Ever have one of those “Did I really just make that?” moments in the kitchen where you can’t believe you’ve just made something that you thought would never turn out right, and it was actually easy AND it tastes just like you wished it would? During those few seconds, a world of culinary possibilities starts flashing before your eyes. I love it when that happens. Like this weekend with this almond milk. I have been trying to find almond milk in Brazil for months now, in vain. As for soy, rice and oat milk, I avoid them because they come from grains and most of them either contain gluten or GMOs (soy).
As a result, I’ve been using coconut milk up to now to replace dairy in cooking, which has overall given me some good results in baked goods but still has a pretty distinguishable taste which makes it difficult to use for everything. The advantage is that it’s available everywhere here, and quite cheap. But then I came across this recipe on The Spunky Coconut, one of my go-to blogs, for Date Sweetened Almond Milk, and it was so simple I thought I had to give it a try. Up to know I had been reluctant to try making nut milks because I don’t own a state-of-the-art, high-power blender like they recommend nor a cheese cloth or nut milk bag to strain the milk afterwards. It turns out I don’t need either of those. I used my normal, slightly deficient blender, and a mini hand colander to strain the milk, and it worked perfectly.
I made a few tweeks in the recipe: for one, I did not use hemp seeds since I didn’t have any. For the dates, I soaked them in water for 30 minutes, then heated them in the microwave for 1 minute to make the water more flavorful and syrupy. I added this water to the milk, and only added the date flesh (removing the skin) to make the blending easier. You can probably omit this step if you have a good blender, but mine tends to struggle a bit with date skin. This milk took under 5 minutes to make (without counting the time to soak the almonds and dates). Soaking nuts is important for better taste and digestion, as it neutralizes the phytic acid they contain which can make them difficult to digest and prohibits you from benefiting from their nutrients. Stay tuned for a muffin recipe and a homemade chai tea recipe where I use this almond milk!
Homemade Date-Sweetened Almond Milk (adapted from The Spunky Coconut)
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
¾ cup almonds, soaked overnight in a glass bowl
3 cups of filtered water
4 pitted dates, soaked in ½ cup water
Optional: ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Soak the almonds for 6 hours or overnight. Soak the dates for 30 minutes in ½ cup of warm water.
- Heat the dates and their water in the microwave for 1 minute. Set aside.
- Discard the water from the almonds and rinse them a few times. In a blender, add the almonds and 3 cups of filtered water. Blend well on high for at least 3 minutes.
- Using either a cheese cloth, a nut milk bag or a hand colander, strain the milk and reserve the remaining almond meal. You can use it in any baked good recipe or add it to a homemade dip for example.
- Return the strained milk to the blender and add the dates and the date water (optional: you can remove the skin from the dates and use only the flesh like I did to make it easier to blend).
- Blend for 1-2 minutes, strain again, enjoy!