I adore cashews and I love making easy snack mixes that involve nuts - whether as a nibble for a party, to pack up and gift to friends, or just to have around as a snack.
These vanilla cashew clusters I spotted from The Kitchn were too easy to resist. Did I mention I love cashews? I really do, and these simply involve a bag of cashews that you toss with an egg white, (brown and granulated) sugar, a touch of cinnamon, and vanilla extract to give them a fun sweet flavor with a little spice. Let the oven do the rest of the work, toasting the nuts and setting that sweet coating on top.
I made these for friends and I'm hoping they like cashews as much as I do. I also brought some along to a gathering with my family; they're terrific with drinks. You can also enjoy them with yogurt for breakfast, as a topping for an ice cream sundae, or just pack up a bag and take them along on a road trip or as a snack on the go.
In other words, there are plenty of ways to enjoy these and plenty of reasons to make a batch!
It starts with a pound of raw cashews (about 3 cups). I had some concerns about using raw cashews rather than toasted because, as I'm sure you know, the difference in flavor between toasted and un-toasted nuts is huge (particularly when it comes to cashews)! But I figured the nuts will have plenty of time to toast as they bake with their topping (that said, I did end up baking the nuts longer and hiking up the oven temp near the end of baking to make sure they reached maximum flavor).
Whip 1 egg white until nice and frothy, then add in a mix of granulated and brown sugar, salt, and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I like to go a little light on the cinnamon so I used about 1/4 teaspoon. Once mixed together, spread the nuts in a single layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (don't forget the parchment paper for far easier cleanup).
They're supposed to bake in a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes, giving them a toss once or twice during baking. I didn't think the nuts were browned or fragrant enough towards the end of baking so I hiked up the oven temp to 350 degrees at around the 25 minute mark and baked the nuts for an additional 10 minutes or so. Keep a steady eye on them at this point and watch for the nuts to be golden brown and toasted. You should smell that fragrant, sweet aroma from comes from toasted cashews.
Let the nuts cool completely, before breaking them apart further, if necessary, and storing in an airtight container or jar.
I know we're still enjoying the last days of summer but making this, I can't help but think of the holidays when we whip up things like this to serve at holiday parties and to pack up as gifts to friends and family.
Vanilla Cashew Clusters
Adapted from The Kitchn
- Makes about 3 cups -
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, according to your preference
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound (about 3 cups) whole, raw cashews
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt together in a small bowl, making sure there are no clumps.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg white until very frothy. Add the cashews and toss to coat. Sprinkle the sugar mixture onto the nuts and toss until evenly coated.
Spread nuts in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice during baking, until nuts are golden brown and fragrant, about 30 minutes or so. During the last 5-7 minutes baking, I suggest hiking up the oven temp to 350 degrees (to make sure the cashews toast thoroughly). At this point, watch the nuts carefully, removing them from the oven when they are golden brown and they smell fragrant and sweet; this can take another 10 minutes or so.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and let cool on a wire rack until nuts cool completely. Break up any clumps into small clusters. Store cooled nuts in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.