I miss Bali. Or maybe I just miss the warmth, the sun, the vibrancy, the life bursting forth from every nook and cranny. I miss living outside, I miss my eyes being assaulted by colours, and layers upon layers of wild sounds, but hey, it’s March in Ontario and this is a familiar feeling. Are you feeling it too?
couple weeks ago when I was in the depths of yet another snowstorm, feeling
like spring may never come, I came up with this recipe to remedy my winter
woes. It’s called Bali Butter – and it’s the most delicious thing to cross my
lips since I could see grass outside my window. A rich combination of cashews, coconut,
and cacao, blended together with coconut sugar and salt, it’s like the nut
butter of DREAMS in all of its salty-sweet-crunchy-chocolatey glory. And I am
really excited to share this one with you, wherever you and no matter what
season you’re experiencing.
What does one do with Bali Butter, you ask? Let me tell you, it goes on all. the. things. Pancakes, waffles, smoothie bowls, toast, rice cakes, ice cream, fruit salad, porridge, yogurt, and fingers! You can stuff dates with Bali Butter, stick them in the fridge and have something delicious on hand to satisfy those salty-sweet-fat cravings too. Slice a banana lengthwise, slather Bali Butter in the middle and sandwich it together again. I even like it with carrot sticks. No joke.
I chose to use coconut sugar in my Bali Butter because it’s one of the main sweeteners used on the island and you can easily find it everywhere. Some of you may be curious about using liquid sweetener as an alternative, but the problem with using something like maple syrup or honey, is that it causes the nut butter to seize up. Fat is hydrophobic (translation: it’s “afraid” of water) and will stiffen when it comes into contact with anything that contains it. Using a solid sweetener, like coconut sugar, avoids this problem and keeps the finished product relaxed and runny. If you don’t want to use coconut sugar and you don’t mind a less-spreadable version of Bali Butter, sweeten it with whatever you have on hand.
I think I’ve talked about all of these ingredients respectively, but for the heck of it, let’s recap why they’re awesome!
Coconut – I chose to use coconut flesh instead of just coconut oil in this recipe, and that is because there is a big difference between the nutrition in coconut oil and coconut flesh. Desiccated (dried) coconut is a whole food, so with it you’re getting the dietary fiber and protein that you won’t find in the oil alone. Although coconut products have risen in popularity, especially in the world of “health food”, it’s important to remember that coconut fat is mostly saturated, and should be consumed in moderation.
Cashews – Contrary to popular belief, cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts. And 66% of their fats are heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil. Cashews are an excellent source of copper, and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They also contain good amounts of fiber, so that they keep you feeling full for longer.
Cacao – One of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, and potassium, cacao is a nutritional powerhouse. It also contains many chemical compounds that enhance physical and mental well-being, including alkaloids, proteins, magnesium, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic acid, lipase, lysine, and some neurotransmitters such as dopamine and anandamide – which explains why eating chocolate makes you feel so darn good!
Coconut sugar – Sometimes called coconut palm sugar, this incredibly delicious sweetener is high in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is happily low glycemic, ranking 35 on the GI scale, compared to agave at 42, honey at 55, cane sugar at 68. This is due to coconut sugar’s composition of long-chain saccharides, which are absorbed by the body at a slower rate than something like refined white sugar. Coconut sugar also contains amino acids, which are thought to slow down the rate at which the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, acting as a “buffer” of sorts.
Some notes on the recipe. It’s very important that you make coconut butter to start, as it creates the liquid base to help the get the cashews going in the food processor. Once you’ve made the coconut-cashew butter, feel free to stop there (it tastes incredible on its own), or go all the way as I have and add the cacao, coconut sugar and salt.
I like to leave my Bali Butter out of the fridge, since it remains liquid and spreadable at room temperature. If you refrigerate it, Bali Butter with harden completely. You can roll it into balls and make yourself some pretty delicious little energy bites when it’s in this state, but it’s impossible to drizzle when chilled.
If you’re into smooth nut butters, simply leave the cacao nibs out of the equation. They aren’t necessary for any other purpose than crunch, which I personally feel is essential, but I won’t judge anyone for skipping them. Even though you’re obviously crazy 😉
Makes 3 cups / 750ml
3 cups / 375g raw cashews
3 cups / 240g unsweetened desiccated coconut
¾ tsp. large flake sea salt (I used Maldon)
¼ cup / 23g raw cacao powder
3 Tbsp. coconut sugar
3 Tbsp. cacao nibs
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1. Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°C. Spread cashews out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Toast for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so that they don’t burn! Remove from oven and let cool.
2. While the cashews are in the oven, toast the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may want to work in batches.
3. Place the coconut in a food processor. Blend on high, scraping down the sides every so often, until the coconut is creamy and smooth (this make take up to 10 minutes, depending on the strength of your food processor – be patient!).
4. Add the cashews to the food processor and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high. Taste and adjust saltiness / sweetness / chocolate levels to suit your taste.
5. Store Bali Butter in an airtight glass container at room temperature (out of the fridge) for one month.