Everything tastes better when you make it from scratch. One taste of this homemade spread, loaded with toasted almond yumminess, and you will forget the name of that decadent stuff you used to spread on your toast. …what was that called again?
Headlines Inspire Kitchen Creativity
Recently, France’s Minister of Ecology put Nutella in the headlines because of its environmentally hostile ingredient, palm oil. Like many large scale agricultural operations, palm oil plantations require the deforestation of vast tracts of natural forests. In Indonesia and Malaysia, where the largest palm oil plantations operate, many species of native animals and plants are being pushed toward extinction. The process of slash and burn forest removal is releasing stored CO2 and generating tremendous amounts of smoke, contributing to Indonesia’s sudden jump to third place among the world’s emitters of greenhouse gasses. It’s estimated that 40-50% of household products in the U.S. contain palm oil. This product extends beyond food items to cosmetics and cleaners. Yikes.
I suppose everything humans consume has a detrimental effect on the environment due to the sheer number of humans that consume. What to do? We limit our consumption of products by using them until they can’t be used any longer. For example, we have been using the same box of zip top bags for almost a year by carefully using the bags, washing them and reusing them. We also try to make as much as we can from scratch in order to limit the addition of chemicals and unnatural ingredients into our bodies.
Our answer to the controversy swirling around Nutella is to make our own spreadable delight using more Earth-friendly ingredients. Before you quibble with me about almonds and how much water it takes to grow them… I know. However, a friend was moving from Ulaanbaatar and offered us her unused pantry items. Among those items was a three-pound bag of almonds. Other nuts would work well in this recipe.
Who knew a post about a delicious nutty spread would be so political? Moving away from the political, let me tell you this spread is better tasting than any commercial product. And with less sugar, no processed emulsifiers and no artificial flavorings (what is vanillin?) this is arguably a much healthier spread. The top two ingredients in that other spread are sugar and palm oil. The top ingredient in this recipe is pure, natural almonds. And the vanilla extract is real vanilla extract.
The key to the standout flavor is the toasted nuts. The delicious end product makes the slightly arduous process of skinning the almonds totally worth it. Now we have a sweet chocolate spread that is packed with protein and tastes great on toast or as a topping on the all-fruit banana and mango ice creams we’ve been enjoying on these warm summer days. Or how about cheesecake swirled with homemade almondtella?
Chocolate Nut Spread aka Almondtella
- 1 cup whole raw almonds
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- up to 1/4 cup vegetable or light olive oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Skin almonds by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and letting them sit for 2 minutes. Drain off hot water and replace with cold water. Almond skins should pop off when you squeeze the individual almonds.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (175 degrees C). Place almonds in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
- Process nuts in a food processor, or use a stick blender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary until the nuts have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils from the nuts and you will get almond butter!
- When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
- Transfer the spread to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Here are some ideas for using your “Almondtella.”
Vanilla-orange cookies with chocolate nut filling
Place almondtella at the bottom of crème brûlée for a nice surprise.
Read more about the problems with palm oil at: Palm Oil, What’s the Issue?