After my theFeedFeed snapchat takeover last week making this Maple Almond-Cashew Iced Latte, I wanted to immediately follow up with this post. This is a game changer! I used to be thoroughly addicted to a sinful little substance called condensed milk in my morning coffee. That stuff is basically (cow) milk with the water removed and sugar added until it is super thick, creamy and insanely sweet. One day months ago, I finally decided to kick this addiction so I started drinking my coffee black. That lasted one week. I quickly realized that no matter how lovely (or expensive) the bean, I'm never going to be a black coffee drinker. It also didn't help that my husband continues to make condensed milk coffee his one indulgence he didn't see a need to give up. Under that kind of daily duress, I began adding back 1/2 tsp in my mug. You might think that 1/2 tsp isn't much (but it adds up!) and a 50% reduction from my previous 1 tsp adds up to success. And maybe I should have been pleased, except I wasn't. Because I no longer enjoyed my cherished and beloved morning cuppa. That amount of condensed milk didn't satisfy the creaminess and touch of sweetness I craved, yet still carried with it a daily little serving of guilt.
When I saw Erin Ireland's instagram post for almond cream, which is essentially my beloved nut milk made with significantly less water to create a thick cream, I was dumbfounded. DUH. Why hadn't I thought of that?? I altered it a bit in my version. One, it is less concentrated - my yield is 2 cups of cream for every 1 cup of almonds (instead of 1:1). I find my ratio is plenty creamy and plenty luxurious. And to be honest, I am being frugal and want to get more cream out of every batch since organic almonds is hella expensive when you buy and use as much as I do. Two, I added a hazelnut extract for another layer of nutty nuance. Even though I'm not normally a flavored coffee kind of person, I really like how it adds a bit of decadence. The maple syrup and vanilla extract just makes this insanely delicious. Guys, I love my coffee again. Actually, I love my coffee more than I ever did with condensed milk. And just like that, my coffee woes solved, forever and ever!
p.s. it's equally great in my afternoon tea ;)
FLAVOR VARIATIONS: I discovered that I really love a bit of maple syrup for sweet and a bit of hazelnut extract for a hint of nutty fragrance. That's how I wrote the simple recipe below. You can omit them or switch up your sweetener (for example honey or dates) or use a different favorite extract.
SOAKING THE NUTS: Per recipe directions below, the nuts should be soaked in water with a sprinkle of salt overnight (or 3-4 hours min). First of all, this step breaks down the nuts' enzyme inhibitors making them easier to digest and absorb. Secondly, the soaked nuts are much softer and easier to blend smooth in the blender. Nerd out further about soaking nuts, seeds & grains here.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Nut milk bag for straining the milk. I have been using this one for a couple of years. Alternatively, you can triple-up a large piece of cheesecloth. In a pinch, I've also read that a thin (clean) cotton t-shirt work too.
MAKE AHEAD: The 'cream' can be made and stored refrigerated in a sealed container for a week.
Hazelnut Dairy Free Coffee Creamer
Makes about 2 cups of 'cream'.
1 C raw almonds, soaked overnight or 3-4 hours (see instructions below)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup, more or less to taste
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp hazelnut extract, more or less to taste
1. Soak the nuts overnight or minimum 3-4 hours: place the almonds in a container large enough to hold them plus add approximately double the volume (~2C) of water and a pinch of salt. I use distilled water because I have that for my espresso machine but cold tap water is fine too. Give it a stir just to dissolve the salt. Soak overnight or minimum 3-4 hours at room temperature.
2. Drain nuts and thoroughly rinse them under cold running water.
3. Place rinsed nuts in a high power blender (I use a Vitamix), add 2 cups of fresh cold water, the pure maple syrup and hazelnut extract. Blend for about 2 minutes, beginning on lower setting and quickly moving up to medium-high. Or if using a Vitamix, use the smoothie setting (the one that looks like a single water droplet) twice i.e. turn it on a second time after it stops automatically the first time.
4. Taste and add more maple syrup and/or hazelnut extract if you like. Pulse to mix well.
5. Strain the nut cream through a nutmilk bag (or tripled-up cheesecloth or clean thin cotton t-shirt). Squeeze it all out into a wide-mouthed container with a pouring spout like the 4L glass Pyrex I use, pictured. I find this helps to catch all the liquid much more effectively with less spillage. Squeezed to extract all the liquid and discard the pulp in compost bin. (Feel free to google ways to use up the pulp. I gave up on this after spending much time drying the pulp out in the oven once, only to later read that most of the nutritional value has been depleted at the end of the process). Transfer the cream into an appropriately-sized vessel, preferably one with a pouring spout. Store, covered tightly, in the fridge until ready to use. Nut cream can be stored in a like that for up to a week.
6. Pour desired amount into coffee and enjoy. I thoroughly do!
If you like this recipe, pin it to Pinterest! You can also leave me a comment below to let me know what you think of this post - I would love that. If you make the recipe and post it to Instagram, tag your post with #saltnpepperhere so I can peep you :)