Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hazelnut Butter!

Happy Halloween!


How great are these Halloween treats? One year I will have a big Halloween party and make all kinds of creepy foods. This year, all I made was hazelnut butter.

When Bethany and I went to DC earlier this month, we enjoyed a really incredible breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien in Georgetown. We ordered a massive bread basket for the sole purpose of consuming as much Brunette Belgian Praline as possible. That stuff was like crack.

I wanted to buy some, but it was a little pricey. I checked the nutritional info and realized it was just hazelnut butter. And then thought (as I do with many things), "I could probably make this myself."


In fact, I came home and bought several pounds of hazelnuts with the intention of making hazelnut butter right away, but then got busy and distracted.  As I cleaned out my pantry yesterday, I found the hazelnuts and was inspired anew.

But first, the shells.

I would probably cook with hazelnuts more often if shelling them wasn't such a pain in the you-know-what. But in researching hazelnut butter, I realized there is a better way!

Bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil and add 2T baking powder and 1/2 cup of nuts (I did 1 cup of nuts in two 1/2 cup batches because they foam like crazy). The water will turn purple (??) and the skins will turn black.


Let the nuts boil for 3 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water.

Use your fingers to remove the skins; they should slip right off.

For my first batch, I slipped the skin of each nut individually. This wasn't so bad, but I figured there must be a better way. For the second batch, I just grabbed a bunch in my hand and rubbed them all together under the running water. Then I just picked through each one and gave them a quick rinse.

A few might be a little stubborn and some might split in half. No biggie. The more skin you remove, the lighter in color your nut butter will be. A few errant skins won't ruin the whole batch!

After your nuts are skinned, dry them in some paper towels and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes at 275. You could roast them at a higher temp for a shorter time, but they burn very quickly, so be watchful.

Toss them in your food processor with about 1/2t sugar and let them process past the point where the butter forms a ball.

You will think this is as butterized as your nuts will get. You are wrong! Keep processing until you get this:


Smooth and creamy! A little bit of graininess will remain, but I kind of like it this way. I probably could have gotten a smoother consistency had I used more nuts and my high-powered food processor (this was just my little Mini Prep).

I did not find that I needed to add any oil, but you might like your butter creamier. I also did not add any salt, although some recipes call for it. I like my hazelnut butter a little sweet, but it's also good with a bit of salt (~1/4t), especially if you like it to taste a little more like peanut butter.

I packaged this batch up in these cute little acrylic canisters that I found at Target (I've also seen them at Storables, but they were more expensive).

1 cup of hazelnuts made enough butter to fill two 3.5 oz canisters. Perfect for gifts!