It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Today: It's time to put down that store-bought jar. Lori Baltazar of Dessert Comes First shows us how to make a spread that's delectable every step of the way, from cookie to butter.
What can you eat with cookie butter? This question might better be rephrased: What can't you eat with it? I love it on pancakes, in milkshakes, and once, torn between penance and pleasure, I topped my morning oatmeal with it.
There’s nothing difficult about making your own cookie butter as long as you keep two things in mind: First, homemade cookie butter will never be as smooth as the the store-bought version -- factories use industrial grinders called ball mills to achieve ultra-fine grinding. Second, it takes some patience to wait for the mixture as it blends from crumbs to paste. The time involved all boils down to how powerful your food processor is. That considered, try your hand at this homemade cookie butter and feel free to tweak it to your liking, making it as spicy or sweet as you like.
Makes approximately 11 ounces
For the speculoos cookies:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch allspice
1 pinch ground clove
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
For the cookie butter:
One batch homemade speculoos cookies
1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar (plus some if you want a sweeter cookie butter)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup canola oil, or any neutral flavored oil, plus more if necessary
To make the speculoos cookies for the butter, preheat the oven to 350º F and line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper and set aside. Whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside while you cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well-incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then adjust the mixer to low, and add in half of the flour mixture. Mix only until incorporated, then add the granulated sugar and honey, and mix until they are combined.
Add the remaining flour mixture, and mix it together only until there are no white streaks visible. Using a #16 ice cream scoop, or similar instrument, scoop out equal-sized balls of dough, and space evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten each dough ball lightly with the palm of your hand. Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the cookie has noticeably darkened in color and its edges are a darker shade of brown. These cookies will not spread much, and will still be quite soft while hot. Remove the pan from the oven, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool and crisp up before you begin the process of turning them into cookie butter.
To make the cookie butter, toss the speculoos into a food processor, and process on high, until cookies are finely crushed. Measure out 1 1/4 cup of ground cookies, loosely packed. Save the leftover crumbs for other uses like sprinkling over ice cream or topping your soon-to-be-made cookie butter. Add the confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, nonfat dry milk powder, and spices. Process just to combine, then add the oil and process some more. At first, it will look like nothing’s happening, just a silly tumble of spicy cookie crumbs going round and round. Be patient and remember that good things take time.
After 3 to 4 minutes, stop the food processor. Depending on how powerful your machine is, the mixture will have turned from crumbs to paste. Scrape the bowl down with a fork or rubber spatula, if necessary, and then taste the mixture. Add more sugar or spices as necessary. Put the lid back on and process for another 1 to 2 minutes. At 5 to 6 minutes (again, time will vary depending on your machine’s motor power), the paste will have started clumping to the sides of the bowl. Ah, the sweet sight of imminent success! At this point, if the mixture is not as fluid or as incorporated as you’d like it to be, add in another 1/2 tablespoon of oil.
Continue to process the mixture. If you added more oil, the mixture will begin to resemble a runny paste similar to old-fashioned peanut butter where the oil floats on top. You can add more oil a 1/2 tablespoon at a time after every minute of processing, depending on how runny you want your cookie butter to be -- I’ve tried this recipe using up to 1/2 cup of oil. Around 8 to 10 minutes in, you know the end is near when the paste clings to the sides of the bowl. Depending upon how much oil you’ve put in, the consistency will range from that of commercial cookie butter to a very runny cookie butter. Both are desirable… and delicious!
Transfer the cookie butter to a sterilized glass jar with a screw-top, rust-proof lid. Cookie butter will firm up as it cools and some oils may surface. Stir before enjoying, and store at room temperature away from direct heat for up to 5 days.
Photos by Lori Baltazar