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Friday Treat: Cardamom-Pistachio Bars

Friday night is ice cream night, and, to avoid the ice cream being lonely, I sometimes bake a little something to go with it. Cardamom-Pistachio Bars are one option. They are quick--really quick--to mix up and bake in about 30 minutes. You don't need to haul out a mixer to make the bars, just use a bowl, a big spoon, and a bit of arm muscle (but not all that much). The bars are crispy, lightly spiced with the unique taste of cardamom, and studded with buttery-sweet roasted pistachio nuts. The recipe makes an 8-inch-square pan of bars, so you'll have some, but not too many, left for snacking during the weekend. Enjoy!

Cardamom Pistachio Bars

Cardamom-Pistachio Bars -- Makes an 8-inch Square Pan

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or Smart or Earth Balance, softened

1/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

1/2 cup of shelled, roasted pistachio nut halves (or chopped if you want)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray or line the pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with spray. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well and then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, salt, and ground cardamom and beat them into the butter/sugar mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the pistachio nuts. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and, with a knife, score it into 16 squares. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown on top. Remove the pan from the oven and re-cut the bars. Let them cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing the bars to cool completely.

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