Tag Archives: chocolate

Learning How to Make Macarons from the Expert…My French Friend!

MacaronI love macarons.  They are so perfect.  The sandwiching of two amazingly crisp, crunchy cookies on the outside with a chewy inside, and a filling, oh the filling.  Whether it be ganache or buttercream or whatever you like, they are just amazing!  For those of you who are not familiar, they are a French cookie made with almond flour and whipped egg whites, light and crisp, sandwiched with some sort of decadent filling.  If you aren’t familiar with them…you need to be!

While I have loved the macaron for a while, I Almond Flourhaven’t attempted to make them until recently.  They seemed incredibly intimidating, but after spending an afternoon with a friend of mine, learning her tricks, I realized that they really aren’t that difficult if you know the tricks.  And, as with anything, sometimes they turn out perfect, and sometimes they don’t.  But no matter what, they’ll be delicious.

CookedMy friend Estelle has been to classes, read books, and has made macarons many times.  She also used them to completely show me up at a cook-off contest at work.  I don’t blame her, I was the reigning champion, and it seemed I couldn’t be beat.  I had won so many times…my caramel walnut tart took home first place, as did my sausage stuffing, and my chocolate cannoli cookies.  You get the picture…and she was determined to win.  And then, she brought her macarons, and, well, I didn’t stand a chance.  She very quickly dethroned me (and rightfully so, they were SO GOOD), but I knew IEgg Whites needed to get that recipe.  Thankfully, a few weeks ago, she taught me her tricks!  And now, I’m sharing them with you!

The recipe we made was for chocolate macarons with chocolate ganache.  She explained that she has had best luck with chocolate macarons because you can see the color change and know when everything is properly mixed.  Also, they are her favorite.  We also used weighted measures for the dry ingredients.  The important thing for macarons is to have them dry, so the weight helps adjust for dampness in the flour.  And, her advice, don’t ever make them Whippedon a humid day…you will be doomed!

To start, beat 100 milliliters egg whites in a mixer with a pinch of salt.  We used 3 eggs to get to 100 milliliters.  Also, she left the eggs out so they were room temperature.  Beat those until they start to foam, then add 75 grams sugar.  Beat until soft peaks form.

In a food processor, mix 120 grams almond flour, 200 Ribbongrams powdered sugar, and 14 grams cocoa.  You want to be sure you’re getting rid of any lumps and getting the mixture consistent.  If you don’t want to make chocolate macarons, you can substitute almond flour for the cocoa.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg white mixture.  You want to continue to fold until it is a consistent color, so you know everything is mixed.  But you also want to mix it until it is pretty smooth and runs off the spoon in ribbons.  It took more folding than I thought it would, but it was a pretty smooth mixture, with just some small specks from the almond flour.

Make a template for the macarons on parchment Templatepaper.  Trace 3 centimeter circles onto the parchment, about 1 inch apart.  Then put the template in a cookie sheet and cover the template with another sheet of parchment.  Pipe the macaron mixture into the circles.  We used a plain 804 piping tip.  Try to stay within the circles.  Then, let them rest at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes.  This helps to dry out the macarons.  Bake at 325 for about 10-12 minutes, but, leave a wooden spoon in the door of the oven so it’s Feetopened a bit.  This lets the steam escape, again helping to dry out the cookies.  When they are done, they should be crisp on top and pretty easily peel off of the parchment.  And, hopefully, you’ll have those great “feet”, knowing that they rose up.  If they don’t peel off easily, they may need more time.

Meanwhile, you can make the ganache.  You want equal parts cream and chocolate.  For this recipe, we used 200 grams heavy cream Ganacheand 200 grams chopped chocolate, half dark and half milk.  Heat the cream until boiling, then pour over the chocolate.  Let it sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate then stir until combined and smooth.  Let that sit for a while so that it cools and becomes spreadable.  Once it’s ready, and the macarons are cool, just pipe some ganache on the bottom of one and sandwich two together…that’s it!

Finished MacaronThankfully Estelle was willing to share her secrets!  These really are delicious, and not as hard as I thought.  You do need to be precise and patient, but they turn out great.

Oh, and a side note, you’ll notice I keep saying macarons, not macaroons.  From what I’ve read, it seems more and more people are using the French spelling to distinguish from the also delicious coconut confections, macaroons.  But, they’re pretty much interchangeable.

Quick and Easy Dessert-Candy Bar Brownies

So I have to admit, I don’t usually make box desserts.  If I’m going to make a cake or Ingredientsbrownies, I’d rather make them from scratch.  I know, I know, there are probably many of you out there that just gasped, knowing that those box mixes have gotten you through many a birthday or last-minute dessert.  And that’s absolutely fine, I don’t judge…or at least I’m not judging now. 🙂  It’s just my preference.  However, there is one instance where I think boxed mixes are perfect.  With just a little effort, you can turn a box mix into an impressive dessert that people will LOVE…candy bar brownies (and in this case, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup brownies)!!!!

Batter ReadyThe beauty of these brownies is that you’re basically just taking the box mix, mixing it up with the required ingredients, layering it in the pan with some chopped up candy, and baking it a little longer.  They end up being rich, chewy, and just plain delicious!

For these, I used 2 boxes of Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies.  Because I doubled it, I needed 4 eggs, 1/2 cup water, and 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil for the chewy version.  And please, please, make the chewy version.  ALWAYS make the chewy version.  No Ready for the Ovenone prefers cake-like brownies.  Really, there are no cake-like brownies…it’s called chocolate cake!

Anyway, back to the recipe, stir that all together, and set aside.  Now, for the magical part.  For this recipe, I used a 10.5 oz package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, opened them all up, and coarsely chopped them.  Pour half of the batter into a 15″x10″ baking dish (and don’t worry, if you don’t have that big of a dish, you can always use the more common 13″x9″…they will be thicker Peanut Butter Cup Browniesand take a little longer to cook though).  Then sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups, and top with the rest of the batter.  Try to cover the candy as you pour the batter, but don’t worry if some candy shows.  Then bake them at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean 1 inch from the edge (yup, those are the instructions from the back of the box).  Let them cool before you cut them, since they are loaded with that extra candy and could fall apart.

Take it from me, these brownies are awesome.  They really do kick up the boxed mix, and you don’t need to use peanut butter cups.  You can use any candy you want.  They are great with York Peppermint Patties, or Snickers, or, whatever you like for that matter.  They are just plain great.  Give them a try, you won’t regret it!

Tastykakes and Toffee…Dessert Recipes from the Super Bowl

Saltine ToffeeI will be the first to admit it, I’m not a football fan.  Don’t like watching it, don’t really like playing it, and definitely don’t like talking about it.  So when the big games comes around every year, I’m not looking forward to it.  Sure, there are some great commercials during the Super Bowl (Full House reunited, 80s stars for Radio Shack, and all of those cars commercials, crazy), and there is usually a party with great food, but the Super Bowl itself, I could do without.  However, this year, I was at a party with great friends, and got to show off two of my favorite recipes, to rave reviews mind you!

I was in charge of desserts, and I wanted to be sure I brought something that was finger food-ish, like most of the food would be.  People would be eating wings and chips and pizza, so the desserts had to fit in.  And the two I made definitely did!

Butter and SugarThe first dessert I made was a saltine toffee. You may have had this already, or made it, but it’s always so good.  And it goes by so many names, one friend even calls it crack.  I do agree, it’s addicting.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy…here goes:

Put one stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a saucepan and melt over medium head.  Once it’s melted, dump in 1 cup of sugar.  Stir to mix and melt together over medium heat (and use a bigger pan than I did…I was trying to be quick).  You want it to be combined and the sugar to start to melt…it only takes a few minutes.

Ready for the OvenWhile the butter and sugar are brewing, cover a cookie sheet with foil and cover with non-stick spray.  Then lay out saltine crackers in an even layer.  You want them to touch but not overlap, and cover the whole thing.  Pretty easy to do, and I used almost 2 sleeves.  Once that’s done, and the sugar mixture is ready, just pour it all over.  Make sure you hit the edges and sides so they have some of the sweet coating too.  Then just put it in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  You want it to be bubbling and evenly coated.

Melted ChipsWhen you take the pan out of the oven, immediately cover with a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet).  Let them sit for a few minutes, and you’ll see the chips turn glossy as they melt.  Once melted, spread the chocolate evenly, and patiently wait until it’s cooled off. Then break into pieces and enjoy!  And you’ve been warned, they are addicting!

BatterThe next recipe I made was Tandy Cakes.  If you’ve ever had the Tastykake variety and like those, you’ll love these.  And they’re another pretty simple recipe.  Beat together 4 large eggs with 2 cups of sugar until fluffy and pale yellow.   Add in 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Mix until combined and you have a smooth batter.  Pour into a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through and a nice golden color.

Ready to SpreadOnce it comes out of the oven, spread with a 12 oz container of creamy peanut butter.  The heat from the cake will melt the peanut butter, making it very easy to spread.  Then cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the peanut butter has firmed up.  Then, melt a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips in the microwave (30 second intervals, stir, and keep going till smooth).  Pour and spread the chocolate over the cooled peanut butter and let cool.  Cut and enjoy.  These are so delicious, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I got yesterday!

Eat UpSo there you have it!  Those were my Super Bowl desserts.  What did you make?  What are some of your favorite desserts?