Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cashew cookies and risotto...

For this week's Weekly Wednesday Treat Day, we hauled out the food processor to create a homemade nut butter that we needed to prepare for these Caramel Cashew Cookies.

Jeff's favorite nut just happens to be cashews, so I'm sure you can imagine how anxious he was to get home and see what I ended up doing with the roasted ones we picked up this weekend! The nut butter is created by grinding down a good amount of cashews in the food processor until the nuts are finely chopped. While I don't usually add much, if any, extra oil for our other nut butters, cashews tend to be a little drier and need a helping hand to get them groovin' in the processor. The food processor will have done its job when the cashews have transformed into a very smooth, creamy mixture.

This cookie dough is made much like any other, just the nut butter is added to the creaming butter and sugar mixture you typically use. Once combined, we ramped up the nuttiness by tossing in a handful of additional coarsely chopped cashews into the prepared dough. Firm enough to be worked with right away, the dough is shaped into balls and flattened on the baking sheets with the flat bottom of a glass laced with granulated sugar. Baked until the bottoms are lightly golden and the edges are firm to the touch, we're not done with these cookies yet!

To nudge these a little more towards being over the top, we added a pool of caramel on top of each of the round cookies! If you wanted to go all out, you could create a homemade runny caramel (much like you would use to dip apples in), but we kept it simple by melting together caramel candies with a touch of heavy cream. On top of that sticky sweet dot, we placed a cashew half so there was no mistaking what type of cookies these were.

I had a fleeting vision of deja vu when I was making these, but I didn't think much about it at the time. When I came over to the computer, it happened again, so I checked to see if anything popped up on the blog... guess what? Apparently there are a couple versions of this cookie - one of which we already made! With subtle differences in the amount of flour, cashews and sugar, the preparation was fairly exact - however, there was one main difference that stood out. In the other version, the recipe instructed you to flatten the cookies halfway through baking... which if I remember, was not particularly fun having to deal with hot pans and melting cookie dough!

Extravagant in nutty cashew flavor, now I remember why I loved these cookies once I had a chance to sink my teeth into one. In between crisp and soft, their refreshing firm texture was a nice change of pace from your ordinary cookie. The quarter-sized puddle of caramel does not set up completely hard, which means they are not conducive to stacking, but it remained luscious, sweet and smooth - a cordial match to the saltiness in the cookies.

Shifting over to dinner, tonight we cracked open our jar of Arborio rice from the pantry to make this Parmesan-Carrot Risotto.

The original recipe touted that you could use regular long-grain white rice and get the same creamy consistency you achieve when you use Arborio, but since I already had the latter on hand, I went ahead and used it. However, sometime I'm sure I'll give it a try just to see if they are correct as inquiring minds want to know!

Finely chopped bits of red onion, tossed with a hefty amount of shredded carrots, were dropped into a skillet lined with a film of sizzling butter. After giving the vegetables a few minutes to work, the short rice was stirred in, followed by a couple shots of dry white wine. Stirring as often as I could, a warmed broth mixture was added, ladle-fulls at a time, until the rice had absorbed just enough that it was plump and tender, yet still retained a bite in the center. Depending on how it goes, you may or may not need all the broth - go by taste; if it feels done but you still have excess liquid to add, don't pour it in just because the broth is there. The risotto may end up being a bit gummy if you do. After removing the now very full pan from the heat, we stirred in a small knob of butter and a smattering of Parmesan cheese for a snappy finish.


  1. That's a great treat of the week. You did a great job with the risotto. I never made it but love it.

  2. The risotto looks sensational! I'm thinking, dinner tonight....


  3. I love risotto made with the real stuff, Arborio rice.
    I make risotto with mushrooms,etc but haven't tried it with carrot. I will now!
    thanks ;0)

  4. So how was the risotto? Carrot must add a different, sweet flavor--typically I use more 'savory' veggies like mushrooms, asparagus, or even sausage and arugula. Were you pleased with the end result?

  5. the cookies look amazing. I will have to try them. You are so darned creative!

  6. Helene - Really? What's stopping you?

    Quinn - Thanks!

    Lesley - Yeah, I agree. However, I have grown to like other types with barley and whatnot.

    Jen - It was quite nice. The carrots did add sweetness, but it was delicate and not overpowering.

    Judy - Thank you!

  7. Joe: I have no clue. I should put it on my 'to make' list that is getting longer everyday.

  8. Risotto made with regular white rice gives you the flavor but not the creamy divine risotto texture.

    In other words, it's rice-a-roni.