I’ve wanted to write about almond butter for a while now, but life and kitchen mistakes (mostly kitchen mistakes) got in the way. If you’re thinking, Lauren there’s no way almond butter could be Greek or even Greek-inspired, you’re correct. I’m posting about homemade almond butter, though, because some months ago I remembered that I had two, Kirkland-sized bags of almonds stashed in our chest freezer. It was also the start of spring, which Greeks say is heralded by blossoming almond trees.
I had learned about almond trees and spring my first year living in Greece. At the time, I worked as an assistant teacher at a kindergarten. The winter had been cold and windy and Greeks, I discovered, only heated their buildings in the morning and at bedtime. My hands—always sensitive to cold—were purple most of the time. I hoped for warmer weather.
One day late in February, I had recess duty with another assistant, a Greek friend.
“Look up, Lauren,” she said, tilting her face toward the sky, her raven hair falling behind her shoulders. “The almond tree is blooming. In Greece we say that when it flowers, spring is here.”
I followed her gaze to the tree just above our heads. White flowers with pink stains cocooned the bare branches, like blossoms on a bridal crown. I was surprised to learn it was an almond tree, a tree I imagined to be exotic and confined to plantations even farther south. My friend assured me that amygdalia, almond trees, were actually quite common in Greece.
It made sense. Greeks use almonds in salads, sweets and drinks. Sugared almonds are traditional party favors at weddings. According to Spyros, almonds are becoming popular as an agricultural crop since they are profitable and adapt well to the climate.
In March our climate was clear and sunny but on the day I made my first batch of homemade almond butter, I over-roasted the almonds. This gave the butter a rusty hue which was no good for blog photos, but perfectly fine for eating. Which I did.
I made almond butter again last week, with a twist. I got the idea to add dark chocolate into the mix, for a more Nutella-like spread, and followed a recipe which called for cocoa powder and maple syrup. Sadly, the resulting consistency was rather gummy. The ground almonds also failed to form a paste and I added about ¼ cup of peanut oil just to make it spreadable.
I tried to make plain almond butter again a few days later. Apparently, because I had added salt to the almonds before I had blitzed them in the food processor, the mixture was unable to meld into butter. Well, now I know better.
Now I have an almond butter that is creamy and thick. It makes a satisfying nut-butter sandwich when smattered with orange marmalade. It’s also nice on toast and I’ve become accustomed to stirring it into my oatmeal with a splash of milk for breakfast. Most of all, I like this recipe because it uses very few ingredients. Just almonds, salt, and a little oil, if you need it. It’s also a great way to use a lot of almonds (I’ll be posting the recipe for the improved dark chocolate almond butter, soon) It was a healthy start to my spring, a treat I’ll bring with me into summer.
Homemade Almond Butter
3 cups whole almonds, unroasted and unsalted
A couple pinches of salt
1-2 tablespoons canola, peanut, or other neutral tasting oil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350oF (175oC). Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes stirring every 2 minutes until the almonds have reached the color you prefer and smell fragrant.
- Pour the almonds into a food processor and pulse for 2 minutes, until the almond meal becomes caked on the sides of the bowl. Continue to scrape, pulse, scrape until a smooth paste forms. If your meal never forms a paste or you’d like a runnier almond butter, add a tablespoon or two of the above mentioned oils. Throw in the salt and pulse until well-incorporated.
Now it’s ready to be stored and, most important, enjoyed.