Pure nuts

New California oils and flours infuse dessert with flavor

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Maple Pecan Cake

Try toasted nut oils in vinaigrettes or drizzled over goat cheese; finely ground nut flour is great for baking, as in our maple pecan cake.

James Carrier

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Maple Pecan Cake

In France a few years ago, I browsed happily in every food shop and supermarché. The cheese and pâté were lovely, but what really caught my eye were bags of almond flour. I love using nuts in baking, and I've spent way too much time scraping lumps of ground nuts out of my food processor. When I packed to come home, bags of almond flour found themselves nestled among new shoes in my suitcase.

I've long since used up that almond flour, but now I've discovered an American source: California Press, a small producer that cold-presses toasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts) to make virgin oils and grinds the pressed nuts into light flours. Both products add deep flavor and subtle texture to almost anything, from French crêpes to our very American chiffon-style maple pecan cake.

The oils cost about $17-$24 for 250 ml.; the flours are $17-$19 for 16 oz. They're available at specialty food markets and from California Press (707/944-0343).

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