I am on a short holiday from work and it is a different sort of bliss. I wake up to the opening strains of Aerosmith’s, ‘something’s wrong with the world today’, dig into the crisper for a quick assessment of vegetables available, and decide upon the menu. Packed lunch for my son includes steamed rice mixed with a gravy (usually lentil based), and a dry or semi-dry vegetable preparation. Sounds easy, no? Sometimes it tends to get monotonous, or plain tough. My son is a picky eater. He does not like rotis for lunch being a South-Indian-meal-junkie who likes only healthy meals.
Once the kids leave for school Mr. P and I settle with a cup of coffee – he with the sports section of the newspaper and I with my favourite playlist or a novel. If I am by myself I prefer hot chocolate. The air is nippy these days so hot chocolate usually triumphs over coffee. After the hurried morning hum-drum I like the thought of comfort. Besides, nut milk is so delicious.
I prefer almond or hazelnut milk. I may make some or use from the almond milk stash. If you make your own almond milk like me, I suggest that you use it within three days. I am not sure whether it remains good enough after that.
I make a thick almond milk extract, and a thin one, just as I do with coconut. That way I can pamper myself with a thick smoothie as well. One cup of almonds is good to make 4 cups of almond milk. I make a fifth one that gets used up in cakes. You could use the almond meal left over in a soup or to thicken any gravy if you see the ‘meal’ as food. I use it as a body scrub. Oh! The luxury.
I prefer to keep the skin on when I blend almonds. You can substitute almonds with pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews. But hazelnuts and almonds make the best hot chocolate. Cashew milk is great for yogurt.
Recipe: How to make almond nut milk
Yield: 4-5 cups of nut milk
Almonds, with skin, soaked for 5-6 hours in tap water – 1 cup
OR, blanch almonds in boiled water for 30 minutes, if needed quickly. I prefer to soak in tap water.
Water 4 cups
Boil water, and cool to lukewarm.
Blend almonds with a cup of water to a coarse consistency in the large sized jar of your blender. Stop twice in between, and scrape down the meal on the sides into the center. Blend again. Sieve through a soup strainer. Keep this milk separately. This can be used for making vegan rice pudding, or carrot halwa.
Return the residual meal into the mixer and add two cups of lukewarm water. Blend, and strain as before into another vessel. Repeat and blend for a last time with one cup of lukewarm water. Strain back into the same vessel, mixing the second and third blends together. This is the one I use for my chocolate drink. It is thin, but it is very tasty. If I feel the need to have more flavour, I add a tablespoon of the thick almond milk from the first extract.
I scrape a vanilla bean into my milk or mix in a pinch of cinnamon powder. Both are good.
Recipe: Hot chocolate with cocoa and almond milk
Yield: 1 cup
Hintz dark cocoa – 1 tbsp.
Almond nut milk (second extract) – 1 cup
Raw sugar – 1/2 tsp., or to taste
Bring half cup of nut milk to the boil on low fire. Whisk the cocoa and raw sugar into the other half cup of almond milk with a hand whisk. Pour into a huge mug, and add the hot milk.