My very first childhood exposure to the Almond flavour was in the form of the Almond Jelly dessert served unfailingly at the end of a 10 course wedding dinner. I couldn't understand then, why all the adults seemed to love the flavour - to me then, it smelt and tasted very medicinal. My mother who went through a cooking class phase at the local community centre, eventually learnt how to make the Almond Jelly and from then onwards, the only type of jelly she would make at home would be the Almond Jelly. In those days, my mum would prepare the jelly with Agar strips, condensed milk and I believe, artificial Almond essence. As a result of this constant exposure, I gradually grew to like the flavour of Almond. When I eventually started baking myself, I was lucky enough to find pure Almond Extract and that was definitely 100 folds better than the artificial essence.
While I have grown to embrace the flavour and scent in everything from Desserts to Almond Drinks to body lotion, I still know of friends who cannot tolerate the scent of the nut. I am not sure if it is due to the unpleasant after taste of artificial essence that still lingers in their memory or if it is because the scent reminded them of cockroaches... (yes, it is widely known that cockroach eggs smell like almond essence)
Anyway, Almond is definitely my favourite power food. I always have a tin of pure almond meal in my pantry which I will dissolve in hot water for a delicious breakfast drink. When I saw this easy Almond Milk Pudding recipe in Le Creuset's Mini-Cocotte cookbook, I knew I had have to make this. Delicately flavoured with Rose water and Cinnamon, the recipe builds on the exotic almond flavour and lulls one into the world of henna and harem...
Recipe : (From Le Creutset's Mini Cocotte Cookbook)
700ml Almond milk
15g Gelatine ( or 1 tsp agar agar)
100ml Single cream
2 tsps Rose Water
Garnish Lemon zest ( I used candied lemon peel)
Pinch Cinnamon powder
1. Soften gelatin in 80ml of almond milk.
2. Heat until boiling , stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves completely.
3. Add the remaining almond milk and sugar and bring it again to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Add in cream, rose water and salt.
5. Let it cool to room temperature. Fill 4 mini cocottes or dessert bowls. Cover and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
6. Before serving add a pinch of cinnamon powder and lemon peel.