Every once in a while I get a really good idea that just seems to fall into my head (usually via a dream…and yes, that really happens, lol), or fall into my lap (usually via a kitchen mishap).
This recipe was sort-of the latter.
It started with a big bag of beautiful walnuts that I received from a lovely blog reader, Letty. (Thank you, Letty…the walnuts are incredible!)
This is the Fudgy Walnut Spread Made into Mousse and Used as a Fluffy Frosting (And the cupcake it’s resting on is actually from a two-cupcake recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes…love small batches like that! You can check out the cupcake recipe here.)
I was thinking about what to do with my walnuts, and ideas like vegan walnut cheese and spiced walnut jam started tumbling around my head…and when Letty mentioned maple walnut pear compote and a “nibbles and bits” plate with things like fruit, cheese, walnuts, crackers, and olives, I was pretty smitten with those ideas too. (She’s pretty inspiring, isn’t she?)
Then I opened my pantry and spied a nice bar of dark chocolate peeking out and knew I wanted to integrate that somehow.
This spread was originally meant to be a Nutella-like creation, but with walnuts instead of hazelnuts. The first day that was exactly what it was, but by the next day it had thickened up significantly! At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but after a little bit of experimenting I realized that it had quite a few different uses. It ended up being much more than what I had originally anticipated, and I was more than a little surprised at how versatile it is! The first day it can be used as a thick spread (or you can thin it out with a little milk if you prefer). If you let it sit as-is in a covered container overnight (without adding milk), the next day you can use it to make ganache-like frosting, fudge ball candy, or mousse (see below for instructions on each). How is that for multi-purpose?
- 2 cups raw walnuts
- 1 (3.5 oz) bar 70% dark chocolate, melted in a double boiler or microwave (see Note)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice while cooking.
- 2. Remove the walnuts from the oven and pour them into a bowl that has been lined with a kitchen towel; wrap the towel up and let the walnuts sit 5 to 10 minutes. Unwrap the nuts, rubbing them together with your hands to remove as many of the peels as possible (don’t worry about getting all the peels off though).
- Transfer the nuts to a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually stream in the melted chocolate, vanilla, salt, and then the maple, and continue processing until smooth. (NOTE: It’s difficult to give exact times for processing in a food processor because everyone’s machine is different. While processing, be sure you give your processor a break once it starts to feel hot so you don’t over-work the motor, and then you can continue.)
- The first day this can be used as a thick spread (or you can thin it out with a little milk if you prefer). If you let it sit as-is in a covered container overnight (without adding milk), the next day you can use it to make ganache-like frosting, fudge ball candy, or mousse (see Notes below for instructions on each). It should keep in a covered container at room temperature for about 3 days, so be sure to use it in one of the ways listed below before that.
Spread or Ganache (Can be used as frosting): The first day this can be eaten as a thick spread on bread, crackers, or even to sandwich cookies together. To use it as a spread or ganache after the first day, you will need to thin it out. To do so, combine 3 parts Fudgy Walnut Spread and 2 parts milk (any kind you like) in a double boiler and stir slowly until smooth and creamy (this can also be done in a microwave; cook it on about 70% power, stopping to stir occasionally, until combined). If you’re not eating it right away, store it in the fridge after adding milk.
Fudge Ball Candy: Let the Fudgy Walnut Spread sit in a covered container at room temperature overnight (it will thicken to the consistency of fudge). The next day, use a 1 tablespoon measuring scoop to measure out the fudge, and then roll into balls. If desired, press a walnut half into the top of each candy.
Mousse (Can be eaten as mousse or used as light, fluffy frosting): Let the Fudgy Walnut Spread sit in a covered container at room temperature overnight (it will thicken to the consistency of fudge). The next day, combine 4 parts Fudgy Walnut Spread and 3 parts milk (any kind you like) in a double boiler and stir slowly until smooth and creamy and starting to thicken (this can also be done in a microwave; cook it on about 70% power, stopping to stir frequently until combined). Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then transfer to the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes (it will thicken as it cools). If not eating it right away, store it in the fridge after adding milk.
P.S. If you enjoyed my styling in this post, check out my post for Spiced Balsamic Concord Jam; I got the inspiration from that photo shoot!