Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cashew Butter Cookies

Cooking is a competitive activity. Yes, there is a veneer of niceness that pervades the foodie blog-o-sphere. But it's fairly obvious that every foodie is in some sort of competition, even if it's a competition that only exists within the cook's own mind.

For some bloggers, the competitive aspect of cooking and writing about food is very formal: it entails real world bake-offs and online cooking competitions. For others, the competition is more subtle, and involves their personal struggles to create the most decadent ("deep fried cheesecake")/kid-friendly ("dinosaur-shaped mini-meatloaves" /fastest ("thirty minutes or less")/sustainable ("all bought at my farmer's market")/most vegan ("yummy egg replacer brownies")/ most vegan-unfriendly (I'm thinking of you, David Chang) meal they can possibly create.

Speaking as someone who is pretty terrible at every formal competitive activity she enters, I'd have to say that I think noncompetitive hobbies don't exist. I spent the last yoga class mostly in 'child's pose' --for non-yogis, that is the 'I suck because I can't possibly do what the other people in class are doing pose'-- reflecting on how much yoga is a competitive noncompetitive activity. True, yogis tend to use rhetoric  like 'we're all on the same journey' versus cursing and calling people wussies for not going out and murdering the other team. (Although perhaps there is a Vince Lombardi of yoga, somewhere). But it's pretty obvious when someone is popping a scorpion handstand and you're not, and all of the 'good people' are getting 'adjusted' that there is a competitive nature to what is actually a very acrobatic art, even if there is a greater emphasis on breathing than say, trapeze work.

But competition isn't necessarily bad. The hope that I can someday, be good at something, keeps me disciplined--and sitting at the computer--trying to better myself as a writer and to challenge my fears and yes, 'improve' even at things like horseback riding, at which I have no talent. If it wasn't for the fact that I want to compete, if only with myself, I'd still be in bed right now.

So, that being said, I'm pretty damn proud that I made these cookies in ten minutes or less. The actual 'wait time' is a bit longer, since the dough needs to be chilled.  But the spoon-in-the dough mixing and fixing time is shorter in duration than the meal-to-table turnaround of a certain famous food celebrity.  Yeah, Rachel, I'm lookin' at you. Plus, these simple cookies are made with cashew butter, which gives them an oh-so-much more elegant appeal. Because you know there's a difference between the guests you offer peanuts and the guests you try to impress with cashews.

Fast Cashew Butter Cookies

This makes a small batch of 12 medium-sized cookies--perfect for snacking or afterschool


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup of turbinado  OR 1/2 cup white granulated sugar and 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 beaten, room temperature egg
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2 Make sure the butter is room temperature. Either leave it out for at least an hour, or soften in the microwave, heating the stick for 10 seconds at a time until it's soft, but not liquid.  Of course, if you're European and never refrigerate your butter or eggs, you're reading this and wondering what is she talking about.  Or trying to convert all of the standard measurements into the metric system.
3. Cream the butter, cashew butter, and sugar. Stir in the beaten egg.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.  Add slowly to the creamed mixture. Chill dough for an hour.
4. Roll the chilled dough into golf-ball sized spheres.  Make a crisscross pattern on the top, much like you would with a peanut butter cookie. Sprinkle lightly with more sea salt if desired.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly brown at the crisscrosses but not at the edges.  Remove from oven and cool.

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