Why I’m Completely Obsessed with Hazelnut Meal
Hazelnut meal changed my life.
OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. Hazelnuts, also known as Filberts, are my favorite nut. Even as a small child, my birthday cake of choice was a yellow layer cake covered in a real French buttercream. The sides were, of course, heavily coated with ground hazelnuts. The first time I went to Oregon, my adoration of Pinot Noir was pushed into the background by my fanatical devotion to one of Oregon’s great claims to fame. Hazelnuts. You get the picture. I kind of like hazelnuts.
But oh, what a pain they are. To get to the delectable nut, one must pass through trials that would tire Hercules. The shelled nuts (and really, don’t get me started on the unshelled ones!) must be toasted—carefully. They are prone to scorching. When that wonderful moment arrives, and you deem them ready, you pour them onto a towel (that will never look clean again no matter how much bleach you use), gather the towel around them, and, softly weeping as you burn your hands, you proceed to rub them endlessly in an attempt to rid them of their bitter skin. But it doesn’t end there; oh no, because a percentage of the skin refuses to come off. Because hazelnuts are not cheap, and the pre-skinned ones are even LESS cheap, you pick out the clean ones, and rewarm the ones that still have the skin, and rub again. And again. And possibly, again.
So, I don’t use my beloved hazelnuts often.
However, one day I was developing a recipe that required hazelnuts. I had no choice but to head to the store to buy some, in order to put myself through the previously described nightmare. As I headed to the nut aisle, I happened upon a Bob’s Red Mill display. I decided to check and see if old Bob’s prices for the skinned ones were at all reasonable. And then I saw it: A bag of skinned, ground hazelnut meal. I was flabbergasted.
The bag was not cheap, but it was reasonable. Especially when you consider the time involved, the burned hands, and the ruined towel. So I bought a bag.
Bob's Red Mill
And I went a little wild. I made hazelnut meringues for a dacquoise.
I made hazelnut crusted chicken breasts.
I made a cake and coated the sides.
I put them in pesto, greens, and pastas.
I made hazelnut romesco.
While this hazelnut meal will not replace whole or half hazelnuts, my experience says that it will work just fine in plenty of other applications. And after years of hazelnut deprivation, I think I can be forgiven for a little excess.