Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cashew Nut Butter

This is a recipe worth revisiting. About two-and-a-half years ago, I discovered that I can make peanut butter at home with just the press of a button. Yes, literally. Chuck some peanuts (unsalted and roasted) in a blender with a tiny pinch of salt (a little sugar too, if you wish) and blend ... blend for about five minutes until the nuts magically turn to paste. That's all it takes. Really.

Since my first foray into making peanut butter, I've been making nut butters regularly, experimenting with all sorts of nuts (almonds, cashew, macadamia and pecans), sometimes even mixing them up.

See, that's what I like about making my own nut butter. Truth be told, I don't mind the taste of store-bought peanut butter. The chunky kind, of course - it just has so much more character. But I'd much rather eat a cashew or almond nut butter simply because I like the taste of cashew nuts and almonds better. These aren't as readily available but because they are so easy to make, this isn't a problem at all.

Though they're great on bread on just slices of apples or crackers, I admit that I eat most of my nut butters just off the spoon. Not a lot at one go (maybe two teaspoons or so) but it's the best way to go, i am telling you. I've also used them in recipes: cakes, cookies and even in sauces that go over roasted vegetables.

Cashew Nut Butter
500g raw, unsalted cashews
pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180C. Roast cashew nuts for about 15 mins, tossing them halfway, until lightly brown. Leave the nuts to cool.

Step 2: Transfer the nuts into a food processor/blender and add the salt and, if you wish, the sugar. Blend. After about 20 seconds, the nuts should be ground to almost fine powder with some chunky bits still. Now, if you like your nut butter chunky, this is when you should remove 2 tbsp of the chunky bits and set them aside.

Step 3: Resume blending. After about a minute, the nuts should turn from fine powder to a slightly sticky mix that will begin to clump up. Stop and scrap the bits that have stuck to the sides.

Step 4: Resume blending for a minute or so as the clumps start to become creamy and smooth. Stop to scrap the sides to make sure every bit is nice and creamy. Taste and add more salt or sugar as desired. (Note: Almond butters tend to be a little thicker and I sometimes add a few drops of coconut oil to loosen the past. You can use walnut/seed oils too).

Step 5: Switch off the processor and remove the blade. Add the chunky bits of nut that were set aside and mix. Transfer the creamy butter into a mason/air tight jar.

And that's all it is!

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