We are very excited to bring you What Is It? Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, we’ll explore a different ingredient or product in depth. We’ll be covering the benefits, uses and common misconceptions about each. If you have any requests, leave them in the comments and we’ll work them into the schedule.
I bet you didn't even know there was such a thing as Hazelnut Meal. Almond meal is endlessly popular and seems there is a flour/meal for every nut now (no pun intended). We've been milling hazelnut meal for quite a while, 10 years to be exact, but, until recently, it was relatively unknown. As low carbohydrate and paleo diets gain in popularity, there seems to be a need for more variety in ingredients, and we're here to oblige.
What is it, exactly? It's quite simply, hazelnuts that have been ground into a meal. The nature of nut flours is such that you get some very fine pieces and some slightly larger pieces. Overall, the product is quite fine, but it is not as fine as a wheat flour, hence the term "meal" is used often to describe this product. We leave the skins intact, so you get the whole nutrition that hazelnuts (also known as filberts) offer. Hazelnut meal is a gluten free flour with no real starch of which to speak. Whole grains are composed of three parts, one of which is primarily starch and protein (endosperm). This piece of the grain is what comprises white flour. Nuts are a whole different story. They have a considerably lower proportion of carbohydrates and starch than a grain does. Making them great for low carb diets, but not so great for baking in the way that we typically think of it.
Why would you use Hazelnut Meal? There are many reasons, but they break down into a few broad groups.
- You are a baker looking for a decadent addition to your baked goods.
- You are gluten free and looking for a way to boost the nutritional content of your baked goods.
- You are following a low carbohydrate diet or some variety, be it for weight loss or diabetes management.
How do you use it? You can use it the same way you would almond meal. I'm going to break it down for folks who might not be familiar with using nut flours in their daily lives. Because hazelnut meal does not contain gluten and is light on starches, it should be used in conjunction with other flours. Our suggestion is to replace no more than 25-30% of the flour in your recipe with hazelnut meal. This will bring a richness and nutty texture to your baked goods. If you are looking to create baked goods with a low carbohydrate load, it can be used on its own or in conjunction with other flours that will help give it structure. As with coconut flour, we highly recommend using a recipe that is designed for hazelnut meal or almond meal to get started.
It also makes a fantastic coating for proteins like chicken and fish and a great addition to smoothies. For recipe inspiration, look for recipes using almond meal and think outside of the box. Look for places that ask you to grind up hazelnuts and use our flour instead. It's the same thing, only we do all the work for you and you don't have to wash your food processor.
We have some great recipes using hazelnut meal coming up later in the week, but get started using it today with one of these fabulous recipes.