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Almond butter is a relatively easy food to make provided that you have access to a food processor or other similar tool. The basic steps for making this butter include cooking the almonds, grinding them, and blending them with oil until a creamy paste is formed. Sugar and salt can be added to enhance the flavor, though these seasonings are not necessary.
Before it is possible to make almond butter, the almonds need to be prepared. The edible part of an almond is found at the center of a hard shell, which must be removed. Almonds can be boiled in their shells, a process that both softens the shell and partially cooks the almond, or the shell of the almond can be removed prior to dry-cooking the almond. Roasting is the most common method for cooking almonds because it gives them a better flavor.
In order to roast almonds, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake in an oven at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.7 degrees Celsius) for about ten minutes. The almonds will release a strong nutty scent as they are cooked. Once the roasted almonds have cooled, you can use them to make almond butter.
A number of different tools can be used to grind almonds in order to make almond butter. The simplest of these tools, the mortar and pestle, has been used to grind nuts and seeds into paste for thousands of years. Making a substantial amount of almond butter using this method would take a long time, so electric tools are now used to grind the almonds. Though there are specialized tools available, known as nut butter machines, you can grind almonds in a blender or food processor.
Almonds do not naturally contain enough oil to grind into a paste on their own. In order to make almond butter from fresh almonds, you must add enough oil to liquify the almonds. Any type of oil can be used, though almond oil is preferred because it adds more almond flavor to the butter. Mildly flavored oils, such as vegetable or canola oil can be used in lieu of almond oil. In general, it's necessary to add about a tablespoon (15 mL) of oil per cup (250 mL) of almonds.
Though the only ingredients needed to make almond butter are almonds and oil, some cooks choose to add salt, sugar, or other flavorings as well. Salt brings out the flavor of the almonds, while sugar will sweeten the butter, much as peanut butter is sweetened. Other nuts or seeds and various spices can also be used to make other varieties of almond butter.
Food processors are great for a lot of applications, and making almond butter is certainly one of them. It's best to work in small batches, utilizing the feed tube on the processor. Grind the almonds until they start to come together a little, then drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of oil with the processor still running. Stop the machine to scrape the sides down occasionally, and just process until the butter is the consistency you want.
If you want a really smooth almond butter, you can add a small amount of extra oil, just a few drops at a time. Otherwise, it will be too oily.
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