Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter and Easiest No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Two weeks ago I stood, not blinking, mouth agape, mortified in the nut butter and jelly section of Trader Joe's. "How could they do this to me?"  I stammered inwardly.  The price of sunflower seed butter had gone up to $5 a jar!  And around here, where we go through almost a jar a week, this was sad news indeed.  I searched online and found that Amazon sells two huge 5 pound tubs for a decent price, the equivalent of $4 a jar.  But frugal mamma that I try to be, I still had to try to make my own and really sock it to greedy ol' Trader Joe.

I have often wondered while dishing out spoonful after beloved spoonful for my kids to greedily lick, how is sunflower seed butter so brown?  It's pretty much the same color as peanut butter, but sunflower seed kernels are not brown; they are grayish tan...The mystery lives on now that I have tried to make my own. Grind and grind them as I did in my trusty food processor, those seeds insisted on maintaining their grayish hue. I did not foresee this color change going over well with my kids.  How to mask it?  I'm sure you've already guessed: chocolate.  A sort of sunflower seed Nutella.  While I still may have to invest in factory-made plain, brown sunflower seed butter, the homemade chocolate version is certainly a treat we will be keeping around the house.

I paired the chocolate sunflower seed butter with some no-knead bread I whipped up last night to jazz up some leftovers.  I adapted the recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book and will include it here for those of you who, like me, enjoy the taste and affordability of homemade bread, but just can't always plan your day around the required rising times.

For the Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter:
1 cup raw, shelled sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil (or canola oil will do)
1/8-1/4 tsp. salt, to taste
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
3-4 Tbsp. non-dairy milk, enough to get a smooth consistency (I used hemp milk.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor (starting with just 1/8 tsp. salt and 3 Tbsp milk) and buzz.  You will need to run the food processor for a few minutes before the mixture will become smooth. Add additional milk if it is too thick, to make a spreadable consistency. Taste and add additional salt if desired.  This would be especially good on chocolate chocolate chip pancakes or even used as frosting!

For the No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread:

1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
3 Tbsp. molasses (I have had success using maple syrup as well.)
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vegan protein powder or vegan milk powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shelled hemp seeds or sesame seeds

1. It is easiest to make this recipe using a stand mixer, but you could certainly try a hand-held one, or a really strong arm. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 Tbsp. molasses. Then stir in the yeast and let the mixture sit a few minutes until it starts to bubble up.
2. Generously grease a 9x5 inch bread pan. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for 3 minutes. Use medium-high speed if you're letting the mixer do the work. The batter will be gummy and sticky. 
3. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and even it out as best you can. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm place (like an oven that was turned on to 450 for just a minute) and let rise for an hour.
4.  Preheat the oven to 350 near the end of the rising time. Uncover the pan and bake the bread for 50 minutes, tenting it with foil after 25 to prevent over-browning. After removing the loaf from the oven, cool it on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edge to loosen the bread, and flip the pan over to get it out.  Let the loaf cool for 30 minutes before slicing. This bread makes great toast!

This week my parents came to visit, and my mom brought me some shoes, which Abiline quickly adopted.  I never would have thought that a 19 month old could be so adept at walking in high heels. Sawyer quickly got in on the shoe swap, too, and was sliding around in Abiline's shoes. He really wanted to wear the high heels, too...It's hard to explain to a 3 year old why boys don't wear high heels; it was one of those "because Mommy says so" moments.


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  2. Hi there! I just discovered your blog when looking for a non-soy tofu recipe...I happened upon this post and wanted to let you know that the tan color from sunflower seed butter comes from roasting the sunflower seeds before processing them. I've made it before and was able to replicate the color of the Trader Joe's/Sunbutter type it's REALLY yummy. I just dry-roast sunflower seeds in my cast-iron skillet until they're light-brownish and fragrant.

    Hope this helps!
    Ambree :)

    1. Yes, I did eventually figure that out. Thanks, though!