December 2, 2010

Coconut Cashews

These are great for salads or just plain to munch on. Crunchy cashews are coated with a sweet layer of toasted coconut. This distinctive tropical treat is nearly irresistible.   
Prep Time: 30 minutes
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1/4 cup hot water
·         1/8 tsp cream of tartar
·         1/8 tsp salt
·         1/2 tsp coconut extract/flavoring
·         1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
·         1.5 cups toasted unsalted cashews
1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place the coconut in a pie tin or small baking pan, and toast it in the oven until golden brown. The secret to good toasted coconut is consistent browning, so be sure to stir it every 2 minutes until it is an even, light golden color. It will probably take 8-10 minutes, but monitor your coconut carefully.
3. Once the coconut is toasted, let it cool briefly, and then place it in a food processor or blender and pulse until it is finely chopped. Alternately, you can chop it by hand with a large heavy knife. You should have ½ cup of toasted coconut once it is finely chopped. If your coconut measures more than ½ cup, set aside the extra for another use.
4. In a small saucepan, combine the water, salt, sugar, and cream of tartar over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
5. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 246 degrees on a candy thermometer.
6. Once the candy is at the proper temperature, remove immediately from the heat and stir in the coconut flavoring and toasted coconut. Add the nuts all at once, and stir with a wooden spoon until they are completely coated with the sugar-coconut syrup. Continue to stir until the it becomes difficult to stir and the syrup turns white.
7. Quickly turn out onto the prepared baking sheet. Separate the nuts and allow them to cool and harden at room temperature. Nuts can be stored in an airtight Ziploc bag at room temperature for several weeks.

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