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!!

Toasted Almond and Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Crispy Prosciutto.

Easy party food. I’ll keep this short and to the point.  10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to bake and voila!

  • 20 pitted, dry, dates
  • 3 oz of good, pungent Gorgonzola cheese
  • 20 or so raw almonds, rough chopped
  • 1pkg sliced prosciutto
  • tooth picks

1. Rough chop almonds and toast them over low-med heat in a saute pan. Once they begin to brown evenly remove from heat.

2. Slice dates on one side and pull open, add a small sliver of cheese, just enough to stuff it.

3. Sprinkle a few almond pieces on top of the gorgonzola and close the date back up.

4. Roll the stuffed date in a 1″x4″ piece of prosciutto and secure with a toothpick.

5. Repeat until all dates are stuffed.

5. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes or until prosciutto looks crisp.

This small bite hits every taste bud in your mouth; salty, sweet, crispy, nutty, soft, chewy and layered with flavor.  A  really quick and tasty app for your next party!

“One of the best hors d’oeuvre I’ve ever had!”- anonymous friend

Fall is here, that means soup!

Fall is really here now. 49 degrees this past Saturday morning. Mother nature is not screwing around, but hopefully she’ll give New England at least a decent amount of fall weather this year. With fall comes some of my favorite things; Cashmere, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Foliage, and Soup! During a countryside drive, just a few miles outside of Boston yesterday, I found myself on a post brunch jaunt with a few friends through the towns of Weston and Lincoln, MA.   We had quite the random yet very eventful afternoon. Our ‘country drive’  took us to an estate sale, a farm selling eggs and meat, a nursery tree farm, and a handful of farm and flower stands.  It was a perfect fall day.

 

 

 

 

I purchased a beautiful bunch of Kale and some lovely baby carrots from Blue Heron Organic Farm. This instantly gave me inspiration to make one of my surprisingly favorite soups I was introduced to early on in culinary school.  I say ‘surprisingly’ because upon first glance of the recipe, it had a few ingredients I wasn’t crazy about at the time, plus it seemed rather boring.   I can assure you this soup  is anything but boring and it is PACKED with flavor.  It is also incredible easy to make and keeps well for days.

Caldo Verde

Yield 1 ¼ Gallon, 16 portions (10fl oz each)

2oz         olive oil

12oz       onions, chopped finely

1-2          garlic cloves

4lb          potatoes, peeled and medium diced

4 qt        water

1lb          sausage, pref: Portuguese chourico, or Spanish Chorizo

tt             salt

tt             pepper

2lb          kale

1. Heat oil in a soup pot, add the onion and garlic, cook slowly until soft but do not brown.

2. Add the potatoes and water. Simmer until the potatoes are very tender.

3. Puree the soup, for a coarser texture or simple mash it in the pot.  (you can also leave the potatoes cubed if you like the look better.

4. Cut the sausage into this slices. Heat it slowly in a sauté pan to render some of the fat.

5. Add the sausage to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste.

6. Prepare the kale, remove hard rib from the center, chiffonade the leaves.

7. Add to the soup and simmer for 5 more minutes. Check the seasoning.

8. Soup should be served with coarse peasant bread. In this case, I will be also making Chef Casey’s ‘No knead bread’

Get cozy on cold fall day with this delicious soup!

Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations!

Fireworks off of Lake Tahoe-'05

Check out a blog article I wrote for GRETCHY.com.  No no, nothing affiliated with me or my name.  But a friends fabulous fashion forward company and a great way to shop all of our favorite high end brands, wisely.  These talented ladies over at GRETCHY.com are true innovators and fierce fashionistas.

Click here to view the blog!

The 4th of July holiday is quickly approaching and you know what that means, parties!  As a fun loving, patriotic, American girl, I find it my duty to celebrate my country’s independence the best way I know how; in great clothes with good food and even better people!  GRETCHY asked me to guest blog as a foodie and aspiring chef, because, after all, food and fashion are the finest things in life!  I’ve got my navy blue, Rebecca Taylor dress, and a few gaudy red polka dot bangles for a little July 4th flair ready to go!

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