When I was a kindergarten teacher, the kids often brought thick slices of chocolate-stuffed tsoureki (a soft, braided egg bread traditional at Easter but available year-round in Greece) for their morning snacks. The chocolate variety was filled with Merenda, a frosting-like chocolate spread similar to Nutella. One morning the aroma from a child’s slice was so heady, I considered running to the corner bakery at break time, just to buy my own loaf. I suppose I’ll never really grow up, not when I still want chocolate for breakfast.
In my last post, I mentioned that I’d been working on a chocolate almond butter recipe. The idea had been Spyros’s but I wanted to expand on it and create a spread with that would be less sweet with a stronger chocolate flavor than the commercial brands. I guess it’s my way of finally getting a decent substitute for that chocolate tsoureki.
But developing a healthy chocolate-almond butter was not as easy as I imagined. First I tried a vegan recipe that called for stirring cocoa powder and maple syrup into prepared almond butter. I combined all the ingredients in the food processor and, as I increased the speed, I noticed that the butter had begun to clog the blades. The final consistency was more like brownie batter than nut butter—which tasted great—but was so thick, it tore the toast I tried to spread it on.
On the second try, I tried my own invention. I melted a few squares of dark chocolate in place of the cocoa powder and blended it with almond butter. The results were melty but spreadable, a true chocolate nut butter. I was hopeful. Next I added couple tablespoons of maple syrup, again, for sweetness. As I blended, panic seeped into my stomach as I saw that the mixture had again become gummy, forming a ball of sticky chocolate sludge.
In the end, the best chocolate almond butter recipe had been the easiest. For my final attempt (and I decided it would be my final attempt because I was getting frustrated) I melted chocolate, already sweetened to my liking (a dark, 70% cacao), and stirred it into homemade almond butter. I spooned the mixture into a jar, let it cool then put it in the fridge.
Early the next morning, as the sun brightened our kitchen window, I split and toasted a few baguettes. Taking a butter knife, I scooped dollops of chocolate-almond butter from the jar and spread it on the toasted baguettes in thick layers. I crunched into my piece, allowing the chocolate/ almond paste to mix with the bread in my mouth. I tasted almonds and dark chocolate; their flavor heightened by the odd salt crystal. Sitting in my breakfast nook, I thought that I should spend more mornings this way, joyful as a kid. Perhaps all it takes is chocolate for breakfast.
*This recipe creates a dark chocolate almond butter, more like a molé than Nutella. If you’d prefer a sweeter version (and I encourage you to try it), use a sweeter chocolate, perhaps milk, semi-sweet, or any other chocolate with a lower cacao percentage. You could also try a combination of chocolates, 70% and 60% cacao, for instance. Experiment and find what works best for you.
**Because this recipe contains melted chocolate, the resulting almond butter hardens in the refrigerator. Allow it to soften at room temperature about 10-15 minutes before use.
Homemade Chocolate Almond Butter
¾ cup almond butter, homemade or store-bought
65 grams (2.3 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I use 70% cacao)
1-2 tablespoons canola, sunflower, or other neutral-flavored oil (optional)
- Spoon the almond butter into the food processor bowl and set aside.
- Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 20% power, for 15 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave the chocolate for 15 second bursts, then stir, until the chocolate has melted. The final bout in the microwave may only need about 10 seconds; be careful not to overheat.
- Scrape the melted chocolate into the food processor bowl with the almond butter and pulse until the mixture is well incorporated, scraping the food processor bowl occasionally. Add a tablespoon or so of oil, if you find you’d like a thinner consistency.
- Spoon the chocolate almond butter into a glass jar or airtight container. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then cover and keep in the refrigerator. Stays fresh for about 3 weeks.