Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk with Almond Meal & Wintry Almond Nog

I have been trying to make vegan milk at home and nut milks are popular vegan diary alternatives. I have tried few recipes from the net rather unsuccessfully but recently tried almond milk from   Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. It turned out excellent and am very happy that I did not give up the experiments with such vegan alternatives.


Ingredients:
Almonds: about 1.5 cups
Water: 4 cups  + for soaking

Dates: 3-5
Vanilla: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp (optional)
Sweetener of choice: as per taste (optional)

Preparation:
Soak almonds overnight in enough water or for atleast 12 + hours.


Next day drain out the water,rinse the almonds and add them to a blender. 

Add in 4 cups of drinking water and blend to a smooth puree adding dates,salt and vanilla.You can reduce the amount of water if you want a thicker creamier milk.

Do the taste test and add in the sweetener to increase the light sweetness given by dates. I did not add any at this stage. But I did add salt. 

Sieve through two layers of cheese cloth over a bowl to remove all the sediments ( almond pulp) Try to press the pulp within the cheesecloth to squeeze out more liquid. 

Almond milk is ready to be tasted. This can be stored in the refrigerator for upto 1 week. I have tried keeping it for 6 days and it did not change in texture or taste or any such thing.


We can use the almond pulp in cookies or other bakery items and even rice and sauteed veggies that use almonds as per the Joy of Vegan Baking. But I have converted them to almond meal or almond flour - in my case slightly toasted almond flour courtesy this recipe. This recipe has a nice pictorial representation for making almond milk and meal. Both the recipes are almost same with very little variations.

Almond meal:

The pulp left in the cheese cloth or sieve will be wet and chunky. So try spreading it in a layered fashion in  a lined baking sheet and dry them in the oven heating at the lowest possible settings. This as per the original source was supposed to take minimum and hour or two, but in my case it was done very early . I started to preheat the oven at 100 and then placed the baking sheet and let the door open slightly so that the moisture is released outside. You can turn off the oven when you find the bits browning too much and let the pulp sit in the hot oven. Mine were actually baked to a light brown and this happened within 10 minutes of placing the sheet. So I turned off the oven and let the chunky pulp cool inside. The timing depends on your oven I presume.

Once the chunks are dry, powder then to a smooth powder in a dry blender. The almond flour is ready to be used in bakes and cakes and also as a thickening agent or you can even add while making the roti or chappathi dough etc. This almond meal has traces of dates and vanilla as well but it is not sweet. Atleast till now thats my perception. I have used it in curries and rotis and till now its ok. You can store the powder in a airtight container and optionally in the fridge.


Wintry Almond Nog:

Take a cup of almond milk and add in 1 ripe banana and 1/4 tsp nutmeg and blend to a thick smooth puree. Decorate it with another pinch of nutmeg and you have a filling, tasty and interesting drink ready to beat the winter (monsoon) chill.

I have not tried boiling the milk though. I am planning to make another batch soon and will be experimenting. Earlier when I had tried boiling or even blending with banana it had simply and visibly curdled. This time  however it was not the case and the wintry almond nog was creamy, tasty and comforting. 

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