I'm kind of obsessed with nut butters right now.
It's silly, I suppose, since the only people in my family that enjoy them are the ones that shouldn't be eating them due to their addictive nature and higher carb count…but it's so much FUN.
Playing with different tastes, different flavor combinations, it's exciting.
Yes, I know.
I need to get out more.
I happened to have some raw almonds and raw hazelnuts on hand and a food processor sitting empty, so I decided to fiddle around and see what I came up with.
Hazelnuts are always better toasted, in my humble opinion, so I tossed them in my cast-iron skillet over medium heat, giving them a stir every couple of minutes, until I could smell them.
By the way, if you don't already know, toasted hazelnuts smell pretty awesome.
I didn't bother rolling them around in a towel to get the husks off..I just tossed it all in the food processor together and whirred away. If you prefer removing the husks, just toss the warm hazelnuts in a clean towel and cover them, let them sit and steam for a moment. Then you can just lay the towel and nuts on the counter, lay your hand on top of the towel, and roll them around. The friction helps peel off the dried husks.
Almonds generally take about 15 minutes in the food processor- with occasional stops to scrape all the stuff down off the sides.
Do not… I repeat, do NOT add any honey or sweeteners (or even oils) to the butter while it's in the food processor..this can cause it to seize up and then you end up with a mess. Salt is okay, though, and some say that it helps to release the oils in the nuts, thereby breaking them down faster, so I usually use a couple dashes of kosher salt when I start processing them.
Once my butter was fairly smooth consistency, I put it into a bowl and started fiddling.
The hazelnuts have that great earthy flavor, so I add some cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger, along with some orange and lemon zest.
Usually I use coconut oil, but I thought I'd try some browned butter.
Browned butter is REALLY easy….you stick your butter in a microwave-safe container and nuke, 30 seconds at a time, until the milk solids in the butter have darkened. Just be sure and watch it closely, and when it turns dark, it's done!
I mixed in the browned butter and some molasses and honey to taste, a little more kosher salt..and TaDa!
This is some pretty awesome stuff. It's not quite as creamy as when I use the coconut oil, but the taste is AWESOME. Sorta spicy, sorta salty sweet. All Thanksgiving hominess and gingerbready-comforting.
Yes, I make up my own descriptors.
I'm Faulkner-ific that way.
Almond Hazelnut Gingerbread Butter
2 c raw almonds
2 c raw hazelnuts
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
3Tbs browned butter (heat in microwave 30 seconds at a time)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp lemon zest
Pinch of ground cloves
Toast nuts (hazelnuts or hazelnuts AND almonds) in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the hazelnuts release their toastedly awesome scent.
Process in food processor with kosher salt until almonds have broken down and become smooth, about 15 minutes. You will need to stop to scrape down the bowl every few minutes.
Remove butter to a mixing bowl and add molasses, honey, browned butter, vanilla and almond extracts, orange and lemon zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, all to taste.
Butter will keep on the counter in a glass jar or container with a resealable lid for a couple weeks or in the fridge for up to 2 months.