Lately, for variety's sake, I've been trying a simple homemade sunflower seed butter in my smoothies. For whatever reason, for me the sunflower seed butter tends to have a certain aftertaste I don't like, making it a less favorable choice than the almond or cashew butter I also make at home. I don't remember where I came across the suggestion to combine the flavors of chocolate and sunflower seeds, but when I did I filed it away for an opportune moment to experiment. Certainly, mixing chocolate with nut butters is fairly common, such as chocolate and hazelnut, or chocolate and peanut butter, but somehow I didn't think it would work with sunflower seeds too. As it turns out, chocolate works very well; with a few other complementary ingredients, it nicely rounds out that pesky aftertaste, and then some.
Cocoa powders, from L to R: natural, dutch-processed, and raw
For this version of the recipe I used an unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder, but natural unsweetened cocoa powder would work too. You could also use an unsweetened raw cacao powder, which is said to have more nutritional benefits than the natural or dutch-processed powders. For the next batch I make, I think I'll try the raw cacao powder option. When it comes to grinding the sunflower seeds, I really prefer the results I get using a food processor over a high-powered blender; the slower speed and wide bowl seem to allow the seeds to release their oils more gradually for a creamier butter without getting too overheated. It takes a few minutes more with a food processor, but in my experience produces a better butter.
Besides spiking your smoothie, this cocoa sunflower seed butter could have lots of other applications too. Off-hand, a no-bake cookie comes to mind, but I'm sure there are many other luscious options out there too. Please feel free to share any ideas you might have below in the comments section. I hope you find this cocoa sunflower seed butter a welcome addition to your favorite repertoire of homemade butters.
Cocoa Sunflower Seed Butter
3 cups/400 grams roasted, unsalted hulled sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons/42 grams extra-virgin coconut oil
2 tablespoons/42 grams raw honey
1/4 cup/24 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (dutch-processed, natural or raw)
1-1/2 teaspoons/6 grams vanilla extract
1 teaspoon/5 grams fine sea salt
Using the large bowl on your food processor, fitted with the double blade, add the sunflower seeds and salt and process for a few minutes until coarsely ground. Add the coconut oil and process for several minutes until smooth. The seeds will gradually release their oils as they are processed, first forming a stiff, dry paste, then forming into a ball that will tumble around the processor for a bit, and then finally breaking down into a more liquid paste with an oily sheen to it that flows around the bowl. At this point, add the raw honey, vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Continue to process until the butter forms into a smooth paste again. The texture will be like a smooth nut butter. Store unrefrigerated in a pint mason jar or suitable glass container.
Makes 2 cups