Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate Nut Spread

just a scoop, or two

The first time I made chocolate nut butter coincided with my first encounter with cannabis, followed by a daylong hangover and a neutered cat.

It involved vodka strawberry smoothies, Risk (in which I lost all of Europe), and My Neighbor Totoro, and then a slightly drunk, possibly high stumble back to my apartment, where I forced my friend who had kindly walked me home to eat my homemade nutella. Which I then ate to get rid of the horrible memory of marijuana from my mouth, throat, and mind, as trying it had made me think that my esophagus was going to shrivel up and die and that, in general, I was losing the ability to breathe.

That was at four in the morning, and I was awoken rather abruptly less than four hours later at 8 a.m. by the ringing of the doorbell, the sound of which always made me feel like I was about to be attacked by a SWAT team. With the questionable use of my limbs, I answered the door to an old lady carrying a cat carrier, because today (or that day) was the day that Dorian was getting neutered.

See, my roommates and I fostered a few cats during our final year, and Dorian was the second of three. He was a sweet, very affectionate cat, who also had the biggest balls I have ever seen on any cat in my entire life. It was as if he had suffered the misfortune of having found himself in a daycare during craft time, and the kid who forgot to take his Ritalin superglued some felt cotton balls to his ass. They looked ridiculous. And then he started peeing on things. Things that were not his litterbox. Like the plants, a beer box, the tub, and some shoes in my closet. Which made the house smell like we had sixty cats, all with severe bladder control issues. It was a problem, which we thought might possibly be associated with his ridiculously sized testicles.

Anyways, I managed not to puke on the nice old lady, though she stood in my kitchen, talking at me for at least five minutes while my ability to remain standing was severely tested. Eventually, however, she left, taking the cat and his balls with her, and I slept for another four hours before my mother phoned and I had to try and have an intelligible conversation with her over the phone and not pass out again.

Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent eating homemade nutella and watching excessive amounts of Chuck. I may have also eaten some celery. But mostly I spent the day at our kitchen table, with a spoon, a yogurt container full of chocolatey nut butter, and my laptop, vowing to never make chocolate nut spread ever again with every single delicious bite I took. It was so good, and even though I felt like something somebody had dragged out of a body bag, I could not stop eating it. And then Dorian came home, minus certain parts of himself, but he never peed on any of my footwear ever again.

And that was my first experience with homemade chocolate nut butter. But despite my vow, it was too good not to make again, so I've created a different, but no less delicious version. It's slightly bitter, with a bit of a kick and a subtle lingering of spice, a perfect accompaniment to toast, fruit (fondue anyone?), a spoon, or even a hangover. If you want just a plain chocolate nut spread, leave out the spices.

Spicy Chocolate Almond Spread
This recipe makes A LOT of chocolate nut spread. Which is great if you're planning on gifting a whole batch for Christmas or making goodie baskets for legless children or something, but feel free to half the recipe if you don't want a litre of this stuff on your hands.

2 1/2 cups Almonds
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 3/4 cups Milk (any fat content)
9 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
1 oz Semisweet Chocolate
1/3 cup Honey*
what all weekend breakfasts should include.

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and stick in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes, until slightly browned and toasted. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a food processor.

2. Add spices (if using) and salt in with the almonds and process into nut butter, pausing to scrape down the sides of your food processor as needed. This step will take about 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the power of your food processor. If new to making nut butter, check out these step-by-step photographed demos here and here.

3. While your almonds are processing, you can start on the next step. Chop your chocolate (unless using chips) and set aside. Add the milk and honey to a pot and stir over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate, whisking until all the chocolate is melted and no lumps remain.

4. Add the chocolate milk mixture to the almond butter in the food processor and process until thoroughly blended, pausing to scrape down the sides if you have to.

5. Transfer the spread mixture into containers, such as mason jars, and store in the fridge. After a few hours in the fridge, the mixture will have set and become spreadable. Enjoy on toast, sandwiched between cookies, or even rolled into truffles that you can hide in the freezer, in a secret place away from parents who have a habit of stealing your chocolate.

You can make this vegan by subbing in non-dairy milk (almond milk would be a perfect choice here) and using all semisweet chocolate in place of the unsweetened and doing away with the honey.

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