French Chocolate Macarons

I have wanted to make french macarons since I began culinary school. It just seems cliché, perfect, a responsibility of sorts for being in french cooking school.  But did we learn how to in Baking and Pastry?  Nope.  

It was time to take matters into my own hands.  I’ve got 5 weeks left of school and I have to work my remaining class time in Technique, the schools restaurant. So, I approached one of the chef’s about my macaron dilemma and he suggested I find a good recipe and test it out. Free rein and all the products at my finger tips?  OK!

Thank you David Lebovitz, this recipe is pretty darn amazing! (adapted with my own minor tweak from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz)

Macaron Batter
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup almond flour, needs to be really fine
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons,  granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

**Special ingredient, optional. Get Ready….  Fleur de sel.  SEA SALT MACARONS.. I know, crazy. AND TDF (to die for)

Macaron Cookies

Preheat oven to 350*F

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients;  powdered sugar, almond flour, and unsweetened cocoa powder, set aside. *If mix is clumpy, pulse in a food processor to get a smooth flour like mixture.

Whip egg whites in a mixer until white peaks begin to form, add granulated sugar and whip until peaks are firm.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined/silpat baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Bake for 9-11 minutes.  *Oven temps will vary so please test out a cookie or two before you bake.  The book recipe calls for 15-18 minutes, but I found in my commercial oven that 11 minutes dried them out completely, 10 minutes was ok, and 9 minutes was perfect for a crunchy outside and chewy inside.  It all depends on what texture you are looking for.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling

Heat the cream in a small saucepan with the corn syrup. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using. The chocolate will turn into a spreadable paste, but should not be runny.

Spread or pipe a bit of ganache on the inside of the macarons, sprinkle a pinch of coarse Fleur de sel, then sandwich them together. Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors.

Since we perfected the recipe to our liking, I decided to make little drizzle cookies for my other classmates to try. All agreed David Lebovitz is the man.

Thanks for reading and have fun making these delicate treats! xo-G

Did I mention, I’ll be in PARIS IN THREE WEEKS!! Ever been? Please comment with suggestions to do/see/eat!!

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Caramel Covered Marshmallows with Fleur de sel … On a stick!

See that yummy caramel, marshmallow, delight up there?  Well that was one of the best sweet treats I’ve ever had on a stick.  Since indulging at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory in Park City, Utah last month, I’ve had my sights set on how to recreate this gooey fun treat!  With a little help from one of my favorite websites, America’s Test Kitchen, The Feed.  (The same site that also published my cookie photo!  shameless plug…) I plan to make these little treats for a girlfriend’s 30th birthday this weekend.  (Laura, I hope you don’t read this post until after Saturday).  My biggest concern is how can I keep the caramel at the right temperature to coat the marshmallow without the marshmallow melting and without the caramel setting too much?  Any ideas readers?  I suppose this will have to be a little trial and error.  Maybe the integrity of the marshmallow wont be compromised if  I can cool the caramel coat fast?

I guess we’ll see what happens!  In the meantime; here is a fool-proof recipe for salted caramel that you should tuck away in your recipe box.

http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/do-it-yourself/2011/10/how-to-make-salted-caramels/

Candied Ginger Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I have to give credit where credit is due.  A fellow bloggers Pumpkin cookies popped up on FoodBuzz yesterday and I immediately started jotting down a grocery list.  Pumpkin puree, clove, milk… the list was small since I’ve acquired so many baking products lately.   Kelly over at Eat Yourself Skinny  had a great recipe on her hands (adapted from allrecipes.com) and I thought it would be nice to bake these cookies for my office. It’s been a few weeks since baking class ended and I’ve been seeing my coworkers  sad faces enter the kitchen area each morning,  why isn’t the culinary school/food blogger bringing us anything anymore?  Sorry guys!  Anywho, with Kelly’s recipe in hand, plus a few alterations I thought I’d test out, I set up shop in my kitchen.  Portual.The Man is playing and I am starting to mix up the ingredients…  But wait! I don’t have regular sugar? what the heck!  Ugh, it was a torrential downpour outside and I did not feel like leaving the house.  After a few minutes of rummaging around I found a few sugar products; brown sugar, sugar in the raw packets, a few packets of splenda and some candied ginger, here’s how I improvised…

Ginger spiced pumpkin cookies, yield:  roughly 36 cookies

What you will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup light unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
OR
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (didn’t have regular sugar)
  • 1 splenda packet (what the heck)
  • 1 tbsp honey (another, what the heck, give it a shot decision)
  • 1/2 cup of  candied ginger, diced (aha! secret ingredient)
Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp milk
  • 1/2  tbsp melted light butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and sugar combinations.  Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients.
  5. Toss in the chopped candied ginger!
  6. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly, sprinkle with chunky sugar
  7. bake for 15-17 minutes at 350*F

They came out great!  All the sugars worked in harmony, I didn’t have to go out in the rain, and my apartment smelled scrumptious!  Truly a feat of innovation on my part, and perhaps a few less calories?..Maybe! After the cookies cool, drizzle with the icing and let sit for an hour or so to harden. This could also be a good time to adhere a small piece of chopped ginger to the top of each cookie for a garnish, but this depends on how much you like ginger.

These cookies are chewy, light and with just the right amount of pumpkin and spice.

My photo was published on America's Test Kitchen: The Feed