Well, we survived the blizzard. With the exception of a two hour excursion to the fancy grocery store for provisions (read: lots of cheese and some kimchi), Henry and I stayed home all day Saturday while New York City was brought to a standstill by Jonas. We watched PBS (because we’re big nerds) and made a pot of sausage and white bean soup before the real cabin fever set in. But that was solved by taking a slippery walk down to Smith Street and making some snow angels. Really, there was nothing to complain about: we had a warm apartment, plenty of food, Netflix, and good company. But now, the snow is a problem. It’s everywhere, gray and slushy. I literally had to hike to the coffee shop across the street yesterday morning. Gross. But, then I came home, turned on BBC World Service (again, big nerd), ate some toast with bananas and this Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter, and briefly, blissfully forgot about the mayhem outside…until I left for Target and fell in a gray snowbank. So much for peace.
This Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter is so good. Chocolaty and lightly sweetened, with the deep caramel flavor that only toasted pecans can provide. It’s made with everyday ingredients like pecan halves (duh), cocoa powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Nothing weird. No palm oil, no copious amounts of refined sugar. No refined sugar at all, actually! There’s no dairy here either, so this nut butter is vegan!
Making homemade nut butters couldn’t be simpler. You will need a food processor or high-powered blender, but that is the only special equipment. If you don’t have one, I recommend this Hamilton Beach food processor. I’ve had mine for five years and it hasn’t failed me yet.
But back to the Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter. It starts with toasting pecan halves. Just spread them on a dry cookie sheet and bake at 400F for 5-7 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready the second you start to smell them. If you don’t trust your nose, start checking them every thirty seconds or so from the five minute mark until you deem them done. Whatever you do, don’t leave the room. The pecans can burn in a split second, and burnt pecan butter is decidedly not delicious.
Once the pecans are toasty, put them in your food processor with a touch of salt and some cocoa powder. I prefer to use Dutch process cocoa here because I think its flavor is richer than natural. Dutch process cocoa is a little less widely available than natural, but it’s really not hard to find at all. In NYC, it’s available at Whole Foods, Sahadi’s, Union Market, and many specialty stores. N.Y. Cake Supply sells Valrhona cocoa at wholesale prices, but if Valrhona is a little too pricey for your liking, Droste is another brand I love. If you just want to stick with classic Hershey’s, do it. It will be delicious! Don’t let something as silly as some fancy cocoa stop you from making this Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter.
Process the pecans, cocoa powder, and salt until a nut butter forms. Then, add a bit of coconut oil, a few tablespoons of maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla, before blitzing for an additional 3-5 minutes. You might be thinking that the coconut oil seems unnecessary with all the oils in the pecans. And you’d be right, except that the cocoa powder dries everything out. The two teaspoons of coconut oil keep everything loose and spreadable. As far as sweetening goes, it’s up to you. I don’t like this butter to be very sweet. I use three tablespoons of maple syrup, but just add it to your preferred sweetness. Keep in mind that the maple will cause the butter to seize when you add it, but after a minute or two, everything will loosen back up. When the Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter is to your preferred consistency, transfer it to an airtight container for storage. The oils will separate a bit as it sits, so just give it a quick stir before use.
Now, how to serve this… Well, there’s always eating it by the spoonful. Or on oatmeal. Or stirred into yogurt. All of those would be great! But my favorite is on toasted country bread with bananas. Try it. Trust me.
Want more chocolate and pecans? Check out my Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies!
Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter
makes about two cups
3 cups pecan halve
3 tablespoons cocoa powder*
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup*
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400F. Spread pecan halves on a baking sheet (not greased). Roast for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool five minutes before transferring to a food processor or high-powered blender.
Add cocoa powder and salt to pecans and process until a nut butter forms, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Process for an additional 3-5 minutes. Butter will seize initially before becoming smooth again. Once it’s smooth, transfer the butter to an airtight container.
Store Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter at room temperature for up to a week, or indefinitely in the refrigerator. Butter will harden in the refrigerator, so bring it to room temperature before spreading. Stir before using.
1. I prefer Dutch process cocoa here, but any cocoa powder will do.
2. Honey or agave may be substituted.