Saturday, August 08, 2015

Almond Meal Shortbread Crust

If you get this crust browned just enough, it takes on a macaroon-like quality. It's slightly sweet, salty, tender, nutty, and excellent under anything from pumpkin pie to cheesecake.

The almond meal should be made from blanched almonds. You can make it from whole almond meal, but it will be a distinct creature: grittier and heavier.

The rice flour and water are pretty important supporting players here. Without either, the crust would just be a collection of buttery crumbs. Be sure to use sweet rice flour, which is ground-up sticky rice. It's more tender and gluey than regular rice flour. In mainstream grocery stores, you're most likely to find the Bob's Red Mill brand, if you find it at all, but you can also get it online. It's known as mochiko in Japan (because it's what makes mochi so delicious), and chapssalgaru in Korea. Also called glutinous rice flour.

Almond Meal Shortbread Crust

Makes enough for a 9-10" pie crust.

Whisk together:
1 cup almond meal
1/3 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (heaping if using sea salt)
2 tablespoons sugar

Stir in:
4 tablespoons melted butter

Then add:
1 tablespoon water

Stir well and dump into your pie pan or springform pan. Spread the crumbs out and press them firmly and evenly all over the bottoms and sides. Try to make the top edge fairly thick, as it will brown so much faster. When I'm using this recipe for a cheesecake, I only push the crumbs 1/2 inch up the sides.

If the pie will not be baked very long, or if the crust is for a cheesecake, I pre-bake the crust at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until browned around the edges and a bit golden all over.

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