Search results for 'macaron'

Pistachio Macarons

24 Jan

Leslie and I went through a serious macaron obsession in the early 2010’s (is that what you call that decade?).  I mean – a SERIOUS obsession.  I’ve had them from just about everywhere in LA, several places in New York, and even hot off a plane from Ladurée in Paris.  I took a couple of classes to learn how to make them, since these are not for the weary at heart.  They are a lot of work!

Fortunately, Leslie shared my fondness and my wedding gift to her and Tri was a couples cooking class to learn how to make these as well.  She invited me over to help give these a whirl at her house, and I have to say – it was a lot easier making these with a partner than by myself.  We made these about 3.5 years ago, so this post is a wee bit overdue.

Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio Macarons

Here is the recipe Leslie found as adapted from All Recipes!  Because there is so little room for error in the chemistry of macarons, you should definitely use a kitchen scale to measure out your ingredients.  Weights are included in the ingredient list below:

INGREDIENTS:

Macaron Cookie

  • 1 1/4 cups (220g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (125g) almond meal
  • 100g egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (60g) caster sugar
  • 20 drops green food coloring (optional)
  • 30g unsalted blanched pistachios, ground

Pistachio Ganache

  • 40g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted blanched pistachios, ground
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100ml heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20g butter, softened
  • 5 drops black food coloring (optional)

NOTE: You can grind the pistachios in a food processor, but just pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency.  Don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with pistachio “butter”.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. MACARONS: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the pistachios and almond meal then sift in the powdered sugar.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then add one tablespoon of sugar. Continue to whisk then add the remaining sugar while whisking on high speed.  I recommend using a stand mixer, as long as the whisk attachment and bowl are completely clean and dry.

    Stiff Peaks!

    Stiff Peaks!

  4. Carefully stir the almond mixture into the egg white and gently fold with a spatula.  This is where having a partner really came in handy! Add the green food coloring (optional).

    Gently Fold!

    Gently Fold!

  5. Put the mixture into a pastry bag with a round nozzle. Pipe 2″ mounds onto the prepared baking tray ensuring there is about 1.5″ of space between each.

    Quickly Pipe 2" Mounds

    Quickly Pipe 2″ Mounds

  6. Tap the tray on a table or a work surface to remove any air bubbles and set the macarons aside for 30 minutes, which will allow a crust to form on the macarons. Leslie ground some extra pistachios to sprinkle on top of some of the macarons as an embellishment before we let them sit.  Bake in the preheated oven for 14 minutes.

    Panache Before the Ganache

    Panache Before the Ganache

  7. To see if your macarons are ready press lightly on top.  If they are still soft and moving, then they are not cooked through yet.
  8. PISTACHIO GANACHE: Mix the sugar with the pistachios.
  9. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat then add the pistachios and vanilla. Bring to the boil then add the eggs and cook keeping a 185 degrees F, if you have a candy thermometer.  If you don’t, just keep a close eye on it so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
  10. Remove from heat, stir in the softened butter and food coloring then refrigerate.

    Ganache - After

    Ganache – After

  11. ASSEMBLY: Peel the parchment paper off of the cookie (instead of the other way around). Take one macaron and spread the pistachio ganache on the flat part with a butter knife then “twist on” a second macaron on the ganache.  Think of it as the opposite of twisting apart an Oreo.  Repeat until no macarons are left.

    Peel Parchment Off of Cookie

    Peel Parchment Off of Cookie

  12. If you somehow manage not to eat all of them immediately after, you can refrigerate these in an airtight container for up to three days.  Just let them come to room temp again before you indulge.

We were so proud of ourselves for the way these turned out.  Delish!!!

French Macaron 201

27 Dec

I took an intermediate macaron class as a follow-up to the intro class I took Thanksgiving weekend.

In the class, we made three different types of macarons and fillings: pistachio with a lemon curd filling, hazelnut with a chocolate ganache filling and candied crushed hazelnuts, and vanilla with a ispahan buttercream filling (however, the photo below is showing the vanilla with a rose buttercream filling).  My favorite was the ispahan flavored filling, but I actually liked it best with the pistachio cookie.

Pistachio, Hazelnut, and Vanilla Macarons

Pistachio, Hazelnut, and Vanilla Macarons

What is ispahan?

Oh, well you gon’ LEARN today.

It’s one of the signature flavor creations developed by Pierre Hermé, which includes a surprisingly awe-inspiring combination of raspberry, lychee, and a wee touch of rose that blends together to form a delicately complex flavor trifecta that is just plum to die for.  The ispahan is the name for a type of rose, although it doesn’t look the ones you get on Valentine’s Day along with other random sweet nothings.

Pierre Hermé actually came up with the flavor combination when he was young, producing an early version of the Ispahan for Ladurée (which is still sold in their boutiques).

All in all, I think I’m going to try to make the macarons on my own at home in the very near future.  I love macarons far too much not to give it a go.  Just need to focus!

Basic Macarons

29 Nov

I’m a Macaronaholic. Part of why I love these cookies so much is because I respect the fact that it’s really easy to make bad ones.  Different factors come in to play when making these chewy little clouds of heaven – humidity, room temperature, sifting, distribution of heat in your oven, etc. I’ve been too intimidated to make them on my own out of fear of having new content to contribute to my list of crafting/baking disasters.  If only there was some sort of alert to let you know when you’re about to over mix, over (or under) dry, or over bake your macarons…

I braved the Black Friday madness once again, this time to take an Intro to French Macarons class at the mall in Santa Monica with the goal of quelling said fears.  We made a basic vanilla macaron with four different fillings – raspberry buttercream, passion fruit buttercream, coffee buttercream, and a very buttery salted caramel.  The salted caramel was made from scratch, and we made an Italian meringue buttercream, split it three ways, and then added the secondary flavor for the other fillings.  The raspberry filling just had freeze-dried raspberries added to it, and concentrates were added to the buttercream for the passion fruit and coffee fillings. Pretty straightforward.

Basic Vanilla Macaron

The class was really informational and fun, with the exception the one student in my class who also happened to be named Allison. She referred to me throughout the class as “Other Allison”, probably because her macaron cookies came out cracked and in any shape but round. She didn’t like this, and made comments like “Leave it to Other Allison to show the class up.”  However, once the cookie sheets came out of the oven, she “accidentally” took one of mine and started applying the filling to those.  I would have blamed it on a mix-up with the name, but she had written “Allie” on her cookie sheet.  Really?  I was already annoyed with her for being obnoxious, but as I looked at the sad “Allie” misshapen macaron cookies I was left with, I was just about ready to stab her with my offset spatula.  Luckily, as a test of my learnings, I got asked to make a second batch and those turned out great. Suck it, Allie. #notbitter

Basic Vanilla Macaron with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

I’m taking an intermediate class next week to learn how to make different types of macaron fillings (custards, ganaches, etc.), as well as different flavored cookies (rose petal, pistachio, hazelnut, etc.).  Really exciting!  After that, I think I may try them on my own.  Eek!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

21 Jan

A long time fan of ispahan and admirer of French pastries, I had to take advantage of being in Paris a few months ago and try one of Pierre Hermé’s famous ispahan macarons!

Ispahan Macaron

Ispahan Macaron

Here are a couple more fun snaps from our time in Paris.  Italy photos to come soon!  The Palace of Versailles was one of our favorite stops on this trip.

Jardin de Versailles

Jardin de Versailles

We’re standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe below, on the outside of what Kevin and I coined the “Frogger Roundabout”.  A lot of tourists didn’t realize there was a tunnel that led you from where we are standing underneath the roundabout and right under the gorgeous monument.  People were nuts and played frogger, dodging cars to get to the Arc!

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

And of course – Le Tour Eiffel!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Shirley gave me the Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook for Christmas this past year, and feeling inspired from our trip, the first recipe (of many) that caught my eye was of course Pierre Hermé’s lemon cream.  The “Most Exquisite” in the title was enough of a sell to pique my interest! This is way different from lemon curd, though they both use the same ingredients. With lemon curd, you cook everything together til it thickens and then strain it.  With this lemon cream recipe, you cook everything but the butter til it thickens and then whip the butter into it until it’s fluffy.  Even though the only dairy in it is butter, it really does feel more like a cream. Truly remarkable!

Here’s the recipe as adapted from the book.  I recommend reading through the entire recipe first before starting, as paying attention to the details are important for this one.

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor by your side. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

  1. Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.

    Zest and Sugar

    Zest and Sugar

  2. Fit the bowl into the pan (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels slightly warm to the touch. Cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk, you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. The cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. At this point, the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.  [NOTE: I whisked for exactly 10 minutes on the dot before the temp hit 180 degrees.  Also, if you happen to take your eyes off of the cream for just enough time to let the cream get a few traces of scrambled eggs in it, fear not. You’ll strain the cream later anyway.]

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

  3. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

    Strain the Lemon Cream

    Strain the Lemon Cream

  4. Turn the blender to high or turn the processor and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
  5. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. [NOTE: The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 day or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.]

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

  6. When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.  Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

I brought this to a holiday potluck at Leslie and Tri’s so that Shirley and Spencer could try it as well.  In hindsight when I make this again, I’ll definitely make some whipped cream to go with it.  The lemon cream is SO silky and delicate, but very tart.  I think a dollop of whipped cream would have been perfect complement.

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

Thanks again, Shirley!  Looking forward to seeing what other goodies will come from this amazing book!

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

15 May

We’re approaching the halfway mark to Thanksgiving, so why not do a little #TBT (Throw Back Thanksgiving!) post?  Kevin and I hosted this past Thanksgiving for my mom’s side of the family, and in my search for new belt-loosening inspiration, I came across this indulgent recipe for Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese on Brown Eyed Baker.  I’ve always been a sucker for savory dishes with a hint of sweetness, but I also love naughty dishes that pretend to be healthy by adding a vegetable.  Ladies and gents, don’t make this if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to mac and cheese.  It’s mac and cheese. It’s not supposed to be good for you. That being said, this recipe is DELICIOUS and just as decadent as any good mac and cheese recipe.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Here is the recipe as adapted from Brown Eyed Baker:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 slices thick-cut peppered bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/2 butternut squash, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 C whole milk
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
  • 16 ounces cavatappi pasta (or shaped pasta of your choice)
  • 1 C breadcrumbs (I like panko)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover.
  2. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other heavy, stainless skillet), fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

    BACONNN!!

    BACONNN!!

  3. Adjust the heat to medium-low and add the butternut squash and onion to the bacon grease. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are browned and cooked through. Once cooked, use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up the mixture (it doesn’t have to be completely smooth – leave some chunks in for texture).

    Butternut Squash, Onions Cooking in Bacon Grease

    Butternut Squash, Onions Cooking in Bacon Grease

  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente pasta (if your box doesn’t specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for – it shouldn’t be cooked the whole way through). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.
  6. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, stir in 6 ounces each of the Gruyere and cheddar cheeses, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.

    Cheese Sauce

    Cheese Sauce

  7. Add the cooked, drained pasta, bacon and butternut squash mixture to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  8. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs.
  9. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese.

    Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs and Remaining Cheese

    Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs and Remaining Cheese

  10. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This is definitely one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes, even better than Alton Brown’s.

2015 Thanksgiving Spread

2015 Thanksgiving Spread

Here was the menu line-up with links to recipes where applicable:

APPS:

  • Crudité and Trader Joe’s hummus
  • Truffle mushroom crostini (I guessed at this, and it turned out well but I’ll have to try and retrace my steps in order to post a recipe for that later)
  • My Favorite Simple Kale Salad

MAINS/SIDES

  • Ham from Bristol Farms (courtesy of my mom)
  • Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing – this time using half sweet Italian and half spicy Italian chicken sausage instead of the chicken apple.  I actually think I like it better that way!
  • Brussels Sprouts and Bacon (tripled that recipe, without the kimchee).
  • This butternut squash and bacon mac and cheese
  • Zucchini casserole (courtesy of my aunt)
  • Mashed potatoes (courtesy of Kevin)

DESSERTS

Enjoy!