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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!!!

D*ck Cookies (Brownie Roll-Out Cookies and Basic Sugar Cookies)

20 Aug

Yes ladies and gentlemen. You read that right. D*ck cookies. I tried to think of a less crude, less NSFW, cuter name to call them.  But there’s no getting around it.  I made d*ck cookies. And I made them twice.  You now can freely lower your expectations for the content on this blog.  As cutesy and wholesome as my last post was, this next one is not going to be pretty.

One of the societal rites of passage for men is the coveted bachelor party.  It’s the infamous night (or even a weekend) whereby guys, scared shitless by the prospect of dedicating the rest of their life to a girl (a girl that they picked in most cases), give themselves free reign to consume near-fatal amounts of tequila and will actually pay money for a nude stranger to give them a boner in the presence of their closest guy friends.  For women, the bachelorette party often constitutes much of the same in the way of drinking, but activities with a nude stranger are often replaced by lots of giggling at fake penises (penii? …no, I’m pretty sure it’s penises).

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the obsession with penis decorations at bachelorette parties, but I’ve been coerced into making d*ck cookies two summers in a row for such events.  Shirley purchased d*ck cookie cutters last summer for Leslie’s bachelorette, which I used to make chocolate brownie cookies using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Refridgerated Dough and... Cookie Cutters

Refrigerated Dough and… Cookie Cutters

They actually turned out to be quite delicious.  While I would like to think I’m not so superficial as to think less of a dessert just because it looks like a big chocolate… you know, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat as many cookies as I wanted to.

Brownie Roll-Out Cookies Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C lightly salted butter, softened (I used one stick salted, one stick unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
  3. Roll out cookie dough on a floured surface. Cut into desired shapes, brushing the extra flour off the top (it disappears once baked).

    Yup. This Happened.

    Yup. This Happened.

  4. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffy.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Hearts make it all less naughty, right?

Hearts make it all less naughty, right?

Knowing how enthusiastic Shirley was about all the penis decor at Leslie’s bachelorette, I broke out the d*ck cutters again. This timing using Martha Stewart’s Basic Sugar Cookie recipe and adding some red food coloring to make them pink.  The bridesmaids unanimously voted that more of a “fleshy” color would be appropriate.

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cgranulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional food coloring (I used 4-5 drops of red food coloring to get this shade of pink)

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.

    And it happened again...

    And it happened again…

  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Re-roll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks.
For Shame...

For Shame…

Since these were standard sugar cookies, I rolled them out at 1/8″ (per the recipe).  However, seeing as how those little peckers bubbled up a little bit (probably due to re-kneading after the first cut), I would probably roll them out somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ next time and really knead them more.  I didn’t have that problem with the brownie roll out cookies – probably due to the less delicate texture of those.

Shower Favors – Potato Chip Cookies

16 Aug

Shirley wanted a sweet-and-salty dessert for her bridal shower favors last month, so I made a couple batches of the Potato Chip Cookies that I had brought to her Super Bowl party back in February.  I made all the cookies the night before, and dipped them so the chocolate and crushed potato chips would have time to set overnight.

Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

I got the kraft boxes and pink bakers twine from good ol’ Paper Mart, and lined each box with parchment paper so that no grease stains would show through the box.

Shower Favors - Potato Chip Cookies

Shower Favors – Potato Chip Cookies

Joanne created really cute tags for the boxes, and I assembled everything the morning of.

Ready for the Shower!

Ready for the Shower!

Happy Shower, Shirley!

Happy Shower, Shirley!

Happy Shower, Shirley!

Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

31 Mar

I’m several months backlogged on posts (literally still trying to catch up on Christmas baking), but here’s a little something from February…

I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve made them before, but they’re always too sweet for my taste, and they tend to be redundant after a while.  Feeling intrigued by the “Ad Hoc at Home” Chocolate Chip Cookies I made last December in Seattle which used two kinds of dark chocolate, I decided to give it a go again with my own taste buds in mind.

I like cookies the same way I like brownies – slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.  I found a recipe for Martha Stewart’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies”, and decided to give it a whirl for Valentine’s Day.  I added a wee bit more salt than what Martha’s recipe called for, and also added a cup of pecans which complimented the chocolate and cookie dough nicely.  I also used two different levels of dark chocolate, rather than the combo of milk and dark that Martha recommended.

Here’s my take on Martha’s recipe:

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (53% dark)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (65% dark or higher)
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1.  In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in dry mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookie Dough

Cookie Dough

3.  Drop dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in 2 rounded tablespoons, leaving 2 inches around each cookie (trust me – they will spread). Refrigerate 1 hour – this is necessary for the chewy outcome of the cookies!

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Martha Stewart's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

This is definitely my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I love the crispy outside and chewy center, with the rich dark chocolate chips.  It’s definitely not too sweet, but not bitter at all since it still uses relatively low levels of dark chocolate.

MS Cake Stand Showcasing My MS Choc Chip Cookies!

Thank you again, Melo, for my cake stand!

 

Martha Stewart Cookie Boxes – 2012

25 Feb

Oops.

The packaging for the tea-themed cookies I made for last year’s Holiday Bake-A-Thon totally slipped my mind.

I picked a new design for my holiday cookie boxes, which the Earl Grey Tea Shortbread, Chai Spiced Snickerdoodle, Glazed Lemon Cookies, and Chocolate-Mint (Nightmare Before Christmas) Pinwheel Cookies were boxed in.

Only the Earl Grey Shortbread cookies had actual tea leaves in them.  The rest of the cookies were just flavor-inspired, and I paired them with Stash brand tea bags in Peppermint Herbal Tea, Chai Spiced Black Tea, Earl Grey Black Tea, and Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea.

What's Inside

What’s Inside

While this box was far more festive than last year’s cookie boxes, I think last year’s were more my style.

All Wrapped Up!

All Wrapped Up!

However, I think for the individual packages, this year’s tagline is about on par with last year’s cheesiness.

Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!

Brew Up Some Fun, and Have a Tea-riffic Holiday!

One more post, and then I’m DONE with the Holiday Bake-A-Thon from 2012!