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!!

Frankly, Wishing You a Happy Halloween!

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This year for Halloween I wanted to make something cute and delicious for my students.  When I saw this project, I immediately adapted it to make some for my own class.   It’s essentially the classic rice krispies recipe but you add green food coloring into the marshmallow mixture before adding the rice krispies!  =)  Depending on what size you’d like your squares to be, there are different sizes of clear gift bags that can be found at Walmart, Dollar Stores, and Michaels.  Wishing you a safe and Happy Halloween!!

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Do you have a Halloween inspired recipe to share?

Truffled Mac and Cheese

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One of my many favourite comfort foods that I crave as the weather gets colder – mac and cheese.  But not just any mac and cheese, TRUFFLED macaroni and cheese is the way my palate likes it.  I love anything homemade so it made total sense that my mac and cheese would be as well.  It’s a relatively simple recipe that I followed from Williams-Sonoma’s collection of recipes.  The only muscle work involved really is the cheese grating (which I don’t really mind when the aroma of truffle is in the air!)  Bon Appetite!

Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter for baking dish, plus 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp. truffle oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh chives

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm, drizzle with the truffle oil and stir well.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and melt the 4 Tbs. butter. Add the flour, paprika and mustard and cook, stirring well, until no visible flour remains, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking frequently to smooth out any lumps, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add a pinch of pepper and 1 cup each of the Gruyère and cheddar. Stir until smooth.

Pour the cheese sauce onto the macaroni, add the chives and stir well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

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