CAPSULE REPORT: We’ve been munching on Almondina Biscuits for several years now. They satisfy the need for something tasty and crunchy when we’re counting calories—they have just 34. But they’re an excellent biscuit, in the biscotti sense of the word—a dry, twice-baked cookie—on their own. The original Almondina, chock-full of almonds and raisins, has been joined by eight other flavors, including a chocolate-dipped version (which weighs in at 60 calories). They’re excellent to serve with coffee and tea, as well as with a dish of ice cream. The line is certified kosher.
Scratch most specialty foods and you’ll find a story. That’s because most of them are born of an old family recipe, the love of the family tradition and of making good food. In the case of Almondina Biscuits, Yuval Zaliouk, an internationally-known symphony conductor, loved his Grandmother Dina’s roasted almond and raisin wafer, which she called petit gâteau sec (French for “cookie” or “sweet biscuit”). While Dina was generous in sharing her recipes, she never parted with this one until the end of her life, when she shared it with her daughter, Yuval’s mother. Many years later, Yuval became aware of how well the recipe suited the growing demand for healthier foods. Renaming the biscuits Almondina for his grandmother, he began baking them professionally for the specialty foods market. They were a hit from the onset: a product award finalist for three consecutive years in the Outstanding Cookie category, and the winner of “Outstanding Classic Product” in 2003, at the annual NASFT* Product Awards Competition.
*National Association of Specialty Food Trades
The all-natural, crispy cookies have no cholesterol and no added fat, salt, or preservatives. They have just 33 or 45 calories apiece, depending on the particular flavor (the Chocolate Dipped has 65 calories and contains some cocoa butter from the chocolate, and the lush chocolate is a lovely contrast against the dry, crunchy biscuit). Of flavor, there is plenty in each bite; and they are satisfyingly crunchy in the manner of biscotti, but are much thinner slices (hence, fewer calories). The ingredients are simple: nuts, raisins or seeds; wheat flour and malted barley flour, sugar, egg whites and natural flavors. The Choconut includes chocolate liquor and cocoa powder, and the Chocolate Dipped has a coating of chocolate. Given the delightful flavor, the low calories and the negligible fat (.3g from the raisins), they can serve as a gourmet cookie, a diet cookie and a healthy snack.
Since the introduction of the classic Original flavor, eight additional flavors have been introduced. All have almonds:
Original, with almonds and raisins
Choconut, crunchy chocolate-flavored
Cinnaroma, with cinnamon
Gingerspice, with chunks of diced ginger
AlmonDuo, with roasted almonds and pistachios
Anniversary, with anise
BranTreats, made with oat bran
Sesame, with flavorful sesame seeds
Chocolate Dipped, the Original dipped in semisweet chocolate (seasonally
available—in stores now or online)
Some of the Almondina varieties, from left to right: Original, AlmonDuo, Gingerspice, Choconut and Sesame.
Enjoy Almondina Biscuits:
With tea, coffee, hot chocolate or milk
With a glass of sherry or sweet wine
With soft cheeses: Triple-crèmes, Brie and goat cheese, e.g.
On a dessert or cookie plate
With ice cream, as a biscuit or crumbled as a topping
A particularly enjoyable treatment is to serve each person different varieties. One serving size is four biscuits: Make each one a different flavor.
There are recipes on the website using the biscuits for tart crusts as well as crumbled toppings for Asian Chicken Salad. We have served Gingerspice with fruit soup and made cheesecake crusts from it, as well as from Cinnaroma. But there’s no need to get complicated: Almondina Biscuits are pleasures to be enjoyed simply, and often.