Arsenic what?

This is homemade Chocolate Almond Butter. It does not contain organic brown rice syrup. You know, that ingredient found in granola bars and crackers and baby formula, and other things that obviously should have arsenic in them. Because arsenic in brown rice syrup is – wait what? No, actually – wait, WHAT?!

Yes, I offer you one more reason, in case you needed it, to make your kids’ snacks yourself. I loved Jenny’s post at DALS; she made Alana’s granola bars from The Homemade Pantry (yes, it is sort of like a new kind of bible around here) and loved them. We have also made Alana’s car snacks and loved them. Today though I offer you a combination guaranteed to get your kids off packaged goodies forever. If you doubt me, look at this:

And he’s my pickier one :)

This cracker recipe has everything that a good graham cracker has, but I find it even tastier – there is something about that maple-y whole grain goodness, mixing with all that butter and brown sugar, that is warm and rich and wonderful. (I didn’t promise you my healthiest recipe today – I promised you no arsenic. I mean really, let’s not be too picky about the butter and the sugar on this one, okay?)  And then, when you smear some homemade chocolate almond butter on top, and perhaps sprinkle a couple little leftover slivers of that 70% cacao baking bar on top of that … and maybe even sandwich another cracker over it … well, you might be stuffing your face too. Even if you can find a way to resist them, I promise that your kids, or your grandma, or your neighbor, or your spouse, or whomever you cook for, will enjoy a special treat.

And it won’t be all Flowers of the Attic-y to give it to them.

Maple Brown Sugar Grahams
Adapted from Alana Chernila’s graham cracker recipe in The Homemade Pantry – 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying And Start Making

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into one inch cubes (freeze for a couple of minutes before it’s time to add it in)
5 tablespoons grade B maple syrup

In the bowl of your mixer, combine flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder and sugar.  Whisk together well. Attach to your mixer and add the cold butter. Mix on medium-low speed just until starting to combine, about 30 seconds.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup with 1/4 cup cold water. With the mixer running on medium-low slowly add the maple syrup to the bowl in stages, giving the dry ingredients time to absorb each addition. Once it is all in, continue to mix for 20-30 seconds until the dough suddenly “clumps up” (per Jacob) – it will all of a sudden look like dough and come together around the paddle.

Push the dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. We went with overnight. You could also freeze one half of the dough if you wanted to make a second batch some other time.

About twenty minutes before you are going to start making the crackers, remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you are using the whole recipe, cut the dough in half.  Lay one half between two sheets of wax paper and roll it as thin as you can (Alana says ideal is 1/8 inch). Tip: I made my wax paper sheets a little bit long, brought the ‘tails’ over the edge of the counter, and then leaned against them as I rolled. This held it in place so I could roll it with more pressure and get it thinner.

I used our pizza cutter to cut out the crackers. (Alana used some kind of crinkle cutter and the photo of her crackers is so cute!) Reroll any scraps and cut those too. Then do the other half of the dough, if you are doing it now. They can be squeezed close together since they won’t spread – I was able to fit fifty crackers, 25 per sheet, with each cracker cut to more or less 2×3 inches (I was not completely precise but they were all pretty close).

Bake at 350 F for about fifteen minutes or until turning gold at the edges. Cool on wire racks.

Alana suggests that her graham crackers are better the second day, and I did find that the flavor had matured on day two – you could taste more of the subtleties of the flours and the syrup. That said, they were really delicious out of the oven.

Chocolate Almond Butter
Much like butter, this takes only a few minutes and my guys love making it. They also love eating it – I give them spoonfulls right out of the jar, which they call “pops”. It is really nice on toast – or smeared on a maple graham :) 

1 cup shelled raw or roasted almonds, whichever you prefer
(if using raw, I also add about 1/4 teaspoon salt)
2 heaping tablespoons dark chocolate shavings from your favorite baking bar
1 tablespoon canola oil, if needed

Put the nuts, salt if using, and chocolate into your food processor with the blade attached. Pulse a couple times, and then blend for about thirty seconds. The nuts and chocolate will break down into a grind (sort of like flour, or ground coffee). Keep pulsing, and eventually they will start to clump together. If you’re not getting a relatively spreadable consistency after a minute or two, drizzle in some of the oil and pulse again. Repeat as needed to get your almond butter the consistency that you want.

This will keep for a day at room temperature, or about a month in the fridge. And it is totally arsenic free.

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