For those in the US, enjoy the festivities!
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I cannot say I’ve been in macaron withdrawal syndrome, because I’ve been baking them quite regularly. But the blog has not featured a mac post in a while, so here I am to fix the problem with a batch of my obsession in almond form. Let’s suppose you love coffee, and maybe tiramisu is one of your favorite desserts. It’s settled then, you need these in your life. However, if you’re afraid of baking such temperamental creatures, please consider at least making the roasted coffee butter. Please. You can thank Philip later. He came up not only with the filling but the whole design of these lovely cookies.
(from Baking Fanatic)
for the shells:
125g ground almonds
125g icing sugar
100g granulated, superfine sugar
100g egg whites at room temperature
about 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
for the filling:
60g mascarpone cheese
70g roasted coffee butter, softened (or use unsalted butter with coffee extract to taste)
50g icing sugar
2 tablespoons Marsala wine (optional)
for the roasted coffee butter:
250g unsalted butter
50g roasted coffee beans, ground to a coarse texture
Make the shells: Put the confectioner sugar, almonds and instant coffee into a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds until perfectly uniform. Sift into a large bowl. If only a few large bits remain in the sieve you can discard them, or you can add them back to the processor and grind them again.
In a clean, dry bowl whisk the egg whites and the superfine sugar until you get a thick, glossy meringue. With an electric hand whisk this usually takes about 3 minutes. The meringue should have soft peaks so when you lift the whisk out of it, the peaks just holds their shape. Avoid stiff peaks or you’ll get hollow shells later.
Add the meringue to the dry almond/icing sugar mixture. Stir together gently, patting down the meringue into the dry mixture against the side of the bowl as you go, stopping as soon as most of dry mixture is no longer visible. The mixture will feel a little stiff at this point. Continue to fold and pat the mixture together gently until the mixture starts to loosen up. This macaronage stage is a critical part of the process and you don’t want to over-loosen the mixture so that it feels too runny and at all liquid. To test it is ready, lift up the spatula and let some of the mixture on the spatula drops back into the bowl, leaving a trail or ribbon on the surface. This trail should gently merge back into the mixture, disappearing within about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a piping back fitted with a round tip maximum 1/2 inch in diameter.
Pipe macarons onto Silpat or parchment paper, aiming at similar sizes. Lift each baking sheet a few inches off the work surface and drop this flat onto the work surface several times, keeping the tin as flat as possible as you drop it. Leave the macarons to rest at room temperature for about an hour or so, until a very thin skin forms on the surface and the surface does not stick to your finger. During this time preheat the oven to 300 F.
Bake the macarons for about 12-14 minutes, depending on the size, turning the trays around after 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes on the trays before carefully lifting them to a rack for matching and filling when completely cool.
Make the filling: To make the filling, start by making the roasted coffee butter (you can make it in advance). Put the butter and the coffee beans in a pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Bring to a simmer and let the mixture simmer very gently for about a minute. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 30 minutes. Strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl and press as much butter out of the sieve as you can. Refrigerate until set and use what you need in a recipe. You will have some of the grounds in the bottom of the coffee butter but keep them there. If you want to distribute them more evenly, give the butter a mix when it has started to set.
Finalize the filling by beating the mascarpone, roasted coffee butter and powdered sugar together to give a smooth mixture. Beat in the Marsala, a little at a time. Spoon or pipe it onto the macaron shells and dust with cocoa powder. Place in an airtight container in the fridge ideally at least overnight for them to “mature”: the filling.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I’ve been following food blogs for more than a decade, I subscribe to more feeds than I have time to read. So don’t take my next statement lightly: Philip’s site – Baking Fanatic – is THE best food blog for all things baking. Period. When I grow up, I want to be like him. Wait, I am old enough to be his Mom? Bummer. Still, the sentiment holds. Everything he bakes is picture-perfect, worthy of the window of the best patisseries in Paris. Or London, New York, Saint Petersburg, Vienna. But what’s even more amazing, he tells you exactly how to make every one of his delicacies, so once you visit his site you get this feeling of “maybe I can do that too.” I know, who am I fooling? But still… his instructions make it all seem approachable. That is the mark of a great baking teacher. He will not scare you, he will tease you into baking along. If you’ve never visited his blog, I urge you to do so. For starters, take a look at his tutorial for making macarons with a click here. Then, just to be a bit more amazed, see how he tackled for the first time one very challenging recipe for an Italian classic, sfogliatelle. I was in complete awe! Have been dreaming about attempting those ever since that post was published. Did you know sfogliatelle was a technical challenge at the Great British Bake Off?
Back to macarons. I would like to share with you a bit of meringue wisdom coming from my friend Gary, Pâtissier Extraordinaire.
Egg whites from a freshly laid egg are very difficult to whip into a foam – a problem if whipping by hand. As the egg white ages, it tends to thin out as the main protein, ovalbumin, is altered to S-ovalbumin (if interested in some heavy scientific info about it, click HERE) which makes the egg whites less viscous. This process is greatly accelerated at room temperature. As a result of these chemical changes, aged egg whites are easier to whip into a foam, however, the S-ovalbumin diminishes the foam stability.
Interestingly, the volume of egg white can be increased by adding up to 40% additional water before whipping without reducing the foam stability. So much for the old wives tale of aging egg whites to dehydrate them; it’s really for the chemical composition changes which makes them easier to whip by hand. In today’s world, the eggs you buy in a store have already aged enough to make it easy to whip the egg whites into a foam. Moreover, the use of an electric mixer makes this a moot point anyway.
So there you have a clear explanation why you can grab your eggs from the fridge, separate the whites, let them equilibrate to room temperature and go have fun making macarons. Not need for aging. No excuses. You can bake macarons on a whim!
And yes, I made this batch on a serious whim. Just 24 hours after I finalized a batch of these. It turns out that Alex was with us and was supposed to fly to meet his brothers and respective wives in California a couple of days later. So I had this crazy idea of sending a box of macarons with him. And that’s what happened. I don’t know how the decoration held, it was probably not the best choice for macarons that were packed inside a suitcase. If you make them, sprinkle with the cocoa right before serving, just to be safe. The taste of the coffee buttercream is simply amazing. Obviously, both Phil and I tasted one before taking Alex to the airport. For quality control. There are no limits to the level of my self-sacrifice in the name of food blogging.
Philip, thanks for all your help, advice, and encouragement over the net… On a side note, I just got a certain square cake ring… See what you did?
ONE YEAR AGO: Cider Mini-Cheesecakes with Caramel Sauce
TWO YEARS AGO: Rustic Ciabatta and Mini-Meatloaves
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Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add fennel, shallots and celery, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cook for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally.
Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little black pepper, 2 ½ cups water, white wine vinegar, and beans. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer the contents to a blender and puree until smooth. If needed, do it in two batches. Taste and adjust seasoning. If soup seems too thick, add a little more water.
For the topping, combine almonds, mint, fennel tops, and lemon zest. Ladle soup in bowls, and top with the crunchy almond mixture.
Comments: The original recipe from Cooking Light used a full can of beans, but I held back a little, felt that it could overpower the delicate fennel taste. I really like the way my soup turned out, it was creamy, with just a subtle hint of the cannelini around, the main flavor of fennel definitely shinning through. As to the topping, you can use a heavy hand as in the first photo, or add just a touch. Whatever rocks your boat…
ONE YEAR AGO: Eataly
TWO YEARS AGO: Spaghetti Squash Perfection
THREE YEARS AGO: Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana
FOUR YEARS AGO: Supernova Meets Wok
FIVE YEARS AGO: 500 Posts and The Best Thing I ever made
SIX YEARS AGO: Back in Los Angeles
SEVEN YEARS AGO: White House Macaroni and Cheese
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Korean-Style Pork with Asian Slaw
If you are tired of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, may I offer the perfect alternative? The color of the cranberry curd as you cut through the pie is enough to make your heart miss a beat. Plus, if you prefer a dessert that is not cloying sweet, look no further. Tartness in the center, subtle chocolate sweetness on top and bottom. Oddly enough, I’ve had this recipe in my files to try soon ever since Helen published it in her blog. We are talking November 2014. I know, what’s wrong with me? (Please, refrain from answering, it is a purely rhetorical question).
CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY CURD TART
(from Helen’s Pastries like a Pro)
Chocolate Press-in Shell
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of an 11”x1” quiche pan with removable sides in the center only. Set aside. Combine flours and cocoa in bowl of mixer. Mix briefly to combine. Add butter and cut in until very fine. Add sugar and baking powder. Mix to combine. Add egg and egg yolk; mix until it balls up and rides the blade. Remove from the processor and divide in half.
Divide one half into 2 pieces. Roll one piece into a rope and press it in evenly along one side of the pan. Repeat with the second half of dough. Overlap the seams and seal well so no seam shows. Press the remainder of the dough into the bottom of the pan. Seal the edges very well so no line shows. Prick the shell before baking.
Bake approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until completely baked. Cool completely.
12 ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries picked over
1 cup sugar (7 ounces or 200 grams)
2 tablespoons water
5 egg yolks (3 ounces or 85 grams)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces (4 ounces or 114 grams)
Place the cranberries in a rimmed baking sheet and pick over. Shake the tray to move the berries around.
Place the cranberries in a saucepan with sugar and water over low heat until the cranberries are very soft and some of them have popped. Stir frequently as this will be very thick and can scorch. Immediately, puree them in a food processor (by batches if necessary). Puree for several minutes to get the skins as fine as possible. There will be tiny specs of red which is as it should be. If you prefer to remove the skins, strain the puree before proceeding. Add the yolks and lemon juice to the processor and process briefly.
Place the cranberry mixture in the top of a double boiler and add the butter. Bring the water underneath to a boil. Stir the curd constantly until an instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees. Immediately pour into the cooled crust. Smooth the top. Cover directly with film and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.
Chocolate Cream Glaze
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
Bring the cream to a simmer. Submerge the chocolate. Allow to sit for 4 to 5 minutes then whisk gently to smooth the chocolate completely. Remove the film from on top of the cranberry curd. Pour the glaze in the center and move it out to the edge of the curd with an offset spatula.
Refrigerate if using within a day or two. Freeze for up to a month for longer storage.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: First of all, I urge you to visit Helen’s site because as is always the case for her blog posts, you will find a step by step tutorial that will guide you through the process. Even if you’ve never baked a tart in your life, her explanations will take you to a happy – and tasty – ending. This was my first time making this type of press-in crust. I normally delegate all things crust (pies and tarts) to Phil, but not this time. My pan was a little smaller than the one she used, so the crust turned out a bit thick at the bottom. With my inexperience, I was a bit insecure to use less crust, not knowing exactly what to expect. Next time I’ll make sure it’s thinner. Anyway, if you have the right size pan, just follow the recipe exactly.
The color of the cranberry curd is something! I shared a few photos on my Facebook page, and some of my friends were wondering how to get the finalized tart to show the curd, maybe reducing the glaze to a zig-zag drizzle, or putting the glaze underneath the curd instead. Having tasted it, I think the tartness of the curd really benefits from a nice layer of ganache on top. So the striking beauty of it will have to be appreciated only after slicing. Gastronomic compromise.
This is a perfect recipe for those who don’t like overly sweet desserts. The colors scream end of the year festivities, so I hope you consider making it if not for Thanksgiving, before 2017 says goodbye.
Helen, thanks once again for a fantastic recipe and tutorial…
I am a bit ashamed it took me so long to get to this tart, but better late than never!
ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Cooker Pork Ragu with Fennel
TWO YEARS AGO: Pimp your Veg, a Guest Post
THREE YEARS AGO: Cooking Light Pan-Charred Veggies
FOUR YEARS AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash
FIVE YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale
SIX YEARS AGO: Short and Sweet
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew
Lately I’ve been playing with different, fun ways to slash sourdough boules. One thing led to another, I found myself buying a Craftsy online lesson by Ciril Hitz called The Baker’s Guide to Artisan Bread Shaping. One of the breads that caught my eye was The Tabatière, a classic French style bread (from the region of Jura), shaped to resemble a purse used to hold cigarettes. Talk about traditional bread baking, this is it. I got so excited about this recipe that I pushed all other blog posts to the side to share it with you right away.
The formula of the bread is actually quite simple, you can use any dough you like, as long as it’s more on the firm side to stand the shaping. For instance, for two small loaves, mix about 1kg dough at 65% hydration. Roughly that would be 600g flour (you can use a mixture of white with a touch of whole wheat or spelt), 390 g water, 12 g of salt, 3 g of yeast. Once the bread goes through the bulk fermentation, preferably in the fridge, you can divide it in two, pre-shape them as a ball, then proceed with the final shaping. You can also follow this recipe that calls for a pre-ferment instead, making a single Tabatiere with it instead of two. Again, the most important here is the hydration level to be kept more or less at 65%.
Each ball more or less 500g of dough at 65% hydration. Any combination of flours you like.
Now place your rolling-pin on the top third of the dough, and roll it to form a flap. You want it to be large enough to cover the whole extension of the other 2/3 of the dough. That’s getting there, but not quite…
Yes, that’s more like it!
Once it’s the correct size, brush a little olive oil right on the edge, so that the flap will not glue to the ball of dough, and once in the oven, it will be more open.
This composite photo hopefully shows you how the whole process is done.
Once the little “purse” is shaped, let the bread rise for 90 minutes at room temperature. Next, give it a nice sprinkle of flour, rubbing it gently on the surface. And with a decisive frame of mind, but keeping in mind that you do not want to cut all the way through the flap you covered the bread with, slash it. You can use any pattern you like, but this one is considered the most authentic. Slash from the bottom to the top.
There, the beauty is ready for the oven!
You can bake it in a covered Dutch oven with a moistened lid to generate steam, or use any other method you like. I baked the two loaves at the same time, one using the Dutch oven, the other using a clay cloche from Emile Henry. The outcome was quite different, as you can see below
The top one was baked in the clay cloche so the dusting of flour stayed nicely on the surface. The second loaf, under additional steam, had the flour pretty much baked into it, generating a darker crust.They are different, I have a hard time deciding which one I liked the most. It was good to know, though, that baking in the clay cloche worked quite well.
The “lip” of the purse could have lifted a little more, I suppose I should have stretched it thinner and maybe added a bit more olive oil, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out.
The crumb is more on the tight side of the spectrum, as expected from a bread with low hydration level. I am quite curious about the possibility of using a sourdough formula for the Tabatière; I might experiment with it in the near future.
I cannot recommend Craftsy classes highly enough. This particular lesson from Ciril Hitz is simply outstanding! From baguettes to very sophisticated bread shapes (Sun Dial is unreal), you will learn to bake them all. Clear instructions, pretty much in real-time. Brilliant!
If you are into bread baking, consider getting this online class. Worth every second. And no, I do not make a single penny from your purchase. As with everything else on my blog, I only recommend it if I absolutely love it.
ONE YEAR AGO: Curry Turmeric Sourdough
TWO YEARs AGO: Brigadeiros de Morango
THREE YEARS AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf
FOUR YEARS AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle
Almost exactly three years ago I reviewed The Global Pastry Cookbook, a cookbook that is very dear to my heart, as I’d been following Gayle’s blog for a very long time. Today I share with you one more recipe from the book, which Gayle gave me permission to publish in full. It is a delicious cake, easy to prepare, with a soft crumb, intense raspberry flavor, and the perfect textural topping given by sliced almonds. Perfect. Just perfect. As it’s often the case, this cake was a Sunday baking project to be shared with our departmental colleagues next day. My goal? To turn the least appreciated day of the week into… something sweet…
RASPBERRY ALMOND BRUNCH CAKE
(from Gayle Gonzales’ Global Pastry Table)
6 oz fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (5 oz) flour
1/ 2 teaspoon baking powder
1/ 4 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1 egg at room temperature
1/ 2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/ 2 oz) sugar
1/ 2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk at room temperature
3 oz (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/ 4 cup (3/ 4 oz) sliced almonds
Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease an 8” x 2 1/ 2” cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.
Combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice and set aside to macerate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Use a fork to stir in the flour mixture and mix until moistened and there are no streaks of flour.
Spoon a little over half of the batter into the prepared pan, making sure to cover the entire bottom surface. Top with the raspberry mixture. Dollop the remaining batter over the raspberries and spread out in an even layer. There will be some raspberries exposed and that’s fine. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges and gently turn out the cake. Invert again and cool.
to print the recipe, click here
It’s hard to find a more beautiful color than that of fresh raspberries… I always catch myself smiling at the bowl, feeling it’s almost rude to cook them or hide them in a cake batter. But it’s for a great cause. They melt down into a single layer, topped by the moist cake and crowned with the almonds and their delicate crunch. Almonds and raspberries, at the risk of repeating myself, it is one of those perfect matches. This is a cake you can make with kids, very easy and it will be a hit with anyone who tries a slice. Or three…
Before I leave you, let me invite you to re-visit my old post and get a tour of Gayle’s book. Hard to believe it’s been three years. When I wrote her to ask permission to publish this recipe, I though the review was maybe a year old, 18 months tops. Almost fell off my chair when I realized it was written in November 2014. This type of time-shock happens to me quite often these days. I wonder why… (sigh)
ONE YEAR AGO: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post
TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015
THREE YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies
FOUR YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta
FIVE YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce
SIX YEARS AGO: A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp
First Monday of the month, it’s time to choose my favorite blog post of October.
I cannot pick another post, as “In My Kitchen” is so dear to my heart, as far as types of posts go.
So my virtual tour of our kitchen last month gets to be highlighted again today.
To read the full post, click here.
Thank you Sid, for organizing the First Monday Favorite!
If you are a food blogger and would like to participate, drop Sid a line.
To see the contributions from my virtual friends, click on the link below
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