Guest blogger: Carolyn
Coconut butter is a remarkable and delicious food. Like peanut butter or almond butter, it is simply the nutmeats of the coconut processed until completely smooth. Coconut butter has all of the nutritional value of coconut oil, along with the protein and fiber of whole coconut.
The most challenging aspect of using coconut butter is that the fats and solids tend to separate. Since both solidify at temperatures under 76 degrees, coconut butter is more difficult to reincorporate than other nut butters, at least for those of us living in cooler climates. In Minnesota, we average about two days a year when weather conditions are such that coconut butter can be used straight from the jar. The two brands that we carry here at Mastel’s are both from California, so I have to laugh when I read the labels; one says “Simply warm and blend back together”, the other states, “Place jar in hot water for 5-10 minutes and stir”. Not only does this not work very well in cool climates, they also neglect to mention that this needs to be done every single time you want to use it. My solution is to warm and stir the entire jar, then portion it out by single servings, so it’s ready to use whenever I want.
There are several ways to warm the jar. It can be placed in a pan of hot water, or set near a heat source (e.g. a radiator, a woodstove, or the top of a stove with the oven on) for a couple of hours. It helps to occasionally stir it with a sturdy spoon very gently, such that it doesn’t slosh over the sides of the jar. Once fully melted and incorporated, measure out by tablespoons and pour into silicon ice cube trays. Allow to resolidify at room temperature, since placing it in the refrigerator can sometimes cause it to cave in and become irregularly shaped. Another storage option is to pour the liquefied coconut butter out by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. It will spread out, so you can cover it with another sheet of wax paper and once it solidifies, store in a quart-sized Ziplock bag. (Does anyone remember Wrapples, those sheets of caramel intended to wrap around apples? It looks like that.)
When ready to use, just take out as many servings as you need, and place in a double boiler over simmering water, or in a bowl near a heat source (like the aforementioned stovetop, radiator, etc.) and heat until melted. You may then proceed with using it as a spread or recipe ingredient.
My favorite use for coconut butter is in little truffles/candies. These are great as holiday or party treats for people with dietary restrictions, such as diabetics and folks with food allergies and/or sensitivities.
2 Tbsp coconut butter
1 Tbsp milk of choice (or more as needed)
¾ tsp vanilla
6 drops Stevita
Pinch of coarse sea salt
4-6 tsp. roasted, chopped nuts or seeds (optional)
Same as vanilla, but add a scant ½ tsp. peppermint extract
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
2 Tbsp milk of choice (or more as needed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Same as chocolate, but add a scant ½ tsp peppermint extract
To make truffles/candies: Melt coconut butter and stir in unsweetened milk of choice, starting with one tablespoon. I use almond milk, but you can also use coconut or cow’s milk. Add additional ingredients (except salt and nuts) and stir well. You may need to keep the bowl warm to keep it from stiffening up. If the batter is still too stiff to stir, add more milk a little at a time to make it workable, but not runny.
Drop by spoonful (whatever size you like) onto a chilled plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper. Top each one with a pinch of coarse sea salt. You can also sprinkle them with finely chopped roasted nuts. I like to use sunflower seeds with the vanilla base to make my own version of a salted nut roll, and walnuts are a great companion to the chocolate mint variety. For an elegant visual effect, freeze the candies, then dip them in (or drizzle with) melted dark chocolate, and refrigerate for a few minutes until the decoration is set.
Place in refrigerator until solid, usually about 30 minutes. These candies can be served at room temperature, and are best handled on days under 70 degrees. Warmer weather can cause them to get a bit oozy, requiring the serving dish to be placed on a bowl of ice.