Thursday, March 31, 2011


Ugh! 8 batches of macarons and all I have to show for my work is a pile of macaron carcases on my counter top. I guess I was a little full of myself after the success of my first batch. Now, batch after batch come out horrible.
I like to refer to them as Hollywood Macarons, beautiful on the outside but hollow on the inside.
So what is my problem? Well, depending on the website or the cookbook, the answer was different. Was it the age of the eggs, or maybe their temperature? The moisture in the almond flour? Was I mixing the batter too much? Maybe I was mixing to little? Was it too humid? Maybe my oven temperature is off? I tried it all and nothing changed the hollow outcome. I am continuing to experiment, and hopefully soon I will get my perfect macrons back.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here it goes......Macarons

It was bound to happen sooner or later, I was going to have to dive into the world of macaron making. I became interested in macarons after seeing the movie Marie Antoinette. They looked so pretty in the movie, but I was a little leery of their taste. Then on one of my trips to Bouchon Bakery I had my first taste of a macaron, and it was heaven. They were delicate, soft, and full of flavor. Since then I have tried others, Patisserie Philippe in San Francisco (eh),  Paulettes in San Francisco (yummy),  Jean Philippe in Las Vegas (I went back to LV just for the raspberry macaron, yum), Amour in Las Vegas (OK), but Bouchon still tops my list.
Until now I had made a conscious effort to refrain from making macarons. I heard the horror stories about difficulty in making a good macaron, so why put myself in the position of having a nervous breakdown in my kitchen when I can just go to Bouchon? Well, I started feeling a little peer pressure. I keep hearing macarons are the new cupcake, an idea I think started by Bon Appetite. So it was time for me to try.(Besides I really love a pushing myself towards breakdowns.) After reading blog after blog (Kitchen Musings was the most helpful), and cookbook after cookbook (America's Test Kitchen always comes in handy), I was ready for my first attempt. (Yes, I was already expecting several attempts.)

Kitchen Musings and America's Test Kitchen didn't steer me wrong. I was shocked how easy they were to make after hearing all the warnings about feet, no feet, wrinkles, cracking... My first attempt turned out amazing. Not only did they look good they tasted just like the macarons I had fallen in love with. The next day I took the cookies to work introducing my co-workers to the macaron world, and they loved them.(Granted, none of them have ever had a macaron in their life, so they have nothing to compare mine to.) Out of all the goodies I have made and brought in to share I have never had a reaction like this. They couldn't stop raving about them. I plan on making another batch this week for my partner in macaron crime, to get an experienced opinion on them, so we will see what she thinks. I would have let her try some from this batch, but they just didn't last long enough :)

recipe adapted from Kitchen Musings (I use the word adapted loosely, I only added vanilla and changed the baking of the original recipe.)

100g egg whites (aged in the refrigerator 1 day and then microwaved 10 seconds)
125g almond flour
225g powdered sugar
25g granulated sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 tsp vanilla

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Prepare pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip.
Using a food processor, pulse almond flour and confectioner's sugar until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and beat 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
Gently fold 1/4 of the flour mixture along with the vanilla into the egg whites. Continue adding 1/4 and folding until all the flour is combined, making a thick batter. Fill the pastry bag with the mixture.
Pipe the batter into 1 1/2 inch mounds on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.
Let the macarons rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Peanut Butter Filling:
9 oz cup peanut butter
2 oz powdered sugar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and melted chocolate on medium speed for 4 minutes.

Chocolate Filling:

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbs corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.
In a small sauce pan bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a simmer.
Pour heavy cream over chocolate, and let sit for 2 minutes.
Add vanilla and stir until combined and smooth.
Let cool in refrigerator, stirring and check consistency every 10 minutes. The chocolate is ready when thickened to a frosting consistency.

Fill 2 pastry bags, one with peanut butter filling, the other with chocolate ganache.
Pipe a small circle of chocolate ganache in the center of one of the cookies. Then pipe the peanut butter around the chocolate and sandwich with the second cookie.

The finished macarons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coconut Lemon Lime Bars

I am back from a quick trip to Mexico and have a dessert inspired by my mini vacation. Like usual I mixed a little of this recipe with a little of that recipe to come up with these deliciously tangy Coconut Lemon Lime Bars. A perfect blend of tart filling, slightly salty cookie crust and sweet shredded coconut topping.

Coconut Lemon Lime Bars

Cookie Crust:
2 sticks butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt

4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbs grated lime peel
1/3 cup coconut

Preheat oven 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes.
Add the flour and salt to the butter and combine until just mixed.
Press into a 13x9 pan. (I used my vintage Pyrex that was 12x7)
Bake 15-20 minutes.
While crust is baking make custard.
Whisk eggs, sugar, lime zest, lemon and lime juice, flour and baking powder.
Pour over warm crust.
Turn down oven to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven sprinkling coconut on top.
Continue baking for 5-10 minutes longer.
Cool completely before cutting.

While in Mexico I did hear about the horrible earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. I can't even imagine what they are going through. My heart goes out to all of the people in Japan.


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