We have been running these past few weeks. I mean, r-u-n-n-i-n-g. Life has full of so many fun opportunities lately that we have found ourselves flying across the country, out of town, and by the seat of our pants more often than not. It feels like we pack and drive and drink and laugh before throwing a handful of dirty undies into the laundry and start all over again a few days later. I’m not complaining, but to be frank, we need to catch our breath. We need a few minutes to Netflix and chill, maybe even nibble on treats like these pistachio honey bars.
You Can’t Pin Me Down
When Brett and I got married, I vowed to seek out adventure. I saw myself as this carefree little pigeon that he had somehow managed to catch, and I determined to not let him pin my wings down. This little bird would not be tamed; I was going to fly.
Fast forward several months later. That ultra-cool, ahead-of-her-time pigeon (yes, this analogy is really getting out of hand) gets knocked up, and all of a sudden, someone’s gotta be mama bird. Someone has to plant their stretch-marked hind parts on some eggs and tend to the nest.
Parenthood has a way of dismantling everything you thought you knew about yourself. It’s a wind tunnel of exhaustion and work that forces even the strongest set of wings to the ground. Traveling, free time, and life outside of the nest seems all but impossible in the debris of nap schedules and diapers that swirls around you. For the past three years, we have hoofed it, working hard to escape regularly for days alone. That time away, while exhilarating and broadening, has been taxing, and we now find ourselves picking through the evenings and minutes remaining in between trips, wishing we had more. More time with our children. More time in our own bed. More time at home.
Home vs. Away
So that begs the questions: how do you fit a love of traveling into a life that’s running over with the needs of your children? Is there a healthy balance between quality time with your people and seeking out adventures? How do we say “Yes!” to the opportunities we meet in life without saying “No!” to the more important things that beg for our time and affections?
In a few weeks, Brett and I plan to travel to Charleston, South Carolina for the Saveur Blog Awards. For the first time, we are trading our fancy hotel reservation for a larger Airbnb that can fit our crew. It may end in sleeplessness and disaster, but we are determined to make this beautiful, crazy busy, here and there life of ours work. We need a balance.
I’m soon going to share some photos from our recent trip to Portland, but for now, let’s settle in at home. Let’s grab a book and some yoga pants and cozy up with this week’s easy, comfy, weeknight dessert: pistachio honey bars.
Honey Pistachio Bars
These bars started off as a spin on baklava. I adore the sweet and flaky Middle Eastern dessert and wanted to make it more accessible for the home baker. These pistachio honey bars certainly aren’t baklava, but the flavors are there. Pistachios and walnuts, stirred with a gooey brown sugar and honey sauce, are baked together on a zesty crust of lemon shortbread. The bars are spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and drizzled with white chocolate for an extra measure of sweet. Lucky for you, the ingredients are few and quick to assemble, so you’ll spend less time baking and more time sharing these decadent treats. Let’s talk about how to make them.
Making the Bars
The recipe for these pistachio honey bars comes from my favorite derby pie bar recipe. The shortbread crust is simple, just some sugar, butter, flour, and cornstarch scented with a sprinkle of lemon zest. First, work the dry ingredients with the butter, pressing it into the bottom of a foil-lined pan. Afterwards, bake the crust in the oven until firm while you prepare the filling.
In the meantime, chop the nuts and add to a pan of melted butter, honey, and sugar. Cook the mixture until bubbly and slightly thickened. Next, add to it some spices and a bit of cream and spoon the mixture on top of the baked shortbread crust. Finally, the whole thing baked for an additional few minutes before allowing it to cool.
Once the pistachio honey bars have set up completely, remove them from the pan and drizzle with the melted white chocolate. This step is completely optional (even though you and I both know that it’s actually not). Load up on that white chocolate and garnish with additional chopped pistachios, if desired. Cut into small bars (these guys are RICH!) and share with your lovies as quickly as possible. They will absolutely adore you. You are the dessert king/queen, okay?
All in all, these pistachio honey bars are a sweet and simple way to celebrate being at home. They’re simple, yet deliciously decadent- the perfect way to ring in this new week. Give them a try and let me know what you think! I’d also love to hear how you and your family travel. Seriously, DOES IT GET EASIER!?!?! (Please say yes.) Finally, if you’re interested in traveling with children and reading about how one family made a worldwide journey their story for a whole year, check out the book “At Home in the World” by Tsh Oxenreider. I’ve just finished it, thus the sudden impulse to bring my children everywhere. Love y’all and happy Monday!
If you love these pistachio honey bars, you should try:
Brown Butter Blondies, Two WaysPrint
Pistachio Honey Bars
With a lemon shortbread crust and a sweet and spiced honey nut filling, these pistachio honey bars are like baklava in cookie form!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 12
For the crust:
- ¾ cup (90 gm) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (35 gm) corn starch
- ½ cup (55 gm) confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
- ½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, cold and cut into teaspoon sized pieces
For the filling:
- ½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (100 gm) packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup (85 gm) honey
- 1 cup (120 gm) finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup (100 gm) finely chopped pistachios
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
To prepare the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” square baking pan with aluminum foil with enough overhang on each side to easily remove the bars from the pan once baked. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, corn starch, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Using a pastry cutter or the backs of two forks, cut the diced butter into the dry ingredients until it becomes a coarse meal consistency with pea-sized clumps. Bake in the preheat oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is set and then edges have just started to turn golden. Do not overbake. Set aside the cooked crust while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling:
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Once melted and no graininess from the sugar exists any longer, increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, boiling for 3 minutes. After three minutes have passed, remove the pan from the heat. Add the chopped walnuts, pistachios, heavy cream, and spices to a medium sized bowl and stir in the butter mixture until evenly combined.
- Spread the warm filling over the crust and smooth out. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges and parts of the center are bubbling and the bars have turned caramel in color. Allow the bars to cool completely prior to removing from the pan (you can speed this process up in the fridge). Remove from pan by pulling out the foil liner. Gently melt the white chocolate chips on a double boiler sitting over LOW heat. Be careful to not melt at too high of heat or your white chocolate may seize. Drizzle over the top of the bars. Cut into 16 bars and serve at room temp.
32 thoughts on “Pistachio Honey Bars”
Can I make just the filling without shortbread or is it too gooey?
I was a little skeptical about how it would turn out, because the base was still very soft after baking. But the finished product was to die for! I adjusted the amount of cinnamon and cardamom and instead of lemon jest I added 1/4 tsp of cardamom. I made it without the white chocolate drizzle and it is perfect as is. Thanks for a great recipe.
Amazing! I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed it. 🙂
OOPS forgot to rate –
OOPS forgot to rate – so easy; round pan?
instructions are for 9″ square pan yet all the pix show a round “cookie” w/gorgeous cuttings????? Size round pan? Bake time different?
A 9″ pan, square or round, is perfectly acceptable! 🙂
Hello – did you ever mention the correct amounts of vanilla and salt to add to the filling part of the recipe? I didn’t see it as updated.
Hi there! The recipe as is is correct. There is no salt or vanilla in the filling.
Thanks for fixing! (Unfortunately, I added standard amounts of vanilla and salt, thinking that the instructions were probably correct, and the ingredient list was just missing 2 ingredients. Oh well. 🙁 )
Combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan. You don’t have vanilla and salt in the ingredients. Or am I missing something???
You are absolutely correct. That is a typo and I”m not sure how it got through! I’m addressing that ASAP. Thank you!
Hi – Can you let us know about the vanilla and salt measurements?
Thanks so much!
ooh i love that patterned cut you made! and good luck with charleston/the awards! that sounds both fun and scary (on the kid and blogging front!).
Thanks, beauty! It’s going to be terrific and I can’t wait to share!!!
Oh man, I’m literary drooling over here! These pistachio honey bars looks absolutely awesome, wish it wasn’t too late over right now. Otherwise I would so have made some on the spot!
ahhh, I hop you’ll get a chance to make them!!!
Oh how magical do these pistachio honey bars sound! All I have on the traveling subject is empathy and no answers, because we just got back from our first trip with our little one and while it was incredibly fun, it was not what I would call relaxing! But I think your Charleston trip (eeeeee congrats!!!!) will be perfect. Congrats again!!
yikes…. your kiddo is still super tiny, right? It’s so hard in the under one year old phase. I really think I may be going insane, but cross you fingers for me. 🙂
These cookies are GORGEOUS! Have an amazing time in Charleston. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
Thanks beauty! I can’t wait to share!!
I love, love, love the way you cut these bars before they were drizzled! LOVE! I’m a huge fan of Baklava but the thought of making it intimidates me so I really appreciate this recipe which sounds do-able and delicious, thank you Kate!!!
Isn’t it adorable? I got the idea from my friend, Jen Yee, who cuts her baklava like that. This recipe is definitely doable and I hope you’ll give it a try! Thank you for popping by!
I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR HOW THE AWARDS GO! (I’m screaming like Elf, so it’s okay!) And YES, I hear you on the traveling with babies – although you’re my hero cause rn I only have to travel with one. It’s no joke! But you’re a rockstar. And kids, I mean, we hope to do the same thing, travel all over the world with them because why not? Sure it makes for a whole new and rather TIRING experience but life is too short to not take the adventure! Side note: WHEN ARE WE GOING TO HUG IN REAL LIFE? Okay good luck at those awards pretty lady! xoxox
Every time I read something you’ve written, I have this uncontrollable groan in my belly to be your best friend since always. You can TOTALLY travel with kids (although, TBD, because honestly I may go insane. I’ll let you know.)
What. These are ridiculous.
Ps you can totes come and chill in our hotel room, and i’m coming over for all the kiddie hugs!
Ugh, totally going to miss that luxury hotel vibe!
Nice recipe! Good Luck at the awards Kate!
omg!! so beautiful kate i love baklava but i’m kinda intimidated to make it so this is the perfect alternative. have fun in Charleston i’m sure this will be a memorable trip for you guys xo
Oh gosh, you of all people should not be intimidated by a baking project!! You are terrific!