If I had to make a prediction for a 2014 food trend, I’d pick artisan nut butters. Yep, I’m talking $12/jar fancy shmancy nut butters. They might be a blend of different nuts or have special spices and flavors added. Of course, chocolate-hazelnut has been done and people love it. What about vanilla cashew butter or ginger brazil nut butter or cardamom almond hemp seed butter?
So I thought I’d whip up my own batch of trendy nut butter using good ole Texas pecans and chai spices. Making nut butter is so easy. Um, you put the nuts in a food processor and let it whirl around until it turns into nut butter. That’s pretty much it. I liked using pecans because I can get them locally since I live in Houston. It’s our state tree and everything. Pecan trees, a species of hickory trees, are actually native to the U.S. and our country produces more than 80 – 90% of the world’s supply. So that’s neat, too.
To make this special, I whipped up a little chai spice blend. First I processed the pecans until they turned into a nut butter. Surprisingly, this only takes a few minutes. Then I added the spices and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. I tasted the mixture and decided to add a little more cinnamon and ginger. This is where you get to improvise and make it the way you like it.
Chai-Spiced Pecan Butter
Makes 1 jar
2 cups whole pecans (Texas, if you can get ’em)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod
1 star anise
1-2 cardamom pods (or 1/8 tsp ground cardamom)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
Place pecans in bowl of food processor and process until a nut butter begins to form. This takes a few minutes. Meanwhile, place star anise and cardamom pods, if using, in a spice grinder and ground until powdered. Mix all dry spices together in a small ramekin. Add scraped vanilla seeds and 1 tsp chai spice mixture to the pecan butter. Process to incorporate all the flavors. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired, by adding more spice mixture or individual spices. Place in jar and store in pantry.