Brownie Macarons

 

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Happy Macaron Monday!! That’s a thing, right? Well, if it’s isn’t, it should be! All of my chocolate loving friends know what I’m talking about.  Now, let’s talk about these amazingly delicious brownie macarons!!  YUM!!

I’ve made chocolate macarons before, but these macarons are, well, the best!! I baked these on a silicon mat, and I think it really makes a difference in the chewy texture.  I tweaked my original recipe, by switching out the cocoa for some of the confectioners’ sugar, and I increased the amount of granulated sugar from ¼ cup to 1/3 cup.   I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the outcome.

As  I was folding the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and cocoa mixture into the meringue, it felt a bit thicker than usual, but I continued until it was completely combined and the consistency seemed right.  Folding until the mixture falls from the spatula into a figure eight works for me every time.  Be careful not to over mix the batter, as this will result in a hollow macaron or possibly even a cracked macaron with no feet!  Let’s face it, nobody wants that (insert winky face here)!

As I mentioned in my last post about macarons, I was struggling with my piping skills. Some were too big, some too small, and some (what I thought) just right.  I purchased silicon mats with premade circles on them.  Yes!! These things were a deal changer!

I let them dry for almost an hour. I was able to gently run my finger across the top without it being wet or tacky.  I only bake one sheet at a time on a rack placed in middle of the oven.  I don’t turn my pans in the baking process.  Bake the macarons for 17 minutes.  I suggest that you place an oven thermometer in your oven to make sure the temperature isn’t off.  If you don’t have one, they can be purchased for under $10.00.  Trust me, it will be money well spent.  A whole batch of macarons can be ruined if your oven temp is off!

Remove the macarons after they have baked for 17 minutes.  You can add a couple of minutes to the time if they don’t look like they are done.  You don’t want to underbake your macarons.  The texture will be off and they will stick to the baking surface!

As these macarons cool, the tops get a slight “crust” making them look like a brownie.  This isn’t the norm for macarons, but don’t panic (I did the first time I made these), this is the way they are supposed to look.  They almost look underbaked, but they are not. Let them cool completely on the baking sheets. They should pop off the baking surface at this time.

Match your macarons so their top and bottom match.  I don’t know why, but this is one of my favorite parts (go figure).

Now you get to fill them with your favorite filling (jams, curds, buttercreams, ganache). The sky’s the limit!! I filled these with a simple 3 ingredient chocolate ganache. I highly recommend this as the filling for these macarons!! It really adds to the brownie flavor. I dusted these with a little cocoa powder to give even more chocolate flavor.  Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as too much chocolate!

I hope you make these, and I hope my pictures and tutorials are helpful! Let me know if you do and post pictures and tag my Instagram page @goodeatsbymimi .

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites (100 grams)
  • 1/3 cup extra fine granulated sugar (66 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure chocolate extract (use pure vanilla if you don’t have chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (171 grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (25 grams) plus extra for dusting on top of macaron
  • 1 cup almond flour (98 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt

Instructions:

Wipe down mixing bowl, whisk beater, and baking mats with lemon juice or white vinegar. This removes any  residue that will cause the meringue to not properly mix. Set aside until you are ready to pipe your macarons.

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees  (use thermometer to make sure your oven isn’t running too hot or cool).

Place the confectioners’ sugar, baking cocoa and almond flour in a bowl.  Sift these four times. I use two bowls for this process, sifting back and forth between the two bowls. This is a very important step. It not only incorporates the ingredients, it also gets out any lumps, making for a very smooth macaron.

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Place egg whites and cream of tartar (use a pinch of salt if you don’t have cream of tartar…this helps to stabilize the meringue) in a large mixing bowl.

Using a whisk attachment, start beating the egg whites on medium speed until light and frothy.  Add the extra fine sugar a little at a time, allowing the sugar to slowly incorporate into the egg whites.  Begin mixing on medium/high until peaks begin to form being careful not to overbeat.  You want the meringue to be stiff enough to withstand turning the bowl upside down without falling out (check out my picture).

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Fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture in thirds.  Gently folding after each addition, making sure not to over mix.  Mix just until the batter falls off the spatula and you can smoothly form a figure 8.

Place batter in a large piping bag with a medium circle tip (I use a Wilton tip #12).  Pipe 1 1/2 inch circles (3/4 inches apart).

Drop baking sheet on the counter (4-5 times).  This knocks the air bubbles out of the macarons.  Use a toothpick to pop any remaining bubbles.

Dry the macarons for at least 30 minutes (this depends on the humidity in your area). This gives it a thin shell. You should be able to gently run your finger across the top without it leaving a mark.

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Bake for 17 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Match tops and bottoms.  Fill with delicious chocolate ganache (see recipe below).  Pipe a small dollop in the middle of the bottom macaron and top with matching macaron. Dust tops with cocoa powder.  This is optional, but it really enhances the flavor!  Refrigerate overnight (of course I never wait that long to taste one).  Enjoy!!

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Ganache Recipe:

8 oz. (227 grams) semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Instructions:

Heat heavy cream on stove until just before boiling.  Pour over chocolate and let it sit for about three minutes.

Whisk together until ganache comes together and becomes smooth.  Cool to piping consistency.

 

 

 

 

Macarons

 

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A few years ago I tried my hand at Macarons for the first time. I watched tutorials and YouTube videos.  Quite frankly,  I was scared me to attempt these tricky cookies, but I was also very determined.  I had never even eaten a macaron up until this point,  but  I was hosting a baby “sprinkle” for my daughter and I wanted these persnickety little gems gracing the dessert table that day.

Every single video and tutorial was telling me that these cookies do NOT like humidity. Well, I live in South Jersey (like, as far South as you can go before landing in the water!), and we have a ton of humidity around here in the summer.  Did I forget to mention the sprinkle was in June?!!  Well, that wasn’t going stop me.  Macarons can be made ahead of time. They keep really well in the freezer.  I freeze mine unfilled in airtight containers.  I remove them from the freezer the day before I plan to serve them.  Let them come to room temperature before filling them. After  filling them, place them in the refrigerator overnight so they can mature (or bloom).   This allows the flavors to develop, and if you overcook your macarons, it softens them right up!

I would like to share some tips that have helped me make uniform, delicious macaroons. They are a tricky cookie to make, but once you get the hang of making them, you will be happy that you have them in your cookie arsenal.  I love making them for friends as presents or just letting them show up on a special dessert table every now and then.

  1. You don’t need to “age” your egg whites. Just use egg whites that are at room temperature. You can help this process by putting eggs right from the refrigerator in warm water for about 15 minutes.
  2. I use cream of tartar in my egg whites to stabilize them.   This will make your meringue results consistent every time. You don’t want to overbeat your egg whites. You want a stiff meringue, but not too dry. This can result in your meringue deflating, causing a hollow shell.
  3. Using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients will help with consistency in your baking also. If you don’t have one I highly recommend you invest in one PRONTO!!
  4. Sift the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt 4-5 times. This makes for a really smooth macaron. Please don’t skip this step…you’ll thank me laterJ.
  5. Don’t over mix your batter. Stop mixing once it reaches the ribbon stage and you can make a figure eight while lifting your batter with a spatula (refer to video).  The batter should be slow flowing and thick. Over mixing will cause cracks on the top, spreading, and no feet. It’s better to under mix than to over mix your batter.
  6. You need to allow your macarons to dry. I allow mine to dry for 30-60 minutes. The longer, the better. You will know it is dry once you can run your finger across the top of your cookie, and if the skin is dry, your macarons are ready. This step is VERY important and neglecting to do so will result in cracked macarons. The top needs to form a skin. If the skin isn’t thick enough, the air from the meringue will expand in the oven causing cracks to form on top, instead of forming feet.
  7. Everybody’s oven is different, but I like to bake my macarons in a 300 degree oven for 17-19 minutes. It is better to over bake than under bake your macarons. If they are under baked, the feet will stick to the parchment paper (or silicone pad) and the shell will peel away from the feet. If they are over baked they will be hard and crunchy, but they will become soft once you fill them and refrigerate (mature) them for 24 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (198 grams)
  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour (96 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( or flavoring of choice)
  • gel food coloring

Buttercream Filling

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (226 grams)
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar  (340 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk (46 grams)

Instructions:

Line baking pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.  Wipe bowl down you will be mixing egg whites in with lemon juice so they are totally grease free (this helps the egg whites to whip properly).

Put the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour and salt in a bowl.  Sift 4-5 times to make sure this mixture is lump free.  This is going to make for a smooth macaron.  Trust me, you do not want to skip this step! It really makes for a bit of “Wow” factor.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl that you wiped down with lemon juice. Mix until soft peaks form and then gradually add  the granulated sugar until it is completely incorporated and you have stiff (but not dry).  You know you have achieved this if you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue does not fall out.  Add your flavoring and food coloring and mix until incorporated.

Gently fold the confectioners’ sugar/almond flour mixture into the meringue mixture 1/3 at a time.  Continue to fold until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make the figure 8 (see video).

Place the batter in a decorating bag with a large circle tip and pipe 1 1/2 inch circles on the prepared baking pans.  The macarons should be at least 3/4″ apart.  “Drop” the baking sheets on a hard, flat surface at least five times to remove any air bubbles.  I pop any visible air bubbles with a toothpick.

At this point the macarons need to dry for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.  This will allow a good skin to form on top. While they are drying, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Bake for 17-19 minutes.  You should have good feet and the macarons should be dry.  Remove the macarons and allow them completely cool on the baking sheets.  The macarons will release easily at this point.

Make buttercream filling by placing the butter in a mixing bowl and beating until light and fluffy (about two minutes).  Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and milk and beat until fully incorporated.  Place in piping bag and add a medium size dollop in the center of one of the macarons and top with another macaron to make a “sandwich”.  Repeat with the remaining shells.

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Place your macarons in an airtight container.  If you can wait (that’s a big “IF”), allow your macarons to set for 24 hours so they can bloom.  This will not be an easy task, but trust me, it makes a difference.

These little gems make a great gift or special dessert.  They are going to go fast!!  Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Cranberry Orange Biscotti

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Recently, as I was looking through some old cookie recipes, I came across this biscotti recipe. A co-worker (and friend) gave me this recipe 15 years ago.  This was an old family recipe, and I was very excited and priviledged that she was sharing it with me…Thanks Ann!

If you haven’t already guessed, her family is from Italy.  I have a niece that lives in Italy too!  She is an amazing cook and baker!!! I am hoping to visit her in Italy in the near future.

Now, back to these delicious cookies (or are they biscuits? Hmmm). The definition of biscotti is “twice baked” cookies that originated in Italy, and are not as sweet as traditional cookies.  They are dry and crunchy (not your typical description for a cookie), but they are made to be dunked.

Since they are very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink for dunking. In Italy, they are typically served as an after-dinner dessert with a Tuscan fortified wine called Vin Santo.

Outside of Italy, they are more frequently eaten with coffee, (including cappuccinos and lattes), or tea.

I love the taste that the orange zest gives to these cookies. Combined with the dried cranberries and white chocolate, the taste is out of this world!! Do yourself a favor and make these gems.  Don’t wait 15 years like I did….oh my!  These cookies are back on the top of my list and should be on the top of yours too!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I use Bertolli extra light tasting)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 eggs-room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (120 grams)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of one medium orange (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad.
  • Zest one medium sized orange and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the olive oil and sugar until well combined (one minute). Scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Add the extracts and the eggs and beat to combine.
  • In smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the egg mixture until combined. Fold in the cranberries, nuts, chips and orange zest. Dough will be a little sticky. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into 3 logs (approximately 6 x 2 inches). Place the logs on the lined cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until logs are light brown.
  • Remove the logs from the oven, and set aside to cool for approximately 10-15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 275 degrees.
  • Cut the logs into 1/2- 3/4 inch slices.  Lay slices cut side up on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Move cookies to a wire rack to cool and dry completely before serving.  Makes 20-24 cookies Enjoy!!!

 

If desired, cookies can be drizzled with white chocolate. They can be stored in an airtight container or they can be frozen and brought to room temperature to eat.