Moroccan milk and almond juice for happy events

Almond and milk juice is very much linked to my summer breaks in Fez when I was little.

The season is usually synonym of weddings, families visiting each others across the country but also a scorching heat in cities like Fez. So cold drinks and fruits are welcomed anytime especially in the middle of the day.

So this version I'm about to post is the one I'm most familiar with. The wonderful Moroccan almonds with a deep almond flavour find their match with a touch of orange blossom and a fragrant meska (mastic) to make the perfect royal drink one can serve to his guests, along with stuffed Medjool (Mejhoul) dates with almond paste or just plain nuts and traditional homemade sweets.

Some almonds such as the common Californian destined for the global market can be kind of plain in taste, If you can get hold of some good Mediterranean varieties you should be fine but otherwise you may want to boost the almond flavour with a drop of extract. Pre-roasting the almonds here is not a solution here.




Ingredients
Serves 4
Prep: 15 min - Chilling: at least 3 hours

  • 800 ml of cow's milk, cold
  • 20 ml of water, cold
  • 100 g of blanched almonds (ideally blanched at home for more flavour)
  • 50 g of caster sugar
  • 3 drops of mastic, crushed with 1/2 tsp of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of orange blossom water (not extract)



Preparation


Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 3 minutes. Wash with running water and drain for a couple of minutes. Peel them and re-wash them. Transfer to a kitchen towel and try to dry them thoroughly. This step can be made days ahead and the almonds frozen.

Method 1

Next, blend the blanched almonds with sugar and meska (mastic) to a paste. This step can also be made days ahead and the paste frozen. In this case, add the meska only when you mix the juice.

Mix the almond paste with water, meska and orange blossom water. Cover and set aside for a couple of hours to become soft.

Method 2

Mix the blanched almonds with water and orange blossom. leave in the fridge overnight, covered.

Next, blend the almonds with sugar and meska to a paste.

For both methods, transfer the almond mix to a liquidizer and blend with the milk as smooth as you can.

For both methods, lace a cheesecloth in a sieve and pour the juice through. 

Adjust the sweetness to your liking. Chill for a few hours before serving.


A small variety of almonds in Moroccan markets. The best for the job is the one
from the montains, called locally beldi


Note

The almond grits can be used in sweet breads, tartes and sweet bakes, nothing goes to waste.

While you will still find the common Californian almonds in Moroccan markets which a cheaper price tag, some of the varieties harvested in Morocco offer a better depth of flavour (source here):
  • Aïn taoujdate
  • Drake seeding
  • Fournat
  • Marcona 
  • Net plus Ultra
  • Ferragnès
  • Truono
Some of these almonds come from the specific areas in Morocco and are known to be perfect for the traditional almond paste used for the sweet pastries, while others are meant to be used in cooking or to garnish a sweet and savoury dish (Moroccan specialty). 

Marcona is ideal for roasting with salt and serving as a snack as we like them back home.



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