The weather is definitely warmer and while mostly that is a good thing (hubby is jumping with joy as he detests winter…), it does also mean that pantry moths start coming out. I try and keep the pantry as tidy as possible but I fear that those annoying things are simply hard to avoid hosting. Flour is obviously one thing you need to keep under tight Tupperware guard but it seems they like a good feed on nuts too. I can’t begin to describe the horror of discovering a half-pack of pecans infested by pantry moth larvae.
Some time ago I bought some lovely (and expensive) organic raw cashews to make a dairy free hot chocolate but I wasn’t hugely into hot chocolates this winter so the rest of the cashews remained well sealed in the pantry for the last few months. Fortunately the pantry moths hadn’t used my cashews as a feeding/breeding ground as yet (they seem to be able to secrete themselves inside bags in spite of tight seals) but I wasn’t going to take any chances so I decided to try using them up in a cookie.
I’m actually not a huge fan of cashews. It’s probably my least favourite nut (although it’s actually a seed, botanically speaking). The first few pieces are pleasant to eat but I find the flavour quite cloying after a while. Still, I had a hankering for a cashew-y cookies and finally found a recipe for Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies. It first appeared in a 1972 issue of Gourmet magazine but has been adapted by a number of food bloggers. I took the recipe as featured on No Fear Entertaining, and did my own tinkering.
I’ve no idea if this recipe is really a Dutch one. Not that I know what is a typically a Dutch style of cooking, but the cookies seem reasonably country neutral to me. Feeling rebellious, I’ve chosen to omit the ‘Dutch’ reference in my blog. The title has a nice alliterative sound to it without the D-word anyway.
My cashew praline turned out a treat but I was a little heavy handed with the Thermomix in crushing it up so I had some good sized pieces and a lot of crumbs. Great if I was plating up some dessert requiring sand but not for rolling cookie dough in extra praline :| Anyway, I needn’t have worried since the cookies were rather nice on their own. I’ll be making these again so I’ll be careful to retain some extra praline for topping or rolling next time.
The pralinated (yes, it apparently is a real word…) cashews get a little caramel-like in the baking process but the larger, harder bits remain a little crunchy. The cookies aren’t a crunchy, hard type; more a soft sort that goes down very well with a cup of tea :) Hubby thought these cookies were wonderful. Another win!
Caramel Cashew Cookies (adapted from recipe featured in a 1972 issue of Gourmet magazine)
½ cup (100g) sugar
2 tablespoons water
pinch of cream of tartar
½ cup (75g) finely chopped roasted, salted cashews
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature (or cold if Themomixing :D)
1/3 cup (67g) sugar
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
To make praline: Prepare a buttered baking sheet or put a silicon sheet aside and spread roasted cashews on top. In a heavy saucepan, cook the sugar with the water and cream of tartar over moderately high heat, washing down any undissolved sugar that clings to the sides of the skillet with a brush dipped in cold water, until the mixture is a light caramel. Be careful not to go past the point of no return! Pour caramel over the cashews and using a silicon spatula, move the cashews around the caramel to ensure an even coating. Let it cool until it hardens and chop it coarsely (or be careful if using the Thermomix to chop…). You can keep the praline in a airtight container for a week if not planning to bake right away.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line two large baking trays with baking paper and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or Thermomix), beat the butter with the sugar until it is creamy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour and the chopped praline. If the dough is on the warm side and hard to handle, place in fridge for 30 minutes. Once cooled, roll half the dough into a log (like when making gnocchi) and cut into 2cm thick slices. Places slices on tray. Prepare second log in the same way. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on the bottom. Let the cookies cool on the tray for about 1 minute and with a spatula remove them to a rack to cool completely.