A few months ago I decided to get serious about trying to master macarons, so rather than continuing to buy and grind my own almonds, I set out to buy almond flour. I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered just how crazy expensive it was, even at my favorite "cheap" grocery store! I held off that day, figuring I'd check Trader Joe's since I often buy nuts there at a good price.
And when I finally made it to Trader Joe's a week or so later, and saw it for about 1/3 of the cost in the grocery store, I felt like such a genius! I snapped it up and drove home feeling mighty proud of that purchase. That lasted for all of about a week until I realized what I'd scored was not almond flour, but almond meal. Almond flour is made from ground blanched almonds (ie skins removed) whereas almond meal is not so there are brown specks of the skin throughout. The almond meal wasn't very finely ground either, there were some fairly large bits in my batch. For most recipes, it wouldn't be a big deal to substitute the almond meal, but for macarons it just wasn't going to work unless I spent a huge amount of time sifting, and I wasn't terribly keen on that idea.
That was a really long and winded way of explaining why you're going to suddenly start seeing recipes made with almond meal/flour around these parts - I've got an entire bag to get through :) It's not something I've used before but I've found a ton of recipes I'm excited to try!
Brownies seemed like as good a place to start as any. Shane was excited when he saw me making these - until I confessed I was using almond meal. He's not a fan of nuts or nut-flavored things, to say the least. I asked him to keep an open mind and when these came out of the oven he sampled and absolutely loved them! I only had a tiny corner of one, but I was equally enamored. They were fudgy and rich, and colorful too thanks to those mini M&M's on top! I think Shane wound up eating almost the entire batch himself, most of them in the manner you see below. Something tells me it's not the last batch of almond flour brownies I'll be making...
PS - Recipe for the ice cream in Shane's brownie sundae coming next week, it's a good one!
Almond Flour M&M Brownies
adapted from The Wannabe Chef
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 oz semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup mini M&M's
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides so you can lift the brownies out easily once they're baked. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Add the semisweet chocolate and the butter to a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between each, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso until incorporated. Set the bowl aside so the mixture can cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined. Add the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Finally, stir in the almond flour with a rubber spatula just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking ban, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the mini M&M's evenly over the surface of the batter. Bake the brownies for about 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Do not over bake, or the brownies will dry out.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan. Use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and slice before serving.