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.
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 was 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.
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 will travel to Charleston, South Carolina for the Saveur Blog Awards. For the first time, we have traded in 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.
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.
The recipe for these pistachio honey bars was adapted 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. It all gets worked together and pressed into the bottom of a foil-lined pan. Bake the crust in the oven until firm while you prepare the filling.
Simply chop the nuts and add to a pan of melted butter, honey, and sugar. Cook the mixture until bubbly and slightly thickened. Add to it some spices and a bit of cream and spoon the mixture on top of the baked shortbread crust. The whole thing gets baked for an additional few minutes before it is allowed 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?
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. DOES IT GET EASIER!?!?! (Please say yes.) And 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:
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.