Freeze-dried bananas are the key to transforming an otherwise straightforward walnut butter into banana bread butter. The freeze-dried bananas offer a concentrated hit of banana flavor, while also absorbing some of the nut oil yielding a thick and spreadable butter. Regular old banana chips won’t work here but play around with other freeze-dried fruits to invent new flavors of your own.
By toasting nuts at a moderate temperature, we can make sure they get golden brown to the core, yielding the nuttiest flavor and deepest brown color. Take care to toss along the way, so every nut has a chance to become the most flavorful version of itself. If you only have sliced, chopped, or blanched nuts, you can use them as a one-to-one substitute by weight. Avoid pre-salted nuts and be sure to give pre-roasted nuts a short toast to freshen up their aroma.
Whenever making any nut butter, patient processing is key. The nuts will go from flour to paste to gritty butter before finally growing silky and smooth. Be patient and just keep processing. Do not add any oil or fat until you’ve achieved creamy nut butter glory, which can prevent the butter from getting totally smooth.
Really feeling like a nut? Try my Joyous Almond Butter. Or read more about this technique here, so you’ve got the confidence to take nut butter off-script. —Sohla El-Waylly
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- makes 1 pint
(216 grams) raw walnut halves
(42 grams) unsalted butter
(45 grams) freeze-dried bananas
freshly ground nutmeg
(75 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
- Heat the oven to 325°F.
- Spread the walnuts onto a rimmed sheet pan. Bake until toasted all the way through, first tossing them after 10 minutes and then again after every 5 minutes as the action ramps up, about 15 to 20 minutes total. (Snap a walnut in half to check if it’s browned on the inside. We want a thorough toast.)
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet or pan over medium heat until foamy, about 1 minute. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until sputtering subsides and the milk solids are light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
- Transfer the toasted nuts, bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping periodically to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until the nuts have released their oils and transformed into a smooth, flowing butter. (Depending on your food processor, this can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. If the processor feels too hot at any point, take a break to let it cool down.)
- Add the brown butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt to the walnut butter and process until smooth and combined. The nut butter will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature and 2 months in the fridge. Stir well before eating.