Nuts about Macadamias

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I’m totally nuts about macadamias. If the almond is the everyday Ford of the nut world, the macadamia would probably be the equivalent of an Aston Martin – smooth, sexy and ridiculously rich.

Have you ever tasted a macadamia before? I’m not talking about idly popping one or two into your mouth, I’m talking about enjoying the experience and giving it the attention it deserves. Give it a try – get an unsalted macadamia nut, close your eyes and slip it into your mouth. Your first sensation should be that smooth, silky exterior, perfect, ridgeless, slightly slicked in oil. Close your jaw around this edible pearl and feel the sharp crack as it splits in half, releasing a few tantilizing drops of macadamia oil onto your tongue. Savour the texture and delicate flavour for a minute, then masticate away till your jaws reduce the macadamia fragments into butter in just a few chews, the firmness of the nut giving way and becoming a paste with the smallest amount of pressure. Enjoy the slight fragrance, the taste coating your tongue and once every part of your mouth has enjoyed this macadamia experience, swallow and repeat with another nut.

Definitely the luxury nut of the nut world, they bring a whole new element when incorporated into baked goods, their oily richness adding a touch of decadence while their firm texture providing a lovely crunch that quickly dissipates in the mouth. While their high oil content means that they, like any other oil-rich food, should be enjoyed in moderation, when you do enjoy a macadamia, you should savour the experience in as wonderful a way as possible, and what better in these deliciously crunchy white chocolate & macadamia cookies!

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DID YOU KNOW:

Did you know that there are 8 different varieties of macadamia trees, and that 7 of the 8 species are native to Australia, with just two of those bearing fruit that is edible? The trees won’t bear fruit till they are usually about 8-12 years old, but after that point can bear fruit regularly for up to 100 years!

Though the macadamia is one of the fattiest tree nuts in existance (up to 75% oil content in a kernel!), almost all of this is monounsaturated fatty acids, so while they should still be consumed in moderation, they make a far better snack than your peanut butter cup! Not only that, but studies have demonstrated that a diet with macadamia nuts can result in a significant improvement in markers for oxidative stress, clotting tendency and inflammation. Persons with elevated cholesterol levels showed an improvement in cholesterol and blood fats.

So go on, put down that Snickers bar and pick up a few macadamia nuts instead!

Sources:
– Blundell, R. “Australia’s Most Delicious Bush Nut“, The Australian National University, 27 October 1998
– “Macadamia“, Purdue University, 7 January 1998
– “Australian Macadamias – The Healthy Nut“, Australian Macadamia Society

When K came over for our baking/dinner/movie night, she had initially wanted to bake choc-chip and macadamia cookies, so we made sure to include a bag of roasted unsalted macadamia nuts on the grocery list. Upon getting back to mine, she repeated her desire for these cookies while browsing my cookbooks, to which I hesitantly replied that we’d have to look a recipe up as I couldn’t recall seeing any such cookie recipe in any of my existing cookbooks.

K laughed and brought one slender cookbook over, page opened and pointed to a recipe. “Yes you do! It’s right here!”

Well, bugger me!

Was it fate that had led me to buying the macadamias though I hadn’t known about the recipe? Perhaps it had been stored somewhere in my subconscious? At any rate, we mixed up a batch and eagerly awaited the first tray out to cool down enough for us to enjoy them. And oh, did we ever! This cookie is a proper cookie, one that a certain fuzzy blue beast would enjoy, all crunch and crumbles with occasional bursts of sweetness from the white choc bits and smooth buttery moments courtesy of the chopped macadamias – it is a perfect cookie for dunking in milk as the firm dough doesn’t disintegrate upon contact with liquid, instead soaking it in like a sponge so that biting on a dunked cookie is an explosion of milk and cookie in perfect proportions.

And trust me when I say that it doesn’t get much better than that!

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White Chocolate & Macadamia Cookies
(from Donna Hay – Chocolate)

Ingredients
125g butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
220g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
150g all-purpose flour, sifted
150g self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup chopped unsalted macadamia nuts
250g white chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.

2. Cream the butter, vanilla extract and sugar, then slowly add the egg and beat till light and fluffy. Stir in the flours, nuts and chocolate till the dough has come together into a smooth ball.

3. Roll heaped tablespoons of the cookie dough into balls, then place onto the lined baking tray and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or till the edges of the cookies have turned golden.

These are firm, crunchy cookies that withstand a hearty dunking, so enjoy with a glass of cold milk, to have a good dunk ‘n crunch!

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[tags]macadamias, nuts, tree nuts, Australia, recipes, cookies, biscuits, baking[/tags]

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