Good quality cashews in Singapore are a little on the high price side if you buy them retail but they are such a good snack full of fantastic monounsaturated fats (oleic and palmitoleic acids), minerals (magnesium, potassium, copper, iron zinc, selenium) and vitamins (B5, B6, B1, ribolflavin). Cashews are one of the most ugly yet super delicious nuts around.
Kourabiedes are one of my favourite Greek cookies. Soft, crumbly and usually made with almond meal. I had a plethora of cashew nuts so I decided to bake this version. Although this is a Greek pastry, the original version of Kourabiedes were actually called Qurabiya, a word supposedly derived from the Turkish language and were a glorious result of sugar becoming readily available in Persia around the 7th Century.
The cashew is a super versatile treat and can be used in cookies, cakes, muffins, curries, stir frys…. the possibilities are endless! Despite the versatility of this kidney shaped-nut-seed thingy, the outer shell which encases the nut is highly toxic and this is the reason why you always see cashews naked at the markets.
A bit about cashews....
The origins of cashews come from the north east part of Brazil. From Brazil they packed their little bags and went traveling to India in the mid 1500s. Nowadays, cashews are produced in many countries with a tropical climate such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Vietnam and India just to name a few.
Cashew nuts are attached to the cashew apple, a fruit that is full of nutritious vitamins. In India and Brazil, people like to make jams and chutneys out of the cashew apple, however it can also be eaten on its own, added to curries or fermented.
The cashew apple is an extremely delicate soft fruit and that is why we see only the cashew nut available in many parts of the world and not so much the fruit.
So there is my short introduction of the cashew nut…. but you came here for a recipe though, didn’t you??
Makes about 30-35 cookies, about 5cm in size
250g unsalted butter (when a whole block of butter is used in a recipe.. you just know it is going to be good!)
110g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1 medium egg yolk (medium egg is about 50g)
300g plain flour, sifted
100g unsalted cashews
100g extra icing sugar
Set the oven at about 160'C
Spread the cashews on a baking tray and pop them in the preheated oven for about 5-10minutes (they should be slightly brown). Allow them to cool
Blitz the cashews in a food processor. Grind them however coarse or fine you wish, set aside
Beat the butter in an electric mixer (or if you are feeling athletic, by hand), until pale and creamy.
Add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract and egg yolk. Mix until combined
Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, along with the ground cashews.
Take a golf ball size of dough and roll into a fat, short cigar. Bend it slightly to form a crescent/cashew shape. Roll lightly in icing sugar and place on a well lined baking tray.
Repeat until all dough is shaped and ready for baking!
Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. They will be soft (ish) to touch yet browned. Allow to cool and transfer to a wire cooling rack.
When ready to serve, dust with a little more icing sugar to freshen them up and enjoy with a nice black coffee. Try and eat just one… go on, I dare you : )