Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Almond Milk and Experimental Almond Pulp Crackers

soaked almonds
Honestly, I don't have much use for almond milk.  I don't eat "paleo cereals" and I don't make fancy latte's at home.  If I do make a coffee or tea, I use either organic cream or coconut milk.  Store bought almond milk always tasted like chalk to me and I was never entirely impressed with the added sweeteners, guar gums and carrageenans either.

Somehow this week, though, I got it into my head that I should make some.  Just something to do in between my nutritional research assignment and various case studies that are due in the next few weeks.

I decided to start with a VERY small batch, just in case it was a fail or didn't like the taste.  I viewed a number of recipes, all of which were basically the same and went to work.

  • 1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight and then rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 honey date (pitted)
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of filtered water
Add all the ingredients into a high powered blender (Vitamix/Blendtec) and blend until the almonds are a fine texture.  (For regular blenders, almonds may need to be blended in divided doses).

At this point, I decided to taste the "milk".  It was FREAKING AWESOME! 

The "milk" was poured through a fine wire strainer into a clean jar.  Ideally this part would be best done with a nut milk bag or or at least some cheese cloth.  In order to get as much liquid separated from the pulp, I repeated the process of straining.

The portion is small and yielded about 1 cup.  According to other recipes, it should be consumed within 3 - 5 days.

A total success and non-paleo husband approved!  I really think the success of its flavour is based on the added honey date and touch of vanilla.  Definitely trumps any commercial brand of almond milk, hands down!  Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with it.  Perhaps a homemade chai latte or added to my weekend morning coffee.
Almond Milk Success!!

And then I experimented with the almond pulp...

Not wanting to waste the almond pulp, I decided to try making some crackers.

I was left with a very wet pulp after straining.  A nut milk bag or cheesecloth is key to getting a dryer almond pulp needed for successful crackers.

I thought I was completely out of cheesecloth, which is why I initially used the strainer, but I searched a little harder in the kitchen and found a six inch square of cheesecloth.  I put my mushy pulp in and squeezed every last bit of liquid gold I could get out. It did the trick!

Because I had made such a small batch of almond milk, I was left with roughly 1/4 cup of dry pulp.  Not really enough to follow a recipe, but enough to experiment with on my own.  And if they didn't work out, then not much was wasted.

***Note: this was a trial run only.  Still needs some work.***

Oven was preheated to 350 F

1/4 cup almond pulp
1/4 tsp sesame seeds
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp water

The consistency of the dough was quite moist and slightly sticky.  I may add a bit of almond flour for the next test.  I rolled it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a small circle cookie cutter.

I placed them on parchment paper and in the oven for roughly 14 minutes, just until the outside was firm.
After cooling for a few minutes, I tasted one of the crackers.  They were delicious but definitely not a cracker consistency.  The texture was more reminiscent of biscuits or scone, slightly soft yet crumbly.  The taste was incredible and I definitely got the seasoning proportion down for such a tiny batch.  I'll definitely try and replicate this again, but on a larger scale.  This made 5 whole crackers/biscuits. I might be able to achieve a better cracker consistency if I rolled the dough to 1/8th of an inch.  That way they'll crisp up better in the oven.

Certainly some more experimentation is needed, but overall quite pleased with how they turned out.