Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cocoa Roasted Almonds

 Flavored nuts seem incredibly popular right now. Where I last worked, we often had a spicy chili-lime almond available, as well as toffee and mocha almonds. These made a nice snack, and, frankly can be pretty addictive (at least if you're me) -- but also a bit spendy, which is a problem on a small budget.

Fortunately, they can also still be (not too bad?) good for you because nuts are packed with protein and minerals. Almonds, in particular, work well because they're already naturally a little sweet and they don't seem to scorch as easily as some other nuts (walnuts, I'm looking at you!).

I had the chance to try straight cocoa roasted almonds after a martial arts seminar -- they're a great energy boost, and the small amount of quick sugar is nice after an intense workout. But, as Chelsey (whose post inspired the particulars of my version) points out, most of the commercial brands contains modified food starch of one type or another. I share her sentiment why?? modified food starch? Why?

I still use a highly processed flour here (sweet white rice flour), but I'm going to hold that that's still better than a modified version of a starch that's already starchy. It's not the by-product of a by-product. I opted for sweet white rice flour because it's already naturally a little sweet and very glutinous, which will help the cocoa powder bind with the agave.

That's right, this uses agave. It's vegan friendly, gluten-free, and has a lower glycemic count than the same snack made with many other sweeteners. If you have the option, buy your almonds in the bulk section of your local grocer -- it's probably cheaper than buying a bag of them and depending on your particular grocery store (and the time of year) the bulk almonds are likely a little fresher.

Cocoa Roasted Almonds
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sweet white rice flour (really, any flour would work)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a small bowl coat the almonds with the agave nectar, stirring until the almonds are evenly coated. Set aside while you combine the cocoa powder and white rice flour in a separate small bowl. Add the almonds to the cocoa powder mixture and stir until the almonds are evenly coated. Spread the coated almonds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes so the chocolate doesn't scorch. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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