Friday, November 11, 2011

Cashew Butter

I think I actually bought the bag of cashews just to make this nut butter. That doesn’t explain why the package had been opened before I was preparing to make it. I don’t know what caused that, except, possibly, for some good, old-fashioned snacking. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been thinking about a sweetened and spiced cashew butter for a long time. Yup. That’s the kind of thought that can distract me from other, more important things, like putting away the groceries or clearing the noxious weeds out of the back yard.

I sweetened my cashew butter with a little honey, but you could use another sweetener, such as agave nectar or maple syrup if you prefer a vegan option. I also wanted some warm spices, so I went with a sort of chai-inspired blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and allspice. This is somewhat similar to the Pumpkin Pie Spice blend I used here, and that would be good, too, as would, as usual, just plain cinnamon. Or nothing at all. It will still be deliciously fragrant just from the delicately sweet cashews.

Nut butters are pretty trivial to make if you have a good food processor. (If you don’t have one, make friends with someone who will let you borrow hers. They’re great fun, and just dangerous-looking enough to add some thrill to kitchen drudgery.) Just throw in the nuts and give them a whirl. Of course, when I do this, I’m always half convinced that I’m never going to be able to create a smooth nut butter, and will only have a big, pile of ground nuts on my hands. Then, after five minutes or so of work (by the food processor. I’m mostly just standing there.), the pasty stuff that’s trying to become a nut butter gets kind of hot from all the friction of the spinning blade. At this time, I’m convinced that it won’t be nut butter before my very expensive piece of kitchen equipment blows itself to pieces all over the house.

It took about 10 or 12 minutes of processing to make this cashew butter, but I’m happy to say there were no casualties. Just a nice, smooth, firm cashew butter with more of the consistency of cookie dough than peanut butter from a jar. I was able to spread it on a slice of bread, and it was pretty darned delicious. It is concentrated cashew flavor, lightly sweetened and delicately spiced, in a spoon-able form. If you love cashews, this is the secret indulgence for you.

I also put this Chai Spice Cashew Butter in some cookies. Again, pretty darned good (understatement!) I’ll have to tell you about those sometime. Soon.

Chai Spice Cashew Butter
I used cashews that were roasted and lightly salted. I think you could use raw cashews or unsalted roasted cashews, but you might want to add a pinch of salt.

10 ounces (about 2 cups) roasted and lightly salted cashews
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until very smooth, scraping the sides as necessary. This could take 10 minutes or more.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Another recipe like this one: Pasta with Cauliflower and Cashew Sauce

One year ago: Sweet Pumpkin Focaccia

Two years ago: Chocolate Orange Bread

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