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'Almond Innovations' Contest Winners Announced

MODESTO, Calif. -- The Almond Board of California here has named the winners of its 4th Annual Almond Innovations Contest, which drew students from some of the most prestigious food science and culinology programs in the United States.

The finalists were judged on March 27 by a panel made up of food technology professionals, elite pastry chefs, food writers, and almond industry representatives.

Product entries were evaluated on sensory attributes such as taste and flavor, as well as marketability, originality, feasibility of product development, use of almonds, packaging, and nutrition. This year's winners are:

--Gold: Washington State University, for Almond Dingers, a microwavable gluten-free cake, which the judges felt had great texture and made appealing use of almonds, including a crunchy almond topping. Frosted and topped, they are ready to eat in five minutes. Additionally, they're an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, phosphorous, manganese, calcium, and vitamin E.

--Silver: Penn State University, for A+ Bars, creamy, nutty, crispy cereal bars with a refreshing yogurt and soy filling. The bar consists of a unique crust made from almond meal and almond butter. Judges found the almond flavor and aroma appealing and were impressed by its nutritional density, including elements such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, iron, phosphorous, and copper.

--Bronze: University of Georgia, Gwinnett Campus, for Almond Mocha Jaconde, a roll of ribbon-thin almond-chocolate sponge cake with thin white stripes of almond-vanilla sponge cake spiraling down the side. The filling and topping were almond-coffee mousse. Judges were impressed by the use of different almond forms and the novel approach to developing a manufactured product for the foodservice market.

Along with $5,000 in cash, the gold prize-winning team will send a representative to showcase its product at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Expo 2006 in the Almond Board booth in Orlando, Fla. The IFT Expo is the food product development industry's premiere trade show. The silver prize winners will receive $3,000 and the bronze prize winners will get $2,000.

Judges included Emily Luchetti, James Beard Award winner and executive pastry chef at Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco; Jennifer Sparkman, food editor at the Modesto Bee; Scott Hunter, chairman of the board of the Almond Board of California; John O'Shaughnessy, Blue Diamond Growers; Peter Perez, Chronicle Books; John Carroll, recipe developer and cookbook author; and Bernadine Ferguson, food scientist and product developer.

The Almond Board of California administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. The charge of the board, which was established in 1950, is to promote the best-quality almonds, California's largest tree nut crop.
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