Most nuts come in an array of shapes and sizes, making it easy to add them to all types of baked goods, with multiple forms often used in the same finished item. That’s because each form has a unique function, delivering different degrees of flavor and nutrition. They can be added into the batter or dough, or as a topping for finishing purposes. Crusts also benefit from nut ingredients.
“The beauty of so many forms is the versatility that translates to numerous applications for manufacturers,” says Rob Corliss, research chef for the Almond Board of California and founder of All Things Epicurean.
Nut forms, from largest to smallest piece, are whole, sliced, slivers, chopped/diced and flour/meal. There are also viscous formats, including nut milks and butters/pastes.
“Flours and meals provide soft texture and elegant flavor notes to baked goods,” Mr. Corliss says. “They are great for gluten-free and paleo baking. The identifiable pieces contribute visual appeal and texture cues. They can also be used as toppings or inclusions. Nut butters and pastes can be used as a filling or binding agent.”
Nut milks, on the other hand, can replace other fluids typically used in a formulation, bringing unique flavor profiles to the product. Depending on the nut milk, use can also influence the color and texture of the baked good.
Nuts can be paired with distinctive and new flavor combinations that today’s consumers’ crave.
“Global new product introduction data show that there has been an increase of products made with almonds and coconut flavors, in particular, in products such as snack bars, cookies and other confections,” Mr. Corliss says, citing data from Innova Market Insight. “There has also been a rise in almond and green tea flavor combinations, an inspiration from the growing Asian culinary landscape.”