Friday, September 14, 2012

Peach and Berry Crumble with Almond Meal Topping


Ok, so you made your almond milk (here’s a recipe: http://eatingreadingwriting.blogspot.com/2012/08/almond-milk-vitamix-way.html) and, hopefully, decided that it’s so tasty and so clearly good-for-you that you want to continue making batches of this cinnamon-y yumminess.  For my part, I rarely go a day without either soaking almonds in preparation for milking or actually drinking almond milk.  So then what to do with all that ground almond after it goes through the blender, the strainer, and the cheesecloth?  Here’s a simple solution: Use it!

Drying out Almond Grounds


After you squeeze out as much milk as you can, you will be left with a fairly sizable ball of finely ground almond.  Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees and then spread the almond meal out on a rimmed baking sheet and let some more moisture evaporate while the oven warms up to temperature.  Then place the sheet in the oven and let the ground slowly—and gently—dry out.  You don’t really want the oven to be hot enough to cook or roast the grounds.


After about 10 minutes, take a fork and break up remaining clumps into smaller chunks.  Repeat about every 5 minutes until the mixture feels dry enough.  Don’t let it brown!  The whole process might take about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool—and dry further.

Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, scrape all the almond grounds into a mini-processor and pulse repeatedly until the mixture has the consistency of coarse kosher salt.  If you started by soaking 1 cup of whole almonds, you might be left with about 2/3 cup of almond meal for cooking.  The mixture you are left with probably will not be fine enough for recipes like cake batter.  (For a flourless chocolate cake recipe that calls for almond flour or meal, I would use fresh ground or purchased almond meal.)  However, the dried almond grounds are perfectly acceptable for recipes like streusel toppings.


Preparing a Fruit Crumble with Almond Grounds

The website Chocolate & Zucchini offers a recipe for Mango Apple Crumble (http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2006/01/mango_apple_crumble.php) that you could use the dried almonds grounds in.  For the pictured dessert at the top of this post (Peach and Berry Crumble), we modified Barefoot Contessa’s Peach & Blueberry Crumbles recipe to include our almond meal and made a single large crumble instead of individual serving sizes.  While we find Ina Garten’s desserts easy and delightful, we find that we don’t need as much sugar as she normally calls for, so it works well for us to find a balance between Barefoot Contessa’s over-sweet and Chocolate & Zucchini’s almost Spartan recipes.


 If you want to follow what we did, here’s a modified recipe:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Prepare the fruit.

5 large peaches (or nectarines), peeled and cut into wedges
1 ½ cups mixed berries (defrosted if you are using frozen berries)
1 t. finely grated lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice
½ c. sugar
¼ c. flour

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes for flavors to meld.  Pour into a large pie dish (9-10 inches) or a small casserole dish.

3.  Mix the crumble topping.

1/3 c. cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/3 c. sugar

Pulse butter and sugar few times in a food processor to mix.

¾ c. oatmeal (quick-cook)
2/3 c. almond grounds/meal/flour
¼ t. salt

Add the above to the butter mixture and pulse a few more times to combine and then sprinkle the mixture over the fruit. 


(Note: We used a little less butter and sugar originally in following the Chocolate & Zucchini recipe, but we found that we wanted a bit more streusel-ly a texture.  You might see in the photo above that the topping looks fairly loose and dry.  If you would prefer it that way, use ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup sugar.)

4.  Bake the crumble.

Bake for about 45 minutes until you have thick fruit juices bubbling up.  Remove from oven, cool slightly, and serve.  Vanilla ice cream is always a nice addition as dessert.  We actually also had this dish in the morning over unsweetened Greek yogurt, and it made an extra-special yogurt parfait!



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