Sunday, July 9, 2017


Best Blog Tips

I promise you, this is the LAST and FINAL version!

First there was my "Buttah", back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?!), which was a solid product, spread well, but would stay in a block like dairy butter. Then, earlier this year, I developed two different versions for two different posts of an easier "Butter-y Spread", made with less cocoa butter (or coconut oil as a possible alternative) than what was used in "Buttah", a sort of "tub butter", if you will. I used the method for vegan soy mayonnaise (developed by Seventh Day Adventists many years ago)-- dripping liquid oil into soymilk, which contains lecithin, an emulsifier-- but the minus the vinegar. The last version that I blogged about-- an amalgamation of the two earlier posts (which I have since removed)-- was in May of this year. It was good, but I still wanted a slightly firmer version and an easier method. Back in June of this year, it occured to me that maybe the new "mayonnaise" method might work with my old Buttah recipe, and would definitely be an easier, less fuss method for a firmer product. I figured that it might also coagulate better so that there would be no danger of separating and having to stir it while it firms up in the freezer, which happened about half the time. I also checked the cocoa butter percentage of the three products (the original "Buttah", the "tub version'"of Buttah, and the new Butter-y Spread), in order to see which recipe contained the least amount of cocoa butter while still producing a fairly firm product. My reason for this concern is that cocoa butter is very expensive in Canada now, partially due to the low Canadian dollar, and partly higher postal fees to the USA. I prefer to use cocoa butter instead of the easier-to-obtain coconut oil because it is a great deal lower in saturated fat than coconut oil, and it produces a more solid product, being a very hard product. It turns out that the original firm version of Buttah contained 3.02g cocoa butter per tablespoon, the tub version of Buttah contained 2.3g per tablespoon., and, surprise, surprise, the new Butter-y Spread contained 3.6g per tablespoon! I realized that, since the new Butter-y spread contains less liquid oil, the cocoa butter content is actually higher per tablespoon. So, I tried using the ingredients for "tub version" of Buttah, rounding the weight of the cocoa butter in the recipe out from 81.6g to 82g, and using the new "mayonnaise" blender method from the new Butter-y spread recipe. (The amount of monunsaturated fat-- the most important kind-- in this recipe, made with cocoa butter, is more than twice the amount as the combined saturated and polyunsaturated fats.) I also further streamlined the Butter-y Spread by adding all of the ingredients except the oils into the blender with the soymilk right at the beginning, so that I didn't have to add them later-- it works just fine and saves a step! So, this worked beautifully and the result was actually more firm that the original "Tub Buttah". It also worked better in baking, since it has a higher overall fat content than the softer Butter-y Spread.
My friend Brenda Wiley again experimented with my new recipe and reported back. She gave me some good advice about describing the method, and the salt content. (She used Whole Foods brand Original Soy Milk.) Many thanks to Brenda!!
I hope you will give this new, easier method a try!

PS: WHY PALM OIL-FREE? It's important-- trust me! For information on the palm oil problem, ingredients and equipment, and about the different types of fats, see this page. And here's a recipe for palm oil-free and trans-fat-free shortening, as well.)

© Bryanna Clark Grogan 2017. All rights reserved. (Revised July 9, 2017)
Yield: 2 1/4 cups/36 tablespoons
This is an inexpensive, delicious and easy-to-make butter-y spread that is low in saturated fat.  It’s firm enough to use in place of butter or solid margarine in baking, though it may work best for some baking if it’s frozen first and used quickly. This spread has a consistency like a firm tub margarine.
NOTE: Silk and So Delicious brands use cruelty-free coconut products.
See WHY CRUELTY-FREE COCONUT OIL? At end of recipe document.

Ingredient List:
1/2 cup soy milk (I use Silk Organic Original) OR other plant based milk for drinking or coffee that is creamy and not thin (rice milk is too thin)
OR Silk or So Delicious brands of Coconut Creamer (Original)
2 tsp liquid soy or sunflower lecithin (Use 1 Tbs if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
(See lecithin shopping notes below.)
1/2 tsp lemon juice (Unlike vinegar, lemon juice produces a lovely, mellow, delicate flavor.)
3/4 to 1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp guar gum or xanthan gum (Use 3/4 tsp if you use a non-soy plant-based milk)
1 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil
2.9 oz.(82g) cocoa butter (preferably steam-deodorized), melted
        NOTE: Instead of cocoa butter, you can use 1/2 cup cruelty-free coconut oil, melted (see brands here).  But, remember, the result won’t be as firm as it is with cocoa butter and it will add saturated fat.
Only the weight of the cocoa butter is given in the ingredient list, for the simple reason that, after much  experimenting, it was discovered that it is the weight of the cocoa butter that is the essential measurement, so the best practice is to weigh it accurately before melting. Measuring the melted, liquid cocoa butter in cup measures does not ensure a predictable result in the final product.

PS: This scale has a function to erase the weight of the container, so that you get the weight of the product only.

NOTE: Try to use organic, fair trade cocoa butter, if you can.  If you live in the USA, this is a reliable vendor with decent prices--Chocolate Alchemy.
Affordable prices are harder to find in Canada, so you might want to try using an organic natural, UN-deodorized cocoa butter, which is cheaper, from a health food store [wafers or chunks].  It's such a small amount that the chocolate odor may not make a difference, depending on your sensitivities. Online, this one is a good price and this one, too, if the shipping is by Canada Post. Food grade cocoa butter, including organic and sometimes fair trade, is often available online from organic soap-making and cosmetic suppliers, so,when Canadian dollar is low, I purchase it from this Canadian company.


Important Note: After weighing, I melt the cocoa butter (or coconut oil) in a gravy pitcher (one that holds 2 cups) or something similar, with a spout or lip, in the microwave for a couple of minutes at medium heat. If you prefer, place the pitcher in a saucepan with hot water and heat over medium heat until it melts. Either way, remove carefully using a potholder. Add the neutral oil to this and use the pitcher to pour the mixed oils into the blended mixture slowly, but NOT drop-by-drop, as you would when making soy mayonnaise. A pitcher will give you more control for pouring, and less chance of spilling.  


Chop the cocoa butter into small bits. (Tip: If you slice down into very thin slices with a sharp knife, it will shred, which helps it to melt faster).
To melt the cocoa butter- #1, my preferred method: place it in your 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup and melt it in a microwave oven. I timed the melting of the cocoa butter and it took about 2-3 minutes at 50% power in a 1200 watt oven. (Don’t use 100% power-- it will get too hot.) If it isn't completely melted, stir it a bit until it melts, or give it a few seconds more. Add the liquid oil.

OR #2 method: place the cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler and melt it over simmering water until liquid. Pour into the 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup, along with the liquid oil.

Pour the milk (or creamer) into a high-speed blender container, add the lecithin lemon juice, salt and xanthan or guar gum, and place the cover on it, with the central cap off.  Mix the liquid oil with the melted cocoa butter OR coconut oil, if you must) together in a 2-cup pitcher-- see Important Note above. Turn the blender on to Low speed and pour in the mixture of the two oils slowly into the milk until all of it is used up. (When I say “slowly”, that’s what I mean-- a slow steady stream, but NOT drop by drop, and NOT in just a miniscule stream. If you do it too slowly, the mixture may thicken too soon, and then separate. If it “globs” up too soon, turn the speed of the blender up and quickly add the rest of the oil mixture. Now, increase the speed of the blender to a little bit. Blend for a short time, just until it thickens to the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. (Blenders differ in power and speed, so you may have to experiment.) 

Use a slim silicone spatula to scoop the mixture into two shallow refrigerator containers with lids, or any kind of butter dish with a lid. Scrape as much of the blended mixture out of the blender container as you can.

If it separates around the edges in the blender and doesn't "glob up", don't panic! It can be whisked back to normal during the cooling step, if necessary, but this has only happened to me once or twice. Do as follows:

If your mixture is not as thick as pictured above and has separated a bit around the edges, scoop it into 2 shallow containers (each able to hold slightly more than 1 cup) and place in your freezer on a level surface. After 10 minutes, using a small wire whisk, stir the mixture around the walls of the container and then into the middle. This is to mix the colder portion of the mixture around the sides in with the warmer mixture in the middle. Freeze another 10 minutes and repeat the mixing. Check after another 10 minutes and repeat if necessary. You shouldn't have to do it again. Let it freeze solid and then you can place one container in your refrigerator if you wish, or keep both in the freezer.
(For advice about cleaning the greasy blender container, see the end of this page.)

Using the spatula, smooth the tops of the Butter-y Spread in the containers.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours before using. You can also freeze it (you can scrape the Butter-y Spread off the frozen mixture very easily), or freeze it until the mixture is firm and then refrigerate.

Makes 2 1/4 cups or 36 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts for spread made with cocoa butter (Serving size: 1/36 of a recipe/0.5 ounces/1 tablespoon)

Nutrition (per 1 tablespoon): 90 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10.1g total fat, 1.94g saturated fat, 5.21g monounsaturated fat, 2.44g polyunsaturated fat, 0g Trans Fatty Acids, 0mg cholesterol, 40.6mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, less than 1g carbohydrates, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, less than 1g protein, 2.6 points.


For a Soy-Free Buttah-- Organic Sunflower Liquid Lecithin:  
Upaya Naturals (This is a Canadian site, but they sell to Americans, too.) (USA) (raw liquid lecithin)

Organic Liquid Soy Lecithin:
Mountain Rose Herbs (This is a US site, but they ship internationally.) (US site)

See this article for a list of cruelty-free brands of coconut products and other products that contain coconut oil.
See photographs at this article:
"Life in chains: Heartrending pictures of caged Indonesian monkeys being sold to coconut farmers"
Published earlier this year, the most comprehensive article I read, Pay Coconuts, Get Monkeys, gives us an idea  of what life is like for these monkeys, how valuable they are economically, and how legal loopholes enable trainers and “zoos” to essentially get away with animal abuse and neglect.
Early on in the piece a man called Noi Petchpradab, who has been training macaques to harvest coconuts for thirty years, was interviewed and discusses daily life for these working monkeys: "When they are not working, the animals are chained to tree stumps, which Mr. Noi said is due to their aggressiveness. They are given three daily meals, consisting of rice mixed with Lactasoy milk."

The article also goes on to say:
"Due to their ability to work for long hours, the macaques are capable of collecting 600-1,000 coconuts per day, compared to only 100-200 for humans. On a few occasions, he admitted, the monkeys are so tired they faint.
This practice will surely continue as long as there is both a market for coconut oil and consumers who are ignorant to the fact that this is even happening. Also, there will always be an economic incentive for people in these areas to use monkeys as performers as long as tourists are willing to spend money to visit them."

My friend Brenda Wiley said that she had a heck of a time cleaning the greasy blender container after making this.  She was using Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap, which I also use as an all-purpose cleaning product, but not for dishes.  She said she had to wash the container about 3 times. I have not had this problem, and, no, I do not use Dawn!  I use Nature Clean Dishwashing Liquid (I like the Lavender & Tea Tree Oil one  -- there's an ingredient list at the link) and very hot tap water and have never had a problem.  (Nature Clean is a sulphate-free Canadian product and you can buy it online or in most supermarkets and drug stores in Canada.) Before I add the soapy water to the greasy container, I rinse out as much of the greasy residue as possible with hot tap water, using a bottle brush in the corners.  I dump that out and add more hot water and a generous squirt of the dishwashing liquid.  I scrub the inside with the bottle brush and rinse with more hot tap water. I looked online for some US products that looked similar.  This looked like a good one, and the price seemed reasonable: Natural HomeLogic Eco Friendly Liquid Dish Soap, Powerful, Pure Non-Toxic Cleaning; Plant & Mineral Derived.  It's available on amazon and their website gives you other locations.  Brenda bought some and said it works like a charm! If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comment section-- thanks!