Roasted almonds are blended together with maple sugar, cinnamon and a touch of coconut oil and salt to make a smooth, creamy spread. So naturally good, and good for you, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon.
Hello? Vermont? Are you still out there?
Despite the fact that the Northeast is BURIED under snow, the sap in the sugar maple trees is surely going to start running very soon. That’s très exciting!
We often think of maple-flavored confections in autumn; perhaps because of the beautiful fall foliage associated with maple trees. In fact, though, maple season starts when the sap starts running in the sugar maples. The season goes for a 4-6 week period from early spring through April until the sugar maples start to bud.
In anticipation of the sap rising, I have recently been working on several recipes involving maple syrup and/or maple sugar. Maple has always been one of my most favorite flavors and cooking with it feels absolutely decadent. Considering what it takes to make one gallon of maple syrup, I suppose that it really is decadent.
Over the past few years, I have developed a strong liking for a particular brand of almond butter. It comes in several varieties, my favorite being maple almond butter. For an evening snack, I use a spoon to nibble away at small amounts of the almond butter while I am mindlessly watching TV. Luckily I am the only one in the house who likes this special treat, so I get the jar all to myself.
The down side to my modest addiction is that store-bought almond butter carries a hefty price tag. Boooo. Of course, though, making my own maple almond butter has become a lovely blessing. Not only is it cheaper, but I get to dress up my homemade almond butter any way I like it and the way I like it is with roasted almonds, maple sugar, cinnamon, a touch of coconut oil and a bit of salt.
Homemade maple-cinnamon almond butter is smooth and creamy. It is looser than peanut butter, actually more on a thick syrupy side. Be sure to process the almonds while they are still warm; they are easier to work with. You’ll need a food processor to make this nut butter — one that can run for 10-15 minutes under a moderate load without self-destructing.
Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 35 mins | Yield: 2 cups
Roasted almonds, pure maple sugar, cinnamon, a little coconut oil and a touch of salt come together to make the best homemade almond butter you will ever have! Make it thick or thin; either way it will put a smile on your face. (Note: Cook Time includes almond butter processing time.
- 3 cups whole, raw almonds
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) pure maple sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat, if desired. Scatter almonds evenly across baking sheet. Roast for 7 minutes; stir to redistribute almonds. Continue to roast an additional 5-7 minutes until the almonds are lightly toasted.
- Remove almonds from oven and allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes. While almonds are still warm, place them in the bowl of a food processor. Remove the plunger or food pusher from the small central tube in the lid. This will allow steam and moisture to escape during processing. Process for 1-2 minutes until the almonds are broken down and take on a mealy appearance. Stop the food processor, remove lid and scrape down sides of processing bowl.
- Snap processor lid in place and continue processing almonds until smooth and loosely creamy. This may take up to 15 minutes (or longer in some machines). Stop the food processor as necessary to scrape down the sides of the processing bowl. During processing, the almonds will go through several stages including a point where most of the almond butter will come together into a ball. Please note: The food processor may become unstable during this stage and “walk” across the counter top. Simply hold it in place with your hands. The ball stage precedes the smoothing out stage where the almonds become a smooth almond butter.
- When the almond butter has reached the desired consistency (see notes), stop the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds – 1 minute until well combined. Store, covered, in a glass jar in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month or in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
- Be attentive when roasting the almonds. They can easily burn in the later stage of roasting. Be sure to check them at the 12-minute mark; they may be ready at that time or it could take up to 15 minutes.
- When processing, after the ball stage, the almond butter will smooth out. Initially it will be thick. Continued processing will cause the almond butter to thin out until it becomes the consistency of honey. The processing can be stopped at any point after the ball stage, depending on personal texture preferences.
For the very best flavor, it’s important to roast the almonds before making the almond butter. They are very easy to roast in the oven. Simply spread the almonds out on a baking sheet, roast for 7 minutes at 350º F, stir, then roast for an additional 5-7 minutes. You’re done!
While the almonds are still nice and warm, dump them into a food processor — the electric kind; not the human kind. Very warm almonds blend better than cool almonds and cuts the processing time significantly.
Process the almonds for a minute or two. They will look something like the picture above. They look mealy down at the bottom around the blades. As the almonds process, they compact and work their way up the sides of bowl. Stop processing every couple of minutes as needed and scrape down the sides.
In this photo, I have just scraped down the sides of the bowl after the first 1-2 minutes. The almonds are grainy at this point, but are already showing signs of the oils being released.
When working with very warm almonds, be sure to take out the plunger that rests in the center tube of the food processor lid. The almonds give off moisture as they process. Plus, extra heat is created by the friction of the blades against the almonds and the open chute will allow both excess heat and steam to escape.
See what I mean about the steam? I love taking photos of steam.
At some point during the processing — maybe somewhere around 5-10 minutes — the almond butter will become very thick and will clump together. You may have to hold onto your food processor to keep it from “walking” off the counter top. Some folks have nice, sturdy food processors that stay put. I am not one of those folks. Anyway, when the almond butter reaches this wad-of-almond stage, you will know that you are heading towards the finishing line.
Quite suddenly that wad of almond butter that was banging around inside your food processor will begin to smooth out into a creamy consistency. This is getting exciting. Stop the processing at this point if you like a thicker style of almond butter with little bits of ground up almond for texture. Toss in the remainder of the ingredients and blitz everything together for a few seconds. Otherwise, continue onward.
Like magic, the almond butter becomes smooth and rather liquid-y. All of those wonderful oils have been released and the almond butter is ready for the rest of the ingredients. This is the texture that I have come to like in homemade almond butter. Don’t be fooled, though, by its smooth appearance…it will seriously stick to the roof of your mouth, your tongue, your teeth, the back of your throat, etc. Oh, and P.S., it sticks to fingers, too.
I really hope that you have some maple sugar because it is a terrific tasting product. I only have about 3/4 cup of it left and I have absolutely GOT to get some more of it, pronto! I really like adding this to almond butter, not only for the flavor, but also for the tiny little crunchy granules dispersed throughout the almond butter.
Cinnamon and maple are meant to be together. I think that cinnamon is such an interesting spice because of all dishes in which it is used. It works well in both sweet and savory foods. Toss a teaspoon of it in the almond butter. Mmmmm.
It only takes one teaspoon of coconut oil to add a subtle coconut background flavor for this almond butter. The hint of coconut works well with the maple and cinnamon flavors. Be sure to use extra virgin coconut oil for the fullest coconut flavor.
Personally, I like a little salt in nut butters. It enhances the other flavors beautifully. I like between 1/4 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in this almond butter.
And here is the finished product. Well, almost finished. The sides of the bowl need to be scraped down again to get all of the maple sugar and cinnamon off the bowl and back into the almond butter where they belong.
I like to store almond butter in a 1-pint glass jar. It is the perfect size to hold a batch of this nut butter. It is also a perfect size jar to hold in one hand while holding a nibbling spoon in the other hand. One more thing, you simply HAVE to try almond butter on toast. Oh my goodness, what a treat!
What’s my very favorite way to eat Maple-Cinnamon Almond Butter? With a spoon, of course!
Fun Facts to Know and Tell
Here are some links of interest. They are very informative and answer a lot of questions regarding sugar maples and maple sugar production. Click on the links to learn more about one of nature’s most impressive sugars.
- Hillis’ Sugarbush Farm and Vineyard — great FAQ page. Scroll down the page to find answers to all of the questions that appear at the top of the page. As a side note, I had no idea that Vermont was developing wines. New cold hardy grape varieties have been and are being developed which allows the grape vines to survive the severe cold winters of Vermont.
- Cornell Sugar Maple Research and Extension Program — lots of great Q&A about many aspects of sugar maples and maple syrup production.
You may also like: