Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cashews & Caramel

For the week of February 1, I decided to make a Cashew Caramel cookie also found in the Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook.

My boyfriend, Keith, is allergic to peanuts, so I never get to make any of my old standby peanut butter cookie recipes. He loves cashews, so I was looking for a recipe which would be like a peanut butter cookie but utilize cashews instead. This was the one.

Also, I had some Kraft Caramel baking bits, which I wanted to use - but I hadn't come across the perfect recipe for them until now.

The actual recipe calls for preparing the cookies and then melting down a bunch of the little caramel squares and making a drizzle on the top. For one, the drizzle seemed like it was going to make a mess of gooey cookies that would be stuck together in my cookie jar. Two, I really wanted to use the caramel bits, so I altered the recipe and mixed the bits in just like chocolate chips would go in a cookie.

The recipe was pretty straightforward - you make your own cashew butter, which called for Canola Oil (which I didn't have) so I just used plain vegetable oil instead. You make up the cookie, which comes out the same consistency as a peanut butter cookie recipe. According to Martha, you are supposed to drop the cookies in a ball on the sheet cook for 6 minutes, then open the oven and flatten them and cook for 6 minutes more. I am not a fan of opening the oven in the middle of the baking process or touching piping hot cookie dough - so I opted to flatten them before sticking them in the oven. The baking time was incorrect again, so you would just have to keep an eye on them to see when the edges are getting brown. I felt like it took at least 13 minutes.

The cookies turned out fantastic! They look a lot like a pecan sandie cookie. They don't have a really strong taste of cashews, despite having over 2 cups of cashews in the mix, which was disappointing. They were pretty delicious though. Eating them right when cooled was the best time because they were still soft and the caramel was melted. The next day I found the cookies to be very hard (more like a shortbread) and the caramel bits also got a bit chewy, which made them get stuck in your teeth. I am not sure why Martha had this categorized as a chewy cookie, because the chewy-ness was gone after they cooled. Here's a picture of the final project:

These were very popular. I didn't take them to work. My boyfriend ate a bunch of them and shared them around his work. All of his coworkers really enjoyed them.

My only tip would be to pop them in microwave for about 10 seconds if you're eating them after they're cooled. It makes the fresh and chewy like just out of the oven and the caramel gets all melty again, which is delicious.

Another thing which was nearly as exciting as these yummy cookies what the final completion of my lightbox - which I used to take these photos. I am working on my presentation as I am new to food photography, so any comments or suggestions are welcome. I am expecting to post beautifully lit photos from now on with each recipe. Until next time...