Saturday, July 13, 2013

learning is fun

cooks 2

Some instances in life make me realise how much I'm still learning something new everyday. For example, driving through the Tasmanian country side earlier this year I was quite taken with all the lovely sheep dotted around the hills. After pondering their existence for awhile, I asked Hugo what a baby sheep is called. He didn't know. Naturally, we Googled it. 

It's a lamb.
A baby sheep is a lamb.
Of course! Of course that's what a baby sheep is. 
Embarrassed, and quite frankly shocked at our incredible stupidness, we then decided to educate ourselves on every single detail about sheep listed on Wikipedia so as to never make a fool of ourselves every again...which is clearly wishful thinking. 

And although I eat nuts every single day, I have the luxury of buying them de-shelled and perfect from a shop. I never really knew what it really took to crack open a macadamia nut until very recently. I have one thing to say on the matter - it's really not easy guys.

During a week away at Hugo's family home on the north coast I was introduced to the glorious macadamia nut goldmine that is the Byron Bay shire. These big, beautiful, native trees grace farms and backyards all over the place, producing an overflowing breeding ground for little, unassuming, shiny brown balls of hard hard hard macadamia nut goodness.

After a solid week of scoffing these creamy babies, and with plenty left still to spare, Hugo's mum kindly set me off home to Sydney with a bulging bag of nuts smuggled into my carry-on baggage.

When I arrived home, lugging them behind, I set to work opening these infuriatingly delicious things up.  I tried hitting them against rocks. Fail. I tried pegging them against rocks. Also, fail. I tried whacking them with a hefty hand weight, but after bashing my knuckles too many times on the concrete and making the little balls ping everywhere (including my eye) I gave up.

"Um....use a hammer," my mum said, after watching me whimpering as I struggled to twist and turn our mechanical nutcracker. 
Yeah...right. Well that made perfect sense. Just like the fact that lambs are baby sheep. 

So a few weekends ago I spent a therapeutic hour successfully cracking each and every single nut in the bag until I had a macadamia bounty that would make anyone proud. While, admittedly, I ate most of them then and there, I decided to bake a batch of biscuits with those lucky few left over.

Cocoa nibs are like little explosions of intense cocoa-ness minus the sweetness, so they work really well with maple syrup and brown sugar infused cookie dough. Baked until chewy, with a smidgen of coconut and topped with freshly cracked macadamias, they are well worth the lesson in nut cracking. 

Macadamia and Cocoa Nib Cookies

1 cup coconut oil, soft
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa nibs (or choc chips)
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped 

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. In an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil with the sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs and continue to beat for a further few minutes. Using a spoon, stir in the flour, baking powder and sea salt. Mix until just combined then add the cocoa nibs and macadamia nuts and messily stir through. 

Grab big tablespoon fulls of dough and roll into little balls. Place on a lined baking tray, with space for the cookies to grow. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden. After a few minutes carefully move the cookies onto a cooling rack. Cookies will stay soft to touch until they are removed from the oven and set aside to cool, when they will harden up. 

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to try using a macadamia cracker, although I could never really justify buying one. And you did well to crack them with a hammer without injuring yourself - I know I would have! lol