Hmmm, Macarons…they are just beautiful. The colors. The fillings… well the possibilities are endless.
1.Almonds. I’ve made wonderful macarons with either slivered blanched almonds or almond meal. I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill almond meal/flour , however if you are making a big batch it’s economical to buy slivered blanched almonds and do the processing yourself. Blend in your food processor for a few minutes and then sift the mixture through a medium sieve and then reprocess anything left behind.
2. Powdered sugar- I use starched powdered sugar, I heard powdered sugar are not suited for Macarons but it is near impossible to find the non-starch ones in retail stores here in the U.S.
3. Egg whites (Aged) -I separate my eggs and leave the whites in a bowl on the counter covered lightly with a paper towel for at least 24 hours.
4. Favorite Filling- There are so many ways to fill macarons. Fruit fillings, ganache, butter cream. Here are some example.
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
8 oz heavy cream
White Chocolate Ganache
9 oz white chocolate
4 oz heavy cream
Overall, after testing several batches of macarons under different condition I found that temperatures in the range of 275-320°F for 15-30 minutes produced the best results. It really depends on your oven, I did mine at 320°F for the first 15 minutes of baking. Then lowered it to 300 for 10 minutes.
2yields 50 (100 shells) macarons (feel free to divide it for fewer cookies)
120g almond meal
200g powdered sugar
100g egg whites
30-35g granulated sugar
food coloring gel
Line 2-3 heavy gauge aluminum baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners (more on this below). Prep a piping bag with a round tip (I use a Ateco #11 for most of my macs, though I’ll occasionally use a #804 for larger macarons). I place the bag into a tall drinking glass (or stout glass) and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free.
Weigh out almond meal and powdered sugar and sift together to remove any clumps. (If you own a food processor, I highly recommend blending the ingredients and then sifting.)
Weigh out the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (stainless steel or copper), if you’re using stainless feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the whites. If you’re using copper you need not and should not add any additional acid (more on this below).
Weigh out the granulated sugar. (Often I’ll use homemade vanilla sugar for this.)
Begin beating the eggs on low speed. What you’re doing here is unraveling the egg white’s proteins (these are what will capture the air bubbles you whisk in), they’re bundled up and you need to gently unwind them. A light touch does this far better than scrambling them on high speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (If they start looking grainy, clumpy or dry… uh… you’ve gone too far.)
Add the food coloring (for the full recipe it usually takes 2-4 drops of gel, for a half batch 1-2 drops does the trick) and mix.
Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter. (More on this below)
Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.
Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick.
Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 15-30 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch. If you have problems with burst shells, you may need to allow them to rest longer or double stack your baking sheets to provided better insulation from the bottom.
While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 275-320°F.
Things that do not make good macaron fillings: Anything moist, runny or unstable!
You want your filling to stay put and not break down while your cookie matures. Wet fillings will dissolve your cookies. I’ve seen pastry cream, plain whip cream, and other moist ingredients recommend as fillings. These will result in the sad discovery that your cookies are, or are beginning to become, icky sludge.
If you must use wet filling, skip the maturation and eat them ASAP.
This is really important. Try not to judge the quality of your macarons until they’ve finished maturation. It fixes a whole host of evils. Small hollows disappear, dry insides can become moist again, the texture improves and of course the flavor, maturation really makes a difference there.
Generally 1-3 days in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator does the trick. The more moisture in the filling, the quicker it will mature. Mascarpone, cream cheese, curd-based, caramels and some butter creams will mature first, followed by white chocolate ganache and then chocolate ganache.
Always bring the macarons to room temperature before serving.
Yesterday, I picked a huge bag of oranges, tangelos and clementines in a nearby farm. This morning I juiced the oranges, ate the tangelos and thought about baking a cake with clementiine. Glad I did, using this wonderful recipe from my new cookbook. It tastes amazing!. I like how this cake bursts with flavor, it’s comforting and relaxing. The ground almonds makes this cake very memorable and it gets moistened further with clementine and lemon syrup. I did not glaze it with chocolate, it’s certainly good on its own.
Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake
Recipe Source: Adapted from Jerusalem
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp/200g unsalted butter
scant 2 cups/380g granulated sugar, divided
grated zest and juice of 4 clementines
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups/280g ground almonds
5 large free-range eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp/100 g all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
Chocolate Icing (Optional)
6 tbsp/90g unsalted butter, diced
5 oz/150g good quality dark chocolate broken up
2 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp Cognac
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Lightly grease a 9 inch/24cm springform pan with butter and line the sides and bottom with parchment paper.
Place the butter, 1 1/2 cups/300g of the sugar, and both zests in the stand mixer fitted with the beaten attachment and beat on low speed to combine everything well. Do not work the mixture too much or incorporate too much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing until combined.
With the machine running, gradually add the eggs, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times as you go. Add the remaining ground almonds, the flour, and the salt and beat until completely smooth.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and level it with an offse spatula.
Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. Check to see if it is ready by inserting a skewer into the center. It should come out a little bit moist.
When the cake is almost done, place the remaining 1/3 cup/80g sugar and the citrus juices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (the juices should total about 1/2 cup/120 ml). When the syrup boils, remove it from the heat.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush it with the boiling syrup, making sure all the syrup soaks in. Leave the cake to cool down completely in a pan before you remove it. you can serve it as it is, garnished with orange zest strips, or store it for upto 3 days in an airtight container.
If you wish to ice the cake, it is recommended to do it on the day which the cake will be served. Put the butter, chocolate and honey in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Stir until everything is melted, then immediately remove from the heat and fold in the Cognac. Pour the icing over the cooled cake, allowing it to dribble naturally down the sides without covering the cake completely. Let the icing set and garnish the center of the cake with the orange zest strips.
Growing up in the Philippines, ensaimada has been a part of our family merienda and even breakfast tradition. My favorite part of having this delicious pastry is the trip to the local panaderia (bakery), I love going to the bakery..the smell, the array of baked goods and pastries display on the glass shelves are simply divine.
The Filipino ensaimada traces its origins to the ensaimada, a traditional yeast bun from Majorca, Spain, made with pork lard and just a hint of sugar on top. It began to appear in local panaderias during the Spanish period when Filipino and Chinese bakers began to make bread via the government’s Royal Bakeshop in Intramuros. Old-timers remember the ensaimada as a flat concoction, not the puffed up muffin-like versions of today. The traditional ensaimada was merely dusted with powdered or granulated sugar, just like the Majorcan version.
The Filipino ensaimada comes in so many dough variations and toppings, I’ve had ensaymada with cheddar cheese, salted egg, a dollop of whipped butter, quezo de bola, macapuno, ube, to name a few, But it’s the traditional ensaimada brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar that I have always loved. When I think of ensaimadas, I think of cool December mornings and warming up to hot chocolate or luya (ginger tea) and ensaimadas for breakfast. I think of lazy afternoon siestas and waking up to the smell of freshly baked rolls for merienda. I miss the panaderias in the Philippines.
This made me think of baking ensaimada, yes..the sweet memories attached to this pastry made me want to eat one today, at this minute. So, I made one, oh not just one I made 12. I did it, oh the aroma… I’m in heaven!
Recipe adapted from Enriqueta David-Perez’s Recipes of the Philippines, makes 12 rolls
1 packet instant dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water with a temperature between 100 and 110 degrees F
6 tablespoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more melted butter for brushing the rolls
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup evaporated milk
canola oil for greasing a large bowl, baking sheet, and brioche molds
Dissolve yeast in warm water with a temperature anywhere between 100 and 110 degrees F. To proof yeast, add one tablespoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume then yeast is active. It is very important to make sure that yeast is active. Water that is too hot kills the yeast so make sure that the water temperature is around 100 to 110 degrees F.
Sift flour and salt together twice. Add about 1/2 cup of flour to yeast and set aside.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the speed to medium-low, add yolks, one at a time, beating well. Add flour alternately with milk, mixing until well incorporated. Add yeast mixture, beating well.
Replace the paddle with a kneading hook and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand on a clean surface dusted with flour until smooth and elastic. Let the dough rest in a bowl greased lightly with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until double in size, about one to two hours.
Punch the dough and divide into twelve small, equal portions. Roll out each piece to a thin sheet, brush with melted butter, and roll sheet like you would a jelly roll. Coil this into a spiral-shaped bun. Either place the coiled dough flat on greased baking sheets or in greased fluted brioche molds. Set aside to rise until double in size, about an hour. When the dough is almost done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
It’s November, in the blink of an eye we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving, wrapping holiday gifts and kissing at midnight……wait, WHAT? yup this is how fast this year is going.
Well, the only thing I can think to slow things down involves these healthy-ish Pumpkin Flax and Chocolate Muffins, a cup of tea, and a Healthy Food Magazine.
Yes folks, try to slow your day this weekend… sit, relax, eat a warm muffin and drink a cup of tea and read your favorite magazine.
I love the simplicity of these muffins, No mixer necessary. All you need is a few bowls, pureed pumpkin, and crunchy flax seeds.
Oh, and the muffins are moist and pumpkin-y. Perfect for the season.
Perfect perfect perfect with chocolate.
You have to balance out all of that whole wheat flour and flax with chocolate, right?
It’s all about balance.
Pumpkin, Flax and Chocolate Muffins
makes about 16 muffins
adapted from Cookie and Kate
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs, pureed pumpkin, and vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, spices, and flax seeds.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once to the wet ingredients. Add the butter milk and fold together. When batter is almost completely mixed, fold in the chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Fill muffin cups three quarters full. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Muffins will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
These muffins also freeze really well. Seal in a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer. I like to eat these right from the freezer. It’s possible that I am not normal.
This has got to be one of the easiest – but most rewarding – treats ever made. It’s dairy-free, egg-free, and free of animal products. But it tastes rich and satisfying like a chocolate mousse should.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
3/4 c dark chocolate chips- If you’re a vegan there are so many vegan dark chocolate chips in the market, just check for dairy content in the package.
12 oz silken tofu (at room temp, drained)
1/2 cup – 120 ml warmed almond milk
1 tsp vanilla – make sure it’s a good vanilla
1. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Melt the chocolate slowly. Stir until uniformly smooth.
2. in food processor combine tofu, melted chocolate, warmed milk and vanilla. Process until smooth. Place mixture in fine mesh or strainer. push through with back of wooden spoon into to a medium bowl. Chill and serve.
3. Garnish with fresh fruit and mint leaves