Global Veg » A Culinary Journal

Almond Squares (vegan)

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I realized as I was making these  Almond Squares , or “Badam Burfi” as they are known in India, that I really didn’t know much about almonds. They taste great and come packaged nicely in the store and I completely take them for granted. Do they grow on trees, do they have hard shells, when do they grow, where do they grow? I did a little research on the internet and found some great information on the website of the Almond Board of California. Take a look when you get a chance.

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In a nutshell (pun intended), the trees bloom between February – March, the almonds mature and shells harden March – June, the shells crack open July – August, and finally the almonds are harvested and shelled August – October. A lot happens by the time we get to enjoy them at home.

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Almonds are highly valued in India. Many years ago, we used to always take almonds to extended family in India during our visits. I am sure times have changed but back then, the quality and prices were definitely better in the US. Interestingly, the Almond Board website points out that 70% of California almonds are exported internationally.

While almonds are important in India, sweets made with almonds are the ultimate indulgence.

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I have a lot of memories growing up of my mom making many almond based sweets. These almond squares always started with a long process of soaking the almonds, removing their skins, letting them dry and grinding into a flour. Though they tasted great, I never liked the long process to get to the end product (even though my mom was the one doing all the work). Nowadays, I really do not have too much time or patience to grow thru this process regularly.

IMG_5670_Almond Squares Luckily for me,  many stores sell natural almond flour already blanched and ground.  It’s a pretty simple process after that to get to the yumminess at the end.  As an added benefit, this sweet is vegan and gluten free.

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Almond Squares (vegan)

Serving Size: Makes about 4 dozen.

Ingredients

  1. 2 1/2 cups water
  2. 3/4 cup white sugar
  3. 16 ounces of almond meal/flour (skinless)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
  5. small pinch saffron (optional)

Method

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a heavy pot.
  2. Heat on low for about 15 minutes until you reach "soft ball" consistency (like in candy making). This is when if you take a drop of the sugar mixture and add to a small cup of cold water, the sugar mixture turns into a soft candy. You can also use a candy thermometer to check- about 220°F is good for this dessert (though many recommend around 240°F).
  3. Add the almond flour, cardamom and saffron.
  4. Keep the heat on low keep mixing the ingredients until more liquid evaporates (about 3-5 minutes).
  5. Pour the mixture into a pan. Wait a few minutes and cut into squares or diamonds before it completely hardens. Serve!

Notes

Do not overcook the sugar/water mixture , as the sugar will harden too quickly and the almond squares will be too hard and gritty.

These squares taste great when they are fresh and warm. I sometimes microwave room temperature ones for a few seconds before eating to recreate the fresh, chewy consistency.

http://globalveg.com/2014/06/12/almond-squares-vegan/

 

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