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A Healthier Sweet Treat: Choco-Almond Butter

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My boyfriend, Sam, loves riding his bike. He recently sold his car, and he spends much of the year training for and competing in endurance bike races. The man loves to climb mountains on two wheels, and he commutes about 26 miles a day to work, five days a week. On weekends, he's gone for hours at a time, riding along country roads in Kentucky with his teammates (he and a friend started a local cycling team, BSM).

As anyone who works out regularly knows, the more you exercise, the more you need to eat. All that time on the bike means he eats a ridiculous amount of calories each day. He eats a very clean plant-based diet, as do I.

In early December, he challenged me to create a recipe to cure his Nutella addiction. During race season, Nutella on a fresh baguette is his favorite treat. However, despite how delicious his beloved hazelnut-chocolate spread is, he knew it wasn't exactly healthy.

I've made my own almond butter for years, and I had been experimenting with a chocolate version since last spring. I even gave jars of it as gifts to my family members who have birthdays in March and April.

I was adding all sorts of ingredients: cocoa powder, sugar, coconut oil, maple syrup, even cacao nibs. They were all good, but the recipe just wasn't perfected. I kept changing the recipe and eventually stopped making it regularly. (I, too, developed a Nutella addiction over the summer! An intervention was almost needed.) Then I decided to start over. Two ingredients, 15 minutes start to finish, and better than anything you can buy at a store.

Even better: No hydrogenated oils, fewer calories, less fat and sugar--and more fiber! (You could make this with hazelnuts and it would be more like Nutella--or any other nut you like.)

Keep reading for Sam's upgrade to this recipe, plus directions and the full nutrition breakdown!

Nutrition in 2 tablespoons:

Nutella: 190 calories, 11 g fat, 15 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 3 g protein

My version: 101 calories, 7.6 g fat, 1.2 mg sodium, 8.4 g carbs, 1.7 g fiber, 6.2 g sugar, 2.3 g protein

(View the full recipe--and review it--here!)

I started with a huge batch because I was confident it would be fabulous. I roasted a pound of almonds at 350 degrees F until just warm, then dumped them in my food processor and let them whirl for about seven minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every couple of minutes.

Once it looked like almond butter, I added a 16-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips. The warm almond butter melted the chocolate chips, and the two became a velvety delicious batch of chocolatey goodness. When warm, it reminded me of chocolate sauce; when cold, it was like the best truffle filling.

That night, I shared it with Sam. He declared it "Stepf's BEST Choco-Almond Butter." But always the competitive type, he tried to one-up me--and succeeded! A week later, during a trip to Costco, we left with a combined 25 pounds of nuts for our respective kitchens. He was especially excited to make a version of another nut butter I'd told him about: raw pecan-almond butter, which has a naturally sweet, spicy, almost cinnamon-like taste. (TIP: Buy raw nuts in bulk to save money!)

This is where he got creative. He processed raw pecans until they turned into pecan butter, then added chocolate. The texture was amazing: It was fluffy and smooth like thick buttercream frosting. I immediately wanted to use it as ganache for a cake. Instead I was satisfied to eat a tablespoon of it as I would a lollipop, one lick at a time.

Choco-nut butter (made with almonds, pecans or hazelnuts) is now a regular treat for each of us. I like knowing that in addition to the dark chocolate, I'm getting a bit of fiber and a lot less sugar--Nutella is almost half sugar. Sure, chocolate nut butter isn't a health food, but it is healthier than the alternative!

I gave a jar to Josh as part of his Secret Santa gift package, and my yoga teacher and several friends have received batches as well. It's a quick and easy hostess gift.

Try a half serving (1 tablespoon) on a small banana for a sweet treat that's only 150 calories! I also like to spread it on toast, warm it and dunk pretzels into it, or freeze a spoonful and eat it like a lollipop. The possibilities are endless. It could make a great Valentine's Day treat!

NOTE: I'm allergic to peanuts, otherwise we would have made chocolate peanut butter. It would definitely work with peanuts!

Would you try this recipe? Does it sound like a winner? Have you ever created a healthy alternative to a favorite food?

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Made this with hazelnuts, unsweetened baking chocolate and maple syrup. Absolutely delicious. Will try increasing more nuts for the same amount of chocolate next time.

Does this need to be kept refrigerated? Report
I need to get a food processor since all I have is a blender. I like Nutella, but the price is high plus I can't eat a lot or I start to have a reaction. I can eat almonds and peanuts, but not pecans, so I think I would do okay with this recipe. Report
My husband also has a major Nutella addiction - he toured Europe this past December, and had many Nutella sandwiches and crepes while there (it was almost always available on the catering table). He's only purchased one or two tubs of Nutella since he's been home, but he's always eying it longingly at the grocery store :) I'm excited to try this recipe! Report
I was lookng for something better for me than peanut butter and with a chocolate kick as well. Someone recommended Nutella to me, so I checked it out and was disappointed that it contained so much sugar. I ended up buying Marantha's Dark Chocolate Almond spread. It is good, but expensive and not everyone carries it. I need to get my food processor out and try your recipe. I like homemade and yours is very simple to boot. Thank you.
Laurie Report
I'm trying this one. I love Nutella and have been successful at not eating it at one fell swoop. My latest treat is a tablespoon spread on a whole wheat tortilla then rolled like a jellyroll. Add a cup of ice cold skim milk and yummy! Report
I have to try this! I'm a nutella fan as well. This sounds yummy! Report
I will definitely try this. I love Nutella and also Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams -- I hope I can make it as smooth as the commercial products! I eat Nutella in rather a skimpy fashion, though. A little goes a long way. Report
I don't have a food processor so I'm going to try it with almond meal and a microwave to melt the chocolate chips. I hope it works. Report
yum, yum & sunspire makes gluten free, dairy free chips for who have to watch ingredients Report
A dear friend of mine has only one "house rule" No Nutella...this is because Nutella is her kryptonite. I know what I'll be making her for a little healthy treat. Thanks! Report
Can't wait to try this. I wonder how it would turn out with a scoop of Boku protein powder added. Report
Yes, we love this and with hubby being vegan, I used dark choc and it was real good. Thanks for sharing this with us. Report
I made 4 jars of this last night~! LOVE IT!!!So delicious, my 6 year old daughter was saying that 2 jars were for her and 2 for me..hahaha... Thank you for a healthy almond butter! I am giving one to a teacher friend today. She will love it! Report
Sounds great! Report
I dont know if I'm doing something wrong, but when I made this and followed the recipe I only got just over 1 cup of peanut butter (so 16 1 Tbsp servings, not 16 2 Tbsp servings which would be 2 cups). Maybe I wasnt supposed to measure the almonds as whole? Report
Sounds absolutely delicious!! Can't wait to try it!! Report
Liked it very much. BUT it could have been named better. When I look for it in my favorites, I always have to remember Stepf rather than almond butter. PS I have a lot of favorites. Report
Sounds fantastic!! I will try this for my son who is an athlete! Report
If I, and many others, I'm certain, were able to limit our snacking to ONE tablespoon of such a treat, we wouldn't be on this web site in the first place!! Everyone with portion control issues just can't have anything like this around. I banned Nutella years ago from the house for just that reason. So I'm not writing this recipe down or yapping about it to anyone else. Report
Yummy Report
Can not wait to try it. Report
Sounds like something I would love to try... thank you! Report
This sounds great !! I love nutella but this sounds like a great alternative. I'm going to make some tonight. Thanks for sharing. Report
This sounds so delicious. I am always looking for healthy recipes, thanks, I'm gonna make it tonight... I know my whole family will love it. Report
Wonderful ~ Thanks for sharing Report
Oh yes I will definitely try this. Sounds scrumpous. Report
You bet I would! I added the recipe to my faves and am going for it! I'm having so much fun in the kitchen cooking healthy! Many thanks. Report
What brand of semisweet chocolate chips do you use that does not contain hydrogenated oils? Report
I made a small batch of this last night. Instead of grinding the almonds I used almond meal. The texture turned out a bit thick but still quite lovely. Thanks for the recipe! Report
It sounds delicious! Especially since my favorite nut butter is Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams. Homemade would save money AND taste amazing! Report
Thank you soooo much. The almond and other nut butters are always so expensive and I never thought of making them myself. You are amazing and I can't wait to try my own pecan butter. Yay! Report
Sounds fabulous! Report
I love peanut butter, but have to be very careful to not get carried away with eating it. Making a homemade nut butter is a great idea. Report
OOOOH COME TO MAMA!! My son and I love LOVE L.O.V.E. Nutella!! But the bit of dairy in it doesn't agree with my sinues. I never thought of making it like this before!! I have bulk almonds and bulk pecans already here. And chocolate chips I've been hoarding for what? because I won't allow myself to make chocolate chip cookies. Oooohhhh I will definitely try this!! Thanks SOO much!! Report
OMG This sounds good!! One of these days I really have to try this! Report
Thank you! I will definitely be trying this. (I even have the ingredients in the house). My sister wanted me to try Nutella but it contains dairy which I can't have. This will be better and more delicious and nutritious. Report
I am also a serious Nutella addict, I am dying to try this. Report
I will be making my husband's favorite: Lemon Kiss Bars for Valentine's Day - these are terrible with calories. But I think I'll make some of this just for the "spark" of something new that he might enjoy! It sounds really good and after a month plus in the program I'm starting to crave chocolate. Report
I believe I'll skip this one... Report
I am definitely going to have to try this - especially with hazelnuts - my kids turned me onto nutella. Report
Yum, yum. I would definitely try this. I have recently been lamenting about the lack of nutrition in nutella. I used it for breakfast one morning when I was on a chocolate kick but was disappointed because the lack of nutrition and additional suger just made me hungry earlier throughout the day. I always thought of it as being somewhat on the level with peanut butter. I didn't realize how much sugar was in it! Report
Sounds great!!! How long does it keep when open? Can you jar it and seal it? How long will it last in a sealed jar? Can't wait to try!
~Ang Report
Mmmm, sounds good. Gotta try it. Chocolate and healthy too. Who would of thunk it, lol. Report
OOOOOH WOW! This looks so good!!! Will have to try this. Thank you! Report
Thank you for sharing. I definitely plan to try this. We just bought a huge bag of almonds at Sam's club and I now have a unique use for them. Great way to get a chocolate fix! Report
Definitely need to try this! Report
I have been making my own nut butters (including dark chocolate nut butter) for several years. It was not that I disliked the commercial products, but I do prefer to have control over the ingredients of the food I am eating -- besides it is fun to come up with new recipes (that are both healthy and tasty!). However, when I do come across a new natural or organic product that does not contain added oils, sugars, artificial ingredients, or preservatives -- I often try them out (depending on price). Report
That sounds absolutely yummy... and a good alternative for a chocolate craving. Thanks for sharing!! Report
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