Quinoa is everywhere these days. I’ve been a fan since I first tried it a couple of years ago. I spent some time in Chicago recently and discovered Protein Bar, a healthy, fast food style restaurant that has quinoa in pretty much every dish. The food was tasty and good for you! I was addicted. I’m sure it won’t be long before it comes to NY! I’ve only ever had quinoa in savory dishes and I was inspired to try it in a sweet dish, hence my choice for this month’s theme!
I wanted to use quinoa in a couple of different forms, but I was really short on time this month, so I ended up just going with quinoa flour. I did a bit of research and it seemed like people had mixed experiences using this type of flour. Various websites said it has a bitter / sour / grassy flavor that overpowered other ingredients. Some websites said to toast the flour before using it. Some websites described the flavor as nutty, so I thought I’d use it in a nut-based dish to keep with the same flavor profile. I decided to make friands, which I’ve actually never seen in the US! I think they are an Aussie thing. They are little cakes made with only a few main ingredients – almond meal, flour, sugar, butter and egg whites. The texture of friands is unique – they are light but dense at the same time. I should also mention that this version of friands, with quinoa flour instead of plain flour, is gluten free! You could easily use a gluten free flour mix or other type of gluten free flour like rice or tapioca flour. It’s a small portion of the ingredients so I don’t think it would change the end result too much.
I wanted to try the flour without toasting it to see what the flavor was like. I smelt the bag of flour when I opened it and it definitely had a distinct smell – the same smell of quinoa grains while you are cooking them. Once quinoa grains are cooked, they lose that grassy taste, and I’m guessing the same thing that happens when you toast the flour.
The quinoa flavor definitely came through in the friands, which I liked. You might not necessarily pick the flavor as quinoa, but it definitely did taste different to regular flour. I will try toasting the flour next time, to see how differently it turns out. Friands are awesome. It’s been a long time since I ate one and I’d forgotten how much I like them!
Find the recipe here