Fruit and nuts, oh, what a pair! Both grow on trees and both are used in various recipes for salads, cereal mixes, breakfast bars, coleslaw, stuffing, cookies, so why not bars? The possibilities are endless! Made especially during Christmastime, I love wrapping these beauties up and bringing to gatherings or giving as a gift. The shortbread crust combined with the caramel, fruit, nuts and a bit of chocolate will bring a smile to any face! Buy your nuts and dried fruit in bulk or when they are on sale and save a bunch!

1 tbsp. plus ¾ c. cold butter, divided
2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

2/3 c. honey
½ c. packed brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pecans or a combination of whatever nuts you fancy or have that day
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup semi-sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips, optional

Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with 1 tbsp. butter. This is very important when trying to get the bars out later! Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; cut in remaining butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in egg until blended (mixture will be dry). Press firmly into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

In a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring the honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil; stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring for 2 minutes. Add butter and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Be sure not to overcook your caramel. You, your family and your friends will end up in the dental office-I know because I once cooked the caramel too long, brought my beautiful bars to a dessert party and watched in horror as everyone tried to eat these bars – so learn from my mistake! : – ) I never did that again! Remove from heat; stir in the nuts. Spread over crust and sprinkle chocolate chips on top (optional).

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minute or until topping is bubbly. Cooling bars completely on a wire rack insures your bars will come out easily!

Makes 3 dozen.