Chocolate Macarons

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I’ve been a macaron enthusiast for quite a long time as evident in my Instagram pictures.  I still remember the first time I tried them.  My friend had just come back from Paris and brought back a beautiful box of Laduree macarons for me. They were so good I think I wolfed them down within seconds!  The year after, I went to Paris with my husband and we indulged ourselves with macarons everywhere!  Laduree was delicious but we also discovered Pierre Herme’s macarons and it became our top favourite!  The flavours were so unique and the packaging was so gorgeous.  I must’ve had over 30 macarons in a week and a half in Paris that summer.  When I came back from Paris, my friend and I were determined to make these little bites of heaven.  I signed us up for a macaron baking class and we made our first batch together.  Here are a few pictures and the recipe that we followed.  It turned out really well for us.  I hope it does for you too!  Nothing is more frustrating than baking macarons that don’t turn out.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

Recipe:  Chocolate Macarons (adapted from here)

INGREDIENTS

For the macarons:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the ganache filling:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes
INSTRUCTIONS

For the macarons:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside.
  2. Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 30 seconds. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in four batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.)With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.)
  5. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to help create the macaron base, or foot. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking.
  6. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

For the ganache filling (mmm…my favourite part):

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
  2. Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Pair macarons of similar size. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. If you choose to pipe the ganache, transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and snip about a 1/2 inch off a bottom corner. Squeeze or scoop the ganache to about the size of a cherry (about 1 teaspoon) onto the center of a macaron half.Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger. The filling should not ooze out the edges. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.  Enjoy!!
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Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  My students were definitely on a sugar high by the end of the day…but aren’t we all on Valentine’s day?  It’s the day where roses are ubiquitous, food become heart-shaped and chocolate calories are non-existent.  Sounds pretty good to me!  My hubby and I actually like to spend Valentine’s day with our family, especially those who may not have someone special to spend it with.  We take them out to a nice dinner and really, just have a great time.  After all, isn’t my hubby supposed to love me everyday of the year, not just Valentine’s day?  Hence, we started this tradition a while back and continue to do so today.  What are your plans on Valentine’s day?  P.S. A bottle of champs and a deep dish pizza sounds just as good to me as a fancy schmancy dinner out. 😉

Mini Lemon Tea Cakes

DSC02129I’m a huge fan of anything lemony (is that a word?)  so when I came across this citrus delight while looking for a new recipe to add to my high tea mini delectables, I knew I had to try it out.  Here is the original recipe from the infamous Martha Stewart.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for muffin tin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated, plus juice, plus 2 tablespoons more lemon juice for the glaze
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two mini muffin tins. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, and zest and juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.

  2. STEP 2

    With an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk mixture.

  3. STEP 3

    Divide evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in tin, then cool completely on a rack.

  4. STEP 4

    Set rack over wax or parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. Pour over cakes, spreading to edges with a small knife. Let set 30 minutes.

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