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Where Have You Been All My Life, Coconut Butter?

If you haven’t been introduced to coconut butter yet, you can thank me now. This is the food item you didn’t know your life was missing.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you crave something creamy and delicious, like, every afternoon around now (1:30 p.m.)? Do you wish there was some kind of magic food that satisfied your sweet tooth and fat craving but didn’t contain sugar, butter, trans fats, or creepy sweeteners like aspartame? Well, coconut butter is IT. This amazingly delicious, melt-in-your-mouth substance is basically just what it sounds like: “butter” made from ground up coconut. Yep, one ingredient.

I usually eat coconut butter with a spoon; it’s mildly sweet, and a couple bites totally satisfy my candy craving. I’ve also tried it spread on warm banana bread — OMG — and pancakes. It also finds its way into smoothies (my son is obsessed with making virgin piña coladas with coconut butter and pineapple) and oatmeal, and I recently used it to make incredible vegan fudge. But mostly I eat it with a spoon.

You can buy coconut butter at health food stores (I first saw it at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocer I think), but it’s really easy to make if you have a food processor or high-powered blender. If you do buy it instead of make it, beware: The first time I tried it, I didn’t realize that the coconut oil had separated from the coconut meat, and I ate a huge bite of vaguely coconut-y but mostly tasteless oil. Like natural peanut butter, it needs to be stirred. For this reason, I actually like the homemade version better; mine is slightly creamier than the store-bought kind.

When you make coconut butter, use an entire bag of dried coconut flakes; it will fill the bowl of the food processor better and come together more easily. Make sure the coconut is unsweetened and that “coconut” is the only ingredient. One easy-to-find brand is Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve made this with Sprouts’ store brand coconut and Let’s Do…Organic Coconut Flakes from Whole Foods, and all work great. Once your coconut is transformed into butter, scrape it into a jar. It does not need to be refrigerated, and it will keep for weeks. Actually, I have no idea how long it keeps. Did I mention I eat this stuff, with a spoon, almost every day?

Homemade Coconut Butter
Dried coconut flakes (at least 2 cups)

Place coconut in food processor and process on high for 15-20 minutes (if you use a VitaMix or other high-powered blender, the time will be shorter, more like 5-10 minutes, but it might be difficult to scrape the sides and get all the precious coconut butter out of the jar). The coconut will first break into clumps and then start to look like sand before coming together in a creamy (though slightly grainy) paste. Scrape the sides as needed to keep the process moving along. The butter is done when it reaches approximately the consistency of peanut butter. Store in a jar or plastic container. If the butter becomes too solid at room temperature, simply put in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften.


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