Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16: Almond Day

Today's Almond Day!  In my opinion, almonds are simply a wonderful food.  Everyone I've met who is involved with the field of nutrition loves them and recommends them.  (I'm sure there are some nutrition/food professionals that don't like almonds, but I haven't met them yet.)  Almond scents and artificial almond flavoring makes me cringe - they often smell and taste too chemically.  I did make a honey-almond soap once that was absolutely divine smelling, though. 

Did you know that US commercially grown almonds only come from California and that California is the leading world supplier of almonds?  This PDF from UC Davis gives excellent information and some interesting facts about almonds.  I found it interesting to learn that there are more than thirty varieties of almonds.  What was really eye-opening, though, was to learn that there's an Almond Reserve to help keep almond prices stable.

The California Almond Board tries it's best to make eating almonds easy for consumers.  They have tins you can order to help you portion your daily intake of almonds.  The CAB says a serving is 23 almonds, yet the 100 calorie pack I had today had 22 almonds.  (Yes, there are only 20 in the picture.  I got hungry and ate two before taking the picture.)

While I'll use almonds in cooking, frequently using almond slivers or sliced almonds in place of pepitas or pine nuts, I hardly ever bake with almonds.  I decided to try making this vanilla almond cookies recipe from Chobani. The reviews were mixed and few, but I gave it a try because I had some Chobani I wanted to use up.  After reading the comment about how "cakey" the cookies were, I reduced the baking powder to 1 tsp.  I also substituted almond slivers for slices, since I had slivers on hand.

Here you can see the first batch on the right and the second on the left.  For the first batch, I kept everything the same but I didn't care for the shape of the baked cookies, so I rolled the remaining batches in sugar instead of just dropping them on the cookie sheet.  In the first batch, the cake-like nature of the cookies caused the almonds to shift when the cookies rose, so for the second batch I really pressed the almond slivers into the dough, slightly flattening the cookies in the process.

I didn't care for how the cookies came out.  They were still cake-like, but were oddly chewy.  Perhaps there's too much liquid in the recipe.  This is definitely a recipe that needs tweaking, but I think I'm going to use the rest of my almond slivers sprinkled on my cereals and salads or baked into a completely different cookie recipe.  Maybe I'll try this Almond Orange Cardamon Cookie recipe from the CAB.  One thing's for sure - I am definitely going to try this Beet Salad with Almonds and Chives recipe.

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