Sugar-Free Peanutella

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I’m a dummy. The day before I went on a 14-day detox I decided I wanted to learn how to make Smitten Kitchen’s Peanutella. I could’ve sworn it was detox-friendly, but as I was dumping the cocoa powder and peanut oil into the food processor I noticed my huge oversight: 1 ¼ cups Powdered Sugar.

Yeah, that is SO not detox-friendly.

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That’s when I got to be a smarty pants and use dates instead of sugar. I’d been putting them in my green smoothies for awhile, so they seemed like an obvious substitute. Detox-friendly, full of natural sugars and packed with fiber. I’ve had my fill of Nutella for one lifetime – I didn’t need or want anything sickeningly sweet anyway.

I also cut down the cocoa powder, I don’t know why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. The result is a smooth, spreadable peanut butter with a slight undertone of chocolate and enough sweetness to still make licking the spatula fun.

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The second time I made it (as pictured), I added a few more dates and that seemed to throw my recipe off somehow. I ended up adding a lot more oil than the first time around to help it transition from a pasty ball of peanuts and cocoa powder and into the gooey pudding-like treat that’s now firming up in my fridge.

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I also roasted my peanuts for the full 10 minutes – first time around I only went for 5. I wanted to test out a longer roasting time, but since I’m not working with raw peanuts I think I’ll stick to 5 from now on. These guys look a little too toasty, and while some might describe the peanut butter I made as having a “deep” flavor, it just tasted kinda burnt to me.

None of that matters though because all that delicious cocoa powder and date magic covers it up.

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The basic process for this – and other nut butters – is similar to my last post about pumpkin seed butter. Roast nuts/seeds for 5-10 minutes, transfer to food processor and let Sheila do her thang.

For the seeds I had to add oil to get it to liquefy, but with peanuts you just have to be patient, keep blending, and eventually that pasty ball of pulverized peanuts will sonic boom itself to the outer walls of the food processor and BAM! Peanut butter.

I’m not sure how other nuts behave, but I’d be willing to guess walnuts are similar to peanuts, whereas almonds might need a little help getting to the sonic boom.

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Add some salt and stop right there if you just want some basic nut butter. I have a salt tooth, so you might want to scale it back. Or use none at all, which is crazy to me, but again: Salt tooth. I has it.

But if you want something a little more special, this is where you add the dates, cocoa powder and oil. In that order. Because I love how the cocoa-dusted dates look like those little munchers from Super Mario Bros.

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Like I mentioned before, I had to add a lot more oil this time, maybe because of the dates, maybe because there are havoc-wreaking elves living in my kitchen. At one point I put down the expensive peanut oil and just switched to canola oil. The key is to just keep the processor running and add oil in small amounts (I did ½ TBSP at a time).

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But, with some patience, it started to look like this. Then, with more patience (and a round of Hearthstone) it got even smoother. When in doubt, jab a spatula in that puppy and see if it drips– that’s what I always say.

Hopefully by now the idea of making nut butter at home is a little less overwhelming. No, you don’t need one of those fancy grinders they have at the supermarket (aren’t those so fun, though?!). Just a food processor, an oven, and about 15 minutes of your time.

Sugar-Free Peanutella

Makes ~15 oz

2 cups Peanuts, unsalted and unroasted
¼ cup Cocoa Powder
7-10 Medjool Dates, pitted
1 tsp Salt (or less)
2 TBSP Peanut oil (or more)

For Peanut Butter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a food processor and blend for 5 more minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary (I didn’t).
  3. Once it liquefies, add salt to taste and blend some more.

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For Peanutella: 

  1. Add pitted dates and cocoa powder to the peanut butter, and blend.
  2. While running, pull out the top ‘cork’ in your food processor’s lid and slowly add Peanut oil (or a neutral oil, like Canola, if you want) a little at a time. This part you’ll have to eyeball but when the magic amount of oil is hit, you’ll know it.
  3. Continue to blend until smooth(ish, it probably won’t ever be completely smooth). Transfer to glass jars and refrigerate.

Step 4: Eat with, like, ALL OF THE THINGS.

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