Consider yourself lucky that I haven’t yet alerted you to my severe obsession with peanut butter. The time will come and when it does, brace yourself or tune out. A year ago, with the advice of a naturopath in mind, I started to cut back on the stuff. Going cold turkey was simply too daunting yet soon enough I became transfixed with other, healthier nut butters. And oh boy, there’s a whole world of them out there. Rich, creamy and dreamily nutty. An obvious statement, but I felt it was necessary. Sorry. It’s heaven on a stick. Or more specifically, on toast or crispbread or sliced apple or banana or swirled through natural yoghurt or straight out of the jar…we could be here for a while. Freshly made nut butter? That takes things to a whole new level. And guess what? Today’s your lucky day. We’re going to be doing just that. One glorious jar of almond butter coming up.
If you’ve never strayed away from the ‘standard’s’ – peanut butter or nutella – it’s unlikely that you’re aware of the price tag that other nut butters carry. It’s quite the horror and most certainly enough to send you fleeing back to their less virtuous cousins. Nuts in themselves are quite expensive and the ‘standards’ are only cheap because a) peanuts aren’t a nut and b) nutella barely contains traces of hazelnuts. On top of that you’re paying for the processing, packaging and transportation of the nut butter. Make your own and you remove the expenses associated with the latter three. Furthermore, not only do you know exactly what’s going into it, but you can make as small or large a batch as you like. Arm yourself with a sturdy food processor (mine is a 550W Kenwood), a bag of unsalted nuts (today’s pick is almonds), a plastic scraper/spatula and a set of earplugs. Things are going to get noisy. Oh and you’ll be wanting a purty jar to store your creation in too. Showing off your fine work is very necessary.
Roasting the almonds might seem like a drag when you want nut butter right.now. However, it actually speeds up the whole process and makes it significantly quieter too. The heat persuades the almonds to release their oils – thus less blitzing is needed – and also produces a richer, fuller flavour.
Blasting them with heat isn’t your only tool in the ‘speedy department’. Coconut oil is going to be your secret weapon of choice for today. It’s not vital, but also helps to coax the oils out of the almonds, cutting down on the noisy processing period.
Once the you’ve tipped the nuts into your processor, blitz away. Keep that scraper handy and dutifully attend to the sides of the bowl regularly to ensure an even consistency. In no time at all you’ll have smooth, creamy almond butter. It really is impossible to go wrong. You have to see it to believe it!
Makes 1 cup. Can easily be doubled/tripled etc.
2 cups raw almonds
½ tsp coconut oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 170C. Spread the almonds out evenly over a large baking tray. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until the almonds take on a glistening dark-brown appearance with an intense nutty aroma. Set the baking tray on a wire rack and allow to cool slightly for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, set up your food processor, fitted with an ‘s’ blade, and have a plastic scraper/spatula and your coconut oil at the ready.
Tip the almonds into the food processor. Blitz for 1 minute or until it produces almond meal. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Regularly scraping down the sides will help prevent your blade spinning without actually touching any of the almonds and will also ensure that everything reaches the desired consistency at the same time.
Repeat the process twice more, scraping down after each minute of blitzing. Don’t worry if steam forms in the food processor – it’s simply due to the hot almonds. Around the three minute mark (though this will depend on the strength of your food processor) magic should start to happen. The almond meal will start to clump together as the oils are released from the nuts, and it will look like rough, dry clay. Blitz for another minute. By now you should see almond butter beginning to form at the very bottom edges of the food processor bowl. Most of the clay like substance will still be spinning around the bowl, yet there will be a thin strip of almond butter remaining ‘stationary’ at the bottom.
Add your ½ tsp of coconut oil to encourage the almonds to release their oils a little quicker and blitz for another minute or two. Remember to scrape down the sides regularly! If you want to add another ½ tsp of coconut oil to speed up the process more, you can do so now.
By now you will have been processing the almonds for around 5 minutes. At this point your almond butter will be close to reaching a smooth, runny consistency. Dip your spatula into the butter and hold it up over the processor bowl. If the butter runs off in a slow steady stream (it will firm up as it cools down) then it’s ready! If it still appears grainy or is quite thick, pulse in 30 second bursts until it reaches the desired consistency.
Pour/scrape the almond butter into a sterilised jar with a tight fitting lid or airtight plastic container.
Store in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator. Stir the contents of the jar before serving as the oils may rise to the top.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.