While I’ve always been fond of all things coconut, it wasn’t until I discovered coconut butter that I became flat-out obsessed. Who knew coconut could turn into something so magical and luxurious? I surely didn’t.
Coconut oil is becoming more and more mainstream these days, and while I am a fan of cooking and baking with it, I don’t enjoy it much as a topping. But coconut butter? It’s pretty much the best topping to ever exist.
While coconut oil is clear when melted, coconut butter comes from the meat of the coconut, which gives it a thicker texture, extra fiber and nutrients, and a stronger coconut flavor. Coconut butter solidifies around 70 degrees, and it is best used as a topping on anything from savory to sweet dishes. It can also go from melted to solid and back again without adverse effects -- and you don't even need to store it in the fridge!
To make coconut butter, all you need is a large food processor and unsweetened shredded coconut. Place 3 cups in a large food processor, then turn on and process until it's buttery smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes. It's as simple as that!
Here are a few helpful tips to remember when making coconut butter:
• Always use unsweetened shredded coconut -- never the sweetened or low fat kind. Make sure your coconut is fresh by starting with an unopened bag.
• Be sure to use a big enough food processor -- a mini food processor will not work here.
• If your coconut butter hardens, you can gently melt it in a pan over low heat, or microwave in 10 second increments.
Another quick treat you can make with coconut butter is coconut butter cups! These are just like the peanut butter cups you know and love, but made with coconut butter instead, and infused with vanilla beans. Since coconut butter hardens so easily when chilled, it creates the perfect shell for a smooth chocolate peanut butter filling. These are easy to make, and fun to wrap up as a gift -- or just keep them all to yourself.
Vanilla Bean Coconut Butter Cups with Chocolate Peanut Butter
Makes 20 mini cups
1 cup coconut butter, melted or freshly processed 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped 2 tablespoons extra virgin unrefined coconut oil, melted 1 tablespoon pure cane sugar (optional) 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tablespoon maple syrup, warmed 1 pinch fine grain sea salt