Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nutty Nougats - A Copycat?

Here is a cookie that most of you have probably seen around the holidays since you were a kid. They have many names: Snowballs, Russian Tea Cookies, Nutty Nougats. They are buttery and nutty. I like 'em. I've always liked 'em and I made them because they were on a web site that claimed they were a "copycat" for the Archway Cashew Nougat cookie. Here's the story. . .

These cookies right here in this photo are one of my all time favorite store bought cookies. They are only around during the holidays which makes them even more special. I look for them every year.  You can imagine my disappointment a couple of years ago when I couldn't find them. Nowhere, nada, zip, zilch. Not a single store had them. What gives? Off I went to the World Wide Web to find out.  There I made the heart-breaking discovery that "Archway" and it's parent company "Mother's" had closed up shop. WHAT! Say it ain't so. But, alas, it was and for the last couple of years I've had to do without.

I figured I couldn't be the only one desperately missing this holiday treat so I scoured the web for a copycat recipe and found one. I was going to give it a try when I stumbled upon these at the store. They're back? They're back! Hallelujah. I bought five packs. Apparently another company bought up the recipe and brand and is making them again. It's a holiday miracle. I'm a happy gal.

But, since I went to all the trouble to find a replacement recipe, and since, in these uncertain times, they may disappear again, I decided to give the recipe a try.

Here what you need: Butter, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, finely chopped nuts and powdered sugar (not shown). About the nuts: I did not chop my nuts finely and I paid for it later. Please, don't be like me, finely chop your nuts. Also, the recipe calls for walnuts, pecans or cashews. I didn't have cashews or walnuts and I had just used pecans for Rugelach. So, I used almonds, they worked great.

Start by sifting and then measuring your flour. Set aside.

Next, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Get it nice and light and fluffy.

Stir the salt into the flour and add to the butter mixture. Mix until well combined. The dough will seem crumbly.

Add the nuts. . .

. . . and stir until well combined.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. I say "form" not "roll" because this dough was really crumbly. When I tried to "roll" the cookies into balls, they just fell apart. I had to kind of squeeze and form them.  I think it's because I didn't finely chop my nuts. Lesson learned. Place the cookies a inch or so apart on a Silpat lined cookie sheet and into a 325°F oven for 20 minutes.

If the cookies start to brown get them out of the oven. I set my oven for 15 minutes, then checked them frequently until 20 minutes. These may be a bit brown. A few fell apart while cooking, I blame the nuts again. Cool them a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, toss them gently in powdered sugar until covered. Store in an airtight container.

Here's the verdict: They taste pretty good. I would make them again but with a few changes. I would definitely chop the nuts finely. I'd also form them into slightly smaller balls and cook them a few minutes less, for more of a "single bite" cookie. I would substitute some almond extract for some of the vanilla, though maybe not if I use walnuts or cashews. All and all, a good cookie. Not spectacular but a solid player on the Holiday Cookie Tray. However, as for being a copycat to the Archway cookie, I'd give these about a 4. I didn't notice many similarities at all. So as long as some company, any company, continues to make the Archway Cashew Nougat, I'll keep buying them.

If you want to give these a try, here's a link to the recipe. Happy Holiday Baking!

1 comment: