I am still recovering from a couple of weeks of intense flu, travel and work which needed to happen yesterday. This early evening though, all is peaceful and as I write this, I can see the flowers (in our little patch outside) merrily waving their heads in the light rain. Nature is quietly happy and so am I.
So today I want to talk to you about cashew nuts, the poor black sheep from the nut family. The la-di-da walnuts and hazelnuts seem to waltz away with all the glory and fame (hazelnut due to their inherent co-mingling properties with anything chocolate, and walnuts for their versatility ranging from salads to desserts). However, my friend, the cashew nut seems to get pretty bad (or worse, little) press. Here are a few reasons, why cashew nuts deserve a permanent space in your pantry.
- Cashew nuts give you lot of good stuff like protein, copper, calcium and magnesium – enough to support a small mining community, it would seem.
- It’s a no-fuss addition to many Indian dishes – both desserts and savoury. Fried along with some raisins, they are perfect to go into rich based dishes. With a little more effort, a nicely-done cashew nut based gravy can elevate the simplest vegetable dish to something fit for royalty.
- In Sri Lanka (where I can happily apply to be re-born), they make a mean cashew nut curry which is perfect to wolf down with steamed rice hoppers
- They are a great snack and here’s a super easy way to have them with dates. Or make some nut butter with them to add to granola or spread it thickly on some warm bread
- They pair very well with caramel and butterscotch. You already know about the double chocolate coffee and cashew cookies and some day, I shall tell you about my adventures with the absolutely divine cashew-nut butterscotch bars.
The foremost reason though, why I stock them, is because of the love my husband’s mum (the best cook, south of Tropic of Cancer) has for them. So you see, I had to put them on her birthday cake, couple of weeks back. Since her favorite cashew-nut butterscotch bars do not lend themselves gracefully to let-us-sing-happy-birthday-and-cut-the-cake, I baked a cashew nut caramel cake. The original recipe has peanuts on cup or mini cakes.
While quite photogenic, I am convinced that my cake was not sweet or brownie-like enough. Next time around – I am going to allow the sugar to caramelize a tad further and substitute the cake with David’s brownies. That said, she loved it and it disappeared fast enough, so go ahead and try this recipe out.
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 113 gm butter
- 85 gm bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 large eggs (I used 4 small)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- For the topping:
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ tbsp golden syrup
- 2/3 cup cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- A pinch of salt – to taste
- 1 cup cashew nuts
Prepare the tin for baking by lining and greasing an 8 inch spring form tin. Sieve together the flour, salt and baking soda. Melt the chocolate and the butter over simmering water.
In your stand mixer, or by hand, whisk the eggs with the sugars followed by the vanilla and the golden syrup. With the setting to low, mix in the chocolate mixture and flour mixture, alternating between them.
Bake in preheated oven (180 c) for about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Release from tin, flip over, and remove parchment paper. Flip back up and refasten into tin.
Meanwhile make the caramel sauce by following these instructions, adding the golden syrup at the very end. Add in the cashew nuts and pour over the cake. Let the caramel set for a little while – mine did not set completely but oozed over, about a couple of hours after pouring it. It made for a pretty sight, all that caramel draped over the sides with a few cashew nuts choosing to vertically ski down and settle around the base.
Light some drunken looking candles on top and viola – happy birthday dear mom-in-law