Trader Joe’s sells coconut cashews that are delightfully sweet, and while trying to figure out some way to use them in a recipe, I remembered some cashew meringue cookies I used to make. The recipe was in a booklet called Better Homes and Gardens Homestyle Cookies. (At least I think that was the title… it’s been without a cover for about 15 years after I spilled almond extract all over it.) Here is the original recipe: Cashew Meringues
These cookies are a bit labor-intensive, but they always make an impression. They are light and crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside, and are delectably sweet without being heavy or cloying.
I used the TJ’s coconut cashews in the cookies, and also subbed in some shredded unsweetened coconut. Because the coconut cashews are on the sweeter side, I suggest using roasted salted cashews on top. The saltiness cuts the sweetness of the caramel drizzle and keeps things balanced. (I bought TJ’s salted cashew pieces for this purpose, but when I tried a handful I found that they’d been roasted in some sort of oil that gave them an odd taste. If you can find straight-up roasted salted cashews with no added oils, I highly recommend those, even if it means chopping them yourself.)
No matter how many times I try, I’ve not been able to make a batch of these without some or most of them cracking open during baking. As they cool, the insides settle down while the outside stays crisp, and when I spy the glittering confectioner’s sugar through the cracks, it makes these cookies look like geodes. Don’t worry about the cracks- these are still delicious. As I’m drizzling the caramel over the top, I use the cracks as a guide and put a few extra cashew pieces on top, and by the end you can barely tell. And as usual, the ugliest ones become my quality control checks. My slightly modified recipe is below.
Coconut Cashew Meringues
4 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s coconut cashews
12-15 caramels, unwrapped
1 tbsp milk
1/2 cup roasted salted cashews, chopped
1. Put the shredded coconut and coconut cashews into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and uniform. (I like have some finely chopped bits in there, but maybe that’s why my cookies crack.) Set aside.
2. Add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium just until combined. The mixture should be glossy but not forming stiff peaks.
3. Gently fold in the nuts and coconut with a spoon or spatula- try not to overmix, as the meringue will eventually start to deflate.
4. Drop by rounded teaspoon two inches apart on a cookie sheet either greased or lined with parchment paper. (If you’re not yet using parchment paper for cookies, I highly recommend it! Easy cleanup, no added oil flavors, and cookies slide right off.)
5. Bake in 325 Deg F oven for 15-17 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Heat caramels and milk in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring frequently. Drizzle the caramel over the cookies and sprinkle with the salted cashew pieces while the caramel is still sticky.
The recipe says this makes 60 cookies, but I usually get about half that (perhaps another reason mine crack). Store these in an airtight container, with parchment or wax paper between layers to prevent sticking.