Monday, March 24, 2008

Holiday Nougat Cookies

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted roasted cashews, lightly chopped

Combine the powdered sugar, shortening, flour, vanilla and salt in a stand mixer at medium speed, scraping down the sides occasionally, until well blended. Mix in the chopped cashews, but do not over-mix. Chill the dough slightly, then flatten it to about half an inch on a cool surface and cut out small circles, 1 to 1½ inches in diameter. Place about an inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 13-15 minutes. The cookies should not brown much, if at all.

This is essentially a copycat Archway Cashew Nougat cookie recipe. Stores in this area used to sell them during the holiday season, but I haven't seen them for years. I searched the internet, but the most commonly linked recipe is really a variety of Mexican Wedding cookie, which is all wrong. This recipe is a tweaked version of Norma's Divinity Cookies that seems closer to the packaged product. Cashews are not required; this recipe works equally well plain, or with other chopped nuts, crushed candy cane pieces, toffee bits, cinnamon imperials, chocolate chips, mint chips, cherry chips, cinnamon chips, or butterscotch chips. A bit of food coloring can also be used for variety.

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