Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Almond Butter

I have to warn you, this post is out of character for me.  Almond Butter?  Seriously?  It smells a bit too organic, vegan, good for you, convenient, and politically correct.  That's just not what I do here.  I usually write about edible things that had parents, labor intensive techniques, dishes that contain a healthy amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, and fish that "threaten" me and my children with high levels of mercury.

My addiction to almond butter started innocently enough in the bulk isle of Whole Foods a few months ago.  I was 7 months pregnant and heard that almonds are a good thing to eat to help with heart burn due to their high calcium content.  I was also looking for something very calorie intensive that I could gobble up right before teaching my evening cooking classes since 6pm was the latest I could eat.  Almond butter seemed to fit all the parameters.  My only worry was that it would taste awful.  I have a very serious aversion to peanut butter.  I believe you had to be born in the US to like this nasty spread.  It has the consistency of mud mixed with a bit of Elmer's glue.  I don't mind it in sauces, but absolutely hate eating it straight or spread on bread.  I expected something similar from almond butter, but it turned out to actually taste good.  It is way less sticky (particularly if it's refrigerated first).  I also find the flavor of almonds to be more pleasant than peanuts, but that's just my personal preference.

I should probably specify that the almond butter I get is the one you buy in bulk at Whole Foods by pressing a button on a machine filled with roasted almonds to get them pressed.  It's a little chunky, is not homogenized like most nut butters sold in a jar, and doesn't have any sugar added.  The stuff in a jar might be very good too, but I haven't tried it yet.  Forget the jelly.  Here are some good almond butter pairings:
  • a chunky preserve (apricot and orange are my favorite)
  • nutella -- I don't think I need to comment on how good this is
  • thinly sliced apples (particularly honey crisp)


Irina said...

I wasn't born in the US but I actually do like peanut butter! It's not one of my favorite foods and I don't always keep it around but I do enjoy it spread on apple slices or on some whole-grain bread once in a while. However, if I have a choice between almond and peanut butter, I prefer almond. I like it with apples or as a spread on bread, lightly drizzled with honey or sprinkled with chocolate chips.

Cyn said...

I wasn't born in the United States either, but I love peanut butter.
I don't usually eat it in sandwiches unless it's spread very thin, but I do like it with apples; mixed with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract to make cookies; in soup; and in a sauce for soba noodles.
I do like almond butter too (and calissons, pear-almond tart, etc.), and I think a spread made from roasted hazelnut brittle is divine.

I think the problem with traditional peanut butter sandwiches is the stuff is often spread too thick. Over here people seem to like to overdo things (like sandwich fillings) rather than balance textures, tastes, flavors, etc.

Cyn said...

Oops, forgot to say that I use 1 cup peanut butter for the cookies. I've used almond butter to make the cookies too, but they do crumble even more easily than the peanut butter version.
I use about 2 Tbsp. dough per cookie, which yields 11 to 12 cookies per batch.
Bake at 375 degrees F about 13 minutes (if they're turning brown all over they're overbaking). They need to cool on the baking sheet or they'll fall apart.

Helen said...

Hi guys,

Thank you so much for all your nut butter ideas :) I've never heard of peanut butter used in soups -- that sounds interesting. Cyn, would you mind telling me which soup? I do like it in sauces, so I am guessing I'd like it in a soup too. Oh yes, and the cookies. I do like peanut butter cookies :) So I guess I am not such a peanut butter hater after all. I just had a really horrible experience with this stuff spread on wonderbread with jelly that was one of the most awful things I've ever eaten. It sticks to your mouth, and if you want to spit it out, you are out of luck.


Matt said...

If it was on wonderbread I can't imagine the filling would have made much difference! You need good bread for a good sandwich...

I had PB&J sandwiches quite often as a child, took a break for several years, but now in my mid-20's I have them almost daily. It is cheap, convenient, and for me, tasty. It is best with the non-hydrogenated brands, i.e. the all natural ones you have to stir because the oil separates, and you must store it in the fridge. They have a much richer flavor than the shelf-stable hydrogenated stuff.

Almond butter is also very nice, I love eating it spread on banana slices, but it costs much more than peanut butter!