Last year in a post called Why Stripping Wallpaper Is Like Weight Loss I reckoned that you could pretty much turn anything into a crappy metaphor for lard busting. Sunglasses, chickens, bananas, etc. I’ve got another one for you today: Making Your Own Almond Butter Is Like Weight Loss. Ohhh… yeah!
Way back in July 2006 Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini fame posted a recipe for homemade cashew nut butter, or beurre de cajou as they so elegantly say across the Channel. You grind raw nuts in a food processor until the natural oils emerge and transforms into a preservative-free trans-fatless natural goo. I was dying to make an almond version, but was convinced I couldn’t be trusted not to gobble the whole jar with a spoon.
Eighteen months later, I try not to say that sort of thing. I don’t like to think of foods as dangerous or triggers or any word that implies that I am a powerless, out of control fruitloop that needs to be muzzled at farmer’s markets. So I felt I was ready to pulverise some nuts.
Almond butter is delicately grainy and almonds are very nutritious, don’t you know. But it is pricey. £1.80 for a tiny 170g jar! It’s a lot cheaper in the USA – I lugged a big jar of Trader Joe’s stuff back from Chicago. It had honking huge shards of almond that stabbed the roof of the mouth in a painfully pleasant way. But once that ran out I was back to the expensive one, which made me recall Clotilde’s recipe. Hmmm, I said in a tightwad tone befitting of one who has lived in Scotland almost five years, I could buy a half a kilo of raw almonds for the same price and make my own! THRIFT-O-RAMA!
Back in January, I bought my bag o’ nuts and prepared to churn out another shitty metaphor.
Making almond butter is like weight loss because…
1. You start out with a lumpy mess!
Ho ho ho.
This is actually 500 grams of raw almonds, which I toasted in the oven.
2. The fundamental recipe is simple
Dump almonds into food processor, process at high speed until creamy. That’s all there is to it! Eat less, move more! EASY!
3. The reality is painfully slow and messy and tedious frustrating as hell.
I hit the button.
And I ground and I ground and I ground.
And nothing happened.
So I looked at the clock. Ground some more.
Grind grind grind.
Sweat swear sweat.
It’s not working! WHY ISN’T IT WORKING?! The recipe said it would work!
Twenty minutes of solid labour and all I had was almond clods!
This blows. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!
4. When you least expect it, it all comes together.
By this point the food processor was almost too hot to touch. I was waiting for the smoke to appear. But after twenty five minutes the first trickle of oil oozed out. BROWN GOLD! And then finally it started to take shape.
5. The end product may not be exactly what you’d dreamed of. Might a bit rough. And lumpy.
Or look like complete dogs droppings. And I’d overtoasted the nuts – our oven has two settings: Cold Indifference or Cremains, so you can never get things right. But perfection is for… perfect people. This stuff had character! It was delicious too, subtle and creamy.
I also managed to eat it in a sensible manner, spread over a series of breakfasts (with Bonne Maman apricot jam, CHOICE!) I didn’t attack it with spoons or write odes of longing when we were apart. There’s hope for me yet.
This mega jar of almond butter was a bargain at just £2. Of course that doesn’t account for labour and half an hour of electricity. But just like the lard busting, sometimes the most effective method is not the most efficient!