Featured Ingredient: Hazelnut Flour
For my last recipe post, I tossed out the idea of using mesquite powder in your baking. Now, how about hazelnut flour? Almond flour is becoming increasingly popular meaning that hazelnut flour unfortunately often gets overlooked.
Ground from filberts (hazelnuts), this guise of nut flour is blessed with a rich, nutty flavor that can vivify pie crusts, quick breads, scones and muffins. Compared to flours milled from grains, hazelnut flour has significantly more heart-chummy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E. A recent study from Swedish researchers determined that a high level of the antioxidant vitamin E in the blood was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline. Those who are watching their carb intake will appreciate that there is nearly as much protein as carbohydrates in hazelnut flour. Because it does not contain any gluten, you don’t want to use hazelnut flour on it own for most baked goods.
This is my adaptation of financiers, a light French tea cake often made in rectangular molds. For a change of pace, I’ve swapped out the customary almond flour for its lovely hazelnut counterpart and taken a pass on the nutritionally void powdered (confectioners’) sugar for the more wholesome coconut palm sweetener. The browned butter adds an irresistible nuttiness. Pomegranate season is upon us, so I decided to add them in to provide a tart crunch. You could use berries instead or simply omit the fruit.
For this recipe, I used the excellent hazelnut flour from Bob’s Red Mill. You can also try making your own by finely grinding hazelnuts into a powder with a good quality food processor or Vita-mix.
Hazelnut Pomegranate Financiers
1 1/4 cups hazelnut flour/meal
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other sugar of choice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together hazelnut flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Place butter in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, swirling the pan regularly. Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep brown, being very careful you don’t allow it to go from brown to black. Stir butter, applesauce and vanilla into flour mixture. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until a soft peaks form. Stir in a quarter of the egg whites into the flour mixture and then fold in the remaining whites with a spatula just until everything is incorporated. Divide mixture among 10 medium sized muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.