NOTE: There's a new, improved version of this recipe posted here.
First of all, I want to let everyone know that my spreadable vegan butter is a variation on the recipe by Mattie at Vegan Baking - he is an absolute genius! I've made his butter recipe several times & absolutely love it. It is perfect for baking & cooking, but just like dairy butter, a little too firm for spreading straight from the fridge, so I wanted to try a softer version I could use on my morning toast. I would never have been smart enough to come up with this without Mattie's ground-breaking recipe. I think it's so generous of him to share it with everyone, & I highly recommend that you give it a try!
It's been especially useful for me because there is no commercially available vegan butter in Australia, & our vegan margarines are a poor substitute for the salty, creamy yumminess of butter. Worse, margarine usually contains palm oil, & in Australia, food labeling laws don't require manufacturers to stipulate that fact, so most products simply say "vegetable oil" & we're none the wiser about whether that means palm oil or not, or whether it's sustainably sourced (which it usually isn't!). As someone who doesn't want to contribute to the destruction of the Indonesian & Malaysian rainforests, home to some of the planet's most beautiful creatures, such as the endangered Sumatran and Bornean orangutan, I want to avoid palm oil if I can.
Vegan food writer Bryanna Clark Grogan (love her cookbooks!) has also created a riff on Mattie's butter recipe, using cocoa butter instead of coconut oil, presumably wanting to avoid the high amount of saturated fats found in coconut oil, & by using cocoa butter instead (which is firmer at room temperature) she has been able to add a greater ratio of other vegetable oils to the mix. Unfortunately, finding any food-grade organic, fair trade, deodorised cocoa butter in Australia is difficult enough, added to the fact that cocoa butter is exorbitantly expensive, Bryanna's version is not really a practical one for me.
There are conflicting reports about coconut oil. Yes, it's high in saturated fats, but there's evidence that it's not bad for the heart, & is actually really good for you, boosting your metabolism, among other things. The coconut oil I use is expeller pressed organic coconut oil, & on the jar it says: "contains no cholesterol, no trans-fatty acids & is not hydrogenated". Not being a food scientist, I just subscribe to the everything in moderation school of thought, & despite the fact that it's dangerously yummy, try not to slather everything in thick layers of vegan butter! When buying coconut oil for making butter, buy the best quality oil you can, preferably organic, & make sure it is not the unrefined kind that has a strong coconut aroma. The kind you need is refined or expeller pressed, which has no discernible coconut taste.
The good news is, when making a spreadable version of vegan butter, there actually is a higher ratio of other vegetable oils to coconut oil (1:1) compared to block butter, & a higher water content (making it lower in fat), which is a big plus! You can use whatever neutral-tasting vegetable oil you like. For example, canola, sunflower, grape seed, rice bran, avocado, light olive oil - they're all good for you! Adding a little flax seed oil is also a great idea because it's a rich source of Omega 3. With cost in mind, I like to use half canola oil (cheap & readily available) and half macadamia oil, which is expensive, but is high in monounsaturated fats & has a mild, buttery flavour that lends itself very well to this recipe. Isn't it great that you can make your own vegan butter using whatever oil blend you like, focusing on good quality, cold-pressed, non-GMO, organic ingredients? Imagine if it was available in the shops, it would cost a fortune!
As for the taste...sorry Nuttelex, but you're really not that enjoyable to eat on a chunk of fresh, crusty bread, in the same way butter is. Making Mattie's vegan butter for the first time had me practically weeping with greedy joy because it comes closer to the deliciousness of dairy butter than any margarine or dairy blend I've ever tasted. My spreadable version has a higher ratio of soy milk, so it's actually a little creamier too. As a toast connoisseur, I was worried that the higher water content of my version would make my toast soggy (as some margarines do), but happily, my toast is as crispy as ever! Spreadable vegan butter also makes the best mashed potato, & depending on your choice of oils, can be used for sautéing & other high heat cooking methods (along with coconut oil, macadamia & avocado oils are particularly stable at higher temperatures)
A couple more notes... I've used a natural orange food colouring (made from carrot & pumpkin concentrate) to give my spreadable butter a lovely rich yellow colour. You could also try a tiny amount of turmeric- but no more than 1/8 of a teaspoon, or else you might be able to taste it. With one attempt, I tried adding a little steamed pumpkin, but it did make the butter noticably sweeter & it didn't puree down as smoothly as I would have liked (you could see tiny flecks). Or perhaps the colour of your spread doesn't matter to you, in which case you can leave it out altogether. As for the soy lecithin, Mattie & Bryanna's recipes use liquid lecithin, which is hard to get hold of, so I use the granular kind, which you can pick up from any health store. Lastly, I suggest you read Mattie's findings at Vegan Baking, explaining the wisdom behind the choice of ingredients, & why & how this butter works.
FINAL NOTE: I have discovered, since writing this recipe, that if you blend in 1 teaspoon of shiro miso (light miso, the one with the mildest flavour) it gives the butter a depth and complexity that is the closest approximation to dairy butter I've tried. If you decide to add the miso, reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. The flavours develop and it's even better the next day.
SPREADABLE VEGAN BUTTER
3 teaspoons granular soy lecithin, dissolved in a little boiling water
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
a few drops of natural orange food colouring or 1/8 teaspoon powdered turmeric (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (must be refined/expeller pressed so there's no discernible coconut taste - try to find organic)
1/2 cup mild vegetable oil, or blend of oils (such as 1/4 cup canola & 1/4 cup macadamia)
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
Measure the soy lecithin into a small bowl & add a small dash of boiling water. Stir it & leave aside for about 30-60 minutes until the granules are translucent & the mixture is thick & gloopy.
Add apple cider vinegar to the soy milk & stir. Set aside for a few minutes to curdle, then add the salt & food colouring or turmeric, if using.
Soften the coconut oil in the microwave (in its jar is fine - but remove the lid!) until it's only just melting - it's really important you don't heat it up too much - & measure out half a cup. Pour it into a food processor along with the vegetable oil. Blend on a medium speed & gradually pour in the soy milk mixture, then add the soy lecithin & xanthan gum. Process for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides halfway through.
Pour your butter into a small container with the help of a silicone spatula (I have a little rectangular container with a 400ml/13.5 fl oz capacity which is perfect). The emulsion can split if it's not chilled as quickly after blending as possible. Pop it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes until it's firm, then transfer to the fridge. It will be just the right consistency to spread straight from the fridge & will keep for at least a week, perhaps longer.