I recently discovered hazelnut milk. Nutty in flavor, yet mild too, its rich flavor complements a wide variety of beverages and can even be used in cooked dishes too for a creamy alternative to dairy.
For those of us who are forced to abstain from dairy, non-dairy “milks” fill in the gap nicely in many recipes. However, store-bought non-dairy milks are not only expensive (and not very creamy and rich because they water them down so much), but they also often contain different preservatives, additives, and/or synthetic added vitamins, which is not necessarily a health benefit.
Non-dairy milks can be made from nuts, seeds, grains, and even legumes! I like to make more protein-rich milks, as it fits my own dietary needs at the moment, but grain-based milks can be a particularly frugal choice (though not necessarily the most nutritious – depending on what grain you use to make it with). I am planning on experimenting with bean milks soon too! I am very curious about them. I'll post my results!
Some “milks” will be infused heavily of the flavor of grain/nut/seed you used. Others will be mild and will take on the flavor of whatever you pair it with! The great thing about making your own is that you can control how thick or thin the milk is, which is a huge boon to a home cook. I like to make my milks on the thick side, and then simply thin down for different needs as the need arises. Using it thin, when appropriate, also allows you to stretch out your milk further, which is helpful when using more expensive nuts.
I was introduced to hazelnut milk at Harlow in Portland, where they serve a variety of drinks with their house-made hazelnut milk. That includes this delicious latte made with their cold-brewed coffee and hazelnut milk.
Hazelnut milk can be a little finicky about separating when heated, but somehow they make it work for a delicious nutty “paleo-friendly” latte! I love it. I am going to attempt to make it at home with my own milk. Wish me luck!
Rich & Creamy Hazelnut Milk
Remember that nut-to-water ratios are completely subjective and easy to change. I make mine on the thick side, and simply thin out as needed. The thicker this milk is, the more strongly it flavors food/beverages with its nutty flavor, so keep that in mind. For use in sweet recipes, you can add vanilla and pure maple syrup, honey or stevia to taste. I soak the nuts overnight for better nutrition, but it also makes the nuts softer and easier to blend. Make sure you get nuts that aren’t rancid!
2 cups of raw hazelnuts
Generous pinch of unrefined salt
1. In a medium sized bowl, place the hazelnuts, and then cover well with gently warmed filtered water. Stir in a generous pinch of salt, and cover. Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
2. Rinse well in a fine sieve. Place nuts in a high-quality blender along with 2 cups of water and blend for at least one minute, or until nuts are well blended.
3. Cover a fine sieve with a layer of cheesecloth, and place over a bowl. Pour the hazelnut milk through, and then made a little “bag” of the cheesecloth by gather the corners together and gently squeeze the rest of the liquid out of the nut mixture.
4. You can now use the ground up nuts to make crackers, etc. Or you can make a second, weaker batch of hazelnut milk by re-blending it with another 2 cups of water. You can use the second batch separate, or you can mix it with the first batch. If you don’t do this, I recommend that you thin your very rich and creamy milk with at least one more cup of water before use.
This keeps for about 5 days refrigerated, and will separate. Simply give it a quick shake before using.
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