Daring Cook’s Challenge: Nut Butters

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

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I have to say that I was really excited about the challenge this month.  With three small boys in the house we eat ALOT of nut butters.  And I tell you, as simple as nut butters are to make, it never crossed my mind to make my own.  Once I did though, I was addicted!  Yes, yes, it’s the simple things that give me the most pleasure.  I just couldn’t get over watching the nuts go from hunk to chunk to smooth in a matter of a couple minutes.

We were on vacation the majority of this month’s challenge, so I didn’t get to experiment as much as I’d have liked, but you better believe I will be playing more with nut butters in the upcoming months.  For this challenge I attempted the Asian Noodles and then did a bonus challenge of attempting to create my own Maple Walnut Cake using homemade walnut butter.

Thanks again to Margie and Natashya for putting together one of my favorite cook’s challenges yet!  So are we ready to get nutty?  Let’s do this!  First up, the Asian Noodles recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Here’s what you’ll need:

8 Oz. of Rice Noodles
1 Cup of Peanuts or Cashews
1/2 Inch Slice of Fresh Gnger, Chopped
8 Cloves of Garlic, C
hopped
1/4 Cup of Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp of Sugar
3 Tbsp of Vinegar
3 Tbsp of Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Plus 1 Tbsp of Water
Hot Sauce to Taste (optional)
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1/2 Pd of Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined
1 Red Bell Pepper, Cored and Seeded, Cut into Thin Strips
1 Cucumber, Peeled and Sliced
1/4 Cup of Sliced Green Onions
1/4 Cup of Chopped Fresh Basil
Lime wedges for Serving

A couple of notes before we get started.  First up, I realized mid recipe that I forgot to add the soy sauce into the picture so as not to upset the Asian noodles with it’s absense, I have invited the soy sauce back into the picture.


Second up, I completely forgot to add the peppers to this dish when I was cooking it.  Instead, I decided to julienne a carrot and added that in to the mix.  I’m not sure what came over me, a guess I went a bit nuts while working on this challenge (ok, you can now boo me for that incredibly poor attempt at humor).

Moving on.  The first thing you’ll want to do is boil up your rice noodles according to package directions.  While your rice noodles cooking, go ahead and make your cashew/peanut butter.  To do this you’ll throw your cup of nuts into a food processor and simply process the bejebus out of them.  Check out my progression:

The nuts before processing:
Here we go!
You can see it starting to clump up
And just like that, homemade nut butter!
To make your peanut/cashew dressing, combine together your ginger, garlic, cashew/peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender.
Process your mixture until it’s smooth.  If you want it a touch spicier, now would be the time to add in your hot sauce.  Also, if you used unsalted nuts, take a finger taste and add salt if you feel it’s needed.  Here’s my finished sauce:


Now, grab your wok and heat up the olive oil on medium high heat.  Once it’s heated, throw your shrimp in and cook them up until they’re opaque.


Next you’ll add into the wok your cashew/peanut sauce, bell pepper (or in my case carrot), cucumber, green onions and basil.


Let it heat up a few minutes and then serve it up with a lime wedge on the side.  And let me tell you, the lime, in my opinion, makes the dish!  It’s great without it as well, but with it, oh baby.

Grab a Copy of the Recipe HERE.

This next recipe was completely a result of my crazy cooking imagination.  I wanted to branch out and try another type of nut butter and, being the dessert girl that I am, I wanted it to be a sweet dish.
Seeing as we just spent a week in beautiful Vermont that resulted in my inevitable purchase of a half gallon jug of local syrup, I was inspired to make something utilizing it’s delicious flavor.  Enter my creation of a very tasty, three layered, gotta have a piece right this minute, Maple Walnut Caramel Cake.

Did I get your attention yet?  If not, read on.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have you by the end of this post.  Here’s what you’ll need to whip this beauty up:


For the Cake:

2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
1 Cup of White Sugar
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
4 Eggs, Room Temperature
1 Cup of Milk
3 Cups of Flour
1 tsp of Baking Powder
1/4 tsp of Salt

For the Filling:
1/2 Stick of Butter, Softened
8 Oz. of Cream Cheese, Softened
2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp of Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup of Walnuts, Made into Butter

For the Frosting:
1 Stick of Butter
1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup
1 Cup of Brown Sugar
11/2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
1 Cup of Walnuts, Made into Butter
1 tsp of Vanilla
1/3 Cup of Heavy Cream

First up, baking the cakes.  Cream together your butter with your brown and white sugars.


Next up, add in your eggs, one at a time, alternating with the milk (1/4 cup each time) and mixing the batter up between each addition.


Mix together your flour and baking powder and then add it to your batter, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Finally, add in your vanilla and salt and give it one more quick mix up.


Divide your batter into three separate 9 inch cake pans and place in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Here are mine before going in the oven.
And here they are after.


While the cakes are cooling, we’ll go ahead and whip up the filling and the frosting.  First up, filling.

In your mixer, cream together your butter and cream cheese.  To that mixture add in your powdered sugar.


Mix it up and then add in your syrup and walnut butter.


And just because I love making nut butters, I’ll show the before and after of my walnut butter.  Before….


And After….


Ah yes, it’s the simple pleasures of life that get me every time.  There’s just something about pulverizing nuts that makes me smile.

Alright, moving on.  Set your filling to the side and let’s whip up the final component of this cake, the frosting.  Honestly, this turned out more like a glaze than a frosting.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s DE-licious.  But it I make this cake again, I may try whipping up the cream next time and stirring it into the cooled mixture to make more of a frosting consistency.  Have I got you curious yet?

To make the frosting, start by melting one stick of butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat.  Add in 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1 cup of brown sugar.


Turn your heat up to high and get that yummy concoction boiling.  Let it bubble for a minute or two and then remove it from the heat.


Add in your powdered sugar and walnut butter.


Finally add in your vanilla and heavy cream.  Let the frosting cool competely in the fridge.
Alright, time for the fun part, putting the cake together!  Place the first layer of your cake on your tray and frost it with half the filling.  Then add your next layer and frost with the rest of the filling.  Here’s what you’ll have so far:


Place the final layer on top, grab your glaze, and cover that cake up!  And that’s all there is to it!  Decorate at will and make it your own.  I threw a few walnuts on top, layered the bottom with walnuts, and made a few maple syrup swirls on the top.  And here’s my final product:


And a picture to show the maple swirls a bit better:



Thanks again to our hosts this month for a truly fun challenge!  If you made it this far, a slice for your viewing pleasure!


Grab a Copy of the Recipe HERE.

Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:

Daring Cooks Challenge: Pate and Homemade Bread
Daring Cooks Challenge: Stacked Green Chile and Seafood Enchiladas
Daring Bakers Challenge: Pavlova

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34 Responses to “Daring Cook’s Challenge: Nut Butters”

  1. 1

    Margie — July 14, 2010 @ 11:41 am

    I agree about the simple pleasures! Love your photo series, great job. Your noodle salad looks so creamy & delicious, I know what you mean about the lime. Your maple walnut caramel cake is stunning. Thanks so much for sharing such a creative recipe.

  2. 2

    chocoholic — July 14, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    Wow that cake looks heavenly. Making my own nut butter is now on my to do list. I can't wait until I'm back with a kitchen so I can do these cooking challenges.

  3. 3

    Mary — July 14, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    You've done a great job with this challenge. Your cake is absolutely beautiful. I hope the day treats you well. Blessings…Mary

  4. 4

    anniebakes — July 14, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    mm, yummy stuff, my friend!!

    anne
    http://www.anniebakes.net

  5. 5

    Salsa Verde — July 14, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

    What a fantastic job for this challenge. The both dishes look so amazingly gorgeous and yummy. Congratulations!!!
    Love,
    Lia.

  6. 6

    Audax — July 14, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    What a fabulous post I just love your step-by-step photographs. The cake is stunning and the Asian salad is astounding. It sure sounds like this was a challenge written for your taste buds. Well done on this challenge. Cheers from the Audax in Sydney Australia.

  7. 7

    shelley c. — July 14, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    I want a piece of that cake. Like, now. WOW – it looks and sounds absolutely scrumptiously deliciously amazing.

    The noodle salad, by the way, also looks delicious. :)

    Awesome job on the challenge.

  8. 8

    Kate Murphy — July 14, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

    Aaaa the peanut dressing looks sooo good. I don't know about popular but I'm working on it. You can join my community now, I got it running!

  9. 9

    Chef Dennis — July 14, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    oh Julie…..
    that cake is simply perfect, with that wonderful glaze just oozing with maple and walnut butter….I think I would try and eat the whole cake!!!!
    I am so glad you took a trip to vermont!

  10. 10

    Sage — July 14, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

    OK I'm impressed; you are GOOD! Everything looks wonderful. I used to make peanut butter with my 4 boys. My grandchildren are coming next week;this might be on the to do list.
    Rita

  11. 11

    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum — July 14, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    YUM! I have a similar make-your-own-sauce recipe for an Indian Cashew sauce… and I am totally inspired to make both of these things.

  12. 12

    Maranda — July 14, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness. I must have this cake. Your pictures are amazing!!! I was not impressed with the Asian noodle salad (sadly) but yours looks so much better than mine. And that cake!! Have I mentioned I need that cake?? Is it gone? If not, I'm coming over! Put the coffee on because we're going to need it to finish that cake!

  13. 13

    Sook — July 14, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

    Wow, the cake looks super moist and delicious! Love the frosting, too.

  14. 14

    KG Style — July 14, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    OMG!! That looks fantastic! Scrumptous..delicious.I am so making this dish right here!

  15. 15

    bcswerit — July 14, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    amazing! your sweet challenge makes me wish I'd done the optional! well done it all looks incredible

  16. 16

    baking.serendipity — July 14, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    I love nut butters! Yours look great :)

  17. 17

    Jo — July 14, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

    Great job and both recipes look awfully good. I'm especially eying the cake and frosting. So scrupmtious.

  18. 18

    Ruth H. — July 14, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

    You certainly had a good time with this challenge! Your step by step pictures are really great and helpful, and your peanut sauce looks amazing. And can I say you had me at maple. then walnut. then caramel?! I am coming for dessert! ;)

  19. 19

    M @ Betty Crapper — July 14, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    wow, Julie. Great job. How did you have energy for this after your wonderful vacation? I am truly impressed and inspired to make some sort of nut butter in the near future. I can't believe I've never made one before.

  20. 20

    Liz — July 14, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

    That looks ridiculously amazing, and you are a better woman than me. I had a neighbor who made tons of Cooking Light recipes, and then she'd give them to me. I don't think I saw one that didn't have, like 30 ingredients! Just not my style. :)

  21. 21

    TaGa_Luto — July 14, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

    You did a good job, considering you were on vacay? i could just imagine if you didn't go on vacation! lol! I'm impressed w/ your cake..they look sinfuly delicious!

  22. 22

    Kristina Churchill — July 14, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

    This is a treasure! I am going to try the cake this weekend. I love to cook and bake!

    http://www.katynikitachurchill.blogspot.com

    Thanks for stopping by my blog last time!

  23. 23

    A SPICY PERSPECTIVE — July 14, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    BOTH looks fantastic! Great entries!

  24. 24

    Monet — July 15, 2010 @ 12:00 am

    Julie,
    Gosh you are impressive. I was drooling just looking at the nuts in the food processor (I'm a sucker for nuts). The entree and the dessert both look amazing, and I can only imagine the toasty creaminess the nuts added to both dishes

  25. 25

    pigpigscorner — July 15, 2010 @ 4:26 am

    Wow well done! The noodles look so tasty and the cake is gorgeous!

  26. 26

    Ingrid — July 15, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    Maranda at Jolts and Jollies told me about your cake. It looks as wonderful as she said! Thanks for sharing.

    I don't know if it's me or what but I can't print your recipe. I followed the link but there isn't a print option and when I try to print screen the "photo" is too small. Help! I gotta me missing something. :) Thx!
    ~ingrid

  27. 27

    Laura — July 15, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    Oh,wow, Julie . . . Drool!!!! I am actually halfway to the kitchen to make those Asian noodles (but with tofu instead of the shrimp, and with the thin rice noodles–hope that works. Love that cake, too. Great concept, wonderful, luscious execution.

  28. 28

    chef_d — July 15, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    The hunk-to-chunk-to-smooth bit made me laugh. Love love love that you made a cake using walnut butter, I would definitely try this recipe next time, thanks for sharing :)

  29. 29

    OLGUIS — July 15, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

    wow this is a yummy and pretty cake.
    Regards
    olga.

  30. 30

    Ma What's 4 dinner — July 19, 2010 @ 8:02 am

    That is amazing! You are so fancy. I love it.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
    http://www.mawhats4dinner.com

  31. 31

    David and Stacy — July 22, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

    WOW! That's an awesome looking cake, and awesome pictures teaching us how to make our own!

    We also made the Shrimp dish, and although not perfect we really really liked the sauce. Your rice noodles look different to ours, but that could explain why they're called Rice Sticks…

    Well done!
    Stay JOLLY!
    D

  32. 32

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