We bake and blog (and eat). Though baking takes up a lot more of our life than blogging.
May 16, 2013 / By Matt
My first nut butter love will always be peanut butter. I will forever and always be happy to spend entire Sunday afternoons with a few fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and Arrested Development. Peanut butter figures prominently in our latest cookbook, and our Peanut Butter Crispy Bars still sit atop my list of life’s favorite things. I have put peanut butter on things that shouldn’t have peanut butter on them and I still sometimes squirrel away a jar in my suitcase for long road trip. Peanut butter is my best-friend. Almond butter is my mistress.
It wasn’t always so. Almond butter used to annoy me. It was the annoying self-important hippy neighbor. It was the nut butter of last resort. I didn’t become a true fan – an out and out almond butter cheerleader – until I happened upon a jar of silky smooth salty almond butter joy at a farmer’s market upstate. The butter retained some texture, but it was spreadable and didn’t require a daily regiment (i.e. annoyance) of stirring a messy oil back into a cement-like substance. (By the by, I am generally okay with a little oil separation, but most of the jarred almond butters I experienced were lakes of oil floating on top of an impenetrable paste that would rarely come back to some spreadable state). Slowly, a habit took hold: morning coffee, almond buttered toast, side of greek yogurt (or chocolate chip muffin or cake…or um…ice cream). When I used up the last dollop of farmer’s market almond butter, I went in search of other brands and started making my own.
If you want to buy a great almond butter, I recommend Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Almond. It’s the perfect hybrid of my two favorite nuts, and it tastes like sunshine and picnics. The smaller jars are perfect for air travel.
If you are up for making your own – if you have that DIY bug – you should do it today. It is easy. And, of course, delicious. It requires almost no effort (except cleaning the food processor bowl) and you can alter the salt and sweetness (via a touch of honey) to your liking. Oh, and it spreads like a dream. Follow along:
Easy Homemade Almond Butter
You will need:
Place the almonds in the bowl of a regular sized food processor.
Process until fine crumbs form, about a minute or two.
Add salt, and continue processing.
The nuts will start to form a chunky paste, maybe after about 3-4 minutes, and the paste might pull away from the bowl in one big mass. Don’t worry, keep processing.
The chunky paste will turn to a smoother butter with chunky parts. In theory, you can stop here – if you are going for a chunky-ish butter, but I keep on keeping on for at least another minute or two.
Eventually, you will get a lovely, smooth, almost liquid-type butter. It is the stuff of dreams. Add your honey here and process until combined.
Spoon into a jar, let it cool (the butter will retain some heat from the processing), then cap and refrigerate. In theory, your almond butter should keep for about 2 weeks, though many sources tell me they have had no problems at week 3 and 4. I recommend processing in small batches for freshness.
Note on homemade almond butter:
I have read that soaking almonds in water speeds up the processing time. I have never done this, as the processing time does not seem especially lengthy to begin with. Depending on the brand and type of food processor you use, your butter should be ready in under 15 minutes. Perhaps under 10.
I have also read that many people have to scrape down the processing bowl periodically. I have never had to do this. I just let the blade and the bowl do all of the work. Eventually (again, at least in my machine), the mass will grab everything in the bowl, and it will naturally come back together. Science folks, would this be reactive centrifugal force? (I got a C in college physics, so maybe I shouldn’t make guesses).
As mentioned, I prefer the flavor of toasted almonds. I purchase raw almonds, toast them in the oven until fragrant, then cool them to room temperature to process (yes, you can process while they are still warm, but I cool mine for handling purposes).