Almond meal consists of almonds that have been ground into coarse granules. It also is known as almond flour or ground almonds, although some almond flours are specifically made with blanched almonds that have had their oil removed. There are a number of cooking applications for almond meal, including confectionary ingredients such as marzipan and almond paste. The meal also has several health benefits and is a gluten-free food with a very low glycemic index.
As a traditional ingredient in many sweet confections, almond meal has been used for hundreds of years. It is most well known as the main ingredient in marzipan. Marzipan is a mixture of almond meal and sugar that forms a paste. This paste can be rolled into sheets and used to give cakes a smooth finish. It also can be shaped into small ornaments or fruit shapes and then painted with food dyes to create edible decorations.
Almond meal can be used to make almond paste by being mixed with sugar and a binder such as oil, heavy cream or eggs. Almond paste is used around the world as a filling for some pastries. Fresh almond paste also can be mixed with chocolate to create a different taste and texture.
In France, there is a traditional almond cream filling known as frangipane. Frangipane is made from almond meal, butter, sugar and flour. It is used as a filling for tarts and other pastries.
Almonds have been found to contain a high amount of magnesium, protein, vitamin E and potassium. A high level of monosaturated fats means they can help to lower cholesterol in the blood. The nuts' low glycemic index makes them a popular choice for diabetics seeking to avoid spikes or dips in their blood sugar levels.
In addition to having a glycemic index of zero, almonds have been shown to actually reduce the glycemic index of foods that are eaten with them. They are very low in carbohydrates and are gluten free. The meal can be used as a flour substitute in batters and mashed into a thick, moist paste that can be baked.
Almond meal is nothing more than ground almonds, so they share the same health benefits. Almond meal will store from one to two weeks in the refrigerator, but it should be moved to a freezer for longer periods of storage. This is because the oils in the meal can quickly turn rancid if not stored properly.