Tag Archives: nut butter

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterI reorganized my kitchen last week. I should have done it months ago–my beloved mix-in cabinet was basically overflowing and the tiny bins I had for dried fruit, nuts, sugars, and chocolate just weren’t cutting it anymore. It had gotten to the point where I knew I had some of everything, but none of it was easy to access. After spending a cool $20 at Target, I’m happy to say that everything is organized and back in working order.

I knew I had pounds of dark chocolate and that I am set on light brown sugar for at least a month, but I didn’t expect to find two full pounds of pecans. It makes sense, being from Texas and all, but still. I live in a place where people generally prefer walnuts; I’d expect to have far more of those than anything else. So, what does one do when they have a glut of pecans? Well, first, make Carrot Cake Blondies. And then blitz the rest into this Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter.

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterI love making nut butters. They come together in a matter of minutes and are far more delicious than their storebought counterparts…although I don’t think I’ve ever seen pecan butter for sale at a grocery store. Not in walnut country, anyway. This brings me to my next point: when you make nut butter at home, the possibilities are endless. Beyond peanut and almond butters, there’s homemade Nutella, pistachio butter, coconut-cashew butter. Heck, you can even make the best flavor combination in the world into a nut butter. <– seriously, make that.Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterMy Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter starts with roasting 12 ounces of pecans (about 3 cups of halves). Transfer the pecans to the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth. Resist the urge to eat it as-is (although you totally should). Add a tablespoon of maple syrup, a splash of vanilla, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and process again. The pecan butter will tighten up a bit and become nice and spreadable.

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterOh, this stuff is good. It has a really pronounced roasted pecan flavor and the maple makes it slightly sweet. The vanilla and spices round out the flavor and make this nut butter pretty irresistible! Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter is great on toast, and would make a killer sandwich with a little raspberry jam. My favorite way though, is with a sprinkling of finely chopped dark chocolate.

Yep, chocolate for breakfast. Because I’m an adult.Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterMaple-Roasted Pecan Butter
makes about 1 1/2 cups

3 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread pecan halves in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle them.

Add pecans to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and process until combined. Store in an airtight container.

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter will keep at room temperature for up to a week, or indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter

Oreo Peanut Butter

Is there possibly a better combination than Oreos and peanut butter? I had never heard of eating them together until I saw the Lindsay Lohan version of The Parent Trap. When one of her characters used Oreos to scoop peanut butter out of the jar, it blew. my. mind.

It makes sense. I mean, chocolate and peanut butter are BFFs. Exhibit A: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But pairing not-too-sweet Oreo wafers, creamy filling, and the magic that is peanut butter? Does it get better than that?!

Well, yes. Yes it does. How about Oreos *in* peanut butter?!

!!!

 My Oreo Peanut Butter could not be easier to whip up. All you need are three ingredients: roasted salted peanuts, Double Stuf Oreos, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Put all three in a food processor or high-powered blender, and blitz until smooth. That’s it! The combination of freshly-ground peanut butter and pulverized Oreos is to die for, and the coconut oil keeps everything smooth and spreadable.
The only drawback is that it’s not the most gorgeous color, but when there is peanut butter-Oreo magic going on, who cares?

Oreo Peanut Butter is fantastic on toast, spread on bananas, in milkshakes, or just on a spoon. My favorite thing to do with it is make Fluffernutter sandwiches. Who wouldn’t love Oreos, peanut butter, and Marshmallow Fluff?!

Bottom line: make this Oreo Peanut Butter. It doesn’t get any better.

Oreo Peanut Butter
makes about two cups

1 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts
24 Double Stuf Oreos
1 tablespoon coconut oil, solid

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks, or indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Oreo Peanut Butter

Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}

 Do you ever get sudden cravings for treats from your childhood? Once or twice a year, I’ll get a craving for Fruit Roll-Ups or Gushers or Dunkaroos (may they rest in peace) that I just can’t shake. I spend days agonizing over these junk foods I haven’t had since my mom was packing my school lunches, and then once I finally give in and eat a fruit snack or a tiny tub of frosting, it’s never as good as I want it to be. And the worst part is that I’ve wasted perfectly good calories on processed food, when they could have gone to something waaaaay better, like Cocoa Brownies or Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter.

Last week, I got a craving for Almond Joys seemingly out of nowhere. I spent far too many waking hours thinking about little pillows of coconut topped with whole almonds, all covered in dark chocolate. Never mind that I hadn’t had one since my grandmother passed in 2001. On Thursday, I walked into the deli on our block prepared to give in and buy what was sure to be a disappointing candy bar. The Almond Joy of my daydreams was sure to be full of sticky, mealy coconut, slightly-soft almonds, and cheap chocolate in reality. Just as I was preparing to fork over four quarters and what’s left of my dignity, I saw a jar of almond butter behind the counter. And because I have a perpetual case of baker’s brain, my mind immediately went into overdrive. I thought about the classic three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe, but made with almond butter. Dotted with coconut and covered in chocolate, they’d be like a grown-up Almond Joy in cookie form. And high in protein and grain-free, so I would feel less guilty about eating three in a row. I got to work, and let me tell you, these cookies are way better than any store-bought candy bar could ever hope to be. 

Almond Joy Cookies bear a lot of similarities to the Easy Nutella Cookies I posted earlier this month. They are both made primarily of nut butter, eggs, and sugar, and are totally grain-free (and therefore gluten-free). This recipe is super simple, but does require some precision in the mixing. As in every cookie recipe, each ingredient has a job. When the recipe has no grains, like this one, those ingredients have to be backed by some serious technique, or the results will send you running for that disappointing candy bar! Here are a few tips to make these cookies as awesome as possible.

Beat the bejeezus out of the egg. I mean, get your electric mixer out, crank it to high, and beat the egg for at least two minutes. The egg will serve to give our cookies structure. If the egg is simply scrambled, we’ll have flat cookies. So beat the egg until it is really, really, REALLY frothy and much lighter in color. This way, our cookies will be nice and puffy. Also, make sure your egg is room temperature, so it takes in air easily.

Use brown sugar, but not too much. Sugar may come in a dry bag, but it’s actually a liquid ingredient. It’s mixed into dough as crystals, but it starts melting on contact with fat and eggs, and fully caramelizes in the oven (which is why most cookies are golden brown). If there is too much sugar in a recipe, the cookies will spread like crazy because of the molten excess liquid. This recipe only calls for 2/3 cup light brown sugar, so our cookies will only spread a little. Don’t worry, they’ll still be sweet! Also, brown sugar keeps things extra moist thanks to the molasses. This will make our final results nice and chewy 😊 

Don’t use almond butter that separates. There are a million brands of almond butter on the shelves these days. You may have noticed that some of them have a layer of separated oil on top. Do not use any of those in these cookies, unless you are ready for a mess! I recommend creamy-style (like Trader Joe’s) or no-stir almond butter (like MaraNathra). Still give whatever you use a good stir, just to distribute all the fat evenly. The almond butter is the other half of the structural dream team. Along with the beaten egg, the almond butter will serve to keep these cookies from becoming flat, oily puddles of sadness. It also provides the flavor base, along with a touch of almond extract, some vanilla, and coconut. Your dough may still feel a little oily while you are rolling it. Don’t worry–just let the excess oil drain off a bit. Your finished cookies will not be greasy.

Baking powder is non-negotiable! Some of the three-ingredient peanut butter cookies out there don’t call for leavening. Peanut butter is pretty thick though, so they still get big and puffy. Almond butter, on the other hand, is thin, so we need a bit of baking powder to keep these cookies rising up instead of spreading out!

Whew!  

   
 
Once all your cookies are baked, melt some chocolate chips and coconut oil, and drizzle it over the cookies with a squeeze bottle or a fork. I like to drizzle twice because, hello, chocolate! I made these in two different sizes for no other reason than I felt like it 😊 I have included instructions for smaller cookies in the notes below. Now, go forth and resist the candy bar! Instead, make cookies that will live up to your childhood memories! 
 Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}
makes 21 medium cookies*

1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup creamy-style almond butter, measured in a dry measuring cup*
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Lay a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, use and electric mixer to beat the egg until very frothy and lighter in color, about two minutes. Add the light brown sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts, and beat for one minute. Add the almond butter, salt, and and baking powder, and mix until completely combined. Fold in coconut.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon* and roll into balls. The dough may feel oily. Set dough balls at least 1.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the cookies have puffed up a bit and no longer look shiny. If the cookies are too domed, tap the tops with the back of a spoon. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to the prepared rack.

While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a double-boiler or the microwave. Use a small squeeze bottle or a fork to drizzle cooled cookies with chocolate. Chocolate will set after several hours at room temperature, or within thirty minutes in the refrigerator.

Cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1. Alternatively, this recipe makes about five dozen very small cookies.
2. I used MaraNathra No-Stir Almond Butter. Do not use almond butter that separates.
3. If making very small cookies, scoop dough by the teaspoon. Bake for 7-8 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter

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.

…anyway…

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.

Notes:
1. I prefer Dutch process cocoa here, but any cocoa powder will do.
2. Honey or agave may be substituted.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Butter