Almond, Coconut & Chia Seed Butter

Now who likes peanut butter? I used to hate it. Growing up I disliked nuts generally. I remember family buffets, sitting at the table with my sister and picking all the dried fruit out of the fruit and nut mix. However, I did used to like walnuts. Both of us at ours Grandma’s, cracking open walnuts in front of the fire. It’s funny how I wouldn’t eat them in a nut mix but I would out of their shells. Peanuts were another no go. My dad loved (and still does) salted peanuts and my friend would always buy peanut M&Ms when we would go to the cinema. But me, I just couldn’t stand the smell of them. I would sit as far away as possible.

But now, I love them. I’d quite happily snack on a handful of unsalted nuts (my favourites being cashew and almonds) and peanut butter has a multitude of uses. Mixed into chocolate brownies, cookies, with banana on toast, stirred into porridge or spread on a rice cake. Then I tried other nut butters, like almond, and these were even better than your bog standard peanut butters. When you start to look into the ingredients on some of the nut butters on the market, it’s crazy some of the extra things that are added like sugar and palm oil. So it got me thinking, is it difficult to make your own?

My first attempt was following Jamie Oliver’s basic recipe in his Everyday Superfood book. I toasted a mixture of cashew and almond nuts and then blitzed them in a mini chopper. Now, a lesson I learnt from making this batch was that I didn’t blitz them for long enough. If you think you have, add on an extra five minutes. The texture of mine was quite thick and although it tasted nice, it was difficult to spread onto toast or stir into my morning porridge. A second attempt was needed.

Then, my sister gave me some almond and coconut butter to try. I’m not a big fan of coconut, in particular desiccated coconut because of the texture. Bounty’s are always left at Christmas when the Celebrations tub comes out. But this nut butter was amazing and I was gutted when I finished it.

So, imagine my delight when I came across a recipe book by Pip & Nut. In the book was a recipe for Almond, Coconut and Chia Nut Butter. There was also a detailed guide on how to make your own standard nut butter. For this process, they advised that it would take at least 10 minutes to blitz the nuts into a butter (depending on the power of your food processor) and that it should be smooth and glossy. I use a mini processor as it is a small quantity being blitzed. I also stop every two minutes to let the motor cool down so I don’t overheat (lesson learnt when using a hand mixer to make a Christmas Cake one year). So, would take me longer than 10 minutes but at least it’s an idea (more than I had with my first attempt). If you are a fan of nut butters, you need to give this recipe a go. There are even more recipes in the book and suggestions for use (an excuse to go buy a copy). Below is how I made the nut butter. This was different to how the recipe stated due to me misreading it (whoops). Chia seeds aren’t a must to the recipe so don’t worry if you don’t want to include them. However, they are not difficult or expensive to buy. Home bargains sell bags of these a lot cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen. Tesco also sell ‘shot packs’ which would be enough to make this butter. By the way, the recipe makes enough for one jar. I’ve been keeping mine in the cupboard.

nut-butter

200g whole almonds (skin on)

1 tbsp chia seeds (white or black)

75g creamed coconut (buy from supermarket, packed in individual sachets)

pinch of sea salt

1/2 tbsp agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)

To roast the almonds:

Pre-heat oven to 150C. Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet in a single layer and roast until golden brown. This will take around 10-15 minutes but keep an eye on them as they can quickly burn. Once roasted, cool for 5 minutes.

To make them into butter:

Tip the nuts into a food processor. I find that my mini food processor is more powerful when chopping nuts compared to my standard one. Blitz for two minutes. The nuts will turn into a crumble texture and will need scraping down with a spatula. I left my processor to cool for two minutes. I blitz for two minutes and left to cool for two minutes throughout the process. After six minutes of blitzing, a ball formed. After another four minutes of blitzing the nuts were smooth but looked to still have a rough texture (this was when I stopped when making Jamie’s nut butter). After another four minutes, the nut butter started to look smooth and glossy. If you want a basic almond butter, stop at this stage.

Add the creamed coconut and sea salt and blitz until smooth. I found that this made the texture appear runnier and glossier than before. Add the chia seeds and agave nectar and blitz until well combined. Pour the nut butter into an airtight container. When pouring into a jar, I found the texture quite runny but it has thickened over time.

The result, a lip smacking delicious nut butter. Although it feels like a long process when you blitzing (especially when taking the rest periods like me) the final product is definitely worth it. Now I know the basic method of making it, I am going to be trying my own combinations.

 

 

GBBO weeks 3 and 4

So, the third week of this year’s Great British Bake Off was bread week. Now, as I’ve admitted on here before, bread isn’t my strongest baking area. I never seem to get a good rise. But, I had seen in a recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I’d been wanting to try, so week 3 theme seemed a good time to try. It didn’t fit in with any of the categories (a sweet dough, a steamed bake or contain three flours) but who cares?

The recipe was for a ‘Figgy Banana Bread’ from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food cookbook. It’s a suggested breakfast idea so we actually had our first try of it before the bake off episode (yum yum yum). The recipe is relatively easy with everything going into a food processor. It also doesn’t contain any yeast so does not need to be proved and can be ready in under an hour and a half. Rather than being a typical bread, it comes out looking more like a cake. I don’t think it helps that it is baked in a cake tin. I found it easier to slice the bread into the recommended number of wedges so you can grab a piece each morning. Jamie suggests serving it with a dollop of nut butter and a dollop of natural yoghurt. I did this and loved the combination of salty peanut butter with the sweet figgy bread.  I sliced my piece of bread in half, topping one with the peanut butter and the other with yoghurt. I also had it with home made strawberry chia jam instead of the peanut butter and it was still yummy. Mr W had his with sliced banana instead of the nut butter so the combinations are endless. I strongly recommend having it with something to make it more into a meal rather than a snack. Although the recipe doesn’t mention anything about freezing the bread, I froze a couple of pieces for about a week and they were just as good as fresh once defrosted. The bread until stays fresh for a few days in a tin and I didn’t want to have to throw away the leftovers (I liked it too much). Below is the recipe taken from Jamie’s book.

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Serves 12

  • 250g dried figs
  • 75ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 125g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 eating apple
  • 50g whole almonds
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 25cm cake tin with a scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. Place 200g of figs in a food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled bananas and eggs then blitz until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture. Coarsely grate the apple and stir into the mixture.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Tear over the remaining figs and chop the almonds, scatter over the top of the mixture, pushing them down slightly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little. N.B. I found it difficult to remove from the greaseproof paper. Don’t panic if it sticks, just slowly peel it away.

This is definitely a  recipe I want to bake again. It was slightly indulgent having essentially cake for breakfast but it made a nice change.

Now, GBBO week 4 was batter week with the making of Yorkshire puddings, lace pancakes and churros. The obvious option for something to make was pancakes. This year, I never made the traditional pancakes for Shrove Tuesday so took this week as a chance to do so. Now, what a disappointment. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to having slightly thicker, flavourful breakfast pancakes. These crepe style pancakes were plain, bland and boring. Even the addition of lemon, sugar and ice cream didn’t help matters. Not something I will be repeating anytime soon.

 

 

Melt in the Middle Pudding

This time last week I was coming back from my friend’s hen party in Valencia. It was a weekend of sun, food, drink and fun. On the first day we enjoyed a three course Italian late lunch. On the second night it was a tapas and wine night where we dressed the hen up in her ‘housewife’ outfit. On the third day, we used our very little Spanish to order takeaway sandwiches for the journey home (our greatest achievement lol).

 This weekend it was turn of the stag with a weekend away in Barcelona. Now, the only details I know of this are a craft ale tour and a football stadium tour. I think we got the better deal hehe. So I’m currently waiting for Mr W to fly home. Being the nice wife that I am, I have offered to pick him and my sister’s boyfriend up from the airport. Now, I agreed before I knew the details. Flight doesn’t land until 11:45pm!!! I’m normally in bed by 9:30pm. Boy, am I regretting my kind offer. To pass the time, I’m currently baking some ‘skinny’ chocolate muffins. They have been on my Pinterest board for so long that I figured I should probably give them ago.

Enough about now. With the boys away, my sister and I took advantage and had some sister time. This involved me cooking her meals (she requested healthy), watching films and making cocktails. To be fair, she did complete a charity 5km yesterday in the rain (well done sis and Beaky!!). So yesterday, I decided to try her on a cauliflower pizza (yes, you’ve read that correctly). Now, Mr W and I have had these in the past but I found the recipe we used to heavy. It used ground almonds which gave it a denser texture but was also a bit stodgy. The recipe I followed last night was from ‘The Body Bible – Clean Eating Alice’ which didn’t use any flour or substitutes. It’s basically cooked cauliflower that’s blitzed down and mixed with egg and Parmesan. Although this made for a softer base, I thought it was a lot tastier than the previous recipe I followed. Don’t get me wrong, cauliflower pizza are never going to be the same as an actual pizza. You will never be able to trick someone into thinking it was. But it is a tasty alternative that doesn’t leave you feeling ‘heavy full’. It was definitely a hit with us.

pizza

As the blog name suggests, we did indulge in a sweet treat. It’s all about balance and moderation. This pudding has been on the card for months, and has been booked in for this weekend since finding out when the stag do was. My sister sent me the link on Instagram. It’s a Peanut Butter Melt In the Middle Chocolate Pudding!!!

mim

This was my first attempt at a melt in the middle pudding (never mind a peanut butter one) and it was a lot easier to make than I thought. The recipe I found served 4 so I had to adapt it to make a serves 2. Mr W doesn’t like peanut butter and my sister’s boyfriend isn’t a big dessert lover. Seemed the perfect time to try them. After seeing this pudding be made numerous times on MasterChef, I knew the greasing of the mould and the cooking time was important. If I was to make again, I would use smooth peanut butter. All I had in was crunchy and it didn’t melt as well. Do you want to give it a go?

100g dark chocolate (I wouldn’t use a high percentage as it would make it too bitter and you won’t be able to eat it all!)
50g butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
55g caster sugar
17g plain flour
Peanut butter

Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Grease two moulds or ramekins.
Melt the butter and chocolate, slowly, in a saucepan.
Whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar.
Add the chocolate mixture and plain flour. Mix until combined.
Half fill the moulds/ramekins with the batter.
Add 1 teaspoon of peanut butter to each mould/ramekin.
Fill with the remaining batter (leave some room at top as the pudding will rise.
Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. The top should be firm to the touch. Try not to over bake or there will be no melting middle!

 

Baked Doughnuts (Attempt 3)

Third time’s a charm. I did it. I successfully made a baked doughnut that looked like a doughnut and tasted (depending on who you speak to) like a doughnut. Mr W said that it tasted better than some shop bought ones he’d had. Result 🙂

For this attempt, I found a recipe on the Lakeland website (it was attached to the doughnut maker kit I bought). It gave recipes for ring doughnuts and filled doughnuts so I used the filled doughnut recipe. again, I halved the recipe as it made 10 (too many to eat if they don’t turn out too well). I let Mr W choose his filling when we went shopping (strawberry jam is the classic doughnut filler apparently). This recipe used yeast (like the other recipes) and also had egg in it. The dough needed to be proved twice. This time I sat the dough in front of the fire (an excuse to get nice and toasty) and this worked a treat. I also used my food mixer with the dough hook to ‘knead’ the dough just to make it a little easier. It probably took around the same amount time but it can vary depending on ingredients and temperatures. The difficult part for me was the filling of the doughnut. I didn’t check what jam Mr W had picked up (not seedless in case you were wondering) and the nozzle kept getting blocked. But I got there in the end. Me and Mr W had a doughnut on the night I made them and my sister (and Mr W again) had another the next day. They passed the test. The jam was still in the middle and hadn’t soaked into the doughnut. I admit, the doughnut still had a bread like flavour/texture but it was lovely and sweet. Next time I’m going to try the ringed doughnut recipe and glaze them.

A couple of days later I tried one of the attempt 2 doughnuts that I’d kept in the freezer. Big disappointment.

Recipe taken from Lakeland website

FILLED DOUGHNUTS
Made using the Doughnut Making Kit – Makes 10
What you need
240ml milk
40g butter
500g strong white bread flour
50g caster sugar
2 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
2 eggs
Method
1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter until just hand hot, mixing the butter until it melts
completely.
2. Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and stir in the salt and yeast.
3. Slowly add the milk mixture and the eggs to the dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon. You can
use your hands but the dough is very sticky.
4. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. As the mixture is sticky, it may be useful
to use a dough scraper to lift it and fold it over.
5. When the dough is smooth and elastic – persevere, this will happen – place it in a lightly floured bowl,
cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 1 hour.
6. Divide the risen dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll into balls and place into the moulds. You can also roll
the dough into sausages and shape them into the ring moulds.
7. Cover the moulds with oiled cling film, making sure the cling film doesn’t touch the dough. Leave to rise
again for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4.
8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. Leave to cool and fill with jam, custard,
cream or any other filling of your choice.

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Last weekend was a busy baking/cooking session as I also gave the Peanut Butter Millionaire Slices another go (recipe was mentioned in a previous post). When I took them into work first time, people felt that it needed the caramel layer that I chose not to make. This time round I made it. So there was a layer of biscuit base, peanut butter icing, salted caramel with crushed peanuts, dark chocolate, toffee drizzle and crushed peanuts. I made them as a late birthday treat for my previous manager (couldn’t make them on a work night due to them taking around 8 hours). In her words they were epic.

Meat Free

So last weeks meat free Monday highlight was the home made soup (again, part of my epic weekend baking/cooking). Mr W bought me Mexican Food Made Simple by Thomasina Miers. In here I found a recipe for Sweet & Spicy Squash and Chickpea. My disappointment was that it only served 2, no leftovers for another day. I did adapt the recipe slightly to suit the ingredients that I had in. If you a soup lover, please give this a try. Below is my adaptation of the recipe.

  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek, washed and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 dried chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Cook the leeks for 5 minutes over a medium heat until tender before adding the cumin, garlic, chilli and oregano. Cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the squash, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir the mixture and then pour over the stock. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is soft. Add the chickpeas and season.
  3. Blend the soup if you like. I blended using a hand blender so that I could still leave some chunks in it.

Stem Ginger

So, the other week I came across a jar of stem ginger in the cupboard and didn’t know what to do with it. A lot of recipes were using it to make cakes but I wanted to do something a little different. On the label it suggested you visit their website for recipe ideas, so I did. The first recipe I came across was for a Spicy Butternut Squash and Ginger Risotto (I’ve been loving the squash this week). I decided to use pearl barley instead of risotto rice and threw a bag of spinach in towards the end of cooking. The end result was lovely. I brought the leftovers in the next day for my sister and she enjoyed it also (may have been a little hot for her). It did take me almost 2 hours to make (ended up missing a Pilates class and getting chilli in my eye) but it was worth it. Click here for the recipe.

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I also made some Ginger and Mixed Seed Flapjacks for a visit down to Lincoln at the weekend. I was going to put on a picture but Mr W ate half of the last slice and it looks for sorry for itself on its own on the plate. But take my word for it, they were yummy. MR W would have preferred if there wasn’t honey in it but I think that was my favourite bit. Instead of using clear honey I used some Mexican Orange Blossom honey which gives a subtle orange flavour. I also melted around 50g of dark chocolate to put on the top. Ginger and dark chocolate are a great combination. The recipe suggested it served six. I used a smaller tin and cut it into 8 decent sized portions and would probably cut into ten next time. In the W household, Mr W is the flapjack making King but I think I have redeemed myself with this bake. Millie, here is the recipe as promised.

Millionaires

There’s been a bit of a trend over the past few weeks with my bakes being around requests made from colleagues. The first of these being the ‘Key’ Lime Pie, which was a success. The second being the caramel custard doughnuts, which were not so successful, definite room for improvement. When shopping at the Trafford Centre last weekend I stumbled across the Lakeland store (a new addition to the shopping centre. Unusual that it is all on one floor compared to the other stores I’ve visited) I purchased a doughnut making kit so will need to find a weekend where I can use this for attempt two. Now, the request for this bake came from my boss. She wanted a millionaires peanut butter caramel shortcake. Straight away, I started searching for a recipe and it didn’t take long to find. A shortbread biscuit base with a peanut butter filling, then a caramel layer  topped with a chocolate layer (recipe here). Now, my boss didn’t want a shortbread biscuit base, she wanted the same base that I’d used for the ‘Key’ Lime Pie. Experimentation time!!!!!

So, I used the basic biscuit base recipe for the ‘Key’ Lime Pie and decided to add a handful of peanuts to the biscuits before crushing to add a bit of texture and nutty flavour. I then used the peanut butter icing layer from the Good Food recipe I’d found to get the peanut butter element in. I also sprinkled on a handful of peanuts for good measure. I decided to not include the caramel layer for a number of reasons; I was worried that it would make the slice too sweet, I didn’t think I had enough room in the tin I had used, I didn’t have enough time. Rather than using the suggested dark chocolate, I used milk chocolate so that it wasn’t too bitter (only had 85% dark chocolate in the house). I then decorated the chocolate with the suggested caramel sauce.

Caramel and Peanut Butter Biscuit Slices

Cuts into 8 pieces

  • 300g Hob Nobs
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 50g peanuts, plus handful extra
  • 70g butter
  • 110g smooth peanut butter
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 150g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 70g dairy fudge
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Whizz the biscuits and peanuts to crumbs in a food processor (or put in a strong plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with the melted butter and press into the base and up the sides of a 17cm square tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
  2. To make the peanut butter layer, melt the butter and peanut butter in a small pan and mix until smooth. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, then pour in the hot butter mixture and stir to combine. While the mixture is still warm, pour over the base and smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle over the handful of extra peanuts. Chill for 2 hrs until set.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Meanwhile, put the toffees and the milk in a small saucepan and gently heat. They will clump together and struggle to melt at first, but keep heating and eventually they will turn into a runny toffee sauce.
  4. Remove the tin from the fridge and pour the chocolate over the salted caramel layer, tipping the tin to spread the chocolate over the surface. Use a spoon to quickly drizzle the caramel over the chocolate in a thin loopy pattern. If the toffee starts to get too thick, add a splash more milk or cream and pop it back on the heat until runny. Put the tin back in the fridge to chill for 2 hrs before slicing.

These went down a treat at work. My boss felt it ticked all the boxes she wanted (though she did suggest not adding the peanuts into the base as didn’t add anything). Others felt that the caramel layer was needed as it would take it to the next step. I felt that the biscuit base was too crumbly which may have been caused by the addition of the peanuts, therefore I’m in agreement that these do not need to be there. But, all in all, I am happy with how it turned out.

Caramel and Peanut Butter Biscuit Slices

On Thursday, my sister and I got to visit Nutters in Norden to take part in one of their Masterclasses (thank you mum and dad for paying). We watched Andrew Nutter prepare a three course meal (and a soup) before getting to sit down and eat the courses for our lunch. The menu was: Pardon Peppers with Chilli and Ginger Salt; Pumpkin Soup En Croute; Roast Hake with Smoked Haddock Potato Cake and Frazzled Pancetta; Dingley Dell Pork Belly Confit with Black Pudding and Creamy Lancashire Arancini; Pear and Almond Tart. Below is a picture of what we got to eat for lunch.

Nutters

Afterwards, my sister came back to mine and did a spot of baking. One of her favourite bakes is Millionaires Shortbread. So, in a week we’ve had the classic and the twist on a classic. Now these were very tasty. The shortbread wasn’t overly sweet meaning that the slice was too sickly (could possibly manage two if you wanted to be naughty).

Millionaires Shortbread

Finally, with it now moving into Autumn, I love making soup as a warming lunch. A couple of weeks ago, me and Mr W were in Scotland and called upon some friends (another Mr and Mrs W) and were given a bowl of lovely home-made Carrot and Orange soup (made by other Mr W). Now, Mr W took a liking for this soup and requested the recipe. So today, I made it. Now, at first, Mr W didn’t think it tasted as strongly as orange as other Mr Ws did but he did think it was still tasty. The more he ate, the more he felt the orange did come through. What I like about this soup is that the orange adds a subtle sweetness that doesn’t overpower the overall flavour of the soup. Thank you Mr and Mrs W for the recipe (and home-made bread. We had to make do with shop bought rolls today, they were still good, just not as good).

Carrot and Orange Soup