Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Honey Cocoa Almond Butter for SRC

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club Challenge, I was assigned the blog Delicious Existence written by Danielle. Danielle’s focus is on real foods, and features recipes that are raw, vegan, and vegetarian. I predominantly focus my own diet on real foods – lots of fruits and veggies and grains and lean proteins, but when it comes to baking I am all about the animal products, and don’t skimp on the fat and sugar. Admittedly I was pretty nervous about finding something to make this month, but I ended up finding a great raw recipe that I was excited to try, Homemade Rawtella.

Since I don’t keep products like vegan cream cheese and egg replacer on hand, this seemed like a great recipe for me to choose because I had all of the necessary ingredients already in my pantry. I love nut butters and eat a lot of oatmeal which I often flavor with peanut butter, so this seemed like a healthful and delicious option. Despite my love for Nutella, I’m not a huge fan of hazelnuts so I didn’t have any in my kitchen, but I did have a lot of almonds to use up, so I switched up the recipe and made almond butter instead. I’ve never made my own nut butter before, and I’d heard it’s a simple process so I was excited to give it a try. Unfortunately, this was one of the biggest kitchen fails I’ve had in a long time. With nut butter. Go figure.

I hate wasting ingredients, and I hate when things don’t turn out well, but I did learn a very valuable lesson when I made this tried to make this recipe: always follow the directions. I attempted this recipe twice, and it was a flop twice, but at the very least I’m fairly sure where I went wrong.

The first time, I neglected to read through the recipe entirely so I mixed together the dry ingredients (cocoa powder and ground flax) with the almonds, which didn’t work when I put everything into the food processor. The almonds ground up fine but there were too many dry ingredients to allow a paste to form. I also didn’t really believe it could take a whole 8-12 minutes or active time in the food processor to actually achieve a smooth consistency, so after about 5 minutes in the food processor and little change, I stopped trying. When I thought I’d failed, I added a bit of honey and coconut oil as one last attempt at fixing it, and ended up with a sticky, chunky and dry paste (the lighter one in the photo below).

My second time around, I went to the store and bought new almonds. I blended them in the food processor until they turned into a beautiful, creamy almond butter. Things were looking good! My spirits were lifted so I forged ahead and didn’t remember the lessons I learned in my first attempt. My goal was to try to get as close to the original recipe as possible, so I went ahead and added some cocoa powder, and my creamy paste clumped up immediately. So I added some honey, and a teaspoon of coconut oil. And then I had more sticky, chunky paste. Great. I added some chocolate chips like I’d seen done in another recipe, hoping that they might be able to rectify the damage I’d done, but no such luck. I tried blending the mixture in the processor for another 5 minutes before throwing in the towel completely.

What I learned is, there are rules for a reason, patience is important, and you should always use common sense. Adding honey to the nut butter while still in the processor made it sticky and clumpy, so there was no way I’d have ever achieved that smooth, silky consistency no matter how long I left it in the processor. At one point I was questioning whether my processor was the issue because it’s very old. I might need to look online to find the Best Food Processor to replace it with… Also, I think I was trying to do too much with something so simple, so in the future, I’ll give plain old nut butter a go, and then if I can master that perhaps start to add flavorings. Even though today’s effort wasn’t particularly successful, the flavor is still decent, so I know there’s potential. And in the end, I’m oddly grateful for getting assigned Danielle’s blog this month because it reminded me that there are always things to learn in the kitchen, even simple things you think you can master on the first try. I love knowing I’ll never stop learning.

And since I made such a mess of my own “recipe,” here’s the original if you’d like to give it a try!

Homemade Rawtella

1 bag raw hazel nuts, soaked, skinned & dehydrated
2 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs coconut milk
2 Tbs cacao powder, or to taste
Coconut Nectar, to taste

Soak raw hazelnuts in water for 8 hours. Remove skins, then dehydrate for 11 hours. Place nuts in a food processor and process for 8 – 12 minutes, adding the oil to assist in the process. The remainder of the ingredients should be mixed in at the end (with the sweetner being mixed by hand.

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