Sweet, rich, and buttery, the macadamia nut is the champagne of tree nuts. Its versatile flavor and creamy texture make the highly coveted nut a welcome addition to any dessert and a pleasant surprise when incorporated in savory dishes.
History of Macadamia Nuts
Though Hawaii is the most well-known producer of macadamia nuts, the famous nuts are actually native to Australia. Macadamia trees were first brought to Hawaii in the late 19th century, as a shelterbelt for sugar cane, and were eventually cultivated for mass consumption in the 1920s. Macadamia nuts became more easily accessible to the United States, and subsequently the rest of the world, and their global popularity steadily grew.
Flavor and Texture of Macadamia Nuts
The macadamia nut has a delicate, sweet and buttery flavor owing to its high fat content. Its nuttiness is significantly subtler when compared to other tree nuts, and serves more as an undertone to its rich, creamy taste.
This buttery flavor is complemented by the nut’s soft texture. Macadamia nuts are more creamy than crisp, feeling almost like chilled white chocolate when chopped.
When roasted, the macadamia nut’s flavor becomes more pronounced and its smooth exterior becomes slightly crunchy.
Why are Macadamia Nuts So Expensive?
Macadamia nuts are among the most expensive nuts in the world, and with good reason. A single macadamia tree can take as much as 10 years to produce enough of the prized nuts for harvesting. The trees are also susceptible to root disease and are easily blown down in storms, which adds to the difficult harvesting process.
Macadamia Nut Uses
Macadamia nuts’ soft texture and mild buttery flavor make them a wonderful addition to practically any baked dessert. One of their most iconic uses is in white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, but you can also incorporate them in muffins, bread, muesli, and cakes. Try our recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia Bars. They also pair beautifully with whipped or creamy dishes such as cheesecake, cream pie, and mousse.
Beyond the dessert menu, macadamia nuts also have a place in your appetizers and entrees. Sprinkle macadamia nuts over salad, add them to a charcuterie board, or grind them and use as a crust for fish and chicken.