Hazelnut Milk

MAKES 1 QUART • PREP TIME: 5 minutes (after overnight soaking) • COOK TIME: Not applicable

Hazelnuts get a bad rap in America, and I can understand why. They’re often found in cheap, packaged nut mixes that are years old and, consequently, rancid. This is a shame, because a fresh hazelnut is a delight to behold. The rest of the world knows this, as hazelnuts enjoy tremendous popularity in places such as Turkey, Italy, and France. They’re the toasty kick in pralines, the heady ambiance in Frangelico, the yin to chocolate’s yang in Nutella, and they give this milk a bevy of fats, minerals, and vitamins that benefit the brain (notably vitamin E, which may help prevent cognitive decline). With a nine-thousand-year history, hazelnuts are no Johnny-come-lately, but they sure may keep Johnny smart.

1 cup hazelnuts
3 1/2 cups filtered water
Sea salt

Soak the hazelnuts in water overnight.
Strain the hazelnuts and rinse, then put them in the blender. Put the filtered water in a large measuring cup. Pour enough of the water into the blender to cover the hazelnuts. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until the hazelnuts are a smooth, creamy consistency.

Hold a nut milk bag over the measuring cup with the remaining water and pour the blended hazelnuts into the bag. Squeeze the bag gently at first to squeeze out most of the milk. Continue to firmly squeeze until no more liquid is extracted.

Stir in a pinch of salt, then taste and add a bit more if necessary.

VARIATIONS: If you’d like a little sweetness in your hazlenut milk, add any of the following to the blender: half to one whole date, pitted, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of maple syrup or vanilla.

To go above and beyond, add 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder or a grating of nutmeg.