Sunday, March 14, 2010

almond flour - a hell of an experience

I promised my boyfriend's mom a while ago during the birthday that we'd make French Macarons together. Although I can't pronounce macarons very well, I did guarantee her that we'd at least give it a shot. The recipe in general isn't difficult at all, it's just the work put into it that could be the issue. First issue: almond flour. Okay, I could go to the grocery store and buy a $9/pound bag of almond flour, or I could make my own!

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I got a pound of almonds for about $5, not even bothering reading online recipes as to what type of almonds I should get. Apparently I needed blanched almonds, a.k.a. naked-with-no-skin-almonds. Oh boy.

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So I googled how to blanch almonds, proceeded with the directions, then attempted to take off the skin. It took a while for me to get the hang of it, but I finally was spitting out naked almonds like it was my job.

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Okay so this step was completely unnecessary (as if making my own almond flour wasn't unnecessary enough). A minimum of an entire hour was spent hulling these little nuts.

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Once I finished derobing my almonds, I placed a handful in the food processor and gave it a little whirl. I was cautious as to not pulse too much, otherwise it'd turn into almond butter. Although almond butter does sound enticing, (I'm a peanut butter fiend), I was extremely light on the pulse button.

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Finally, little crumbs began to clump up and I realized this was as close as I was going to get to almond flour. A waste of my time, but an informative learning experience nonetheless.

Taken from eHow, although I doubt this counts as a recipe.

1. Measure out 1/4-cup of whole almonds, preferably unblanched, although blanched may be used if necessary. Unblanched almonds are more nutritious, as they still have their skins on. Place them in a clean coffee grinder, and cover with the lid. (for macaroons, we needed blanched. for almond meal, the health food crap, they prefer unblanched.)
2. Pulse the coffee grinder (had to use a food processor) several times by pushing the "on" button, holding for a second, and releasing. Continue until you are left with a coarse, medium-fine texture.
3. Empty the almond meal from the coffee grinder into a clean flour sifter. Use a dedicated sifter for this purpose that has never come into contact with gluten products. Gluten can contaminate the almond meal, making it unsuitable for cooking or consumption if you have a gluten allergy.
4. Place any large chunks of almonds back into the grinder, process again until they are the desired texture, and then add to the sifter with the rest of the meal.
5. Sift all the almond meal into a clean glass or plastic container with lid. Label the container with the contents and date, and store in the refrigerator for up to thirty days before discarding any unused portion.

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