Nut butter. Staple. If you didn’t grow up scraping Sun-Pat on white Warburtons off the roof of your mouth whilst watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in your PJ’s then you clearly weren’t my elder brother. Whilst this initiation to the world of peanut butter does not present a childhood favourite in the most favourable light it is a memory that sticks (literally) in my mind, although I for one always preferred the bread to be toasted first so the butter would melt slightly and the added toast texture would prevent a sudden gag reflex. He has since matured and moved on to Skippy, whilst I only crave the pots of expensive nothing but nuts kind. However my graduation to the upper realms of kitchen gagedtery means my Magimix of dreams can knock out a batch of my prefered nut butter in about 15 minutes flat. I can pick my nut and choose my destiny, whether that be cashew, almond, hazelnut or brazil, then add only the things I fancy. Most of the time nothing can beat straight up smooth with a flourish of fleur de sel, but sometimes, just sometimes it pays to play with a classic. Below you’ll find my recipe for Chai-Spice Nut Butter, a winter affair that sees toasted nuts blended with an evocative mix of sweet spices, all reminiscent of those found in traditional Masala Chai – cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and crushed black pepper. It works unbelievably well with tart berries, just cook them down with a little sugar to a thick syrup, and knock out your own nod to the classic PB&J sandwich.
For the Chai Spice Mix
(Makes approximately 20g, more than you need for the nut butter.)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/4 tsp anise seeds
26 cardamom pods, seeds ground fine
1/4 tsp black pepper
For the Nut Butter
(Makes 2-3 jars)
800g nuts of your choice
6 tsp chai spice mix
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1. To make the spice mix place the anise seeds in a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamom pods, remove the husks and add those seeds too, grind until fine. Mix the ground anise and cardamom with the reest of the ground spices. Store your mix in a jar.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and spread the nuts out on a baking sheet.
3. Place in the oven to toast for around 10-15 minutes or until they have turned light brown in colour and smell divine.
4. Allow the nuts to cool a little then place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the spice mix and salt and turn on to blitz.
5. The nuts will initially grind to a meal but keep processing, letting the machine do the work, soon it will begin to clump and form more of a paste, eventually turning into a silky smooth nut butter.
6. The whole process can take anywhere from 5 minutes up to 10 minutes, depending upon the power of your processor and the type of nut…(you know some nuts are harder to crack than others).
7. Once your nut butter is processed to the desired consistency taste to check for seasoning and add more salt if you like.
8. Decant into sterilised jars and seal. I would recommend that you store any unopened jars of nut butter in the fridge to preserve the shelf life. I find that my current open jar rarely gets returned to the fride, indeed it almost never leaves my sight.