This is the third week for the A to Z April Blog Challenge which brings us to Letter N. Considering that I eat nuts every day, it was the understandable choice for today’s theme. In India, nuts are a part of our daily lives. It’s perhaps the most common ingredient used to make the Indian version of Tex-Mex. And the traditional snack to be served plain any time of the day.
Nuts are also one of the healthiest snack foods. Nuts have a myriad of health benefits, from preventing heart disease, diabetes to fighting cancer. I have eaten nuts most of my life. Though, it only became a part of my daily lunch ritual once I embarked on the Atkin’s diet approximately seven odd years ago. The higher fiber and protein content of nuts, as well as their satisfying crunch, act as a natural appetite suppressant by making a person feel fuller for longer. In addition, increased nut consumption has been linked to better-managed blood sugar and insulin levels, which are often connected to feelings of hunger.
Sweet and Spicy Cashews
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 pound unsalted roasted cashew nuts (you can even use an assortment)
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Lightly oil the parchment. In a bowl, combine the sugar with the salt.
- In a large skillet, melt the honey with the cayenne. Add the nuts and stir to coat. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
- Let the nuts cool slightly, then add them to the sugar-salt mixture and toss to coat.
- Discard the parchment and spread the nuts out on the baking sheet to cool completely, then transfer to a bowl and serve.
Chocolate – Almond Biscotti
Almonds are among the lowest in fat of all the nuts, so you can use a fair amount of them in these long, slender cookies.
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
- 3 whole eggs, plus 1 egg white
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. almond extract
- Position racks in the upper third and lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well mixed. Add the cherries and almonds and toss with your hands to distribute them evenly.
- In another bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg white, and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into the dry ingredients. Using a fork, mix together the dry and wet ingredients, taking care to work all the bits of dry ingredients into the dough. The dough will be dense and sticky. Divide the dough in half.
- Transfer half of the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Lightly moisten your hands with cold water to prevent the dough from sticking to them, then shape the dough into a flattened log 12 inches long by 2 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch high. Lifting the plastic wrap and cradling the dough, flip the dough onto the center of one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough, flipping it onto the second prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the logs until they are dry to the touch and firm in the center when pressed with your fingers, about 30 minutes. They will spread considerably and may crack slightly on top. Transfer to wire racks and let the logs cool on the pans for 30 minutes. The logs will still be slightly warm to the touch. Leave the oven on.
- Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board and set the parchment-lined pans aside. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch wide. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the lined baking sheets, placing them close together but not touching. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, turn the biscotti. Continue to bake until dry and crisp, 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscotti to wire racks to cool completely. Store the biscotti in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Recipe adapted from William Sonomas.