WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT MACARONS


Peppermint is the flavor of the season, no doubt about it. Remember my peppermint candy cookies? So very festive… These macarons dance to the same beat, a bright red color, the delicate flavor of mint perfuming the white chocolate, and some green and white sprinkles to boot. They scream Christmas, and New Year celebrations. All macarons I’ve made so far used a French meringue. This was my first batch going for the – slightly more finicky – Italian meringue. I’ve been meaning to re-visit it for a long time, actually. Had one epic failure in the past attempting a recipe from Pierre Hermé, which traumatized me enough to keep Italian meringue at a safe distance. But finally, the light in the end of the macaron tunnel.

WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT MACARONS
(inspired by several sources)

for the shells:
150g almond flour (I used fine ground from Bob Mill’s)
150g powdered sugar
110g egg whites, divided (55g + 55g)
red food gel color (I used Americolor)
pinch of salt
150g granulated sugar
40 mL water  (a little over 2 +1/2 tablespoons)

for the filling:
200g white chocolate (I used Lindt)
68g heavy whipping cream
1 to 2 tsp peppermint crunch (to taste)

for decoration:
green and white sprinkles (I used nonpareils)

Prepare white chocolate ganache filling. Place chocolate cut in small pieces in a large Pyrex measuring cup. Heat the cream to almost boiling and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then gently stir. When totally dissolved, add the peppermint crunch, tasting as you go.  Reserve, cooling at room temperature for a couple of hours or sticking in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the shells. Heat the oven to 300 F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper, and prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip with 1/2 inch opening, or slightly smaller.

Grind together the powdered sugar and almond powder, using a food processor, to obtain a fine powder. Sift through a sieve into large bowl. Mix the first portion (55g) egg whites with red food color, then add it to the sieved mixture of almond and sugar. It will form a paste, a bit thick. Try to incorporate the color homogeneously, keep in mind it will be lighter when you add the meringue to it, so make sure you have a very nice red tone.

Make the Italian meringue. Take a deep breath first so you are relaxed (very important). Place the other 55g egg whites and pinch of salt into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer.  Set aside while you prepare the sugar syrup. In a small saucepan combine granulated sugar with water and place on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer measure syrup temperature. When it reaches 230 F start whipping the egg whites. When the syrup reaches 244 F pour it over the whipped egg whites while mixing continuously. Continue beating until the bowl has cooled slightly, and glossy peaks have formed (see my composite photo).

Add the whipped whites over the almonds mixture and using a rubber or silicone spatula gently fold in until combined and smooth. Make sure to “paint” the mixture on the walls of the bowl so that you get a smooth, lava-like consistency. Transfer the mixture to the piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1 cm) plain tip. Pipe the batter to make macarons the size you like. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons and to remove air bubbles. Add sprinkles on top, if using. Let them sit at room temperature until a skin forms, about 30 minutes.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. They are ready when the top doesn’t move freely when you hold them and twist gently. Let cool slightly before removing from baking sheet. Marry two by two of similar size, add the filling and place in the fridge overnight. Serve them at room temperature next day.  They freeze well too.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It all started with an impulse buy. A bottle of peppermint crunch that I found at Marshall’s. That store has amazing gems waiting for a loving kitchen. I had no idea what to do with it, but decided that once in the comfort of our home, I would find a way to make it shine. I thought about sprinkling some on top of the shells before the skin formed, and actually ran a test on a few. The crunch kind of melted in the oven and it didn’t look very good. But adding it to white chocolate ganache? That worked very very well. I more or less eye-balled it, and tried a tiny bit to see if the texture and flavor were the way I wanted. I definitely did not want to have macarons tasting like toothpaste! So if you make it, either with white or dark chocolate ganache, taste as you go and stop when you hit the jackpot.


The amount I used did not even make a dent in the huge bottle… see the problem I have now? Find other uses for my beloved peppermint crunch… There are much more serious problems in life, I’ll tackle this one with a smile. And a bite of macaron, because….

A final comment: French or Italian meringue for macarons? I think the French does a perfect job with a lot less hassle. However, if you live in a very humid climate, the added stability of the Italian meringue might be better for you. At any rate, I feel that mastering the technique of the Italian meringue will come in handy in plenty of recipes. So I’m happy I gave it a try.

Enjoy the holiday season, and grab a pin, because sharing is caring!

ONE YEAR AGO: Shrubs, a fun alternative to alcoholic drinks

TWO YEARS AGO: Date Truffles 

THREE YEARS AGO: Mascarpone Mousse from Baking Chez Moi

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Brigadeiros

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Espresso Loaf

SIX YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

EIGHT YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake

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CANDY CANE COOKIES

Candy Cane Cookies 2

Before the holiday season is over, I must share with you these adorable little cookies I made for a Holiday Dessert Party hosted by a colleague from our department. The idea is a get-together mid-afternoon in which everyone brings something sweet. It can be a cake, a pie, cookies, bars, preferably home-made, but no one will be mad if you bring store-bought stuff. The important is to join the party and have fun.  When I got the invitation, I quickly assembled a list of possibilities, but decided that it would be hard to top these babies, recently blogged by Chris, from The Café Sucre Farine. They are simply PERFECT for the season, and a lot of fun to make. Too bad Greenlee is a bit too young and way too far away. Still, I know one day I’ll be making a batch with her help. Can hardly wait.

Candy Cane Cookie

CANDY CANE COOKIES
(from The Café Sucre Farine)

1 cup salted butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup color nonpareil sprinkles
1 10-ounce bag Hershey’s Holiday Candy Cane Kisses

Heat oven to 350°F. Pour sprinkles into shallow bowl. Unwrap Candy Cane Kisses, reserve.

Combine butter, sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low-speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Shape dough into small 1-inch balls, then roll balls of dough in sprinkles, patting sprinkles gently onto any areas where sprinkles have not adhered. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 14-18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and quickly place a kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down barely (about ¼ inch or less!) into the cookie.  Let stand 5 minutes on cookie sheets, then carefully remove to cooling rack. Cool completely before moving or touching them. The kisses will take a while to firm up, so be gentle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositecandy

Comments: These are the simplest cookies ever as far as the dough goes. A regular shortbread type, no eggs, just butter, sugar and flour. I have very limited experience with shortbread, but when I made a batch of choc chip shortbread cookies there were no issues, and I loved the resulting texture. These are shaped as balls one by one, they don’t spread too much, get all plump instead. I was worried about the cookies hardening too fast, so I left one baking sheet in the oven when they were done baking, and worked as fast as I could on the first sheet.  It turns out you can take your time, get both sheets out of the oven at the same time and move along. However, make sure to have all candies unwrapped and waiting. This batch made 26 cookies, which is about half the bag. I suggest you unwrap 30 just to be on the safe side, and if there are kisses leftover be brave and do the sacrifice expected from a real baker: polish them off.

The thing I loved the most about these cookies (apart from their cuteness) is the way the mint flavor of the candy permeated through the whole cookie. I did not expect that to be the case since the candies are placed after baking. Let’s say it was a very pleasant surprise.

cooling2

This basic recipe could be adapted to so many situations!  All you’ll have to do is change the color of the sprinkles, and the type of kiss candy in the center. I can visualize a batch for Valentine’s Day, for Halloween, 4th of July, or to match the colors of your favorite team or school.

Thank you Chris for a great recipe, and super helpful advice!

 

holidays-2

This will be my last post for the year, so I wish all my readers a wonderful New Year’s Eve! We are heading to Colorado for a week. I intend to face the ski slopes with the bravery of someone born and raised in the Austrian Alps.
(I am laughing so hard now I’ll need to dry my eyes)

Candy Cane Cookies from Bewitching Kitchen

holidays-2

ONE YEAR AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

TWO YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

THREE YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gougeres

SIX YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: WHITE CHOCOLATE DIPPED COOKIES

My third assignment for the Secret Recipe Club!  When I clicked on my assigned blog – Kudos Kitchen by Renee – I melted on the spot:  the front page was a post composed by her three dogs  (Ivy, Nutmeg and Nell), and they had a lot to bark about!  😉

Renee is an artist (check her store at Etsy), and that alone leaves me in complete awe, because I cannot draw a tree to save my own life! In fact, back in middle school two things terrified me to the point of losing sleep: physical education and art classes.  I was absolutely horrible at both, and wanted to disappear from the planet when it was time to face them. Back to blogging.  I fell in love with Renee’s 4th of July cookies, and adapted them for a Christmas time motif, switching the colors to green and red.  And, since I’ve always wanted to make shortbread cookies, this was a perfect excuse to bake a batch.  Without further ado, and with apologies to Renee, here is my very first attempt at playing Jackson Pollock. You can understand why I was not very popular with the art teachers…   (sigh)

WHITE CHOCOLATE DIPPED COOKIES
(adapted from Kudos Kitchen by Renee)

for cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups flour
3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt

for dipping cookies
1 + 1/2 packages white chocolate morsels
3 tablespoons Crisco, divided
1 tablespoon milk
red and green food coloring

In a large kitchen Aid type bowl, beat together the butter with the brown sugar until creamy. Add the flour, ground hazelnuts, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Beat until smooth.  Remove the dough from the bowl, form it into a log and wrap with plastic.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the dough is firm enough to handle, remove 1 inch balls and shape as a cookie, flattening the surface. Alternatively, you can slice pieces straight from the log, 1/4 inch thick.   Smooth the surface and edges, and place on prepared cookie sheet.   Bake for 15 minutes on until set and very lightly browned on the bottom.  Remove from pan and place the cookies to cool on a rack. Before icing, place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Dipping the cookies: melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the 2 + 1/2 tablespoons of Crisco in your microwave.  Check on it often and stir it occasionally until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted.

Using a fork and working with one cookie at a time, dip each cookie, turning it over to coat both sides nicely with chocolate.  Place your dipped cookies on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Follow this step until all of the chocolate is used up.  This amount of chocolate will be enough to coat about 12 cookies.

With the remaining 1/2 cup of morsels, melt them in your microwave again, using 1/2 Tbs Crisco and  1 tablespoon of milk to keep the consistency thinner and better for drizzling.

In two separate small bowls, divide the chocolate and color them with the red and green food coloring. Drizzle the cookies with both colors of icing, using the tines of a fork dipped in water, or if you have the right skills, a little improvised piping bag made with parchment paper.

Place the cookies in the fridge until time to serve them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

A few things I learned from this baking adventure…

1.  Run away from the small tubes of food coloring gel, because even if you squeeze the full tube of green gel in  1/4 cup of melted chocolate, the resulting icing will have a pale lime color. Go for the real McCoy, the type that you need to use a toothpick to grab the tiny amount that gets the job done.

2. White chocolate is not for sissies.   When Renee says to make sure the chocolate is fully melted and smooth, she knows what she’s talking about.  Lumps get together and seem to multiply at a fast rate.  Then, right before your eyes, the whole thing turns into a solid mess.

3. White chocolate is not for sissies. Melted chocolate, when smooth and fluid,  has a remarkable tendency  to splatter.  Certain types of dog fur catch droplets of icing with high efficiency, and don’t wash easily.

4. Have I mentioned that white chocolate is not for sissies?  Buy more than you think you’ll need. Have a cup of chamomile tea before icing your cookies.   You may need three shots of tequila after.

But it will all be worth it, these cookies were amazing!  You can play with the colors to match your favorite football team, or go real artistic and draw something over the white chocolate canvas, like red hearts for Valentine’s Day!  😉

Renee, it was great to get to know your blog, hope you had as much fun as I did with your assignment this month!

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Focaccia, with a Twist

TWO YEARS AGO: Merry Christmas!

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