Over the years, I’ve spent a goodly amount of time dabbling in homemade nut butters (several of my favorites are in my first cookbook, Food in Jars).
I really enjoy taking a product that’s most often brought home from the store and translating it into something I can make at home. It’s an added bonus that the homemade version is almost always fresher, made with better ingredients, and contains less sugar.
My most recent batch was inspired by a comment a friend made online recently. Her daughter’s favorite sandwich was Nutella on whole wheat bread but her new school had a strict nut-free policy (understandable with all the allergies kids have these days). They were looking for a lunchbox replacement but were coming up empty.
Immediately, I thought that a homemade batch of chocolate sunflower seed butter might fill their lunchtime void. Because sunflowers are seeds and not nuts, they are acceptable in lots of schools that ban peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
After a couple of batches, I had the trick of it. While it’s not as creamy as a storebought Nutella, it’s just as flavorful and passes the nut-free test. Like so many natural nut butters, it does harden a bit if stored in the refrigerator, but softens back up after just 30 minutes on the counter. It also spreads easily on warm toast, even when cold.
|Homemade Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter||
- 1 1/2 cups raw sunflower seeds (approximately 8 ounces)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup honey (plus more to taste, if desired)
- 3-4 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
- 1 ounce melted chocolate (either milk or dark is fine)
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- Heat your oven to 375°F. Spread sunflower seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are honey-colored and smell fragrant, they are done.
- Let the sunflower seeds cool for a few minutes and then funnel them into your food processor. Run the motor until the sunflower seeds are well chopped and sandy. Add the cocoa powder and salt and pulse to combine.
- Run the motor again and stream in the honey and two tablespoons of oil. Stop the motor, remove the lid and scrape down the sides of the machine. Run again and repeat the scraping maneuver.
- If the nuts look particularly dry, add up to two more tablespoons of oil.
- Once it begins to look like paste, add the melted chocolate and run and scrape some more. Then, while the motor is running, stream in the water. The addition of the water should help the butter fluff up and look more like nut butter than a rough paste.
- All told, there will be about 10-15 minutes of processing time. If your food processor starts to overheat, walk away for a few minutes to let it cool down before proceeding.
What are your lunchbox staples these days?