Cashew Butter Cookies with Toffee Chips

There’s nothing better for an afternoon snack than a sweet, crumbly cookie.  These are a departure from the usual peanut butter cookie; they’re made with cashew butter and filled with texture from crunchy toffee chips and chopped cashews.  It’s easy to make your own nut butter and, if cashews are not your favorite, there’s always hazelnuts, almonds, or that old favorite, peanuts.  Toffee chips could be replaced with chocolate chips, orange zest might be a good addition… Just use your imagination and create your favorite nut butter chipper.  Here is the recipe:

Cashew Butter Cookies with Toffee Chips
makes about 2 dozen cookies
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup cashew butter**
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup, such as Lyle’s
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt*
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate-covered toffee chips (such as Heath bar chips)
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.  In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, cashew butter, sugar, and golden syrup, beating until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt*, then stir in the flour, toffee chips, and nuts.  Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
*If the nut butter you use is salted-or if you make your own from salted nuts-start with 1/4 teaspoon salt and adjust to taste.

**Homemade Nut Butter
makes about 2 cups
2 1/2 cups nuts-peanuts, blanched whole almonds, cashews, or skinned hazelnuts, preferably unsalted
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt*
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they become a darker golden color and are quite fragrant.  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool to lukewarm.  Place the nuts, sugar, and salt in the food processor.  With the motor running, pour in the oil and process until the butter is creamy.  Adjust the salt to taste.
*If you are using salted nuts, start with a smaller amount of salt, and adjust to taste. 
Use 1 cup of the nut butter for your cookies, refrigerate the remainder to use on toast or sandwiches.
(recipes from “The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion’)

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