Corn Nut Butter – Recipe Work in Progress

Corn Nut Butter
Corn Nut Butter

Yep. Corn Nuts, ground up into a “nut” butter.

I’ve had freeze-dried corn ground into powder many times, and I know Christina Tosi uses that to make her famous corn cookies. I was in Chicago yesterday to do a taping at WGN, and managed to get a drink at Grant Achatz’ The Aviary. One of the snacks I ordered was a guacamole filled croquant that had a corn powder, but it tasted like the toasted flavor of Corn Nuts, not the pure sweet flavor of freeze-dried corn. Awesome.

So then it occurred to me on the plane yesterday – what if I ground Corn Nuts past the powder consistency and all the way to nut butter? I was so excited I bought two packages of corn nuts at the Seattle airport so I could try it first thing this morning. I would have done it last night if it wouldn’t have woken up the family!

For my first try, I rinsed the Corn Nuts to remove excess salt, then quickly dried them in the oven. I ground them in the VitaPrep on high speed, adding about 5 tablespoons of corn oil to the 8 ounces of Corn Nuts, using the tamper to force them into the blade, and running for a good 3 minutes to get them as fine as possible. Adjusted salt to taste and oil to make spreadable. Then I pushed them through a tamis (ultra-fine sieve).

Results: flavor amazing; exactly what you would imagine, the purest roasted corn flavor you can imagine. Texture: imperfect. Still, even after the tamis, a bit grainy. I think my next move will be to try using the Champion Juicer to see if it can produce a creamier result. Anyone else have other ideas?

I’m excited about the possible uses for this. It seems like there are many ways to play it, both sweet and savory. You can think of it from the corn angle or the nut butter angle, or both. Some thoughts:

  • On toasted brioche with tomato jam – looks like PB&J, tastes like tomato and corn salad
  • Cookies (would taste different than the Tosi version, probably more like a peanut butter cookie)
  • Blondies
  • Ice cream
  • Gianduja (normally hazelnut butter and chocolate), or gianduja coated feuilletine (pastry flakes), or gianduja coated cornflakes
  • Fluffernutter
  • Filled pretzels

Got some other ideas?

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Friday, June 29th, 2012 in Experiments, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

20 Responses to “Corn Nut Butter – Recipe Work in Progress”

  1. Beverly
    June 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I wonder if there’s a way you could approach it like masa is made without losing the toasty corn flavor. They say that processing the corn in an alkaline solution makes it more digestible and therefore more nutritious so it might even have a side benefit. You could either buy some pickling lime or use wood ashes if you happen to grill over wood to make the solution. It sounds like a lot of trouble, but it might be the only way to get the smooth texture.

    Here are just a few interesting links I found when I Googled “masa harina” (and then “ashes vs lime for treating corn”. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes.

    link to recipes.howstuffworks.com

    link to culturesforhealth.com

    link to en.wikipedia.org :

    The ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations developed nixtamalization using lime (calcium hydroxide, not the citrus fruit of the same name) and ash (potassium hydroxide) to create alkaline solutions. The Chibcha people to the north of the ancient Inca also used calcium hydroxide (also known as “cal”), while the tribes of North America used naturally occurring sodium carbonate or ash.

    • June 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      That’s a *very* interesting idea. I like it. I know Dave Arnold from Cooking Issues has done some great work on nixtamalization (here’s a linK: link to cookingissues.com), maybe I can incorporate that. The flavor would be different but who is to say it might not be even better! Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. June 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Wow, what a great idea! The butter looks incredibly creamy; I’m surprised you say it was still grainy. Could have fooled me : )

    • June 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      I think what is going on is that the particle size is small enough that it would be creamy, but the particles are quite hard, so there is a modestly abrasive sensation. Not quite the desired result. A couple of folks have suggested ways of softening the corn, that is probably the best thing to try if the Champion doesn’t solve it.

  3. Monica
    June 30, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    How about using it in a tahini recipe
    With garlic and cilantro

    • June 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

      Well, corn certainly goes with garlic and cilantro, so that might be pretty good!

  4. June 30, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Looks fabulous! Hope you can work the texture thing out, because this sounds like a real winner!

  5. June 30, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    This looks delish! I was attracted to your mention of ” on brioche” with tomato jam, it’s like PB & J. Oh my goodness, what delightful flavors. I can’t wait to try this soon. Thanks for the idea, Michael !

  6. Melanie
    June 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    What if you soaked the cornnuts to soften them before processing? That might make them break down easier… This is such a great idea for a “nut” butter; I want it to work!

    • June 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks! Yes, I think soaking, or soaking in alkali as Beverly is talking about above, would be a good avenue to pursue. I’m just not sure if I’ll lose a lot of the yummy fried flavor in the process or not. Only one way to find out!

  7. July 1, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    As long as you’re going to soak the corn nuts, why not use a roasted corn stock to bump the flavor? I’ll be curious to hear if the combination of hydration and the juicer gets you where you want to be.

    • July 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      That’s a good idea! I’ll keep you posted.

    • July 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      I wonder if simply pressure cooking them for a few minutes in as little liquid as possible would be enough to soften things up. Think I’ll try that tmw.

      • July 2, 2012 at 4:03 am #

        I think that’s a great idea. Though I still vote for flavored liquid :) Why waste an opportunity?

  8. July 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    I am also waiting for you to finish this one.I’m really getting excited too. I’m sorry to be of no help to you though.

  9. July 6, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    Along with the others I was thinking, what about soaking them and then incorporating the liquid in to the butter as well…to keep the flavor. Love your idea about using the pressure cooker. Please post a follow up!! I’m curious to know about the nutritional makeup of something like this. I’m thinking it’s not terribly nutritious, but sounds quite delicious!

  10. July 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Hilarious- love it!!

  11. bazina!
    September 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    caramel and ‘corn’ on ice cream! okay that might be pushing it.. hehe. I’m no chef I just like to eat. but maybe as a sauce to corn bread (instead of butter).

  12. S.Lee Holt
    November 18, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I Know you’re very busy with your family and life, but I do hope that some time in the future you will have a bit of time to look more closely at the nutrition in food as well as taste & lovely presentation.

    I will suggest looking at a 20-year study of food and massively good health done by an American
    group in China. The China Study:Sterling Implications for Diet, Weight Control & Long-Term Health by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II

    If you had a diabetic child, you’d know just how hard it is to keep corn and corn sugar out of their food & why it matters.

    In addition to that, corn is one of the main subjects of the genetically
    modified group of foods that has people enraged at the food producers. These companies spent enormous amounts of money fighting a Calif. amendment that would require them to label their products as containing a genetically modified food.

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