People often confuse coconut butter with coconut oil. Coconut oil contains only the oil from the coconut, whereas coconut butter is made from coconut flesh, so it retains more nutrients. Coconut butter is made by blending dried coconut into a paste-like consistency that is similar in texture to nut butter.
You can use coconut butter the same way you would use regular butter — spread it on warm toast or add it to soups or smoothies. Try melting a spoonful into carrot, sweet potato or squash soup to enrich the flavor and texture. When blended into smoothies, coconut butter adds body and provides a delicate richness that goes well with anything from berries to chocolate. But unlike coconut oil, coconut butter isn’t recommended for sauteing or roasting, as it burns easily.
Coconut butter can be found — usually on the same shelf as the coconut oil or nearby — at health-food stores and markets like Whole Foods (Artisana makes a good one). Or it can be made at home by blending (at least 2 cups) full-fat, unsweetened dried coconut in a food processor until smooth. It takes about 10 minutes of blending and scraping down the sides to achieve a smooth consistency. Store it in a jar at room temperature. If separation occurs, place the jar in hot water and stir until smooth.
Chocolate Coconut-Butter Fudge with Orange
Makes a 4-by-6-inch piece fudge
This dairy-free fudge really hits the spot when you crave a rich and flavorful treat. The whole flakes of toasted coconut add a crispy texture that complements the hint of orange and vanilla perfectly. Note that the fudge can be made in any shape you like. Try using ramekins or mini-muffin pans lined with cupcake liners.
¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil, plus more to oil pan
½ cup coconut butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more to dust
Pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ cup toasted coconut flakes, see note
Lightly oil a 4-by 6-inch baking dish. Add coconut oil to a small pot over medium heat and warm until completely liquid. Add coconut butter and allow to melt, then whisk to combine. Stir in cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Add salt, honey, vanilla and orange zest and whisk again. Stir in toasted coconut and pour into prepared pan. Place in the fridge for an hour or until completely hard.
To remove fudge from pan, pour boiling water into a wide shallow bowl or larger baking dish. Place baking dish in bowl until water comes half way up the sides. Wait 10 seconds then remove and run a knife around the edge to release fudge. Transfer to a cutting board. Dust with cocoa powder and cut into wedges. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread flaked coconut over a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.