Tag Archives: almond butter

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies

In a continuation of this past Daring Cooks’ challenge, I decided to incorporate my homemade nut butters into several sweet recipes. One such recipe seemed only natural – a nut butter cookie! I saw a post for flourless peanut butter cookies over at Gluten Free Easily a while back, and so I decided to consult that recipe as a guideline. However, I had a good deal of almond butter left over, so I wanted to make almond butter cookies instead.

Of course, I could have simply substituted the almond butter for the peanut butter, and followed the rest of the recipe as is. But what fun is that? Instead, I looked for a more complex flavor. I sought to use a touch of almond extract to really bring out the flavor of the almonds, and I went for an even depper flavor in the sweetener. Instead of brown sugar, I used piloncillo. Piloncillo, also referred to as panela, is a common sweetener in Central and South America and is usually sold in a solid block (mine was shaped like a cone), and is essentially nothing more than cane juice that has been boiled down. (Indian jaggery is similar.) The flavor is somewhat similar to brown sugar, but has lovely notes of vanilla and molasses. Because it is in a solid block, I opted to grate the panela using a cheese grater.

The result? These cookies were soft, slightly chewy, and oh-so-delicious. The kids devoured the first batch I made – always a sign of a good cookie! I made another batch a few days later and gave them to my sister and brother-in-law to enjoy (along with a few meals). You see, they became parents to twin girls on July 6 – and as we all know, cookies are the last thing new parents have time to prepare (but are very much needed – at least, in my opinion!).

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies, adapted from Gluten Free Easily

1 c almond butter

1 c grated piloncillo (can substitute brown sugar or coconut sugar)

1 egg

1 t baking soda

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 t almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together well. Grease or moisten hands slightly and form dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet. (Don’t press these down) Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and cookies look “set”. (they won’t look done.) Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Remove carefully and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

Makes 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Daring Cooks: Nut Butters (Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce)

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was one I really could embrace – making and cooking with nut butters! The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I’ve made a nut butter once or twice before, but before this challenge, I never made much effort to make it a regular part of my routine. After this challenge, I am a changed woman. I was so happy with my nut butters (I made almond butter and peanut butter) that I not only made the required recipe for the challenge, but I also made cookies and even ice cream – both recipes I will share soon. Our daughter Brittany even made a special request for more peanut butter, saying that it was better than any of the store brands. Anytime the kids request homemade food over store-bought, that’s one for the “win” column!

I started with almond butter so that I could make one of the required recipes for the challenge – Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce. Instead of simply roasting almonds for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven (as was suggested), I instead soaked the almonds overnight in a brine and then roasted in a 175 degree oven for nearly 24 hours. (This is the method used in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for crispy nuts. The soaking is supposed to make the nuts easier to digest. I found that this roasting method made some of the most flavorful nuts I’ve ever had.) 

To make nut butter, regardless of the type of nut, the process is essentially the same. First, pour the nuts into a bowl of a food processor. Grind the nuts until they form a paste or a butter. At first it will turn powdery or grainy. Keep processing, and it will eventually form a ball and start to “clump” to one side of the bowl. Then, as you continue processing, the nuts will finally start to release oils, and it will begin to really look like nut butter. (The total time required depends on the fat content of the nut you’re using. You have to be patient – stopping early will only result in grainy, not-quite-nut-butter.) If you’re using a “drier” nut, once it begins to turn into nut butter, you can thin it with a bit of neutral oil or an oil from the same type of nut (for example, peanut oil for peanut butter, almond oil for almond butter, etc. ). I used a bit of pecan oil in my nut butter, since I had it on hand. Use some restraint in adding oil though – you don’t want to end up with too much oil! Add a tiny bit at a time. Once this has been incorporated, then you can salt, if desired, and/or sweeten as desired, using a bit of sugar, honey, or agave nectar (what I used).

That’s it – you have nut butter! Of course, this would probably store best in the refrigerator and will likely need stirring before use. If you’re going to use it immediately for a recipe, then of course – get right to it!

This chicken recipe was delicious – something my husband and I both loved (and went back for seconds!). I followed the recipe pretty closely, only substituting olive oil for the butter, and using homemade cashew milk (I found a great recipe at Elana’s Pantry) instead of the milk. The sauce was so creamy, comforting, and satisfying. This will definitely be a repeat dish for us. I also loved that it was something I could make on a weeknight.

I’m so thankful for this challenge – I learned that it’s not hard at all to make nut butters. No more store-bought nut butters for us!

Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce, adapted from Food Network

Recipe notes: Substitute the protein of your choice for the chicken. This is a smooth sauce, so the onion is removed before serving. If you prefer, dice the onion and leave it in the sauce or substitute a bit of onion powder.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
4 (6 oz / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
Salt to taste

Spice Blend:
1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) garam masala seasoning
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper

Sauce:
4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter (I used olive oil)
1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can tomato sauce
⅓ cup (80 ml) almond butter
⅓ cup (80 ml) milk (I used cashew milk)
½ to ¾ cup (120 to 180 ml) chicken broth or water, more as needed
1 cup (240 ml) frozen peas (optional)

Hot basmati rice for serving (I served with short-grain brown rice)
Chopped parsley (optional garnish)
Sliced almonds (optional garnish)

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken. If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside on clean plate and keep warm.
  2. Prepare spice blend. Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter (or add the oil) in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond butter and milk (or cashew milk) until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. The almond butter is thick so it takes a while to make a smooth sauce. Return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer. Add more broth (or water) as needed to thin sauce as desired.
  4. Remove onion from sauce and discard. Stir frozen peas (if using) into sauce. Transfer sliced chicken to sauce. Simmer gently for a few minutes until peas and chicken are heated through.
  5. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or sliced almonds if desired.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Pavlovas with Almond Butter Cream

I’m definitely doing this challenge at the last minute – I decided to start the day it was due. I literally just finished plating one for the photo above! Normally, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but this time, I opted to make a dairy-free cream using a technique I’d never tried before. It was indeed an experiment – one I hoped I could pull off!

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I was excited that the challenge was naturally gluten-free. Hooray – less substitutions! However, the chocolate mascarpone mousse was not dairy-free. It called for cream and mascarpone cheese. Creating a substitute was something I contemplated for quite a few days. I knew that I saw a dairy-free cream cheese at the store, made from tofu. I strongly considered using that and coconut milk as a substitute for the cream, and following the rest of the recipe as written. I even picked up the tofu cream cheese at the store and carried to the checkout line. It was then that I decided I didn’t want it – I am not fond of the flavor of most soymilk products, and I really didn’t want to use tofu cream cheese. I put it back. I would come up with another idea.

A few days later, Noelle of An Opera Singer in the Kitchen turned me on to this raw, vegan, dairy-free cheesecake made from soaked cashews. (Available at Earth Cafe) Noelle insisted that those cheesecakes were amazing, and I was convinced that in the near future, I’d be ordering one to see for myself. Meanwhile, she also shared with me a new blog to check out, The Daily Raw Cafe, where a similar cheesecake recipe could be found. I was inspired.

Instead of making a chocolate mascarpone mousse, I opted for something a touch lighter – almond butter cream and strawberries. I set to make the cream, soaking cashews and blending them, adding coconut milk, almond butter, lemon…and the resulting texture and flavor of this cream was silky and rich. I can only imagine how lovely this would taste in a cheesecake – it was lovely here.

My pavlovas were piped a bit thinner than I’m used to. (The last time I made a pavlova, it was a more traditionally large, fluffy cake-like dessert) However, they were deliciously crisp and chewy, with a lovely chocolate marshmallow-like flavor. Topped with the rich cream and fresh strawberries, this was indeed a lovely summer dessert. I would love to try this again, making a large pavlova next time around. A bit thanks to Dawn for this month’s challenge!

Chocolate Pavlova

3 large egg whites

1/2 c plus 1 T granulated white sugar

1/4 c powdered sugar

1/3 c cocoa powder

Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the white sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping until the whites are stiff but not dry.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder over the whites, and fold gently in. This will not appear as though it will blend at first, but keep folding and it will come together.

Place into piping bag and pipe into desired shapes on the lined baking sheets. Alternatively, you can spoon out the meringue into circles and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 2-3 hours (I baked mine for 2), until crisp. Allow to cool. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Almond Butter Cream

2 c raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours in water

1/2 c agave nectar

3 T water

1 c coconut milk

1 t vanilla extract

½ t almond extract

6 T almond butter

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch sea salt

 Soak the cashews in water for at least an hour. Drain and add cashews, agave nectar, vanilla and almond extracts, and the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into a blender. Blend until creamy, and add the coconut milk, almond butter, lemon zest, juice, and salt. Blend until smooth. Place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and store in freezer for 1 hour or until thick, stirring once or twice during that time.

To assemble pavlovas:

Top each pavlova with 1-2 tablespoons of the almond butter cream. Top with sliced strawberries and serve immediately.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Desserts, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian