Thursday, February 10, 2011

DIY Gourmet Nut Butters

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My sons are ambivalent about peanut butter -- unless it's Peanut Butter & Co.'s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. It's mighty fine peanut butter, but I couldn't think of a reason why I should pay so much for PB&C to mix it up for us. One thing led to another, and before you know it we were mixing up three custom gourmet peanut butter blends -- from scratch.

It's spectacularly simple to make, and oh so easy to customize to suit your taste. Basically, throw your favorite nuts into a food processor with a bit of salt and let the machine work for a few minutes. Add oil, if you wish. Then start playing with flavor. The list of add-ins is limited only by your imagination. Some options: honey, brown sugar, nutmeg, chile, ginger, maple syrup, vanilla bean, coconut -- and the chocolate, curry, and cinnamon varieties below.

We set out carrots, crackers, apple slices, and flatbread wedges for sampling the flavors. The chocolate version was the biggest hit with the kids, while the grownups savored curry on apple slices. And cinnamon raisin has been the spread of choice on several sandwiches since.

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Nut Butter

Use these measurements as a rough guideline -- be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as you blend your butter. I use roasted, unsalted peanuts. You can use the same technique with other types of nuts.

2 cups shelled, unsalted peanuts or other nuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, such as peanut or sesame oil (optional)

Toss nuts into the work bowl of a food processor. Blend for a few minutes until smooth, adding salt while the machine is running. Add oil, if desired, drizzling in small amounts until you reach the consistency you like.

Chocolate Peanut Butter: For each cup of peanut better, start with 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Blend well, taste, and adjust flavorings to suit your taste. To my surprise, the kids were thrilled with just the tablespoon of cocoa. I would have preferred more chocolatey flavor, but I didn't want to argue with kids who set reasonable limits.

Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter: For each cup of peanut better, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Blend well, taste, and adjust flavorings to suit your taste. Stir in 1/2 cup raisins.

Curry Peanut Butter: For each cup of peanut better, add 3/4 teaspoon curry and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Blend well, taste, and adjust flavorings to suit your taste.

4 comments:

Cindy Rowland said...

Yum! I can't wait to try the chocolate variety.

Darienne said...

I'd like to know what you think of the amount of chocolate. I was floored that the kids were satisfied with that -- I thought they'd want something much more intense. Congrats on the TV gig, by the way! Almost made me wish I live where it snows ... almost.

lilmiss6902 said...

I wish I would have made nut butters when my kids were little. I love doing it now. I havent bought any in years. I like using hazelnuts and cocoa and making my own Nutella.

Darienne said...

lilmiss, that sounds delicious! I will have to try that -- very soon.

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