Lemon Macarons

Oh man. IMG_6113

Look at these!!! I had a friend (Hi Sunitha!) over to make these for another friend. We went through all the odds and ends of making macarons, including sometimes having the first batch just fail for some reason or another.

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I gave her warning that it may happen, and it did! The second batch, made exactly the same way, worked out perfectly. Not to mention, that lemon flavor! Delicious, fruity, perfect for summer. These guys are a keeper. Absolutely delicious.

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Lemon Macarons

Adapted from Sweet&Savory

For the Macarons
1 cup finely ground almond flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Yellow gel food coloring

For the lemon butter cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

To start making macarons, start fearless! Worst case scenario, they don’t grow feet, look funny, or crack. Which means you have a bunch of macaron shells to eat and you just make another batch. Start by whipping your egg whites until foamy. Add in pinch of cream of tarter. Add in your granulated sugar 1 tbsp at a time until all incorporated. At this point, your egg whites should be glossy and form stiff peaks. Add in the zest, extract, juice, and food coloring until it’s a yellow you’d like. Whip until incorporated.

Sift in your powdered sugar and almond flour. Fold your dry ingredients into your egg whites until the ribbon of batter dissolves in 10 seconds. This part is crucial. There are thousands of videos on the internet demonstrating what the perfect consistency looks like. I don’t know how to upload video so google away!

Pipe your batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet approximately 1 inch rounds leaving room for them to spread. You can use a #1 piping tip or simply cut a sizable hole out of the corner of a ziploc bag. Slam them on to the counter (literally) until the tops are smooth and they are sightly flattened. Let them dry on the counter for 15-30 minutes depending on the humidity of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Your macarons will be dry when you touch them gently and they don’t stick to your finger. Be patient and gentle when testing! If the batter still sticks to your finger, give it more time. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the macarons easily lift of the parchment paper. If you have an extra baking sheet, I like to bake them on two sheets stacked on top of each other to prevent burning. Let cool and make the buttercream.

For the buttercream, you can beat all the ingredients together all at once. Easy peasy. I would recommend starting slow so powdered sugar doesn’t get everywhere. Pipe onto a macaron cookie, starting from the edge and working in. Then, find a matching macaron and gently press on top to make a store worthy cookie.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight to let the flavors meld and let come to room temperature before serving. Don’t worry if you have some that don’t look perfect, simply eat them and don’t share those!

Enjoy!

 

 

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Dipped shortbread bites

These cookies are so cute!! They’re too cute! I just finished one of our harder rotations and now am on a bake friendly rotation.

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I had trouble keeping this post to a minimum of photos because these little pumpkins were so adorable. Bite sized and sprinkled with color!

IMG_5290_2 The cookies themselves are shortbread – buttery, sugary, and perfect for the chocolate they’re dipped into. IMG_5299_2

We threw this all into a cookie jar and have been munching on them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night…
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Dipped shortbread bites

adapted from loveandoliveoil
yield 3 dozen cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
sprinkles of your choosing

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Incorporate in your egg and vanilla. Combine your flour until well incorporated. Roll out your dough in batches to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out using approximately a 2 inch cookie cutter (OR use a shot glass flipped upside down which is what I did)

Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can line these guys up super close as they don’t spread. Bake for 10 minutes or until he edges juustttt ever so slightly start to brown. Under cooking these a little bit is the trick. Let cool completely

Fill a medium pot halfway with water and let boil with a heat proof bowl over top (home made double boiler)! Throw in your chocolate chips and stir gently until completely melted. Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting to keep the chocolate melted.

Take your completely cooled cookie and “dip” the cookie half way into the chocolate. The most aesthetic way to do this is actually with a spatula. Using a spatula – paint half the cookie with chocolate including the sides. Then, dip this in sprinkles and let cool again until completely hardened. If you dip it in the chocolate – they have a tendency to get a little chunky with chocolate and less pretty. It might take a few tries to get the hang but once you do it’s worth it!

Enjoy!!!

Girl Scout Samoas Cookies

I had a hankering for girl scout cookies this weekend. Problem: I had no girl scout cookies or a girl scout to order them from. Plus, waiting for my order? The agony!! So I decided to just make my own

IMG_4963_2Plus! My husband had recently purchased a SAD lamp. You know – for people that get sad in the dark, long, cold winter? Great for feeling better. Also great for emulating sunlight! At all times of the day! That coupled with a real camera = I am no longer limited by time of day for taking photos!

IMG_4970_2Also means that I have improved on my camera skills!!! Ahhhh!!! I was SO excited to see these!!! I mean, LOOK! Compared to the bare roots of the beginnings of this blog!

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Okay, enough about the photos. How about the cookies? These are, I daresay, better than the original. Made with freshly toasted coconut slathered in caramel atop a buttery shortbread cookie, the textures of this cookie are amazing, Where there times when I said “this is too much work!” when my fingers were covered in sticky caramel? Yes.

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Was it worth it? Abso-freaking-loutely.

Girl Scout Samoas Cookies

Adapted from justataste
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Special tools: donut cutter

For the shortbread cookie:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in your flour, baking powder, and salt. You can mix your dry ingredients in another bowl or just do what I do. Sprinkle your baking powder and salt over your added flour to help evenly distribute!. Add in your whole milk and vanilla and mix until a dough forms. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate until cool for 1-2 hours. Let your dough warm up just a bit for 10-20 minutes right before rolling out.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Take 1/3 of your dough and roll out to a sheet of 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough with a donut cookie cutter. Make sure to dust your surface with some flour to allow for easy release from your cutter. The shortbread dough does not spread during baking so you can squeeze a lot of cookies on one sheet!

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the sides are just barely golden. Err on the side of under baking these guys to keep them perfect! Remove and let cool.

For the coconut caramel mixture: 
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
15 ounces soft caramel (from the store)
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spread your coconut out on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Toss the coconut every 2-3 minutes to ensure an even toasting. Careful, these delicious flakes can burn easily but freshly toasted coconut is so worth it!

In a double boiler, melt your caramels into your milk and salt until a silky caramel consistency. Be patient! It can take 15-20 minutes.  Set 1/3 of this mixture aside. Mix in your toasted coconut flakes into the remaining 2/3. Now, using the caramel you set aside and the back of a spoon, spread a layer of caramel on top of the cookies. Press some of the caramel coconut on top of this caramel to make that perfect samoas look. The caramel base helps your coconut mixture stick. Let cool completely

Tips for this part:
1. Press your coconut mixture on your cookies while they are laying on a flat surface. Fingers worked best! Shortbread can be fragile. (I broke two – sad face).
2. If you find yourself overwhelmed with sticky coconut fingers – wash off and keep a bowl of cold water at your side. Dip your fingers into the cold water before pressing on the next cookies. This helps to make the coconut more workable,
3. If you think it would be easier to just buy some cookies, you’re right. But these are so much more delicious! Just remember that when caramel is everywhere.
4. If your caramel gets too hard to work with, reheat over your double boiler

For the chocolate base & drizzle:
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Melt your chocolate chips in a shallow bowl in 1 minute intervals in the microwave until completely melted. Mix in your butter. Dip the bottoms of your cookies in the chocolate for the chocolate bottoms. I used a pastry brush to ensure a nice even layer and it worked great!

Put your remaining chocolate into the corner of a ziploc bag and pipe a chocolate drizzle over your cookies for that perfect samoa cookie effect.

Finally, as you find yourself surrounded by lots of hard earned cookies…

Enjoy!

Espresso Caramel Macarons with

More macarons! This time went much smoother, faster, and just as tasty.
photo 1Residency has started in full speed so baking has gone on the back burner a little bit. But these macarons got a turn in the oven before the craziness started and I got to feed them to my brand new intern class!

photo 2The caramel buttercream was suggested to me from a friend as “eat it straight up” good. It involves making actual caramel which is albeit, just a bit stressful. However, I totally also wanted to eat it straight out of the bowl. So incredibly delicious.

photo 3Plus, I bought a medium mesh strainer so the sifting process went 500x faster this time! These guys were done in under 45 minutes! I sense many more macarons in the future!

Espresso Caramel Macarons

Adapted from Tish Boyle

Espresso Macarons: makes 24
2/3 cup almond flour or meal
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar on a humid day
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat and stack on top of another baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 375 F.

In a food processor, process your almond flour, your confectioner’s sugar, and your espresso powder until well combined. Sift through a medium-mesh sifter into a bowl.

In another bowl with an hand mixer, beat the egg whites (and pinch of cream of tartar) until foamy. Add in your superfine sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Add in the vanilla and whisk until blended.

Add in your almond mixture to the stiff eggs and fold until well incorporated and your mixture is thick and slowly drips off your spatula. Try 50 folds for a perfect consistency.

Using a piping bag (or a ziploc bag), pipe 1 inch rounds 1/2 inch apart on your baking sheet. Slam this onto your counter a few times or until the top of your macarons are smooth. Tip: drap your piping tool to the edge of your macarons as you pipe to avoid peaks. Dry at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until you can gently touch them without them sticking to your fingers.

10 minutes into your drying, decrease your oven temperature to 350F. After your macarons are done drying, bake for 15-18 minutes and cool!

Caramel Buttercream Filling:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 candy thermometer

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook your sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup and salt until the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Once dissolved, increase the heat to high and plop in a candy thermometer. Keep a close eye on your saucepan as you go on to the next step!

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until your sugar mixture reaches 225F on your thermometer. Once it does, increase your egg beating speed to high until the sugar reaches 238F. This will be a quick jump and it will be easy to go from caramel to burnt sugar so pay attention! Remove your hot sugary caramel from the heat and pour 1/4 cup of it into your eggs while constantly beating. Beat at high speed until blended (about 10 seconds). Repeat until all the caramel is incorporated. Continue to beat until the mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes.

At a slightly slower speed, beat in the butter (1 tablespoon at a time) into your mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and beat your mixture (now buttercream) until smooth and shiny. Please, feel free to eat a spoonful and lick the whole bowl.

Putting it all together
Pipe your buttercream into your macarons and store in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld. Before serving, let it come to room temperature for a few hours.

Enjoy!

PS: Caramel clean up tip – put water into your caramel saucepan and bring to a boil. It’ll dissolve just like that!
PPS: For more tips on making macarons, refer to this blog post. 

 

 

Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Whew, I spent the last few weeks moving all of our stuff to our new home. Despite our place looking like an absolute war zone for a few days, our new house (!) looks absolutely fantastic, and of course, I had to christen the oven (and the new place) with some baked goods and baked good smells.

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Look how pretty! I realized that I don’t think that I’ve ever posted just a plain chocolate chip cookie recipe on here before. There has been chocolate chip cookies stuffed with nutella, but never just a chocolate chip recipe. Also, one of my favorite bloggers posted a picture of some salty cookies and I was inspired so into our new kitchen I went!

ImageI fancied these up by putting in chocolate chunks instead of chips and sprinkling on some fancy salt but at the heart of it all, these cookies are just a simple chocolate chip cookie.

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Salty and sweet, these made great welcome home cookies!

Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from Nestle Toll House

Makes about 24 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
12 oz Semi-Sweet chocolate chunks
about 1 tablespoon fleur de sel for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, cream together your butters and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in your vanilla and one egg at a time. Slowly incorporate in your flour mixture. Once incorporated, fold in your chocolate chunks.

Take ~ 2 tablespoons worth of dough (for bigger cookies!) and place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Flatten the dough slightly and sprinkle on fleur de sel before baking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden brown. If they look very doughy coming out, you can always let them cool on the hot baking sheet – ensuring last minute cooking and forever soft cookies!

Enjoy!