Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just in time for Easter..."HEALTHY" HOMEMADE FUDGE! (and almond butter)

The fudge portion is about 1 inch high and this is
the smallest of 3 containers that this recipe made
This recipe was my introduction to coconut oil, and after eating this delicious goodness, it had me seeking out the merits and health benefits of the much revered and touted ingredient.  Yes, the fudge I have deemed as "healthy" has sugar, but between the coconut oil and the almond butter, it is still packed with far more goodness than traditional candy or many other sweet treats.  I also think if you're going to eat something sweet and/or fattening, at the very least eat something homemade with a few simple ingredients. :)  It is simple to make and so yummy you won't be sorry if you try it!

My first attempt at this fudge was one for the abysmal "pinterest fail" books (don't worry - I solved the problems for you!), emphasized by my daughter who is always grinning ear to ear when helping me in the kitchen actually saying, "Can I go now?" while I struggled with the food processor to rescue my first attempt.  The problem was I only heated my coconut oil as I was instructed to do, and that was quickly negated by the fact that I foolishly added it to almond butter that had been stored in my refrigerator.  I also started the recipe trying out an old blender that had recently been passed onto me, and it smelled like it was burning and the fudge seized up into a glob.  Try getting solid fudge out of blender blades!  I should've just stopped there, but my daughter had proudly lined a mini muffin tin with papers, and was anxiously awaiting the moment when I could pour the fudge in them.  One solid glob was not so pourable.  So I transfered it to my food processor in hopes that the heat of the blades would soften it, but instead the oil separated out and the solid mass sloshed around and around in it.  When coupled with the cocoa powder my daughter had spilled everywhere when we were measuring the ingredients, this made for an epic mess.  In the end I scrapped the mini muffin tins my daughter was so excited about, and just strained off the oil and pressed the mass into a container.  It still ended up being beyond delicious, but since that first attempt I have straightened everything out, and while I still just go with the traditional single container to slice into squares, the mixture is pourable and could be used in a mold or in mini muffin tins.  I also think it would be suitable for a blender this way.

I'd link it to the initial recipe I used, but I tweaked it substantially, and have added more thorough instructions. 

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (see notes below on tips to make your own)
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup (you can substitute maple syrup or honey, but you may need up to a 1/2 c.)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • measure coconut oil first, then heat in microwave or on stovetop until it is a clear liquid
  • heat almond butter and agave in microwave or on stovetop until warm
  • add warmed coconut oil, almond butter and agave to food processor or blender, add vanilla and cocoa powder and blend until smooth
  • taste mixture - you can adjust the sweetness by adding more sweetener, or if it's too sweet for your liking you can always add a little more cocoa powder and use less sweetener the next time around
  • NOTE: I use homemade almond butter (see tips below to make your own) that I make extra runny, so my mixture is always very thin and pourable at this point.  If you use store bought almond butter it may be a little thicker but I think it should still work if you want to use mini muffin tins or molds. 
  • pour mixture into one big container or molds/mini muffin tins and chill
  • I start it in the freezer for about an hour to speed up the set up process, and it probably takes another 3-4 hours in the refrigerator to fully harden to a fudgy consistency, but again, mine starts out very thin so with store bought almond butter this may go a little faster.


It really couldn't be easier to make, and it's actually a lot of fun to watch the transformation!  You need a decently powered food processor, as I have heard tales of food processors burning out - so please be aware and be careful.  However, my little 500W Cuisinart that is about 18 years old does the job just fine.  And yes, I do cringe every time I make these recipes wondering what is leaching out of that 18 year old plastic, but for now it's all I've got so I have to make due. 

12 oz of almonds makes approx 1.25 cups of almond butter, and that's the only ingredient!

Some out there may prefer all the health benefits of raw almonds (if so, skip to the next paragraph), but I have no raw diet restrictions and prefer the flavor of toasted almonds.  To do so, I dump them in a dry, hot pan large enough to create a single layer of almonds, stirring regularly (not constantly, but regularly) over med-high to high heat.  DO NOT leave them unattended as they can burn very quickly, especially without movement.  Once you see a few toasty dots on them and you will probably smell them at this point, they are on their way and you can take them off the heat.  This can also be done on a sheet pan in the oven, but I find it's much more difficult to monitor and easier to burn them.  The oils in the nuts retain so much heat that they will keep going long after you take them off the heat and even out of the pan.  In fact, I usually put a small sheet pan in the freezer while they are toasting, and when the nuts come off the heat, I dump them in the cold pan and pop it back in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the nuts cool down.  It stops the carry over cooking and you can control when they're done more easily. 

Then just pour all the nuts in the food processor and press on.  You may need to scrape here and there and early on you may need to break up the single glob it forms if the blade isn't getting through it, but for the most part you just let it go for about 10 to 15 minutes.  First it will be crumbly, then it will form into a big ball (that's where you may need to break it up once or twice to make it easier on your food processor), then it will turn into a more familiar butter.  I used to stop there, but since the blades create heat, once it cools it will get so stiff and difficult to spread.  I keep going and going and going until the mixture is thin, pourable and runny.  You can easily drizzle it.  If you take it that far, it doesn't get much thicker even after cooling down, and is very easy to work with, not to mention delicious drizzled on slices of apples!  I store it in the refrigerator, but it usually doesn't stick around very long!

Oh and do NOT add honey or anything to make it sweeter, as it will seize and get very thick.  I haven't experimented at all with adding honey once the butter is completely done, but I read that it is not good to add it in the beginning or middle of the process.  I'm happy with the sweetness toasting the almonds provides, or the sweetness of the yummy apples I love to eat it with, and certainly if you're making it to use in the fudge, you don't need it any sweeter.  So almonds and a food processor...that's all you need to make your very own homemade almond butter! 

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