Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan
Everyone associates macadamia nuts with the Hawaiian Islands and for good reason. They have either enjoyed a holiday in Hawaii or have receved a a colorful Hawaiian Host gift boxefilled with chocolate covered macadamia nuts ! Hawaii is one of largest producers of these irresistibly rich and buttery nuts from the Pacific islands. But there is a fascinating backstory as well. Macadamia nuts are not native to the Hawaiian islands. Macadamia nuts and their host the screw pine trees are native to Queensland in northeast Australia.
The first screw pine trees that produced macadamia nuts in Hawaii were brought to Hawaii around 1880 and planted in Kukuiheale on the big island of Hawaii. The rich volcanic soil from the Mauna Loa volcano proved to be the ideal and macadamia nut orchards thrived. The industry grew and flourished and Hawaiian macadamia nuts are now exported to the rest of the world.
Sables, essentially shortbread cookies that originate from Breton in France, seemed a likely match for macadamia nuts with their light crumbly texture and a lovely buttery flavor that blends seamlessly with the macadamia nuts subtle tropical flavor notes.
Several years ago I posted a Saigon cinnamon sables recipe (click here) that turned out to be a complimentary Asian pairing as well
The macadamia nuts subtle flavor and rich coconut like texture makes them a perfect choice for baked goods. White chocolate is hands down the most popular pairing and indeed an excellent choice. But I was looking for a more local melding of flavors when pandan popped up in my head. Pandan is a local palm leaf that has a sweet aromatic flavor and scent as well as adding a very very pale green tint to whatever the application. It is the perfect alternative to vanilla and used throughout South East Asia to flavor rice, sweets, or in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract. This is an ingredient, like kaffir lime leaves, that can add a whole new dimension to your cooking repertoire. A few fresh or dried leaves of either cooked with rice will fill the kitchen with the most incredible aroma you could ever imagine. And yes macadamia nuts, pandan, kaffir leaves are all Available on line at. See note following the recipe.
Hawaiian Macadamia nut sables flavored with Pandan
makes 36 cookies
- 2/3 cup / 5.2 ounces best quality salted butter (Kerrygold Irish Butter) at room temperature
- 4 large organic egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1cup coarsely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pandan extract (thinned with a little water if using paste) or vanilla extract
- 1 egg, whisked
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter using a silicone spatula until completely smooth.
In another bowl whisk the egg yolks while gradually adding the sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and gradually stir into the butter mixture until completely combined.
Stir in the pandan extract or vanilla extract until completely combined and then fold in the macadamia nuts until evenly combined.
Gather the dough together and transfer to a piece of cling film placed on your the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle loaf. Cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least one hour, for several hours, or overnight.
Line two baking sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats and set aside.
When the dough is very well chilled divide the loaf in half and refrigerate the other half.
Place a sheet of parchment on your work surface, and dust it with flour. Place the dough in the center and dust lightly with flour. Begin rolling out the dough slowly, dusting with flour as needed, until it is about ½ inch thick.
Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out circles of dough and, using a spatula or dough scraper, lift the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet ,placing them about ½ inch apart. Gather any scraps of dough and set aside.
Transfer the sheet pan of cookies to the refrigerator while you role out the remaining dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the second prepared sheet pan.
Gather up the scraps of dough, kneed them together, roll out the the dough, cut out the remaining cookies and place them on the baking sheet. and transfer them the refrigerator. Discard any remaining scraps of dough.
preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c Adjust the baking rack in the center position of the oven.
Beat the reaming egg until frothy and set aside.
For the best results bake each baking sheet of cookies separately.
Remove a tray of cookies from the fridge. Mark the tops with a crisscross pattern using a fork. Then brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash.
Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the tray half way through the baking time.
The edges of the cookies should be slightly browned and the tops are a light golden color. Do not over bake!
Remove the cookies from the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack. After about 15 minutes you can remove the cookies from the tray and placing them directly on the rack to cool completely.
Repeat the same sequence for second batch. When all the cookies are completely cool they may be stored in an airtight container for at least a week at room temperature.
Keu a ka ono !
Note: Ingredients available at Amazon.com
Oven roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt
24 oz / 1.5 lb $26.95 (they freeze well)
McCormic pandan flavor extract
2o ml $12.76 (2 pack)
Pandanus Leaves Dried 0.5 oz 9.99
Kaffir Lime Leaves Dried o.5 oz 9.99
Shortbread cookies hail from Normandy, France, aptly called Sables, alluding to their delicate sand like crumbly texture.
Traditional European short breads are a simple combination of butter, sugar, flour and salt. What could be easier, right? Well, yes and no. For this recipe it is well worth Looking for a salted European style butter that will provide the best flavor and crumbly texture for your pecan shortbread cookies. I have been using a domestic Danish Creamery Butter with sea salt for baking applications with excellent results. Listed are several other brands of European style butters that are generally available here in US supermarkets.
In America shortbread recipes evolved over the years, particularly in the deep south where locally grown pecans are plentiful. Pecans added to short breads and cookies lend a rich nutty butter pecan flavor note that everyone loves.
In the 1950’s The Keebler Company registered the name Sandies for their Pecan Sandies cookies that are a spin off of sorts 0ff of traditional shortbread cookies. They are tasty and still popular today.
That said, the essential shortbread ingredient, butter, has been omitted and replaced with palm and soy oils. What can I say other than butter is always the better choice for anything you planning to bake!
Butters made with cultured milk have a 2%higher butter fat content and a discernably richer flavor.
Listed are a few European style butters that are available in grocery stores here in the US.
Plugra salted European style butter (US) 8 oz. $ 2.38
President ( France) 7 oz. $13,95
Kerrygold (Ireland) 7 oz. $ 3.99
Danish Creamery salted (US) 16 oz. $ 6.79
Pecan Shortbread Cookies Makes 36 cookies
- 1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped by hand
- 36 pecan halves, reserved
- 8 oz. European style salted butter, softened
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup fine granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, cognac, or B & B
- 2 cups all purpose flour
Finely hand chop the cup and a half of pecans and set aside.
Place the softened butter and the sugars in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer set at medium low speed cream the butter and sugars until combined and creamy. Add the vanilla, cognac or B & B and beat until combined.
Then switching to a silicon spatula, begin folding the flour and chopped pecans alternately into the butter mixture until well combined. The texture will eventually come together. Once the mixture bonds together transfer the d dough to a long length of cling film on your work surface. Using both hands form the dough into a log shape that is about 15 inches in length And about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap the cling film around the dough and lightly roll it back and forth to create an evenly shaped log. Twist the ends of the clingfilm tightly and flatten both ends. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 1 ½ hours or until firm.
Meanwhile line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c with the baking rack set in the center of the oven.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the dough and place it on a cutting board. Slice the dough into 1/3 inch slices. Arrange the slices about 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheets. Press a pecan half in the center of each cookie, pressing gently to secure them to the dough.
Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies should be just set and lightly browned.
Promptly transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack to rest for several minutes. You can then slip the mats with the cookies on it onto the cooling rack. and Set the baking sheet aside to cool before using for another batch of cookies.
Once the cookies are completely cool, store them in a nookie tin with a firm fitting lid for storage.
For norther recipe you might like to try Saigon Cinnamon Sables ( click here)
For none other than fond memories of holidays past I ordered several 16 ounce cans of French Puree des Chataignes, a sweetened chestnut puree that is more popular in Europe than the US. Very delicious spread on toast, waffles, French toast, mixed with ricotta for cannolis, with ice cream or gelato. and especially for a “Mont Blanc,”. A Mont Blanc is a celebratory French desert with a meringue base topped with swirls of piped chestnut puree crowned off with with a wintry blizzard of whipped cream peaks.
Feeling not quite that ambitious for a Christmas Eve supper I settled on making a more modest traditional French chestnut puree soufflé dessert that is topped with shaved chocolate. Very simple to prepare and happily it was received with great delight.
Following that thread the following week I decided to make Nigela Lawson’s Chocolate Chestnut Cake for a New Year supper that was met with oohs and ahhs, The consensus was that while Nigela’s chocolate chestnut cake was of course deliciously decadent, it was the simpler traditional chestnut soufflé’s beguiling flavor is what won everyone’s favor.
So while the chestnut puree soufflé is not exactly a visual feast on the plate it is it’s deliciousness that triumphs .
Sweetened chestnut puree is readily available on Amazon.
Chestnut Puree Soufflé dessert
preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c
Generously butter a medium soufflé dish or spring form pan.
- 16 ounces sweetened chestnut puree
- 3 ounces unsalted butter
- 6 eggs separated
- 1 tablespoon rum or brandy
- shaved chocolate
- powdered sugar
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Separate the eggs into separate mixing bowls and refrigerate bowl with the egg whites.
Whisk the egg yolks together with the chestnut puree until the mixture is thick and airy.
While continuing to whisk begin adding in small amounts of butter at a time while whisking until incorporated. Add the rum and whisk until combined and set aside.
Remove the egg whites from the refrigerator. Add a pinch of salt and using a whisk, or a hand held mixer, rapidly whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.
Then using a wide silicone spatula begin adding the egg whites, a generous dollop at a time to the chestnut puree mixture, gently fold in the whites in until they are incorporated before adding more egg whites. Continue until all of the whites are folded into the chestnut puree mixture. A few streaks of egg whites in the mixture are are fine.
Gently pour the batter into a buttered soufflé dish or spring form pan and place it gently in the center of the preheated oven.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the browning on the surface. If it’s browning too quickly open the oven door briefly and bake a little longer as needed.
Test by inserting a thin skewer gently into the center of the soufflé. If it comes out clean the soufflé is done
The soufflé will have puff up while baking but will fall once it transferred r to a rack to cool.
If you like add some shaved chocolate over the cooling surface of the soufflé.
A light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving is optional.
Today I want to share some of Wayne Thiebaud’s painterly confections which are as buoyant and beguiling as any baked creation you could ever possibly imagine!
Wayne Thieboud was a founding member of the Pop Art movement of the 60’s, along with Andy Warhol, Roy Licktanstein, Robert Rouschenberg, Jasper Johns, and others. His paintings stand apart and quietly occupy their own space. I like to think of him as the Morandi of pop art.
Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas day this past week at 101 .