I spent a few days in beautiful Stowe, Vermont with my family recently.



We had a great time, and I was really looking forward to sharing some photos of our trip with you (the ones you see here are from my iPhone, but I took a few hundred more with my camera).

But then I accidentally erased them. Wiped them clean off the memory card when they hadn’t yet been backed up (obviously I erroneously thought that they had).

When it happened, I started to cry. My favorite picture I’ve ever taken of my son was in the batch. He was drinking a smoothie at the Ben and Jerry’s factory and looked so happy and handsome. All the photos of an awesome hike we did are gone, too- a hike my daughter swore up and down she absolutely could not finish because it was way too difficult but which she did in fact complete-and then smiled ear to ear at the top. The photos of the ducks in the lake at the end of the hike- the most beautiful ducks I have ever seen- gliding through the water bathed in the most perfect light ever. And lots more images I loved. All gone.

When my daughter asked why I was crying, I explained to her that the photos were my way of preserving my memories of the trip. That I needed them to remind me of all the fun we had. Of all the beautiful things we saw. “I know you like to take pictures, mom”, she said, “but you don’t really need them to remember our trip. The memories are inside you”. Of course she is right, but you can be damn sure I won’t ever make that mistake with one of my photo cards again.

What does this all have to do with walnut butter, you ask? Well in one of the shops in Stowe, there was a fantastic array of artisanal foods made in Vermont. One of the companies whose products were featured there made unique and delicious sounding nut butters, so I came home inspired to make my own.

Years ago, when I first discovered that you can make butters from all manners of nuts and seeds besides the peanut (which, after all is not even a nut…it’s a legume), I was beyond excited. Pecan butter? Macadamia butter? Pumpkin seed butter? Walnut butter? Yes, please.

walnuts-for-walnut-butter

I’ve never added anything “fun” to my nut/seed butters before but with all the ridiculously crazy weather we’ve been having (which limits trips to the store), I’ve been raiding my pantry. Here, I wanted to use up some dried cherries I purchased at Trader Joe’s a while back as well as some long-forgotten cacao nibs.

I really like this combination! The walnuts and cacao nibs have just a slight bitterness that is tempered by the addition of the dried cherries and the maple syrup. Don’t forget the salt- it’s just a small amount, but I think the flavor falls flat without it- and make sure to use a high quality Himalayan or sea salt for the best (and healthiest) results.

If you can’t find or don’t like cacao nibs, you can substitute some finely chopped organic dark chocolate, if you like.

Recipe for Toasted Walnut Butter with Dried Cherries and Cacao Nibs

Yield: 1 cup

It's so easy make customized nut/seed butters at home- all you need is a food processor or high speed blender (I used a Blendtec blender for this recipe).

Ingredients:

*2 cups raw, organic walnuts, toasted in a 300 degree F oven for 20 minutes and then cooled slightly (if you have time to soak your walnuts in water overnight first, go ahead and do so...this can help make them easier to digest; if you do soak them, rinse them in clean water and pay dry before toasting them, or skip the toasting step)
*1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil (or use a different neutral oil like grapeseed)
*1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
*1/4 cup unsweetened, unsulphured dried cherries, chopped (I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
*pinch or two of fine Himalayan or sea salt (start with one pinch, blend, taste, and add more if needed)
*1-2 tablespoons cacao nibs or finely chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

1. Process walnuts in blender (or food processor). Add oil, if needed, to help blend them as they start to get sticky. Keep blending until the mixture smooths out (this took a few minutes in my Blendtec.

2. Add maple syrup, dried cherries, and salt, and process again. I didn't do this for long, because I wanted little chunks of dried cherries to remain. Taste and add more salt or maple syrup, if necessary.

3. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the walnut butter into a small bowl and add the cacao nibs. Mix well, then pack into a one cup glass jar for storage.

4. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy over the next couple of weeks. It's great on your favorite gluten-free or traditional toast, but it's also delicious spooned straight into one's mouth :)

More nut butter love:

Homemade Walnut Butter from Gluten Free Girl
Walnut Butter Heaven from Eat Well with Janel
Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter from How Sweet Eats
Nut Butters: Your Questions Answered from Edible Perspective

This post is linked to I’m Lovin’ It over at Tidy Mom.

 

20 Comments

  1. 1

    Annie @ Naturally Sweet Recipes — September 10, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    Vermont looks gorgeous! Hope you had great time!

    This walnut butter looks amazing!! I’ve never even thought try to make to make my own butters. It sounds fantastic, thanks!

  2. 2

    Sally — September 10, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    I hate when that happens. I guess we need our children to keep us real. After framing the picture once it is already burned into the memory bank! (but, like you, I sure would like to look at the photo and admire it from time to time.) Sometimes I think a camera is a hinderance/keeps you from being in the moment. My son (college age) still tells me to put it away, but then I remind him how he enjoys looking at himself in the old photos :)

    Walnut butter: on my list, need to use up the cocoa nibs!

  3. 3

    LiztheChef — September 10, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    So sorry to have lost all those photos. I always think of what I would grab if we had to evacuate our house – old family albums pre-computer are , after the kitties, at the top of my list…Your butter looks wonderful and inspires me to experiment.

  4. 4

    Paula — September 10, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    I was on that ski lift a few summers ago! The first and only time I’ve ever gone on one. I don’t ski…now I know why. The lift ride frightened the heck out of me and to this day, being afraid of heights, I don’t know why I even went on the lift ride. Yes, the view was amazing and I’m glad that I did see some of Vermont that way but once was certainly enough for a chicken like me.
    Your walnut butter looks so inviting and I can imagine how delicious it would be on a thick slice of warm home-made toasted bread.
    It’s a shame about losing those pictures, really. Though we have our memories, there is nothing better than having them brought more vividly to us than being able to click on a folder and having them pop up or printing out a hard copy to frame. I would have cried too.

  5. 5

    Evan Thomas — September 10, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    I love the flavor combination. Walnut, cherries, and chocolate were meant to be. I haven’t had cacao nibs in ages because they’re usually expensive, but if I ever come across them again when they’re on sale I’ll definitely be picking some up to try this.

  6. 6

    The Cilantropist — September 10, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    I love this idea and kudos to you for using what you have in your pantry! :) And oh man, do I know that awful feeling of losing treasured photos. It sort of leaves a hole in your heart doesn’t it? But your daughter is absolutely right – her reminder that your memories are saved inside you is such a good one!

  7. 7

    Ricki — September 10, 2011 @ 11:29 am

    So sorry about the photos! I often worry about that same thing with my digital camera (and my distracted mind). But your daughter is right, and you do have your memories forever. And those iPhone photos are remarkably good, I’d say! :)

    Walnut butter is my favorite nut butter, I think. . . the very first walnut butter I made had cacao nibs in it, too, and I love that contrast between the butter and nibs (I make mine very smooth in contrast to yours, which looks more crunchy). I’ve seen some store brands with fruit in them but have never tried it–but this just sounds so darned delicious, I am going to have to! The only problem with yummy walnut butter, of course, is that I end up eating it directly off a spoon. ;)

  8. 8

    Kathryn — September 10, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    I love the combination of flavours in this butter – the cocoa nibs sound wonderful!

    I’m so sorry about your photos – I’m always terrified that I’m going to do something like that :(

  9. 9

    na — September 10, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your photos. That happened to me once…..all our fifth wedding anniversary vacation pictures erased in the fraction of a few seconds. And i cried too, a lot. It was the stupid new windows operating system at that time that got me confused with the million choices to choose from when I copied and pasted files from my camera file to a local file…..sigh.

  10. 10

    France @ Beyond The Peel — September 11, 2011 @ 12:14 am

    Wow, not only creative but it looks and sounds amazing. Thanks you for sharing this homemade nut butter recipe. I think it will be a must try!

  11. 11

    Greenderella — September 11, 2011 @ 3:30 am

    This sounds and looks so tatsy! I have to try it… Thanks for sharing! :-)

  12. 12

    Jeanette — September 11, 2011 @ 6:42 am

    Isn’t it funny how kids just put everything in perspective? I used to video every one of my kid’s school events, and then I realized I was missing the moment, just sitting there and enjoying it. I too get so caught up in capturing those family vacation memories. Love your idea of adding dried fruit and cacao nibs to your nut butter!

  13. 13

    Sarah — September 11, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

    I just want to let you know, that you can get those pictures back!!!!!!! My sister did the same thing and we got the pictures recovered. I can’t remember the website we used, but just do a search online. You hook your SD card or camera up to your computer and the program is able to recover the pictures. Because they aren’t permanently erased, just unreachable to you. I hope it works for you, we were SO HAPPY to get my sister’s pics back!!!

    And also, this recipe looks delish and I will hopefully be making it soon!!!

    • Winnie replied: — September 11th, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

      Sarah you are a goddess and I owe you big time! I took your advice and found the photo recovery software online…was able to recover just about all of my photos thanks to you. I feel so much better and I am forever grateful to you xoxo

  14. 14

    Janel — September 12, 2011 @ 6:06 am

    This looks fantastic! I never think to really veer too far from the regular ‘ol walnut butter because it is SO good as is! But I do love dried cherries and think it’d be a really nice spread on toast. Thanks for linking!

  15. 15

    Elle — September 12, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    I confess I read your post quickly to tell you about the SD card recovery thing! So happy that you got your photos back! The nut butter looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try making some! Off to read your post properly. :)

  16. 16

    Caitlin — September 12, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    i am a total fanatic over nut butters and i love making my own. walnuts are my favorite nut, but i have yet to ever make butter from them. i’m ashamed to admit that i was afraid it wouldn’t taste good due to the fact that i’ve never seen walnut butter before. BUT, now i’ve seen it and now i shall make it! thanks for kicking my butt in the nut butter department ;) !

  17. 17

    5 Must Try Homemade Nut Butter Recipes | taste station blog — September 13, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    [...] Walnut Butter with Cherries and Cacao Nibs Toasted walnuts, dried cherries and bittersweet cacao nibs (or dark chocolate shavings) make this rich nut butter an incomparable condiment. [...]

  18. 18

    laurasmess — April 12, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

    Yuuum! This butter sounds incredible Winnie! Great combination of superfoods… mmm, I think if I made a batch I’d want to eat it on everything :) Love your blog, this is my first visit and I already feel refreshed and inspired. By the way, I’ve been struggling to use a jar of cacao nibs that I bought a couple months ago and I think this recipe might be the solution! Thanks lovely!! x

  19. 19

    Springtime Breakfast Recipes | Wholly Eva — March 12, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

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