almond tofu x 2

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I stare at the blinking cursor on my screen and completely blank out.  My mind is sucked dry from a trip to the veterinarian, and as my 13-year old Dumpling lays in the hospital with a tube down his throat and a three-day-hospital-stay ahead of him, the last thing I can gather my mind to gush about are these monotone desserts.  But let not the frosted land of sugary world be soiled by real-life shit that come our way, because it isn’t the desserts’ fault, no.  The  almond tofu is innocent, and we’re going to talk about them even with my mind absent.

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What the hell is “almond tofu” it sounds relentlessly unappetizing.  Well, you’d be right if you are drawing references from the flavorless American lactose intolerant-aid almond milk, and not the worlds-away Chinese southern almond milk as I dedicated an entire post to.  This fragrant and flavorful extraction is the base for many desserts in Chinese cuisine among which the most popular form is almond tofu.  The name is extremely misleading as ingredient-wise and procedure-wise, it has NOTHING to do with tofu.  It usually appears in two variations and I’m going to feature both for thoroughness-sake.  But the value of this post lies in what I call the tapioca-style almond tofu because the recipe is somewhat a best-kept secret (until now).  Now, I’m not gonna lie.  This is when tapioca-unfamiliars get really freaked out.  It has a soft and slightly chewy texture similar to sago-pearls and the making of it (although quite easy) can intimidate people who has never worked with tapioca flour.  But let me just say it’s an object of addiction to… a LARGE population.

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The traditional almond tofu is a lot more straight forward and the recipe more well-known, basically a panna cotta.  Unflavored gelatine is melted into the almond milk then chilled to solidify then, just as the tapioca-style, served with rock-sugar syrup and a dab of almond milk.  Both ways have their charms if you ask me.  The tapioca-style almond tofu carries more weight and satisfaction as an afternoon-treat or late-night craving, whereas the almond panna cotta is light and refreshing, perfect as a weightless dessert after a full meal.  I urge you to give both a try.  Really, because you are missing out.

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Servings: 4 servings for each style

Almond milk that’s going to be the base for almond tofu/almond panna cotta is infused with peanuts that are incorporated in the blending process.  Traditionally whole peanuts are used but for convenience sake, I am using ready-made peanut butter that I assume everyone has in their fridge.  This recipe makes a very rich/concentrated almond milk-base, more so than what’s usually used for commercial restaurants because well… what’s the perk of making things at home if not the fact that we don’t have to be profit-driven?  But if you are aiming for a larger yield or simply like it on the lighter side, feel free to dilute the almond milk-base with water according to your likings.

Go here for more important informations on almond milk and the difference between bitter/sweet almonds, and American/Chinese almonds.

Ingredients:

  • To make 3 1/2 cups of almond milk-base:
    • 1 cups of Chinese southern almonds (yes it has to be this kind)(I am using the skin-on Chinese southern almonds.  Use the skinless kind if that’s all is available)
    • 2 cups of filtered water for soaking
    • 3 1/2 cups of filtered/mineral water for blending
    • 3/4 tsp of peanut butter
  • Rock sugar syrup:
  • Almond tofu – tapioca style: updated Jan 27, 2017
    • 3 cups of almond milk-base (or 2 cups of almond milk-base + 1 cup of water as a lighter version if preferred)
    • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of tapioca flour (changed from 1/2 cup)
    • 1/2 cup of almond milk-base reserved for pouring
  • Almond tofu – panna cotta style:
    • 3 cups of almond milk-base (or 2 cups of almond milk-base + 1 cup of water as a lighter version if preferred)
    • 6 tsp of unflavored gelatine
    • 1/2 cup of almond milk-base reserved for pouring

To make the almond milk-base:  Soak 1 cups of almonds in 2 cups of cold filtered water for 24 hours, or bring the water to a boil and soak the almonds for 6~8 hours (remove from the heat once the almonds are added).  Once soaked, drain and peel the almonds if you are using skin-on almonds by pinching it gently (more about this here).  In a powerful blender (do this in 2 batches), combine the soaked/peeled almonds with 3 1/2 cup of filtered water and 3/4 tsp of peanut butter.  Blend on high-speed and keep it running for 2 min until  the mixture is creamy and milk-like.  Strain the mixture into another container through a fine-mesh cheese cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the pulp.  Keep the almond milk in an air-tight bottle in the refrigerator and shake well before using.

What to do with the leftover pulp?  Coming soon.

To make the rock sugar syrup:  Combine water and white rock sugar, and bring to a simmer.  Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Chill completely before using.

Almond tofu – tapioca style:  Bring 1 cup of almond milk-base to a slight simmer in a sauce pot over medium-heat.  Whisk together 2 cups of almond milk-base with 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of tapioca flour.  Slowly pour the almond milk + tapioca flour mixture into the simmering almond milk while stirring with a wooden spoon.  Stir vigorously (to prevent lumping) until the mixture cooks into a pot of glutinous paste (kind of like THICK lava), approx 3~5 min.

I have also tried just mixing 3 cups of almond milk-base with the tapioca flour and cook right on the stove, but the it seems to create a slightly more lumpy texture.

Before pouring it into a mold know this: this mixture is SUPER STICKY and will stick to anything it touches.  The antidote to this vicious nature is… WATER.  Rinse a 6″ square cake-mold with water so it’s relatively wet.  Then pour the mixture into it and smooth it out with a spoon.  It may look suspiciously loose and batter-like but don’t worry.  Chill in the fridge until COMPLETELY COLD for at least 6 hours before cutting, and it will firm up.  To get it out of the mold, again, WATER.  Pour some water over the almond tofu and scrape the sides with a wet knife.  Invert the mold and peel the almond tofu out of it, onto a cutting board that’s splashed with WATER.  Cut into bite-size squares.  Every time you feel that the almond tofu is fighting you, just splash some water on top.

Serve the almond tofu with a mixture of rock sugar syrup and almond milk.  I like the ratio of 2 parts syrup and 1 part almond milk.

Almond tofu – panna cotta style:  Sprinkle the unflavored gelatine over 3 cups of almond milk-base.  Whisk to combine.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and whisk until all the gelatine has melted.  Pour the mixture into individual serving bowl and refrigerate until completely set and chilled, at least 4 hours.

Serve with a mixture of rock sugar syrup and almond milk.  Again, I like the ratio of 2 parts syrup and 1 part almond milk.

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11 Comments

  • I think my Mum would enjoy the tapioca-style almond tofu, as would my cousin. It sounds and looks loverrrly! Especially with the rock sugar syrup. I’ve eaten it maybe twice or three times in my life, but never one made from almond milk! I love your cooking. If I could, I’d be your neighbour. Even if you would grumble at me for blasting loud 90s music in the dead of night, I’d still hope to be your neighbour.

    I’m sending my love to Dumpling, even though I don’t know him, I feel a connection with his vulnerability. My aunt’s dog Magic, a black polmenarian, has been excrementing blood :(

    “But let not the frosted land of sugary world be soiled by real-life shit that come our way, because it isn’t the desserts’ fault, no.”

    Truer words have never been uttered.

    • Anjo Angela, thanks for your kind words (I will let Dumpling know you said hi even though he’s a very grumpy old man and might want to bite your finger…). And I would love to be your neighbour as we are also teenagers of the 90’s… yes we are old.

  • Very interesting, I never heard of anything like that. Beautiful pictures, it all looks really delicious.
    So sorry to hear that your Dumpling is sick. I am sending all my best wishes to him..get better soon, Dumpling!

  • I always thought the gelatin way didn’t have enough of that tofu texture. So I was very happy to find your post of a 2nd way using tapioca. I made it this week and it had that soft and slippery texture that I always wanted. I was too lazy to make the sugar sauce so added some osmanthus sugar sauce that I bought and it tasted very fragrant. My mom liked it very much as well. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  • Almond tofu… I use to hate the tasteless stuff they served in Chinese restaurants back home, but I rediscovered it in Japan and I just can’t get enough… though here, as well as in China, it was never made with ‘real’ almonds but the inside of apricots, could we call that apricot almonds???
    Still, that might be a neat fix for when I go back in a country where I can’t buy almond tofu pudding in the yogurt section of my supermarket… By the way I just discovered your site and I LOVE it! Thanks for the mapo tofu recipe, when I saw it I almost cried! When I discovered I couldn’t put my hands on ALL ingredients, I almost cried again… now I just need to perfect the fried miso eggplant recipe and I’ll be set for life :D

    • MISSPANDA: Welcome! I’m sure you can find Chinese almonds in Chinatown which is in like every city :) I mean where do you live now? You can find a lot of things online these days as well. Good luck grocery hunting!

    • DANI: NO, none of these two desserts resemble the texture of douhua. The panna cotta has a more soft and creamy “jello” texture, and the tapioca-style almond “tofu” has a slippery and chewy texture, like “bubble (fen-yuan” but much softer. You can try using gelatine to make a panna cotta-style soy milk dessert to mimic douhua but it’s not completely the same.

      • I see, btw which way do you prefer to render soy milk, because I read on the internet and kind of confuse and not sure, whether strain-boil or boil-strain or are there any particular technique? heeee, thx :D

  • I tried the tapioca almond recipe yesterday and apparently forgot the peanut butter part. Duh. But the sweet almond scent was still overwhelmingly good. I’m sure the American almond couldn’t produce that aroma. I literally can smell that sweet floral scent upon opening the bag of southern sweet almonds.

    My husband couldn’t’the stop complimenting on the final result. He only had regular almond tofu you buy in packs at the supermarket like jello. Though next time I would definitely read the directions more carefully because then I try the ‘lighter version’ by adding in one cup of water to the 3 cups almond milk. Duh. The lighter version still called for 3 cups liquid total. 4 cups liquid came out too soft. My mistake. Can’t wait to make this for guests the correct way. Your way. So I should be thanking you tenfolds for another great inspiring recipe, New friend.

    Next. The Almond Byproduct Tart.

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