Not only do they taste good, but these nuts squares can also be made ahead to bring along to afternoon tea with friends or for last-minute guests dropping in for a chat. They also freeze well, so you can have them on hand for any occasion requiring a bit of decadence.
Use your very best ingredients with these little no-bake beauties -- darkest of dark chocolate, good quality nuts, creamy salted butter, dark brown sugar -- and you will treasure every bite. Start with the squares: They are simply buttery layers of oats and ground nuts sandwiching a truffle-like filling of dark chocolate and nut butter.
You can change up the flavor by altering your choice of nuts and nut butter. Try meaty Brazil nuts or sweet cashews layered with almond butter or hazelnut butter. Or stick to the basics with peanuts and peanut butter. You can also add a bit of spice to the mix by using a dark chocolate infused with chilies, bacon, or peppermint.
Once the squares are made, chill them for a good hour so everything holds its shape when it's time to serve.
Next is the caramel sauce. You can keep things simple by purchasing pre-made caramel sauce, or make a luscious buttermilk version in less than ten minutes. Simply simmer dark brown sugar, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla together for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is creamy and thick. Bottle it right away to store for the months ahead, or keep it in the fridge if you plan to use it right away.
When it's time to indulge, plate one square per person and drizzle with the warmed caramel sauce.
Dark Chocolate Nut Squares
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup whole oats
- 2 cups ground nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc)
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc)
Place butter and sugar in heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and bring to simmer, stirring gently until smooth.
Add vanilla, oats, and ground nuts; stir to combine and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and press half of mixture into 8-inch square pan. Reserve remaining mixture.
Add dark chocolate and nut butter to heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring gently until mixture is melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and pour evenly over oat/nut mixture.
Sprinkle remaining oat/nut mixture on top and refrigerate for an hour.
Remove from fridge ten minutes before serving, cut into squares, and top with Buttermilk Caramel Drizzle (recipe below).
Buttermilk Caramel Drizzle
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring gently, until sauce has reduced and thickened.
Remove from heat and serve. To store, pour into sterilized jar, seal tightly, turn upside down, and let cool completely.
All photos courtesy of author