[A favorite raw breakfast: chocolate almond spread on apple slices.]
Remember the days when there was only one kind of nut butter–and nobody was allergic to it?
I think I ate peanut butter almost every day until my late 30s. As a kid, I slathered it on saltines alongside chocolate milk during cartoon-drenched Saturday mornings; I ate it in sandwiches for lunch throughout my teen years; once I acquired my own kitchen in which to experiment in my 20s, I packed it into celery hollows for snacks, baked it in cookies, muffins or the occasional Rice Krispie square; later, I ate it straight out of the jar for an immediate PMS pick-me-up, or after a late night when I was too tired to cook.
When I hit my 30s and moved to Toronto, I experienced an almond butter epiphany. For a time, I gave up the previously favored legume. In the past decade, I’ve branched out to hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashew and “mystery” butters (ie, a combination of several different nuts). Nut butter is definitely a staple in the DDD household, and one of my favorite foods.
These days, it seems I’m once again battling the mercurial ups and downs of my scale (ever since baked goods–albeit ACD-friendly–have reappeared on my menus). With summer thoroughly upon us (whoopee! yahoo! yay! Danks Gott! Hallelujah! Bravo! Yeeeeee-haw!) and the desire for raw fruits and vegetables in full force, I thought I’d take advantage and amp up my intake of raw produce, thereby simultaneously reducing my intake of grains and flours as a way to get back on track. This raw almond butter offered a key resource in the battle.
While I do enjoy almond butter made from toasted almonds, it’s never been a favorite base for chocolate nut butter; I’ve always thought that, no matter how much chocolate is added, the toasted almond flavor always predominates. It’s sort of like another musician trying to sing a duet with Celine Dion–whether it’s R. Kelly, Andrea Bocelli or even Barbra Streisand–all you hear is that wacky Chanteuse. On the other hand, whenever I’ve sampled raw almond butter, I found the taste rather insipid and bland (sort of like listening to Michael Bublé).
[Full, rich, totally irresistible chocolate flavor.]
In the end, it was the nondescript flavor that rendered raw almond butter an ideal vehicle for raw cacao in this recipe. When the two are blended together, the cacao really shines, revealing all its complex flavors from fruity notes of strawberry to caramel undertones and its own subtle honeyed sweetness. Yes, my friends, this is chocolate at its finest and in full flavor! I also used vanilla bean powder for the first time and was delighted with how it adds its own luscious fragrance and character to the mix.
Overall, this raw nut butter is easy to make (though it does take a bit of time) and is almost dessert-like in its chocolate intensity (in fact, once refrigerated, it firms up enough that the texture resminded me of fudge). Not so sweet that it requires toning down with something savory, it’s great directly on a spoon or spread on any (alimentary) partner you fancy. Drizzled on apple slices is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a decadent-tasting, still healthy and raw breakfast.
Who knows? I may revert to the classic peanut butter one day. But for now, Saturday mornings were made for Raw Chocolate Almond Butter.
And don’t forget. . .
Giveaways Gone Wild III continues! Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of my friend Amy Green’s new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free! For a review, recipe, and all the details, see this post.
The SOS Kitchen Challege for June (Blueberries) runs for 6 more days! Enter your blueberry-based recipes and join the fun!
Raw Chocolate Almond Butter
suitable for ACD All Stages*
A fantastic spread atop toast, crackers, apple slices or whatever your fancy (raw sweet potato rounds worked really well for me). To make the spread suitable for ACD Stage One, simply sub carob powder for the cacao.
2 cups (340 g) raw natural almonds, with skin
3 Tbsp (45 ml) raw cacao powder (or cocoa, at your own risk–it is more bitter than cacao; or use carob for ACD Stage 1)
pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 ml) whole vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (see instructions)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
70-80 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (I use NuNaturals)–about 1-1/4 tsp (6 ml)
Place the almonds, cacao powder, salt and vanilla bean powder in the bowl of a food processor (if using liquid vanilla extract, don’t add it yet, but save it to add with the stevia instead). Process until the mixture looks like a powder, with no pieces of almond visible.
Add the coconut oil and stevia (and liquid vanilla, if using) and continue to process until a ball forms, which will then roll around for a bit before breaking up into a paste; continue to process for another 3-5 minutes, scraping sides occasionally, until the butter is almost liquid and very smooth. (This may require some patience; if you just can’t wait, you’ll still enjoy a somewhat grainier nut butter.).
Pour into a clean jar or container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will firm up in the fridge; for a softer, pourable nut butter, allow to come to room temperature before using. Makes about 1-1/4 cups (300 ml). Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
*Note: to make the recipe ACD-Stage 1 friendly, simply sub carob powder for the cacao or cocoa. No, it won’t be chocolate any more, but it will still taste yummy.
This post is linked up to Sugar Free Sundays, where you’ll find a collection of recipes without refined sugar.
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