I don't know if you have strolled down the nut butter section at your grocery store lately, but the options for nut butters are exploding past just peanut butter or almond butter. Cashew butter, blended nut butters, and nut butters with a variety of added spices have arrived to shake up toast, sandwiches and anything else we dare to spare a little spread.
With fresh bread, croissants and English muffins on my bakery-testing schedule, we have been eating a lot of nut butter. I use it to bake with, but it's great for a quick snack on crackers or added to a smoothie.
Nut butters can be expensive. I almost fell over when I saw that almond butter had jumped up to $17 a jar a month ago. I get it, nuts are expensive. However, I can make it at home myself, make it to my specific taste, and usually save a little money in the process.
My favorite is pistachio-cardamom butter, while my husband prefers cashew-cinnamon-nutmeg. Try out you own combinations using the basic recipe below to create your own crazy concoctions.
Basic Nut Butter Recipe
This is a basic recipe, ready for you to add your special touches. It creates about a pint mason jar of nut butter. It's a small batch, and yet big enough to use my food processor. A jar lasts us on average 2 weeks.
I use coconut oil, however, it does add a layer of flavor to the nut butter. Many natural nut butters add palm oil, as it doesn't add a distinct flavor. Use what you like.
Please remember to taste as you go along. I adjust flavors each time I make nut butter.
Ingredients: 2 ¼ cups nuts, raw and unsalted Oil (Coconut, Palm, Etc) Honey Salt Spices
Procedures: Place nuts on a sheet pan, and roast in the oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes, rotating the sheet pan in the oven after 5 minutes.
Add warm nuts to food processor and run until nuts become mealy. Stop machine, scrape down the sides and bottom of the processor, and sprinkle in a couple pinches of salt and spices. Continue to run food processor. Don't forget to taste your concoction!
As the nut meal starts to clump together and stick to the bottom of the food processor, stop the processor, scrape down the sides. Add a drizzle of honey (I usually add about 1 ½ TBSP - 2 TBSP of honey to a batch, but flavor to your taste) and start to add the oil of your choice, 1 TBSP at a time. Run the processor again. Stop, scrape and add more oil. Repeat this, until you get to the consistency that you want in your nut butter. Continue to taste as you go, till you find a flavor and texture you like.
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Store in an airtight container, in a pantry or fairly cool, dark place in your home.
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.