Nuts About Almonds
A chef embraces almonds' many forms, functions for new product development
This is an exciting time for innovation—and for diners! In particular, it’s an exciting time for almonds, which are appearing in various forms and performing many value-added functions on restaurant menus.
I’m seeing chefs using almonds in a range of applications, including breadings (almond flour used as a gluten free, flavorful, nutritional boost to coat and crisp vegetables) and sweet and savory sauces (that are just delectable). Not surprisingly, almonds accompany grain and salad bowls and they’re also ingredients that help hit protein targets in plant-based dishes, sweet and savory baked goods and plant patties. Last but not least, almonds also star in small-batch infused almond milks and in fat-enriched/high protein spreads (to support low carb/keto diets).
I’m working in the space of plant-based dips, spreads, sauces and side dishes and I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the different varieties and forms of almonds. I’ve been able to immediately apply this learning, which has proved critical from a flavor and texture standpoint.
Most often menu and product developers are asking me to hit specific nutritional dietary targets. I’ve learned that almonds are an invaluable inclusion that can help take development to the next level. Almonds play really well with a range of other complementary plant-base ingredients.
I recently worked with the Almond Board of California to develop prototypes for at the Research Chefs Association’s 2019 convention and expo. We presented two concepts: a Mango Almond Chia Pudding and Chai Spiced Almond Clusters. The goal with each was to highlight the ease of functional and convenient snacking that could apply both to foodservice menus and prepared retail foods.
Here are descriptions of both:
Mango Almond Chia Pudding with Camu Camu (+ MCT)
Lush and decadent, this Mango Almond Chia Pudding is a plant-based, low-guilt dessert that brings indulgence and balance back to snacking through the incorporation of almond milk (canvas), smooth almond butter and whole chia seeds. It is delicately sweetened using mangoes and agave, with the addition of MCT oil. Camu camu is included to deliver revitalizing “brightness” through flavor, and enhanced vitamin C. The mango almond pudding is topped with mini roasted almond and seed clusters for textural and flavor enhancement.
Chai Spiced Almond Clusters
Crunchy yet chewy, these sweet yet savory almond clusters are excellent for snacking on the go, topping yogurt parfaits and salads, or using as an ingredient in a range of food products (garnish in ice creams, cereals, etc.). We’ve found the perfect combination of whole roasted almonds, roasted sliced almonds, hemp seeds, sweetened with a bit of date syrup and raw coconut sugar and spiced up with our spiced chai blend. Almond flour is used to coat the clusters to prevent sticking to one another and to provide a little extra texture and nutritional pull.
I highly recommend the Almonds.com site. Its “food professionals” microsite has loads of technical and culinary information for food manufacturers.
Almond Board of California