Making Almond Flour

Almond Flour

Dark Almond flour from the Cinnamon Scented Coconut Almond Milk

A few days ago I posted about making almond milk. That recipe was special treat, but normally I make plain ol’ almond milk, with just almonds and water (and sometimes a wee bit of vanilla extract). Afterwards, you have a big glop of almond pulp left over, which doesn’t contain a whole lot of flavor. You could throw it away, but almonds aren’t cheap and it seems like a waste to just toss it. You could compost it, but living in the city, I don’t exactly have a lot of space for composting or a garden (although it’s on my bucket list!). What I like to do with almond pulp is dehydrate it and make some fluffy, delicious, gluten free almond flour!

Almond flour can be used to replace about one half of the regular flour used in any recipe. It can also be combined with other gluten free flours to make a great GF baking mix. Since most of the almond flavor went into the almond milk, the flour doesn’t impart a huge almond flavor to baked goods. But the flavor IS different than wheat flour, almost sweeter without being sweet.

Making almond flour from almond pulp is really simple. Most people save up the almond pulp in the freezer and make one big batch of flour. However, I make a batch every time I make the milk because otherwise the pulp would sit in my freezer until the next ice age! My freezer is the place that good intentions go to get freezer burnt and tossed out… It only takes a few minutes of actual effort, so making it as I go doesn’t feel inefficient to me.

First, spread your almond pulp out on a tray or pan, as thin as you can get it. It wont stick to anything, so don’t grease the pan. If you have a dehydrator, set it to about 110 degrees. But if you only have an oven, set it to the lowest temperature possible (mine goes to 120 degrees).

Almond Pulp Spread on a Pan

Let the pulp dehydrate for between 4 and 8 hours, depending on the temperature of your oven. About halfway through, break of the sheet of almond paste into small bits so that the air can circulate though and dry everything completely.

Broken Up Almond Pulp

Once the almond pulp iscompletely dry, place the chunks into a high-speed blender, clean coffee grinder, spice grinder or food processor. Grind up the almond chunks until they are a finely texture flour. That’s it! I store the almond flour in the freezer, and use it as I bake. One cup of almonds used in almond milk will yield about 1/2 cup of almond flour.

Here you can see the difference in color between flour that was about 75% de-skinned almonds and the cinnamon/coconut almond flour I made in the previous post. Surprisingly, the taste isn’t very different between the two, despite the difference in ingredients! I think it’s because most of the flavor went into the milk.

Broken Up Almond Pulp

Here’s a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (using almond flour) that I’ve been meaning to make, which will help get you started in the almond flour baking adventure!

Cinnamon-Scented Coconut Almond Milk

Coconut Almond Milk

Oh my goodness! It’s been one of those weeks, where I haven’t had time to even make myself a decent meal. I did end up making mizuna and yams for the third time (yes, it’s that good!), but otherwise it’s been cereal, leftovers from lunches out, and eating out. I did manage to find a little time to make some almond milk, based off an amazing recipe at Square One Kitchen (a great blog!).

I like my almond milk thin, more like store-bought almond milk, so I cut the almond and coconut in half, and just used one date, since I’m not really big on sweet drinks. I also soaked the almonds separately so that I could rinse and drain the almonds to get rid of the excess tannins from the skins. Finally, I added a pinch of cinnamon, just for kicks. What I ended up with was a rich, coconutty, cinnamon scented milk that was simply divine. It was so good that I forbade my fiancé from using it on cereal, because that would be a “waste”!

Making it is so easy, just the same as regular almond milk. Cover the coconut, chia seeds, dates and cinnamon with 2 cups water in a covered container. If using extract, add it too, but if using the vanilla paste, add it after you strain the milk, so you don’t strain out the vanilla beans. Soak the almonds in a separate covered container. Soak overnight or about 8 hours. After soaking, pour coconut and water into a blender, adding another 2 cups of water to make 4 cups total. Drain and rinse the almonds, then add to the blender. Blend on high until frothy and the almonds are well blended.

Almonds and coconut soakingBlended Almond Milk.

Now here comes the fun part, or the hard part, depending on how you look at it. I have found that the best and easiest way to strain the almond milk is to use a nut milk bag. However, you can use a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth, or any other method you can think of. Hold the nut milk bag or strainer over a large container, and pour the milk mixture in slowly. Now pick up the nut milk bag and gently squeeze it, straining the milk into the container below. Squeeze until you can’t squeeze anymore. Then squeeze some more. You should feel like you are trying to draw water from a rock. But the drier you get the almond pulp, the easier it is to turn it into almond flour (which I will make a post on tomorrow!)

Pouring Almond Milk into a Nut Milk BagSqueeeeeeeze that Nut Milk Bag!

After all that squeezing, you can reward yourself with a hand massage nice cool glass of ccinnamony, coconutty, almond milk!

Coconut Almond Milk

Cinnamon-Scented Coconut Almond Milk

Based off the recipe from Square One Kitchen

Cover the coconut, chia seeds, dates, vanilla (if using extract add at end) and cinnamon in two cups water. In a separate container, cover the almonds with water. Soak both coconut and almonds overnight or for at least 8 hours. Pour coconut and water into blender, adding another 2 cups. Drain and rinse almonds and add to blender. Blend on high, then strain using a strainer or nut milk bag.

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

Coconut Kale Chips

The best time to go to a farmer’s market is on a rainy day. There are no crowds, and the venders are eager to sell you everything they’ve got for a song. I took my parents to one of my local farmer’s markets during their trip this weekend, and we were lucky enough to have it stop raining right before we headed out, so we got the best of both worlds! We came home with armfuls of goodies, including two large bundles of kale, because one lovely vendor was having a buy one, get one free deal. It usually takes me over a week to finish my kale, so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with two.

My mom suggested Kale Chips, so we gave it a go! My ancient oven in my apartment is basically non-functional, so I rely on my incredible counter-top Smart Oven to do my baking. This meant I had to bake my kale chips in two batches, which allowed me to experiment with the flavors. Another challenge I faced due to my tiny apartment kitchen is that I don’t have a salad spinner, since there is no more room to store a large uni-tasking tool. I learned a trick that all you salad-spinnerless folks would enjoy:

  • Place the wet leaves on a thin kitchen towel.
  • Grab the found corners of the towel to create a little basket for the leaves.
  • Now swing your arms around in a circle like a maniac.
  • The water will be drawn out and will spray everything in your kitchen with kale-scented water.

It actually works wonderfully, but make sure to do this outside!

Make sure the leaves are as dry as possible. After I did my crazy swinging rain dance, I removed the stems and let the leaves air dry.

Kale Leaves

My first batch was just olive oil and sea salt, but it fell a little flat for me. I think I needed something to cover the still perceptible bitterness of the kale. Taking inspiration from the crispy kale bowl I made recently, I decided to add coconut and toasted sesame oil. It definitely did the trick for me!

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 Tbs shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Remove stems, wash and very thoroughly dry the kale leaves. Mix together the sesame and the olive oil. Place half of the oil in your hands, and massage it into the kale, so that each leaf is completely coated. Use more of the oil as needed. Add coconut flakes and stir well.

Spread evenly on a non-stick baking sheet, ideally covered in parchment paper (but not necessary). Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring at least once. You may need to remove some crispy leaves early to ensure they don’t burn. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Coconut Kale Chips

Best Gift Ever

My parents came to visit this weekend, and as usual, they left my apartment in better condition than before they came! My parents are both extremely handy, and they are always ready and eager to work on any project that we can dream up. My favorite project this time was a custom made wall mounted iPad Frame. I’m so giddy about it that I HAD to share it!

I’m always using the iPad while cooking, and with my already teeny counters, it’s a challenge trying to find a spot for it. I usually end up having to move it around mid prep, covering it in dirty fingerprints and risking an ill-fated drop to the floor. So I told my dad about my iPad cooking woes, and he designed and made me this beauty:

iPad Frame

The iPad (actually, I ended up using my HP Touchpad in it so the poor thing finally gets some use!) slides in from the top. There is an opening at the bottom, so I don’t even have to remove it to charge it. We mounted it to my spice cabinet (an Ikea Hack I made a few years ago) with this super duper ultra sticky tape. I’ve tested this tape, and I’m not worried about this falling off, ever!

I’ve already used it twice while cooking, and WOW. This is what the future feels like! I don’t think I’ll ever need to print a recipe again. Thanks dad!! Here’s an action shot:

iPad Frame

You can see that I’m using it to make an incredibly delicious chili that netted me 2nd place in the Veggie Chili Cook-Off at work!