Kelly Hensel

Recipes: Almond Beet Latte, Almond Snack Truffles, Korean BBQ Almonds

With 15 years of experience working as a chef in boutique hotels and resorts, Rob Corliss decided to switch gears and took a job in food marketing in 2003. Six years later, he started his own culinary consulting company, All Things Epicurean. Now, he gets to spend his days exploring flavor innovation, developing recipes, and forecasting food trends for foodservice agencies, manufacturers, restaurants, and independent start-ups. Recently, he had the opportunity to work with the Almond Board of California to develop product prototypes for sampling at IFT17 that showcase the versatile tree nut.

Rob Corliss

Q: When and how did your love for culinary begin?

Rob Corliss: I started to get interested in cooking in eighth grade when I started helping with Thanksgiving dinner. Then, in ninth grade I started taking culinary classes. I had no idea that it was a career or what it was; I just knew it was kind of fun and interesting to me. Fast forward to twelfth grade and I had taken all the available classes. My high school at that time was pretty progressive so the classes were more than just home economics.

I was fortunate to have a teacher—Mrs. Gates—who taught all the culinary classes and she thought it would be good to create a curriculum for me. She was the one who told me that I should keep cooking and approach it as a possible career. So, in my senior year she gave me assignments to work on in the kitchen at school. She would give me cuisines or a country to research and a selection of recipes that I’d have to learn and prepare for the class. I’d have to give a presentation on that food along with a tasting. So, she really kinda fueled that interest and curiosity. From there, I went to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island for two years.

Q: You were an executive chef in various boutique hotels and resorts for 15 years. What was the impetus to shift gears and go into food marketing and consulting?

Corliss: When I was looking at different opportunities, and trying to find a direction, what intrigued me with resort hotels is that everything was under one roof. From basic kind of poolside café dining, to caterings, banquets, and fine dining. So, I thought it would be a well-rounded start to my career. I actually still have connections to the chefs that I met in the resort world. I am part of the Resort Group Executives Committee (RSPC), which has representatives from the top resort hotels in the United States. I serve on the board of directors as a trends chairman, and we meet every year. I like keeping in touch with the chefs there, because it keeps me in tune with the different aspect of trends and insights.

But, honestly, after working in that world for all those years, I just got a little burned out. I was always there; you could easily go four months and not give yourself a day off. I just wanted to find a little more balance in life. So, when a mutual headhunter friend pointed out that a market advertising agency in Springfield, Missouri, was looking for a chef to handle national accounts. So, long story short, that really kind of peaked an interest, and I ended up doing that for six years.

After the 15 years of working as a chef in resorts and six years at marketing and ad agencies, I decided I wanted to take all that experience and creativity and do something on my own. I like what I do now because I specialize in flavor innovation. I develop brand new recipes and menus for commodity boards, restaurants, manufacturers, and agencies around the country. The daily goal is to connect people with a food, environment, and wellness.

Q: What does your work with the Almond Board entail?

Corliss: Essentially, it is much like culinary in that my work with Almond Board is all about perpetual innovation through almond forms and flavors and recipe development and education. The emphasis is on almonds’ innate wellness and clean eating. I think the bottom line with the Almond Board is to provide inspiration for companies and operations on how to utilize almonds. So, like with IFT’s annual event or other things that we might do—whether we go see a company in person, are doing a presentation, or pure recipe development—I think it’s demonstrating that functionality and versatility of California almonds.

Q: Can you tell us what attendees at IFT17’s Food Expo can look forward to tasting at the Almond Board’s booth (#1462)?

Corliss: We are going to demonstrate how almonds can be used in the different ways and the various flavors and forms. We will have one beverage—and Almond Beet Iced Latte—and four snacks. One of the snacks is Korean BBQ Almonds. I like to take an emerging trend—in this case, Korean food—and look at the macro influence versus even a specific ingredient. There’s more longevity to that process. So, this snack has bold savory flavors with the garlic notes, spicy and sweet with hints of salt.

The second is the Togarashi Nori Almond Crunch. With this one we wanted to showcase almonds in three ways—full blanched almonds, blanched slivered almonds, and sliced almonds—and demonstrate how they can complement on trend ingredients like nori and togarashi all in a snack cluster. The final product is savory with some umami notes, and because of the togarashi you get some spice with the chilis, orange, sesame, and some nori.

The third item is our Almond Snack Truffles trio. People love chocolate truffles, but we decided to go in a savory direction since that’s where a lot of snacks are going. For the base of all three truffles we wanted to showcase how almonds can complement global flavors and in various forms—almond butter, almond meal, and chopped almonds. There’s also puffed quinoa and a little honey and vanilla in the base. One of the truffles will be rolled in a Madras curry, sumac, and coconut sugar powder, and another will be rolled in a hibiscus, orange, and coconut sugar powder. The third will have unsweetened cocoa powder added to the base and then we will roll it in a dusting of cacao nibs, cinnamon, ancho chili powder, and coconut sugar to balance.

The last snack is our Garden Goddess Bar, which we are using to highlight the rising popularity of algae—specifically, spirulina—in snacks. It’s a pressed bar containing smoked almonds, dried blueberries, dates, pepitas, some jalapeno, and the spirulina with a little lemon juice. We pulp that mixture in a Robot Coupe food processor to form a pressable base. Then, we fold in unsweetened shaved coconut flakes, some slivered almonds, and rough chopped smoked almonds.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Almond Beet Latte
Almond Beet Latte

Serves 1

Almond milk, cold-brew coffee, beet powder, hemp seeds and subtle flavorings combine to create clean-label, satiating sipping to get you through the day.

Ingredients:

  • 4 fl oz Almond Milk, Unsweetened
  • 4 fl oz 100% Arabica Coffee, Cold Brewed
  • 0.20 oz Beet Powder
  • 0.30 oz Organic Hemp Seeds, Raw, Hulled
  • 0.03 oz Ground Cinnamon
  • 0.07 oz Vanilla Extract, Pure
  • 0.40 oz Maple Syrup
  • 0.50 oz Raspberries, IQF Unsweetened
  1. Place all ingredients in a container. Puree, with immersion blender, until ingredients are thoroughly blended smooth and evenly combined.
  2. Strain beverage through a fine chinois, discarding the solids and keeping the liquid.
  3. Place Almond Beet Latte in sealed container and store refrigerated.

Almond Snack Truffles

Hibiscus-Orange Almond Truffles
Serves 21

Mini bites of almond “truffles” are rolled in a globally inspired flavor-packed coating.

Ingredients:

  • 0.78 oz Hibiscus Flowers, Dried, Cut and Sifted
  • 0.39 oz Orange Peel, Dried Granules
  • 0.58 oz Coconut Sugar, Pure
  • 9.74 oz Almond Butter, Creamy
  • 0.58 oz Almond Meal/Flour
  • 1.46 oz Honey
  • 0.29 oz Vanilla Extract, Pure
  • 0.49 oz Almonds, Natural, Fine Chop
  • 0.49 oz Puffed Quinoa

Prepare coating:

  1. Place hibiscus and orange peel granules in a spice blender and grind into a fine/small powder. Finished texture should be a mixture of fine ground with small flecks of hibiscus and orange peel intact.
  2. Place ground hibiscus and orange peel in a mixing bowl, then add coconut sugar. Whisk to combine evenly. Reserve for coating almond truffles.

Prepare truffles:

  1. Place almond butter, almond meal, honey and vanilla extract in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Blend lightly until creamy smooth and all ingredients are evenly combined.
  2. Add the fine chopped almonds and puffed quinoa and lightly blend just until evenly combined.
  3. Scoop the mixture into 1 Tbsp–size portions, then roll in your hands to form truffle balls.
  4. Roll each almond truffle in the reserved hibiscus-orange powder, fully and evenly coating each truffle (pressing the powder on to the truffles).
  5. Enjoy at room temperature and store in a sealed container.

Curry Almond Coconut Truffles
Serves 21

Mini bites of almond “truffles” are rolled in a globally inspired flavor-packed coating.

Ingredients:

  • 1.18 oz Coconut Flakes, Unsweetened
  • 0.10 oz Madras Curry, Powder
  • 0.10 oz Sumac, Ground
  • 0.29 oz Coconut Sugar, Pure
  • 9.80 oz Almond Butter, Creamy
  • 0.59 oz Almond Meal/Flour, Unblanched
  • 1.47 oz Honey
  • 0.29 oz Vanilla Extract, Pure
  • 0.49 oz Almonds, Natural, Fine Chop
  • 0.49 oz Puffed Quinoa

Prepare coating:

  1. Place coconut flakes in a spice grinder and pulse to a small grind. Finished texture should be a mixture of fine ground with small flecks of coconut intact.
  2. Place ground coconut in a mixing bowl, then add Madras curry, sumac and coconut sugar. Whisk to combine evenly. Reserve for coating almond truffles.

Prepare truffles:

  1. Place almond butter, almond meal, honey and vanilla extract in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Blend lightly until creamy smooth and all ingredients are evenly combined.
  2. Add the fine chopped almonds and puffed quinoa and lightly blend just until evenly combined.
  3. Scoop the mixture into 1 Tbsp–size portions, then roll in your hands to form truffle balls.
  4. Roll each almond truffle in the reserved Madras curry-coconut powder, fully and evenly coating each truffle (pressing the powder on to the truffles).
  5. Enjoy at room temperature and store in a sealed container.

Spiced-Chocolate Almond Truffles
Serves 21

Mini bites of almond “truffles” are rolled in a globally inspired flavor-packed coating.

Ingredients:

  • 1.18 oz Cacao Nibs
  • 0.20 oz Cinnamon, Ground
  • 0.02 oz Ancho Chile Powder
  • 0.29 oz Coconut Sugar, Pure
  • 9.80 oz Almond Butter, Creamy
  • 0.59 oz Almond Meal/Flour, Unblanched
  • 1.47 oz Honey
  • 0.29 oz Vanilla Extract, Pure
  • 0.20 oz Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened
  • 0.49 oz Almonds, Natural, Fine Chopped
  • 0.49 oz Puffed Quinoa

Prepare coating:

  1. Place cacao nibs in a spice grinder and pulse to a small grind. Finished texture should be a mixture of fine ground with small flecks of cacao nibs intact.
  2. Place ground cacao nibs in a mixing bowl, then add cinnamon, ancho chile powder and coconut sugar. Whisk to combine evenly. Reserve for coating truffles.

Prepare truffles:

  1. Place almond butter, almond meal, honey, vanilla extract and cocoa powder in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Blend lightly until creamy smooth and all ingredients are evenly combined.
  2. Add the fine chopped almonds and puffed quinoa and lightly blend just until evenly combined.
  3. Scoop the mixture into 1 Tbsp–size portions, then roll in your hands to form truffle balls.
  4. Roll each almond truffle in the reserved cacao-cinnamon–ancho chile powder, fully and evenly coating each truffle (pressing the powder on to the truffles).
  5. Enjoy at room temperature and store in a sealed container.

Korean BBQ Almonds

Korean BBQ Almonds
Serves 9, Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Lip-smacking craveable deliciousness – whole smoked almonds glazed in honey, gochujang, garlic, sesame seeds and a hint of orange, finished with coconut sugar and chicharrones flavoring.

Ingredients:

  • 0.65 oz Coconut Sugar, Pure
  • 0.50 oz Chicharrones, Ground Into Rough Powder
  • 0.02 oz Cayenne Pepper, Ground
  • 0.03 oz Hot Paprika, Ground
  • 3.00 oz Honey
  • 0.50 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 0.10 oz Gochujang Sauce
  • 8.00 oz Almonds, Smoked, Whole
  • 0.40 oz Garlic, Minced, Dried
  • 0.60 oz Sesame Seeds, Whole
  • 0.15 oz Orange Peel Granules, Dried
  • 0.05 oz Sumac Ground

Prepare coating:

  1. Place coconut sugar, ground chicharrones, cayenne and paprika in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine evenly. Reserve for final coating of almonds.

Prepare almonds:

  1. Heat honey, butter and gochujang sauce in a non-stick saucepan; bring to a boil (without stirring), then simmer 2 minutes.
  2. Add almonds and gently stir to combine; then simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add dried minced garlic, sesame seeds, orange peel granules and sumac to almonds, then simmer an additional 1 minute; stirring until the almonds have absorbed the honey mixture and are fully glazed/coated with the garlic, sesame seeds and seasoning.
  3. Place glazed/coated almonds on a parchment-lined sheet pan, separate and cool just very slightly (but don’t let them harden, as remaining seasonings will not adhere).
  4. Add warm glazed almonds to the reserved bowl of coconut sugar–chicharonne spice seasoning and toss to fully coat each almond. Spread out the coated almonds on the sheet pan; allow the almonds to cool, at room temperature, and harden.
  5. Place Korean BBQ Almonds in a sealed container and reserve at room temperature.