Homemade nut butter: Back to basics
Before deciding to come up with some kind of raw Chocolate-Hazelnut Pie as the finale for my week-long sugar-free chocolate challenge, I had never attempted to make homemade nut butter. But I decided that homemade nutella was obviously the only way to move forward with this pie, so I got to work researching how to make homemade nut butter. The basic process of making homemade nut butter is pretty straightforward: blend nuts in a food processor until they become creamy; throw in a pinch of salt if you like. Done. Not rocket science.
But apparently there is an art to the nut prep. The perfect hazelnut butter requires an additional process – skin removal – but it’s totally worth the effort to get more hazelnuts in your life. Not only do they taste delicious, but they are packed with nutrition. Like most members of the nut family, hazelnuts are high in healthy fats and protein, and beyond that, they are high in fiber, folate, manganese, copper, and biotin.
Given that I had no idea where to begin, I used a recipe I found on The Healthy Foodie blog as a guide and tweaked it to make it sugar-free. My nut butter also didn’t come out nearly as creamy and spreadable (which may in part be due to the equipment – my food processor is my best friend in the kitchen but it’s not exactly fancy), so I did adjust the quantities of the ingredients, and of course I added a touch of cinnamon.
The first step in making good hazelnut butter is the blanching process – ya gotta remove the skins. As this was my first time going through any of these steps, I figured I was bound to run into a hurdle or two. Sure enough, the de-skinning took a little longer than anticipated and it took me two different methods to get it to work.
First I tried the roasting method, which didn’t work for me. It was the first method I found, which seemed very straightforward, however the skins stubbornly stuck to the nut. No matter how hard I tried, only part would peel off, and not terribly easy at that. I tried roasting them a couple minutes longer than suggested, to no avail.
But I found another method, which is a bit messier but so much easier: boiling them in baking-soda infused water for a few minutes, then dumping them into an ice bath. The skins slide right off! The water turns a black cherry color and if the pot begins to boil over (but a good cook never lets that happen, right…?) a curious sticky red foam may form, and the darkened skins become somewhat slimy, but overall I do highly recommend this method to uncover those pure, delicious hazelnuts! With the skins successfully removed, I popped them them back in the oven to roast and was back on track.
The right blend
Once the hazelnuts were prepared, the rest of the process was pretty simple – just throw the rest of the ingredients in the food processor and wait until it becomes the consistency of nut butter. I did have to monitor the process and scrape the sides of the processor several times (to be fair, like I said I don’t have the best food processor so better models may need a little less assistance), but making nut butter isn’t really too tricky! It just requires some patience.
My patience was rewarded: I wound up with a full jar of homemade nutella! All natural, sugar-free, paleo, delicious chocolate hazelnut butter. Slightly less creamy, yet just as delicious. And I tasted the nut butter before adding cocoa – equally delicious in its own right. Now that I know the basics of making nut butter, I’m pumped to try all sorts of variations!
Chocolate Hazelnut Butter: Sugar-Free Recipe
What you need:
- 1 1/4 cups hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4-1/2 cup coconut oil + 1tbsp
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup ghee
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup wholesome organic stevia powder or 1 tsp extract
- 1 tsp pure vanilla
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp baking soda (for the blanching process)
- *optional: coconut milk
How to make Chocolate Hazelnut Butter:
- Blanch the hazelnuts to remove the skins. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water + baking soda to a boil. When at a full boil, add the hazelnuts and boil for 3 minutes. While boiling, prepare a large bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, test one nut by plunging in the ice water: if the skin easily peels off drain the rest of the nuts and place in ice water bath. If not, boil another minute or two and re-test. Remove the skins and place de-skinned hazelnuts on a towel to soak up additional moisture.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Thoroughly dry the hazelnuts, place them on a roasting pan, and roast 10-15 minutes (do not allow them to burn).
- On the stovetop, melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add the toasted hazelnuts and raw almonds, and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Coat the nuts and place back onto baking sheet to cool.
- Place nuts, ghee, 1/4 cup coconut oil, stevia powder, vanilla, and sea salt into the food processor until creamy (about 8-10 minutes).
- Add cocoa powder and vanilla and blend until completely incorporated. If your nut butter is too thick, add more coconut oil, one tablespoon at a time. *I also wound up adding a couple tablespoons of coconut milk, one at a time, to thin my butter. Again, these additions may not be necessary depending on the power of your food processor.
- Store in an airtight glass jar. It will keep in the pantry for several weeks and a few months in the refrigerator.