Macadamia nuts, botanically called Macadamia integrifolia, are one of the sweetest and most flavorful edible nuts available, especially when roasted or toasted and added to a delicious recipe.
Native to the East Coast of Australia but also grown and popular in the Hawaiian Islands, South Africa, Brazil, and the Middle Americas, common names for macadamia nuts include Australia nut, Queensland nut, and bush nut. Macadamia nuts are harvested year-round on Hawaii, the largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world, and are a popular gift for tourists who visit the islands to take home.
Macadamia nuts pair particularly well with coconut, chocolate, and fish, and can also be substituted for other nuts, measure for measure, in most recipes. For some particularly great recipes based on Hawaiian and island traditions involving these nuts, check out cookbooks like The Mauna Loa Macadamia Cooking Treasury, Remembering Diamond Head, Remembering Hawaii, and Sam Choy's Island Flavors.
How to Roast Macadamia Nuts
Before you begin the process of roasting or toasting macadamia nuts, you'll first need to shell, rinse, and dry them. Once you've completed setup, the process is relatively simple for either method of preparation, but make sure that the macadamia nuts you choose are similar in size so that they can cook evenly.
For roasting macadamia nuts, first, fill a spray bottle with 1/2 cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Then spread your shelled macadamia nuts on an oven tray and lightly mist them with the contents of the bottle.
Next, place the cooking tray in a 225 F preheated the oven and roast them for 10 to 12 minutes, checking them often and removing the nuts when they turn golden brown. Let the nuts cool completely before storing them in a dry container.
How to Toast Macadamia Nuts
Toasting nuts before adding them to a recipe will yield a brighter flavor, but it's best to toast only what you need at the time as toasted nuts do not store as well as raw nuts. To toast macadamia nuts, spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 350 F preheated oven, toasting until golden brown for about 12 to 15 minutes. Once done, let the toasted nuts cool down before grinding or chopping to prevent them from becoming oily or pasty in texture.
Some recipes call for ground macadamia nuts, which can be used in pastry dough or sprinkle on the bottom of pie shells for a delightful change of taste. All you have to do to grind them is to put the toasted nuts in a food processor and pulse at short intervals until desired consistency is achieved. Don't over-processing the nuts, or you could end up with nut butter.
If you do over-process, macadamia nut butter is delicious as a spread but you can add a touch of vegetable oil and a bit of honey for smoothness and added flavor. Additionally, ground macadamia nuts can be used as a filler and flavor enhancer in ground meat, poultry, and seafood dishes as well.