The autumn sun is casting beautiful golden light at the moment. It adds a warm glow to my street which is currently lined with bursts of crimson, saffron and the most vivid yellow as the trees prepare to cast off their leaves. With this lovely spectacle comes a chill in the air (to everyone who warned me that Kyneton gets cold, this is your chance to nod knowingly). But the fading sun still has some warmth in it, making it possible to sit outside, as long as your hands are wrapped around a mug of something hot.
I’ve given up coffee and I’m trying to avoid caffeine, so my standard lattes and chai teas are no longer keeping me warm. To enjoy my afternoon tea in the backyard I wanted something more satisfying than herbal tea but less sweet than hot chocolate, which is being quite fussy, I know. After digging around my recipe files I found what I was after; something warm, milky, naturally sweet and gently spiced.
Almond milk is made by soaking almonds overnight, blitzing them in a blender with some water till they break down into a fine pulp, then straining that pulp through cheesecloth or a fine sieve to separate the ‘milk’. It’s a delicious alternative to cow’s milk, especially in smoothies or porridge where it adds a nutty depth of flavour. This recipe adds coconut to the blender as well as cardamom and dried fruit for sweetness and cinnamon for a hint of spice. The water you add is hot, so that once you’ve strained the sweet and spicy pulp, you’re left with a warm mug of tasty milk.
This milk is calming. The warmth from the spices and the sweetness from the coconut and dates combine to form a liquid hug. You could stir in some honey if you’ve got a sweet tooth. It has a surprisingly satisfying mouth feel, not tasting at all watery, and is a lovely treat for a solitary afternoon tea, sitting outdoors with a good book, enjoying the autumnal sun.
Spiced Almond and Coconut Milk
Makes 1 big mug or 2 cups
- 1/4 cup almonds, soaked in water overnight
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 4 dates, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups of hot water
- Honey to taste
Place almonds in a blender or deep saucepan with coconut, cardamom, fruit, cinnamon and hot water. Blend (with a stick mixer if using a saucepan), until frothy. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and squeeze to release the milk into a bowl. Add honey to taste and serve with a cookie and a good book.
Recipe from the lovely Fete Press