Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ingredient 3 - Cashews

I love peanuts.  They are tasty, inexpensive, and ubiquitous.  However, this week I decided to work with a nut that gets less attention, the cashew.

Cashews are tree nuts native to Northeastern Brazil.  The nut we consume is found inside the kidney shaped seed that grows at the end of the cashew apple.  These apples have a sweet flavor and are delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean.   

I was originally hoping to make a snack or energy bar so I could feature a healthy treat.  However, I wasn't feeling any of the energy bar recipes I found via Google and most of the cashew bar recipes I found were basically cookie bars.  So I gave up on being healthy and decided to make cashew cookies instead. 

Almost all the cookie recipes I read featured caramel and chocolate, delicious, but I really wanted to make something that didn't include milk or dark chocolate.  That left white chocolate on the table.  I used the original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as a guide for the recipe listed below.  However, I made a few changes to the base dough:  1. I added baking powder in hopes of getting cookies that weren't flat as pancakes.  2. I used more brown sugar and less granulated sugar.  Many of the cashew cookie recipes I scanned did this.  3. I reduced the flour from 2 and 1/4 cups to 2 cups.  I wanted to see how a little less flour would affect the cookie.  

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White Chocolate, Cashew, and Cranberry Cookies
- makes roughly 3 dozen cookies
2 cups all purpose flour 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup roughly chopped cashews
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Let butter soften on counter; this will take 60 to 90 minutes.  20 to 30 minutes before dough preparation, place the eggs on the counter so they can come to room temperature.

While the butter is softening, prepare the nuts.  I bought a can of cashew haves and pieces and chopped the halves into large pieces.  You don't actually need to use a knife, you can break them apart easily with your fingers. 
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Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in medium sized mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly with a fork. 

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Crack and beat eggs in separate bowl.

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Once the butter is soft (easily spreadable), place it in a large mixing bowl with the two sugars.  Use an electric mixer to cream the ingredients. Start the mixer on low and slowly increase the speed.  Creaming will take about 2 to 3 minutes and the end mixture should appear fluffy.

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Next, add the eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl with the creamed butter and sugar.  Beat on low for 1 to 2 minutes, until thoroughly combined.

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Once combined, add the flour mixture to the bowl in 4 segments, beating on low to medium speed.  Don't worry about mixing the dough perfectly between flour segments.  Just make sure you do not have visible veins of unmixed flour after all segments have been added.

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You can use the mixer to incorporate the dried cranberries but do not use the mixer to fold in the nuts and chips.  This is best done with a wooden spoon or spatula.
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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 or 375 degrees.  I tried both temps and it did not make a difference in the cookies.  Lightly grease a metal cookie sheet and place 9 to 12 balls of dough on sheet.  Be sure to keep dough balls on the small side and leave room for the cookies to spread, they will.  If the cookies get too big they are prone to breaking when you try to take them off the sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.

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The cookies should be a medium brown when they come out of the oven.  If you take them out when they are light brown they will fall apart when you try and take them off the sheet!!  Be sure to let the cookies cool before removing them from the sheet (15 minutes).

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I thought the cookies tasted pretty good but I might add more cashews and cranberries next time.  The cookies had a good texture, soft and chewy, just the way I like.  Next time I make the cookies, I will definitely add back in the 1/4 cup of flour I omitted.  The dough was a little stickier than I liked and I hope the addition of more flour will keep the cookies from spreading out so much on the pan.  Overall grade - B.


  1. Maybe a 1/4 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour?

  2. As a totally unbiased taster of the cookies (yay, free cookies!), I think the cookies were really good, but could have used more cashews and cranberries.