January 11, 2017

Road to Macaroons: Blanching and Sprouting Almonds

So I wanted to learn to make the mysterious French Macaroon (Macron). My husband, Dear Farmer, and I are coffee fanatics (we do have 2 kids under the age of three). So I looked up a recipe for Coffee macarons with a chocolate ganache filling. 

So I looked up the recipe, wrote down the ingredients to get at my local grocery store. Believe it or not, I live close to 1.5 hours away from the nearest large grocery chain. I got EVERYTHING on the list... except almond flour. If you don't know, macarons MAIN ingredient is almond flour.

Crud. So I bought almonds instead. FOUR, 6oz cans at $3.25 each (if you want to know the brand I bought look for green lids). I was making eggless Marzipan Potatoes as well, thank you Knitmore Girls for the idea. Guess what the main ingredient of marzipan potatoes are by chance?? Yup, almond flour.

So, making Almond Flour became my first step. So I looked it up on WikiHow, so scientific right? It says to blanch the almonds AND to sprout them. Oh... goodie. So step one, blanch the almonds by boiling water and putting 2 cans in the water for 1 minute (more like 5 if you don't want to go crazy). Two cans is more manageable (its what is pictured below so you can see how many are in 2 cans). Two cans will yield just over 1 1/3 cups of almonds. 

You can see my setup below: 1. Pot for the boiling, 2. Strainer for the straining of the water off, but keep a little water in the pot, it helps keep the almonds warm, 3. Bowl for the skins, 4. Measuring cup or something else glass or metal to hold the almonds (it keeps the fat from soaking into the vessel), 5. An absorbent surface because it drips water, mine is a cotton prefold diaper (its clean of course). After you have strained the almonds then work quickly by popping the almonds out of their skins, if you waited 5 minutes in the hot water then they should all come out easily. A layer of water forms under the skin and so it pops off nicely, thus the absorbent layer. If they are giving you trouble put them back in the strainer, the stem from the water you saved in the pot will help open the skins without adding more water.

So Blanching.... DONE. Now to the sprouting. Basically you add double the water to the amount of almonds you have, cover, and let them sit for 8-12 HOURS (again WikiHow showed me how to do this step). You rinse out the water every 3-4 hours. You do not have to sprout your almonds, most commercial almond flours don't and some don't even use blanched almonds. Macrons are a delicacy, at least remove the skins if you make your own almond flour. Sprouting not only gains your yield (they double in size over the sprouting period), but it takes away the harmful digestive inhibiting enzymes that almonds produce when eaten. If you eat whole almonds your body will naturally stop when enough is reached, with almond flour or anything baked with almond flour somehow this signal is ignored so people tend to overeat causing harm. Well, I plan on devouring my macarons without guilt (they are about 200 calories each so I need not have to worry about a tummy ache too).

Here is my sprouting process, yes that's a flour sack towel diaper I got from the hospital when my Calamity was born (again, clean of course). After four hours the water was cloudy and after 8 hours they were almost ready, I let them go 12 hours. They had started to open, which means the sprouting process was complete.

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