The past week has felt like a failed attempt at finding balance. I spent the week before last on glorious holiday with two guy friends in gorgeous Crested Butte, Colorado. It was a vacation in every sense of the word; each day began with a big, home-cooked breakfast, followed by a long, easy-going game of Scrabble with frequent mimosa refills. We soaked in a steaming hot tub at least once daily, surrounded by snow and those mountains, the sleeping giants whose mercurial personalities shifted as the sun rotated overhead. We savored the best pizza of our lives at Secret Stash—it was the kind of food that, once delivered, hushes all conversation except for occasional slips of profanity between bites. I squeezed into my mom’s retro one-piece ski suit and skied down the green slopes, making it down the mountain with all parts intact. In short, it was marvelous.
The following week, last week, was spent in a wretched state of catch-up from the week before. Deadline was rapidly approaching and I worked, hunched over my laptop, from the time I woke up to the time I dragged myself to bed. Warm memories from the last week made it possible to accept the situation, but it is absolutely not how I want to live. By the time I finished working late in the afternoon on Sunday, I sought out some companionship. Sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing, climb onto the roof with a friend and sip on some cheap Champagne, am I right?
Deadline has passed, and I find myself overwhelmed by other projects (please join The Food Matters Project!), but I’ll make it. This weekend has been all about finding balance: stretching out my poor back with Pilates, dancing around to my friends’ band at a dive bar and tackling the disgusting pile of dishes that is taking over my kitchen.
I’ve already typed up more than I intended, but let me tell you about this pecan butter. The idea for pecan butter came to me on the drive back from Colorado, right after I’d awoken to see mountain goats outside the window. I munched on a cracker, then a couple of pecans that Peach Crest Farm had gifted Matt for Christmas. The Peach Crest Farm pecans are extraordinary; one taste of those fresh, local, organic pecans convinced me that every pecan I’ve ever tasted has been rancid with old age. My grandmother Mimi‘s family owned a pecan farm and she adored pecans. Now I know why.
I munched on a couple more pecans, and another cracker, wishing I could smear the pecans on top like peanut butter. Bingo! Pecan butter. One quick google search confirmed that it could be done, but no one has given pecan butter the attention it deserves.
I’ve tried to make peanut butter before with disappointing result, but not so here. Pecan butter is the least finicky all-natural nut butter I’ve come across. Toasted pecans meld together in a food processor, turning into silky smooth, spreadable nutty goodness with maple undertones, without any added oil. A pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon at the end make it positively divine.
If you love pecans like I do, you must give this a try. It is truly luscious. Pecans are not cheap, but I assure you that pecan butter is worth every penny. It is liquid gold. Might I suggest that you slather it on a piece of my favorite honey-sweetened banana bread, as I have every morning this week? It makes a healthy breakfast that tastes almost as decadent as a piece of cake.
- 8 ounces (about two cups) high quality pecans, either whole or in pieces
- sea salt, to taste
- dash of cinnamon
- Pour the pecans into a large skillet and toast, stirring often, over medium heat until fragrant. This will take about 4 to 8 minutes.
- Pour the toasted pecans into a food processor or high-speed blender and blend, pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula often. It will be crumbly at first, but will eventually blend into super-creamy goodness. Be careful not to let the mixture get too hot, which seems to cause oil separation. You might have to stop and let the mixture/machine cool down for a bit just to be safe. The amount of blending time required really depends on your machine—y old food processor took ten to fifteen minutes to turn the pecans into pecan butter, but my fancy Blendtec and Vitamix blenders can turn it into butter in a minute or two.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and a dash of cinnamon. Blend again, taste, and add more salt or cinnamon if needed.
- Pour into a small jar, seal it with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator for good measure.
- Yields one cup. Feel free to to double or maybe even triple the amount of pecans in order to make a bigger batch. You may find it easier to toast the pecans in the oven at that point.
- This pecan butter is only as good as the pecans you put it in it. Seek out fresh pecans from a store with high turnover. Bonus points if they’re local, organic and/or stored in the refrigerator.