Featured Ingredient: Hazelnut Meal
For upping the health ante and adding a delicious twist to any baked good try using hazelnut meal. Made by grinding whole hazelnuts (go figure!), gluten-free hazelnut meal lends baked goods their distinctive flavor and plenty of nutritional benefits.
A 2010 study determined that subjects who followed a hazelnut enriched diet (lucky guys!) for a month had reduced oxidation of cholesterol molecules and an increase in the ratio of large to small LDL cholesterol, both of which are purported to reduce heart disease risk. Hazelnuts are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fat which helps improve cholesterol numbers and vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help protect cholesterol molecules from oxidation.
To maximize freshness, it’s best to keep hazelnut meal in the fridge or freezer. But bring it back up to room temperature before baking with it.
You can buy hazelnut meal at some health food stores (for this recipe, I used Bob’s Red Mill) or make your own in a food processor or spice grinder or Vita-mix. I wouldn’t try it with a cheap blender. This recipe calls for 1 ¾ cup hazelnut meal which would be about 1 ½ cup whole hazelnuts if you are doing the grinding.
These gluten-free cakes are incredibly light (it’s almost like picking up air) and were a perfect treat during the foul weather we had this Labour Day weekend. A tasty surprise was that the bottom and sides of the cakes caramelized – Yum! The honey I used was the excellent Fair Trade honey from Wholesome Sweeteners. In lieu of hazelnut meal, you could use almond meal.
Flourless Hazelnut Honey Cakes
Recipe adapted from Eating Well magazine
1 ¾ cup hazelnut flour/meal
4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat 4 egg yolks, honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt with a hand held electric mixer (or use a paddle attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until well combined. Add the hazelnut meal and beat on low until combined. Beat 4 egg whites in a separate large bowl with the electric mixer (make sure the beaters are clean or use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer) on medium speed until very foamy and doubled in volume, but not stiff enough to hold peaks, about 1 minute. Gently fold the egg whites into the hazelnut mixture until just combined. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups and bake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool before unmolding, which will likely require running a butter knife along the edge.