Nicola Galloway: Chocolate Almond Butter


Nicola makes her version of a decadent classic – chocolate spread.

Words and images: Nicola Galloway

Our property is a little shy of a quarter acre. This isn’t a huge property on the scheme of things, but with some strategic planting, we have managed to fit quite a selection of edibles onto our patch of suburban land. Being situated in what I think of as the crossover climate of Te Tau Ihu (Top of the South) we are fortunate to grow a large selection of produce. With solid frosts for the likes of stone fruit, temperate climate for pip and citrus fruit, and even subtropicals can do well here with some care.

When I was younger I dreamed of having a larger patch of land. Large enough to raise some animals, maybe even a house cow, with plenty of space. Somewhere along the way I realised that dream wasn’t going to come to fruition and was no longer what I aspired to. A rural lifestyle block wouldn’t suit our way of life, to live within walking and biking distance of schools and shops, and close to our community of family and friends. Driving to get everywhere and anywhere wasn’t how we wanted to be spending our time.

So we looked at what we had, a suburban property situated in a frosty valley, and started planting (or more accurately: added to what was already here). My husband’s vision was to have our own avocados, which he has achieved, but that is a story for another day. Mine was homegrown nuts. This might seem far-fetched in a suburban property but we have the advantage of a western boundary bordering onto a waterway. Essentially dead space with a steep bank down to the stream, but perfect for planting a selection of nut trees.

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So, eight years ago we planted one almond, one walnut, and three hazelnut trees. These are long-term trees that we will benefit from most in years to come, with a small but growing harvest of nuts each season. The almond is the most prolific, but also the hardest to crack. With the help of an excellent crank-style nutcracker from Ohiwa Macadamias, and some team effort we can crack a box of dried nuts in a short time. This last weekend was almond cracking time, with the incentive being that I would make a jar of chocolate almond butter. Works every time, and is a delicious once-a-year treat.

Chocolate Almond Butter

The almonds we grow are called Monovale and are quite different to almonds from the store. They are much stronger in flavour (think marzipan) so a little goes a long way. Roasted hazelnuts would also work well in this recipe.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 250g jar

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups (220g) almonds or hazelnuts
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
generous pinch of salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 150C (fan 130C).

Scatter the almonds on a shallow baking tray and place into the heated oven. Roast for 10 minutes then shake the tray and roast for a further 5-10 minutes until golden and skins are cracking. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes.

Place the still warm almonds (this is important) into a food processor. Blend for 1-3 minutes until the nuts come together into a paste. Scrape down the sides as needed. The total time needed to get to this stage will depend on the power of the processor.

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Add the cocoa, sweetener to taste, and salt. Blend again to combine. Then with the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend for another minute until smooth. It will still be a little grainy, this is fine.

Scoop into a jar and store in the pantry using within 1 month.

Spread on toast, use in scrolls, or serve with ice cream and preserved fruit.

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