shortbread underneath and the toasty almonds on top helps out. But the honey caramel syrup just brings it all together. Make a batch today and see if you can eat just one. I double dare you.

Honey Almond Squares
courtesy Gourmet

For crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For topping

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 1/2 oz whole almonds with skins, toasted

Make crust:
Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan (2 inches deep) and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add egg and stir with a fork (or pulse) until a crumbly dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Press dough evenly onto bottom (but not up sides) of baking pan and bake in middle of oven until edges are golden and begin to pull away from sides of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Make topping:
Bring honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add butter and cream and boil, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in all nuts until completely coated.

Pour nut mixture over pastry crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into 25 squares.

Cooks’ note: Honey nut squares keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

 



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