Butterscotch is my errything, and you can expect to see it’s delightfully burnt sienna self popping up from time to time as the mercury begins to dip. But what is butterscotch exactly? And what makes it different from caramel and toffee, you ask? According to Sweet Manufacture a British handbook and recipe collection printed back in the 30’s for professional candy companies butterscotch is a caramel with 3-5% of it’s weight being made up of butter. The same chapter also states however that “there is no definite dividing line between toffees and caramels, and in what may be termed borderline cases it is quite impossible to say which class a particular sample belongs.” I love that quote as I always read it in my head as being said by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. It’s the most Britishly formally way of saying “ehh, no one knows for sure.”
Nowadays butterscotch is known mainly as a sauce or in it’s chip form. It’s in the caramel family but it’s made with brown sugar instead of white which makes it sweeter than caramel while giving it greater depth of flavor. For me butterscotch creates memories of childhood and haystacks made with shoestring potatoes and peanuts. The flavor is American as Jell-O watergate salad and I unashamedly love it, even though every part of me knows I shouldn’t. If you don’t know what either of those “classic” recipes are, they’re the kind of things you usually have to grow up with to love, and even then they are as controversial as candy corn or licorice.
But I’m not here to rock the boat. I’ll not proselytize the wonders of licorice (and there are many) or sweet candy coated fried potato strips. I’m here today to give you the best possible introduction to this butter laden member of the caramel family: butterscotch cashew chews. The salted cashews round out the whole thing and provide the yang to the golden chip’s yin.
I altered a recipe from The Better Home and Gardens 100 Best Cookies magazine, a special edition they run almost every year. If you don’t have this magazine I strongly recommend it, along with their Christmas Cookies editions. Their release is something I actually look forward to every year.
These bake off best on a darker cookie sheet. If you have a light one expect to add another 2 minutes or so of cooking time, or place the cookies in the lower part of your oven.
Butterscotch Cashew Chews
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup coarsely chopped salted dry-roasted cashews
2/3 cup butterscotch chips, plus 1/3 cup to sprinkle on top of cookies after baking.
- In your stand mixer’s bowl outfitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth and no pieces of lumpy lame unincorporated butter remain. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula from time to time. You can also use electric hand beaters in place of a stand mixer.
- Turn the speed to high and add in the eggs, slowly and one at a time. Then add in the vanilla. Mix until fully combined.
- Turn the mixer onto low and add the dry ingredients, cashews, and butterscotch chips in two batches, scraping the sides down in between batches.
- Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350° for at least 20 minutes prior to baking. Scoop into 1oz portions using either an ice cream scoop or a scale. Flatten onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes depending on your oven. Immediately after the cookies are done in the oven sprinkle with the remaining chips.
*note: I’m sorry for the lack of method pictures for this post. We just introduced this little blue eyed devil to our family and he thinks he’s training to be a food stylist. He likes to help by knocking over my tripod, plates, or just about anything that I am in need of.