A few years ago I learned I could make nut butters at home. It opened up the door to a wonderfully nutty journey: rather than pay the extra $$ to buy them, I began making cashew, pistachio and hazelnut butters at home. The trick was to blend them in a food processor long enough to release their oils. I could now control the salt and sugar input, and I’d use whole nuts and not a combination of nuts so that in the final product, it would taste like the actual nut itself. I always seem to find almonds or peanuts ground into speciality nut butters and my guess is this is done to make the cost of making the product cheaper but imo, it really adulterates the flavor.
Once I started making the butters, I turned off nutella. I’d always thought it was too sweet and confusing. I learned that if you make it at home – you’ll find your spread actually tastes like a chocolate and hazelnut butter should. Try this, examine a nutella label, the first ingredient is… sugar. The next is… oil. This means these two ingredients make up the majority of the nut butter. What?! Shouldn’t it be hazelnuts first? Humph.
I now make my own chocolate hazelnut spread. And we love, love, love it. Everybody loves it and tells me it’s way better than the commercial stuff. I started getting multiple requests from people who wanted to buy it, and we’ve never looked back.
Recently, I was overcome by a desire to make a chocolate spread with my favorite nut, pistachios. I looove making pistachio butter – I use it to make cakes, pies, tarts, etc., like this pistachio ganache pie. I found that unlike my ‘nutella’, adding cocoa and other ingredients was a bit trickier here because chocolate can easily overwhelm the delicate flavor of the pistachio. It took some careful measurements to balance out everything. I really wanted you to taste the pistachio and have the chocolate as a delicious undertone. Well, we got there (!) and the result is a delightful spread that will brighten up any dull toast day. Or you know, do what I do and eat it by the spoonful lol.
PS. if you make this to give to a friend, on the label you’ll be able to write pistachios as the first ingredient =)
Chocolate Pistachio Butter
Pistachio oil is recommended here for the obvious reason; it best complements the nut flavor. However, it is hard to come by and rather expensive so I’ve offered grapeseed as an alternative because it is neutral-tasting. If you really didn’t want to bother with buying a special oil, use canola. Also you could use olive oil – bearing in mind it will add its own flavor to the butter (although this may be a good thing, depending on your taste!)
2 cups shelled pistachios
1/2 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup dutch process cocoa, plus 2 tablespoons
¾ cups organic powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons pistachio or grapeseed oil
Preheat oven to 400.
If your nuts are raw, toast them in the oven for 7-10 minutes. If they are roasted, toast them for 3-4. In both cases, use your senses to determine if they are ready: they should have browned only very slightly, be sweating, and should be filling your oven with a nutty aroma.
In a food processor, process the nuts on high until they become finely ground. Scrape down the bowl and continue processing for another 5 minutes or so.
At first, the nuts will become a thick paste. Keep scraping and processing until they really release their liquids – you are looking for a consistency that is slightly thinner than commercial peanut butter. Depending on the power of your food processor, this could take between 10-20 minutes.
Once the nuts have given up all their oils, add the salt, cocoa, powdered sugar and vanilla. Process until well combined. Mixture will be thick. Scrape bowl for any scattered bits.
Add the first tablespoon of oil and process until the butter becomes smooth and well-combined. If you find it is still too thick, add the second.
Store in an airtight container; at room temperature for about 2 weeks. In the fridge, it will last a month.