Almond flour is made from grinding blanched skinless almonds until they become as fine and powdery as flour. Almond meal is the same thing, but made from unblanched almonds with their skins still on. The flour retains the flavor of almonds and gives baked goods a mildly sweet and nutty taste.
Neither the flour nor the meal contain gluten. This is a boon for people who are gluten-intolerant, but does present some challenges when using the flour in baking. Almond flour will need another ingredient (or several ingredients) to help hold it together. For macarons, egg whites bind the flour into a batter. When making gluten-free baked goods, creating a mix with other flours or using an ingredient like xanthan gum will do the trick. Almond flour also does very well when combined with regular all-purpose flour if you're not worried about keeping the recipe gluten-free.
Look for almond flour and almond meal in bulk at places like Whole Foods or in packages from companies like Bob's Red Mill and at Trader Joe's. If you're feeling industrious, you can also try your hand at making your own. Almond flour has the same oil content as the whole nut and has a limited shelf life at room temperature. Store it in the freezer to make it last longer.
Curious to try baking with almond flour? Take a look at these recipes:
• Weekend Project: Make Macarons • Vegan Vanilla Almond Sandies • Clotide Dusoulier's Mini Financiers • Almond Bites with Chocolate Ganache
What have you made with almond flour?