Homemade Milano Cookies

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My daughter-in-love loves Milano cookies.  This year for her birthday I thought I would make some for her birthday.  These cookies were inspired by Tessa Arias @handletheheat.  The recipe is easy and the cookies are so good!! Thanks Tessa!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter (113 grams)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (133 grams)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1 large room temperature egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (159 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (113 grams)

Instructions:

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl for 2 minutes.  Scrape bowl and paddle as needed.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add flour and salt and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.

Place batter in pipping bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip.  Pipe 2 1/2″ lines at least 3/4″ apart on prepared baking sheet (line with parchment paper or silicone pad).  I piped 3 rows with 8 lines on each row.

Place piped batter in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C) while the dough is chilling.  After dough has chilled, place in preheated oven and bake for 16 minutes (turn 1/2 way through baking to ensure even baking).  Edges will be golden in color.

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Remove cookies from oven and place on cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling,  place chocolate chips in microwavable bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and continue until chocolate is melted.  Cool slightly and then spread the chocolate on a cookie and then sandwich with another.

This recipe makes 12 cookies.

I placed 2 cookies in a birthday themed cupcake liner.  I put them in a container and tied it up with red ribbon.

It’s Melissa’s 40th birthday today and times are a bit crazy right now, but I think she liked having some homemade Milano cookies.

Happy Birthday Missy…I love you so much!!!

 

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) room temprature
  • 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.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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I think the invention of peanut butter and chocolate together is genius, and these chocolate peanut butter calls are a prime example of this!

As I was putting my Christmas cookie list together (by the way, this is NO easy task), I found this recipe. I usually make my go to peanut butter cookie recipe with a chocolate kiss placed on the top after it comes out of the oven.   Being a favorite with my family, they have always made the list.

The addition of mini M&M’s is the “icing on the cake”, so to speak. I added 1 cup of peanut butter, as opposed to the ¾ cup called for in the recipe.  After I added the confectioners’ sugar it seemed like it needed more, and the extra ¼ seemed to do the trick.

I used my 1 tablespoon scoop for the dough and it made 30 cookies. I dipped the balls in Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate and drizzled with extra chocolate after they set.  I placed mine in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill.

I served these at my son’s “100 days of storms” reveal party at his art gallery. If you get a chance, go to his Instagram page @davidmacomber_dotcom and check out his artwork.  I’m a very proud Mom, I know, but his work is amazing and you are in for treat!

My daughter-in-love said they are her new favorite cookie. You have to love compliments like that…I know I do!

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Ingredients:

  •  ½ cup unsalted butter (115 grams) room temperature
  • 1 cup * creamy peanut butter (185 grams)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (360 grams)
  • ½ cup mini M&M’s (100 grams)
  • 16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate)

Directions:

Beat the butter on medium speed in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy (about two minutes).

Add the peanut butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until everything is combined and creamy.  With your mixer on low speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until combined.  It will be a little crumbly,

but will come together when you add the M&M’s. Work the dough with your hands.  As you mix them in and the dough will become soft and easier to work with.

Scoop into one inch round balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. While the balls are chilling chop the chocolate and place in a double boiler until the chocolate has melted, and smooth and creamy.

After the peanut butter balls are chilled, dip them in the chocolate one at a time. Tap off the excess chocolate and place on the parchment lined sheet pans.  Put the extra chocolate in a squeeze bottle and work the bottle back and forth over the dipped chocolate balls, making a design on the top (shown in the above pictures).

You really need to make these, and I think they will be your new favorite too (or at least on the top five of your list)!!

These cookies were inspired by Sally McKenney’s Peanut Butter M&M’s truffles. Check out her Instagram page @Sallysbakeblog (you’ll be glad you did!)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

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Have you ever been on a date and the other person orders dessert and when it comes, you think to yourself, “Oh man, I wish I would have ordered that!”.  And then they say, “Would you like to taste it?”.   You taste it, and well, you know what I’m talking about.  Well, it happened to me, and it was an amazing flourless cake!  When I found a recipe that only had three ingredients I knew I had to make it.  It has to be one of the easiest (and most delicious) desserts I have ever made!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chocolate (I used Guiradelli 60 percent bittersweet baking chocolate)
  • 8 large (cold) eggs
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into 16 pieces)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease the inside of an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan. Line bottom with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper. Cover the outside of the spring form pan with aluminum foil.  Place covered pan in a slightly larger pan. Fill outer pan with one cup of boiling water right before the cake is ready to be placed in the oven.

Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave just until melted. Set aside to cool while you whip the eggs.

In a large bowl, using a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on high speed for about 5-7 minutes (or until double in volume).  Gently (and I do mean GENTLY!) fold  the whipped eggs into the melted chocolate and butter mixture.  Start with 1/3 of the whipped eggs.  Fold until incorporated.  Continue two more times in 1/3 increments until the egg mixture and chocolate are fully incorporated.  Be very gentle with this process.  You do not want to knock all the air out of the eggs.

Pour this mixture into the prepared pan.  Place in the preheated oven.  Be careful not to get burned by the boiling water!

Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes. There will be a thin crust on top when finished. Carefully remove cake from oven (again, being careful not to get burned by the water). Completely cool in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Remove spring form from pan before serving.  Remove the parchment paper and place on serving platter.  Dust with confectioners sugar and berries if desired.  I also served mine with a small scoop of my homemade ice cream…Yum!!!! You need to make this cake SOON!  Enjoy! xoxo

This recipe is inspired by Ali @gimmesomeoven.  Thanks Ali!!

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Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

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In honor of National Chocolate Day (yes, it’s a real day), I made a chocolate Pavlova,  topped with a thin layer of delicious chocolate, whipped cream and fresh raspberries. This pavlova is so light and airy with all “feels” of a decadent dessert. There are a few easy components, that when put together, have an out of this world taste!

As a food blogger, I love all the “special” days that are food related. There are certain things that I am particularly fond of and chocolate is at the very top of that list!  I wanted to make something a little different for you today.  Pavlova always sounded so intimidating to me, but I can assure you it is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made.  Most of the time making a pavlova is in the baking and cooling.  It needs to be baked on a low temperature for an hour, left in the oven for another 30 minutes with the oven off, and then cooled for 45 minutes after it’s removed from the oven.

I can guarantee you are going to love this yummy dessert. You can top it with any fruit and then drizzle a sauce of your choice (chocolate, caramel, salted caramel, etc.).

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (25 grams)
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 4 0z. good semisweet chopped chocolate (113 grams)
  • 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream (237 ml)
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (25 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Fresh raspberries (for topping)
  • Salted caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line cookie sheet with nonstick parchment paper.  Using an edible marker, make a 9” circle.  I traced a 9” pan.  If your parchment paper isn’t nonstick, grease your paper with butter or shortening and dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Sift cocoa and cornstarch and set aside. Wipe the mixing bowl and whisk beater with lemon juice or vinegar to make sure it is free of any oils.  This helps the egg whites to form stiff peaks.  Mix egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed for 1 minute.  Continue whipping the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar.  Gradually add the sifted cocoa and corn starch.  Once cocoa mixture is incorporated, turn mixer on high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form.

Spread the meringue mixture on the parchment paper in the circle. Make an indent in the middle (leaving about a 2” border).  Bake for about an hour until the meringue feels dry to the touch.  Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside for about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow cooling on the baking sheet (about 45 minutes).

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly and then spread in the center of the meringue.  Whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean paste.  Spoon in the center of the meringue on top of cooled chocolate.  Top with the fruit of your choice.  I like to sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top.   Serve right away or refrigerate for a few hours.  This is such a treat!  I’m sure this will be a hit at any event!!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

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Birthday cakes are a big deal in my house. My children and grandchildren know that I like to start the cake planning process long before the birthday gets  here.  Whether it’s making a sculpted lizard or Elmo, or a fancy cake topper that’s been molded “just so” by watching hours of you tube videos,  the cake flavor is the real star of the show.  A cake not only has to look good, but it needs to taste good too!

I am a lover of ALL things chocolate and this chocolate cake recipe has been my go to chocolate recipe for a really long time. Sometimes I like to add a cup of chocolate chips to the recipe to give it that extra punch of chocolate…oh my!!  So when my son-in-love (not a typo! I don’t like the term “in-law”) asked for a chocolate chip cake for his birthday, this is the cake I made for him.

You have to trust me. This is THE best chocolate cake you will ever eat!  When my daughter’s friend asked me to make her wedding cake years ago, and then proceeded to tell me she wanted vanilla and chocolate layered cake, this is the recipe I used.  Boy, am I glad I did.  I was approached at the reception by the bride’s grandmother who was going on and on about the cake.  She said it was the best cake she ever ate and asked me if I would share my recipe with her.  What an honor!!  I did share my recipe with her and I am going to share it with you too!

This recipe will make two 9″ cakes.

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 Cups (226 grams) cake flour
  • 2/3 Cup (65 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ Sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter-room temperature
  • 1 ½ Cups (297 grams) packed brown sugar
  • ½ Cup (104 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs –room temperature
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ Cups (300 ml) buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to measuring cup and fill with whole milk until you have 1 ¼ cups-let it set for 5 minutes)

Mousse ingredients:

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) cream cheese-room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup (125 grams) confectioners sugar-sifted
  • 1 cup (240 ml)chilled heavy cream
  • 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups (480 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups
  • (510 grams) semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract

*Five peanut butter cups for topping (optional)

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2- 9” cake pans with non stick spray and line with parchment paper.  This keeps the cakes from sticking to the pans.               

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or by using the double boiler method. Put aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together (*stir in cup of chocolate chips) and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars on a medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Mix in the eggs one at a time (mixing until each egg is blended into the batter).  Add the vanilla and beat for about a minute.  Mix in the melted (and cooled) chocolate.   Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients)  until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.  DO NOT OVERMIX!!

Evenly divide the batter into your cake pans and bake for 35 minutes (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean). Allow cakes to cool in pans then release them onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

While the cake is baking make the peanut butter mousse. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and vanilla on a medium speed until blended and smooth.  On a low speed,  incorporate the confectioners sugar and set aside.  In a large clean bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture (adding 1/3 at a time) until the mixture is smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

While the cakes are cooling let’s get started on the yummy ganache frosting!

Heat the heavy cream and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the cream is hot (tiny bubbles will begin to form). Just before mixture begins to boil, remove it from heat and pour over the chocolate chips.  Allow mixture to sit for about five minutes. This gives the chocolate a chance to melt.  After five minutes have passed, whisk the ganache until  all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  At this point the smell of deliciousness may be overwhelming and you may want to dive right into the bowl but don’t…I know you can wait until this luscious bit of ganache is crowning the top of your masterpiece!!  You will thank me for waiting!

To assemble the cake I begin by torting (fancy word for cutting my two layers in half and making four layers). I just like throwing it around to impress my non baking friends.  Like street cred for bakers😆.

I only used three of the layers in my cake because I wanted more mousse between my layers.  You can freeze the extra layer for making cake pops in the future or you can nibble on it while you’re working in the kitchen (that’s what I like to do).  That was always one of my children’s favorite part of me baking…eating the cake scraps!

Start with your bottom layer of cake on a cake board that’s the same size as the cake. Put ½ of the mousse on the cake and spread, leaving about ½ around the edge of cake.  This is so the mousse doesn’t ooze out of cake.  Repeat with the next layer of cake and put third layer on top.  Frost the top of your cake first and then the sides with your ganache.  It should be at a nice spreadable consistency.   I chopped up five peanut butter cups and sprinkled them around the top.  *This is just an option, but trust me, it’s a very good option!!

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family does!

*Coating the chocolate chips with the dry ingredients keeps them from sinking to the bottom when baked.