Chocolate Cranberry Macaroons

I’ve made these twice the last few weeks…the first time was a request, and the second time because they were so yummy.
Ever since college, macaroons have been a go-to recipe of mine when there’s not much in the kitchen but I still wanted to bake. It’s a simple recipe with not too many ingredients and I could always whip it together as long as I had a bag of coconut flakes handy (which I tried to keep stocked).

The first time I made macaroons at home, I was astounded by how much more absolutely delicious they tasted compared to store bought. When they’re made at home, they’re absolutely perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I often ate one coming out of the oven and had it warm. If you’ve never had a warm homemade macaroon, make it a priority.

These were requested to emulate a similar creation at Au Bon Pain (or so I’ve been told). So I took my handy dandy macaroon recipe that I’ve used from the back of some bag years ago and adapted a bit for this concoction. They’re filled with cranberries and topped with chocolate ganache. Don’t forget that they’re still great warm, crispy, and most importantly homemade with love.

Chocolate Cranberry Macaroons

Adapted from: I really am not sure.
Makes about 20

For the macaroons
1 bag 15 oz coconut flakes
4 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (go heavy if you like them!)

For the ganache
8 ounce bar semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 325. Combine all of your ingredients for the macaroons into one big old bowl and mix well. I find that clean hands work very well! Line your baking sheet with parchment paper as they can get sticky. Ball out 1 heaping tablespoon amounts of macaroon sticky flakes and place about 3/4 inch apart – they don’t spread much. They should look like little macaroons on the baking sheet. I usually just lightly press my balls of dough onto the pan to give it a nice flat bottom.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the sides are golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Break your chocolate bar into small squares and place into a heat-proof bowl. Heat your heavy cream over medium high heat until just bubbling on the sides – don’t let it boil! Pour your heavy cream over your chocolate squares and gently stir for a few minutes until the heat distributes and you have a shiny, delicious chocolate ganache glaze.

Dip your cooled macaroon tops into the glaze and let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Enjoy! The mix of cranberry and chocolate is fabulous!

 

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Cherry Cheesecake

Over Christmas break I received a fabulous book courtesy of the in-laws. It’s the kind with ribbon page markers and a matte binding…you know, that kind you just want to feel.
It’s the kind of cookbook that is part fascinating read, part actual cookbook. Nigel Slater takes all kinds of fruits and makes the most amazing concoctions out of them. Unlike most fruit based recipes, these recipes don’t drown and cover the fruit in sugar but instead highlight them as the star of the show and put the baked goods part in the background. Case in point: this cheesecake.

Now normally when you see fruit in a cheesecake, it’s some sort of fruit turned into syrup swirled into cake. This version however has the cherries sitting on top in their natural glory. The cheesecake itself is much, much lighter than it’s traditional cousin without that dense sweetness that we usually associated with cheesecake.

Cherries take the show here! Light cheesecake and a shortbread crust (not graham) take the backstage blending together in a lovely, light and fruity baked good.

Cherry Cheesecake 

Adapted from Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard

For the Cheesecake
1 pound ricotta cheese
7 ounces cream cheese or mascarpone
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound cherries, cut in half and pitted

For the shortbread crust
12 ounces shortbread cookies
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly butter an 8 inch square pan (For easy removal, line with parchment paper).

In a food processor, crush the shortbread cookies into crumbs. Combine the crumbs with your melted butter and mix. Pat this deeelicciouss smelling mixture into your pan and refrigerate for half an hour.

In the meantime, combine ricotta, cream cheese or mascarpone, cream, and sugar. Add the zest and juice of all of your lemons, vanilla, eggs, egg yolk, and cornstarch. Pour this mixture on top of your now cooled shortbread crust and bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until firm to touch (or it passes the toothpick test). Cover the pan with tin foil it the top begins to brown. Turn the heat off of your oven and let your cake finish cooling in the oven. Let your cheesecake chill in the fridge overnight.

Prior to serving, scatter your cherries on top! That’s it!

Optional: Make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar by heating the two over medium heat until the sugar is disolved. Give your cherries a quick swim in the syrup until slightly warmed and pour over cheesecake.

Enjoy!