Nuts often play an important role in preparing, flavoring, and garnishing some of your favorite desserts. From pecan cinnamon rolls to syrupy baklava, many recipes call for different preparations of nuts. Sometimes, you must remove the skins from nuts to prevent a bitter taste in your desserts. Toasting nuts also releases their natural flavor and adds crispness. Below you will find a few ways to prepare nuts for desserts:
Skinning Hazelnuts and Brazil Nuts
Spread the hazelnuts and Brazil nuts on a baking sheet. Toast in a pre-heated oven set to 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. This will dry out the skins. After removing from the oven, wrap the nuts in a rough tea towel and rub until the skins are removed. You can pick off any remaining bits of skin still on the nuts with your fingers.
Skinning Almonds and Pistachios
You will use a process called blanching to skin almonds and pistachios. Place the nuts in a bowl and cover with boiling water for two minutes. Drain the water and let the nuts slightly cool. Squeeze or rub each nut with your fingers to remove the skins.
To toast nuts for a recipe, spread nuts on a baking sheet, and place in a pre-heated oven set to 350 degrees. Toast until they turn a golden brown color and smell ‘nutty.’ Occasionally stir the nuts.
Place nuts in a frying pan, but do not add any fat or oils. Toast the nuts over moderate heat until they turn golden brown. Stir constantly and watch carefully because the nuts can easily scorch.
For recipes that call for finely chopped nuts, a nut mill or clean coffee grinder will come in handy. It is suggested to grind a small batch of nuts to achieve an even texture. Do not overwork or you will turn the nuts into paste. Some people have used food processors to grind nuts, but it’s a bit harder to get even results. A downfall is the risk of overworking the nuts into a paste. Try grinding the nuts with some of the flour or sugar called for in the recipe to avoid this mishap.