This post was created in partnership with Nuts.com.
There are a lot of healthful, chocolatey nut spread recipes out there, but this one is a little different. I was aiming for a chocolate spread that’s a bit more decadent in taste and silkier in texture than most homemade ones, but still made with wholesome ingredients, plus entirely vegan. I was able to achieve all this by adding an extra ingredient that I use for a lot of my desserts, and the result honestly blew me away. This is the chocolate spread of my dreams :)
above: coconut caramel and walnut chocolate butter, swirled together but before mixing
The special ingredient is my coconut caramel, which is just a combination of coconut milk and coconut sugar, simmered together until thick and amazing. I use modified versions of it in all kinds of desserts, like this Banana Tart, this Apple Pie, these Tahini Ice Cream Bars, and our Miso Caramel Popcorn. It’s incredibly versatile.
So in this recipe, the caramel is mixed with a homemade chocolate walnut butter. It acts as a sweetener, but also delivers the most incredible, velvety spreadability, and an overall lushness that’s hard to achieve with nut butter alone.
Though hazelnuts are traditionally used for chocolate spreads like these (and can totally be used for this one as well), I chose to use walnuts here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had a bag of the most beautiful, organic whole walnuts from our partner, Nuts.com. I never tire of talking about the quality of their ingredients, and these walnuts are a great example of that – just take a peek at the photo above. They are some of the most plump and delicious walnuts I’ve ever tried. It also seems to be a really good idea to include walnuts in our diets, since they are rich in omega-3s and all kinds of other good stuff. And though this generalization probably makes most scientists cringe, I can’t help but mention it: walnuts look like the brain and they are good for the brain. Whoa!
Walnuts are not the only ingredient in this recipe that came from Nuts.com. I also used their amazing, organic coconut sugar, cacao powder, and cacao nibs here. Their online shop is like a candy factory for any cook/dedicated snacker, and they will seriously have most dry/bulk ingredients for any recipe you’d ever want to try. Check them out :)
- 2 cups raw walnuts
- ⅓ cup raw cacao powder
- sea salt - to taste
- 1 cup coconut caramel (recipe below)
- ¼ cup cacao nibs (optional)
- maca powder
- hemp hearts
- cardamom - preferably freshly ground
- adoptogenic mushroom powders such as chaga, cordycepts, lion's mane, etc.
- 1 cup full fat unsweetened Thai coconut milk
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and toast for 10 minutes, tossing at half time. Taste a couple of the walnuts. If the skin has a bitter taste (which happens sometimes after roasting), place the walnuts on a dry, clean kitchen towel and rub them together with your hands inside the kitchen towel, until most of the skins come off.
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor or a high speed blender, until they turn into a runny butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed. Add the cacao powder, salt, and any other optional add-ins, if using, and process or blend to combine thoroughly.
- In a bowl or a clean, dry jar, combine the chocolate walnut butter and 1 cup of the cooled coconut caramel, stirring until fully combined. Add the cacao nibs and mix them in, if using. Enjoy right away or keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks.
- Combine the coconut milk and coconut sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Establish a strong simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture thickens. Let the caramel cool completely and keep refrigerated. The caramel will thicken further after cooling.