You read that right. Carrot Cake Macarons. I am a member of a Facebook group for Macaron-Baking-Addicts and a couple of months ago a very experienced baker raved about them. I am usually not that wild about store-bought products, but for some reason that recipe intrigued me enough to make me go for it. The product in question is a Carrot Cake Spread by Trader Joe’s. I added it as the main flavoring for a simple Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and that was the filling for coral-tone macarons. Living Coral, the Pantene color of 2019. I had to try and match it, just because macarons are by definition a celebration of color. At least in my mind they are…

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
150 g almond flour
150 g powdered sugar
56 + 56 g egg whites
40 g water
150 g granulated sugar, super fine
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
gel food dye (2 parts red, 1 part yellow, 1 part pink)

for the Swiss meringue buttercream filling:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
pinch salt
3 to 4 tablespoons carrot cake spread 

Make the shells: Add the almond flour and the powdered sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse it 10 to 12 times. You want to have it fine but not allow the oil in the almonds to seep out and turn it into a paste.  Immediately sieve it on a large bowl and reserve.

To a small bowl, add half of the egg whites (56 g), then add the food dyes and vanilla. Mix until it is all well incorporated, the dye sometimes resists mixing homogeneously into the egg white.

Now comes the fun part. You will add the other half of the egg whites to the bowl of a mixer and the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan. Have an instant thermometer ready. Start beating the egg white in slow-speed, as you turn the heat and start bringing the sugar syrup to a boil, without stirring (this is important, or you risk crystallizing the sugar and having to start all over). When the sugar starts boiling, increase the mixer to medium-speed. You want it to be at the stage of soft peaks by the time the syrup reaches 244 F. Once that happens, slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg white-sugar, as you continue beating. Beat until the temperature cools down to around 115F, no need to bring it down all the way to room temperature. You don’t want to have a very stiff meringue at this point, or it will be too hard to incorporate into the almond flour.

The second fun part starts now, the famous macaronage. Add the dyed egg white and the meringue on top of the almond flour and mix gently but decisively. If you have never made macarons before, I advise you to watch some videos on youtube to familiarize yourself with the proper macaronage. You want the batter to flow from the spatula and form a figure eight on the surface as you allow it to drip, but it should not flow too rapidly. If you spoon some batter on parchment paper, it should smooth out in about 30 seconds or so.  Once you get to the right stage, fill a piping bag fitted with the piping tip of your choice (I like a 1/2 inch opening), and pipe on parchment paper or Silpat.

Bang the baking sheet a few times to release air bubbles, and allow it to dry at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the surface feels dry to the touch.

Bake at 300F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool before peeling off the baking sheet. Decorate either before filling them or after, depending on the type of decoration you choose. I used an air-brush and stencils (see my composite picture), with the color Sunset Orange from Chefmaster.

 Make the filling. Place the egg whites and the sugar in a large metal mixing bowl set above a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes warm and very thin in consistency, reaching a temperature of around 160F. 

Transfer the contents to a Kitchen Aid bowl and whisk on high-speed until stiff peaks form. Now, change the whisk to the paddle beater, add the butter and salt, mixing on low-speed.  Add the butter piece by piece and keep mixing. When the butter seems to be all incorporated, even if it looks a little curdled, increase the speed to high. The mixture will become smooth and totally creamy within a few minutes. 

Add the carrot cake spread and mix on low-speed. Taste and add more if you feel like it. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with an open star piping tip and fill your macarons.

Place them in the fridge overnight and bring to room temperature 15 minutes before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I have a lot of macaron recipes. They always involve the French meringue method because it is so simple and it has always worked for me. I had issues with the Italian meringue and several batches were a failure, but I know that many bakers find them better in terms of texture and reproducibility. Basically because the Italian meringue is much more stable and is less affected by humidity in the environment.

My main goal in macaron baking is maximize the proportion of feet, because I like them with bigger feet and a plump shell, so I like to try different methods and compare how they work for me. The Swiss meringue method should happen eventually, although for the time being I intend to play with the current recipe a few more times.  I am happy that this batch worked perfectly. The main thing I changed was adding the food dye to one half of the egg white component, and add that to the almond flour together with the Italian meringue. In the past, I followed recipes that instructed you to add the egg white to the almond flour first, forming a thick paste and allowing that to sit while the meringue is prepared. I found that this approach makes it pretty tough to incorporate the meringue and probably negatively affected the macaronage step that follows.

The filling. O. M. G. These macarons will be so unique, different from any macaron you’ll ever have, I guarantee it. It is sweet, perhaps sweeter than most fillings I enjoy, but it has that spicy characteristic of carrot cakes, the cinnamon-clove mixture, that breaks the sweetness a bit. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s around, the product is available through amazon. The texture was perfect, no hollows, and with a nice “macaron-chew.”  I will play with this method on my next mac-adventure, that will involve more than one color of batter. Let’s hope that the stars will align properly at the time…

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Back in December, I made a batch of cookies and “decorated” them. After that experience it became clear that the road to hell is paved with Royal icing. Since it was a real roller coaster, I decided I was done with it for the rest of my existence. Having said that, I don’t know exactly why I woke up one day thinking that the combination of sugar cookies with Royal icing would be the best way to start Valentine’s week. A real sucker for punishment I am. Was it that bad? Sort of. Let’s say it had some ups and some dark and scary downs.

(adapted from Alton Brown and Sweet Sugarbelle)

what you’ll need:
heart-shaped cookie cutter
scribe tool
piping bags
icing tips size 2 or 3
rubber bands for piping bags (2 per bag)
paper towels and water for constant clean-up
a Zen attitude
a very understanding partner in case you run out of previous item

for the cookie dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (225 g)
1 cup sugar (225 g)
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tablespoon milk

for the icing:
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar {907 grams}
5 tablespoons meringue powder {approximately 53 grams}
2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract (I used clear vanilla extract)
1/2-3/4 cups warm water

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg, lemon zest, milk and vanilla, beat to combine. Put mixer on low-speed, add flour, and mix just until the mixture starts to form a dough. Do not over mix or your cookies might be tough. Remove the dough from the mixer and finish mixing it by hand, gently.  Divide the dough in half, flatten each portion as a square or rectangle and wrap in plastic foil. Refrigerate for 1 hour minimum.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling-pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut into heart shapes, place on baking sheet over parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to cool on a rack. Ice the cookies when completely cool, or on the following day.

Make the icing (you can make the day before and store well covered at room temperature). Stir the vanilla into half of the water and reserve. Keep the other half of the water measured and ready to go.

Using a paddle attachment gently mix the sugar and meringue powder. With the mixer on the lowest setting slowly add the water/flavoring mix to the dry ingredients. As the water is added, the icing will become thick and lumpy. Continue to add the remaining water {this may or may not be the entire amount} until the mixture reaches a thick consistency. At this point, turn the mixer to medium speed and whip 2-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and fluffy. When it forms a soft peak, it has been beaten enough. Avoid mixing further, as you don’t want to incorporate too much air in the icing. Too much air might result in bubbles forming after icing.

Adjust the consistency that you need for flooding the cookies, separate the icing in portions, add dye according to your planned decoration. Store in air-tight containers at room temperature. If needed, re-adjust the consistency before piping.

Add the different colors of icing to piping bags fitted with the appropriate icing tips. I like number 3 for the basic color used for flooding, and a number two for the details. Flood each cookie, make the edges as neat as possible with the scribe tool. Decorate with the design you like, one cookie at a time, as the base color needs do still be wet, unless you prefer to do a wet-on-dry method. In this case, the base needs to dry for several hours before proceeding with the decoration.

Dry the cookies for at least 6 hours before handling them.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had no issues with the cookie component, I prefer the taste of a sablé type cookie, but as far as sugar cookies go, these are very nice. They retain a little chewiness upon baking (especially if you don’t let them get too dark), and the lemon zest brightens them up considerably. Now let’s talk Royal icing. I watched online classes and youtube videos. I read cook books.

Here is my advice for those who are as inexperienced as myself and for some irrational motive decide that a naked cookie must be dressed for party.

  1. Make the icing and the cookies the day before decorating them. Not only it is better to ice cookies that are not freshly baked (I am echoing some experts here), but it will save you a lot of trouble and make decorating day easier.
  2. Keep things simple. White icing plus two or at most three colors. Trust me on this. You will need bags and icing tips for each color you want to work with. Some people can make those cute piping bags from parchment paper. I am not one of those people. Sometimes I get them right, more often than not there is drama.
  3. Prepare all materials you will need and have them ready on a neat and clean counter top. Paper towels and a bowl with water are two best friends of the rookie-decorator.
  4. Tie your hair up if you have long hair. Wear gloves if you prefer to avoid stained fingers.
  5. Get rubber ties for your piping bags like these. They are indispensable and work better than improvised methods. Tie the bag close to the icing tip before you fill it. Tie the top after you fill it (see my composite image, middle photo in the bottom row). Remove the band closest to the tip when you are ready to ice your cookies. This simple measure prevents quite a bit of mess from happening.
  6. Have a rack ready to spread the freshly iced cookies with enough surface to accommodate them all. They take hours to fully set and should not touch each other. Be very careful not to grab them touching the icing. Often the surface looks dry but it’s still soft and fragile (don’t ask me how I know).
  7. Let your inner Rembrandt fly. Or Monet. If all fails, go Pollock. Not that there’s anything wrong with him. Obviously not.

But, the most important thing is obviously the most elusive for beginners: the consistency of the icing. Nothing is more frustrating than filling the piping bag and realizing the icing is a tad too thick. Or worse yet, too thin, which will cause the icing to roll off the cookie and tears to roll down the baker’s face. There are tricks to judge the perfect consistency. For instance you can run a spatula or small knife into the icing bowl, and in about 15 seconds it should go back to a smooth, leveled surface. I was probably off by 20 seconds on my first attempt, which led me to say a few choice words, empty the bag, thin the icing, and start all over. Sadly, it was still a bit thick, but I could not bring myself to empty the bag again. So the white icing used to flood most of the cookies was not top-notch. Getting the consistency perfect is probably something that comes with practice. Perhaps I’ll get there before 2019 is over.

I developed a huge respect for those who do this type of stuff for a living. It is really time-consuming, and I imagine the profit margin is very low. Especially if a baker uses the best ingredients and does intricate decorations, he or she will have to charge a lot more than the stuff you can by at the grocery store in those big plastic boxes. But I guess that is a problem professional bakers are forced to deal with.

Several of my cookies had small boo-boos, but some made me very happy. So happy that I created a little composite photo with them.


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This post could also be entitled Having fun with Wilton… Probably the most useful icing tip you can stick in your piping bag, Wilton 1M shines with many types of icings and doughs. In this post, I share three adventures using choux-pastry, French meringue, and a butter cookie. They all get a stylish look thanks to the open-star tip. Easy to use, even a recovering cake-o-phobe can do it.

(from Show de Receitas)

250 mL whole milk
1 Tbs sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
granulated sugar for coating
powdered sugar for sprinkling after baking (optional)

Place in a saucepan the milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, and add the entire cup of flour. Mix with a heavy wooden spoon over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the dough forms a sticky residue around the bottom and sides of the pan.

Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for a few minutes to release some of the heat. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe small circles on parchment paper.

Bake in a 400F oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a rack and enjoy with additional sprinkling of powered sugar, if you like.


to print the recipe for Samantas, click here

These are delicious and believe it or not, unknown to this native Brazilian, until my virtual friend Angela from the Brazilian blog Ora, Pitangas shared a picture of Samantas she bought on a trip and raved about them. Of course, being 6 thousand miles away meant that the only way to satisfy my curiosity would be rolling up my sleeves and baking a batch… Totally worth it! As all things made with choux-pastry, they tend to lose their crispness quickly, so if you make them the day before, place them in a 350 F oven for a few minutes to bring them back into top shape.

(inspired by several sources)

4 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons boysenberry jam (or other jam of your choice)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat the cream to simmering, and pour it over the chocolate, all at once. Allow to stand for 3 minutes. Use a wire whisk to stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth and well-combined. Set aside to cool. Whip it on high-speed with an electric mixer until fluffy right before using.

Make the meringues. Heat the oven to 170 degrees F. Whip the egg whites on high-speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, while continuing to whip. Mixture should be very stiff and glossy.

Place the jam in a small bowl, and fold about a cup of the meringue in. Transfer the mixture back into the meringue, and fold gently to combine. Place mixture in a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe rosettes on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours or until the meringues are very dry and peel off the paper easily.

Pipe or spread about a tablespoon of the whipped ganache over the back sides of half the meringues. Sandwich another meringue rosette on top.


to print the recipe for Boysenberry Meringues, click here

These cookies would stand proudly by themselves, but sticking two together with the chocolate ganache took them to a higher level. I used my favorite brand of jam, (from Maury Island Farm). The jam gave a nice color and slight sharpness to the cookie. The only issue with meringue is how quickly it absorbs moisture, so they are best served right away. Or, if you must store them, use an air-tight container.

(from Mary Berry)

250g very soft unsalted butter   
50g confectioner’s sugar
225g all-purpose flour
25g cornstarch
seedless raspberry jam for filling

For the biscuits, heat the oven to 400 F. Line 3 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Using a 2-inch round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.

Measure the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat well, until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip.  Pipe 24 swirled rounds inside the circles on the baking sheets.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until a pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and harden. Match cookies according to size, in case there is some variability after piping/baking.  Fill them with raspberry jam.  


to print the recipe for Viennese Whirls, click here

These cookies were a pure delight to eat, but I must admit they were a pain to pipe. I suspect my dough was slightly too hard, so next time I’ll add a little less flour. My hand was threatening to cramp up, and no, it’s NOT the Drama Queen speaking. Well, maybe the DQ surfaced a bit, but only momentarily. She is gone now.  At any rate, don’t let this issue discourage you, these are melt-in-your-mouth little gems, reminded us of shortbread cookies. Note added after publishing: make sure to see Helen Fletcher’s comment, she solves the problem for piping these babies! And she knows, she is a professional pastry baker… I am lucky to have her as a reader of my blog.

So, there you have it, three recipes in a single post, all involving my favorite icing tip. I hope I convinced you to bring Wilton into your home… 

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Every once in a while Phil finds a recipe, sends it my way with a little comment: I think we-you should make this. His source is almost always the NYT Food section. I subscribe to that too, but confess to almost never clicking on it. I’m usually absorbed by my mile-long list of stuff I want to make. Soon. Anyway, last week he sent me a link about these chocolate chip cookies endorsed (with enthusiastic ravings) by Dorie Greenspan. You know, royalty in the food world. I made them that same evening, and into the fridge they went, for a mandatory period to mature the dough before baking. The dough contains a fair amount of rye flour. And poppy seeds. And dried cranberries. And chocolate chunks. A sprinkle of Maldon sea salt on top, a step that often makes me roll my eyes to the ceiling (like avocado toast does). But, trust me. It works. These might be the best choc chip cookies I’ve ever made.

(from Dorie Greenspan through New York Times)

130 grams rye flour (I used dark rye)
85 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
100 grams sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
1 large egg
cup (50 grams) poppy seeds
cup (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries
113 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.

Working with a mixer  beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low-speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.

Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces (I made 16), roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These are simply amazing. They are complex, they have sweetness and sourness, they have a hint of salt, and they are addictive. I inhaled three. Me, the Self-Proclaimed-Moderation-Queen, had three cookies. Don’t let their humble looks fool you, they stopped Dorie in her tracks (her own words), and they will stop you too. Make sure you have friends, co-workers, family members to share, because there’s not enough aerobics in a day to counteract the damage you can inflict upon yourself if left in a room with a full platter of these babies. You’ve been warned!

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The filling for these French macs started with a pâte noisette concoction, which was suggested to me by my friend Jennifer, Pâtissière Extraordinaire. You can see a detailed description (in French) with a jump here.  I used part of this amazing paste in a cake (stay tuned) and what was left metamorphosed into macaron filling. The mixture of pâte noisette with ganache is the most gastronomically sensual thing in the known universe. Too superlative for you? Try it. If you disagree, we can discuss the matter further, sharing a few macarons while we are at it…

(from Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by this site)

for the pâte noisette (it makes more than you’ll need):
125 g hazelnuts, peeled
125 g almonds
160 g sugar
5 g water

for the ganache noisette:
100 g milk chocolate
160 g pâte noisette
140 g heavy cream

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
3:1:1 brown, green and yellow food coloring
1/8 teaspoon vanilla paste

Make the pâte noisette. Start by placing water and sugar in a large saucepan. Heat up to 245 F.   Then add the hazelnuts and almonds. Gradually, they will be covered with a white film.  Cook until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes, stirring constantly. Be patient, it is going to take a little time. Pour the mixture on a sheet of parchment paper and let cool completely.  Coarsely chop and add to a blender, the more powerful the better.  In a Vitamix blender, in less than 5 minutes you should have a very smooth paste, which is what you want.

Make the ganache. Heat the heavy cream almost to boiling point. Add to the chocolate, cut in pieces. Wait a couple of minutes and stir to completely dissolve the chocolate. Let it cool for half an hour, add the pâte praline made as described. Keep in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to get into spreadable consistency.  Reserve to fill macarons.

Make the shells. Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your tip of choice. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 12 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Use the air-brush and a stencil to decorate each shell. Pair them according to size and fill.

Filled macarons should stay overnight in the fridge before consumed. The texture is much better on the following day.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The air-brusher. I got it with a special discount from Groupon, after a tip from macaron-obsessed folks from a Facebook group. I am in love. First, it is pretty small and very easy to use. They advise you to practice on a piece of parchment paper, I did so, but realized it was pretty much a no-brainer. It has three speeds of spraying, I used the lowest, it gave good coverage without getting out of control. I mean, who wants to have a dalmatian with the ears sprayed gold? Second, it is super easy to clean. For me, that matters. Something that takes a lot of work to clean makes me think twice before using. This was a breeze. Warm water gets poured through the opening, sprayed inside a bowl with more warm water, done! You need special food color for the air-brusher, but I know it’s possible to improvise with normal dyes diluted in vodka or some other type of alcohol.  I used Chefmaster.

The filling. I suppose you can make a similar preparation using Nutella. But I tell you, making the pâte noisette from scratch and incorporating it in the ganache is a game-changer. It is nutty, almost smoky (it’s the caramel speaking), sweet but with a sharp twist to it. For my taste, it is close to perfection.  I had a little bit of ganache noisette left. It was enjoyed one tiny teaspoon at a time, standing up by the fridge, while telling myself: make this again, roll as truffles, coat in chocolate sprinkles, give to all the special human beings in your life.

Make your life sweeter, grab a pin!


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It all started with a very innocent email from my daughter-in-law. Inside a simple phrase and a single picture… The phrase: Something for you to try… The picture: a gorgeous Minnie Macaron sold at Disney. Miss G, our grand-daughter is crazy about all things Minnie. Basically, the universe conspired to make me  bake a batch.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Pink Gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract

for the filling:

280 g strawberries, stems removed
140 g sugar
1 lemon, juiced
250 g white chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup heavy cream (about 80g)
1 tablespoon butter

to decorate:
pink bows (melted Candy Melts with a drop of pink gel color)
gold and pink sparkling sugar

Make the filling:  Prepare fresh strawberry jam by mixing strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook for 30 minutes, mixing every once in a while. After 30 minutes cool and refrigerate. Reserve (you will not need the full amount). You can also use store-bough strawberry jam, if more convenient. Make a white chocolate ganache by mixing very hot heavy cream with the white chocolate cut into small pieces. Mix until fully dissolved. To that, add 1/4 cup of the strawberry jam prepared before, and the butter. Mix well and refrigerate until it’s time to fill the macarons. If too thick, bring to room temperature for an hour or so, whisking a few times.

Make the pink bows: Melt about 1/3 cup candy melts in the  microwave. Whisk until smooth, add a tiny drop of pink gel color. Place in a silicone mold and freeze until solid. Un-mold the decorations, make another batch until you have enough. I made 14 Minnie macarons with this batch, and 16 regular round macarons that did not need the bow on top.

Make the shells: Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on low-speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Divide the mixture (eyeballing is fine) in two piping bags, one fitted with a 1/2 inch piping tip, the other fitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Pipe macaron rounds using the bigger tip, filling one full tray. Pipe small rounds as ears on each round using the smaller tip. Finish one full tray before starting another one.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. If using sparkling sugar, sprinkle over the macarons. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge.  Glue to each macaron one little pink bow using melted white chocolate.

Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The macarons sold at Disney seem quite large, I decided to make them smaller. As to the filling, I opted for strawberry and white chocolate ganache for two reasons. First, Miss G. loves strawberries, it is one of her favorite fruits. Second, a ganache probably stands shipping better than buttercream. I used a lower proportion of heavy cream to make sure the ganache would set, especially considering the added strawberry jam.  I think a little bit of red food color to the filling would have been nice, but I only thought about that when I was done assembling them. Oh, well…

I got a pretty cute silicone mold at to make the bows. You can use fondant, real chocolate, or candy melts, whatever you prefer. I have a bit of fondant-phobia, and never worked with it, so Candy melts seemed like a safer option. Worked like a charm. The only problem is having to make several batches, but each needed only 10 minutes in the freezer to un-mold properly. I made the bows the day before and kept them all frozen in a little plastic bag. I know, so organized!  Who could imagine that?

I made half the batch as regular macarons (large image of the composite photo above), and half Minnie-shaped. Those who are very skilled with a piping tip might be able to get by piping the ears with the same size tip as the face. I decided to play it safe, and poured some of the batter in a piping bag fitted with a smaller tip. For the body of the macaron I used a Wilton 2A tip, for the ears, a Wilton 12. With a more complex shape, it is important that the macaronage step be performed correctly.

My tip for perfect macaronage:  when I think I am almost at the right point of deflating the almond-meringue mixture, I get a teaspoon of batter and drop it on parchment paper. I lift the teaspoon, and the little blob that forms must disappear in about 20 seconds. If it does, the batter is ready, if it is still visible, I fold a few more times. Remember that you can always fold a few more times, but if you go overboard, the batter will be ruined. The macarons will spread too much, spread too thinly and it will be impossible to keep the Minnie shape as piped. Plus, they won’t form nice feet.  At the very least you will need a box of Kleenex. If the situation persists, therapy might be your only option.

I cannot tell you how happy I was with this project! It was fun to plan, to get the tools for the job, to make it, and to imagine the look on Miss G’s face when she opened the box and found a bunch of Minnie cookies inside. The filling turned out just as I expected, sweet, but with the right amount of tartness given by the jam, which by the way, I made with a lot less sugar than store-bought versions.


ONE YEAR AGO: Nigella Lawson in the Bewitching Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chips

FOUR YEARS AGO: Turkey Chili with Almond Butter

FIVE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Leek and Cheese Tart

SIX YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club; Triple Chocolate Brownies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Shaved Asparagus Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Indonesian Ginger Chicken






















Does the universe need another recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies?  

Let me think about that for a second….

The answer is obviously YES!

A few months ago I ordered the book Naturally Sweet from America’s Test Kitchen. “Bake all your classics with 30 to 50% less sugar.”  I do trust them to develop recipes that do not lack in taste. They definitely test all variables tirelessly, and I’ve never had a bad outcome. Yes, sometimes every single pot and pan in the kitchen gets dirty, but… if you don’t mind doing dishes – I definitely do not – it’s not that big a deal.   My first adventure with the book, a real American classic: chocolate chip cookies. And no, you won’t dirty a ton of dishes. Surprisingly enough, it is a one-bowl adventure.



Butter is creamed with sucanat, a type of sugar that I mentioned recently in my In My Kitchen post. As you open the bag, the smell is enough to make you dream. Think brown sugar with benefits. The texture is different from any other sugar I’ve played with. Coarse, a bit harsh-looking. It will not cream the same way white or brown sugar will, it offers a bit more resistance to the blade of the mixer. Do not worry about it, just keep beating for 3 minutes or so.

One egg and one egg yolk are added, then the other regular suspects, flour, leavening agents, vanilla, and finally Ghirardelli 60% cocoa in pieces, not too small, you need to go for those assertive pieces as you bite into these babies.

America’s Test Kitchen is quite reluctant to give permission to share recipes online, and I gave up on that waiting game.  If you don’t have the book, the recipe is available online here.  By the way, Sally’s site is a must-visit, and her cookbooks great too.


Comments: I really like these cookies. Phil defined them pretty well:

They have this texture that at first you think it’s crunchy, then you think it’s chewy,
and then you realize it’s in a perfect spot in between…

Got it?  Well, I think the cookies will please both camps, although I am partial to the Chewy Cheerleading Team. The sucanat gives a very nice sweetness, reminding me of some cookies that call for brown butter to be incorporated in the dough. That type of added complexity.  It makes about 16 cookies (I actually managed to get 17).  I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and make them smaller, they will have the perfect texture baked exactly as ATK suggests. Indeed, those guys test their formulas. Extensively. And we all profit from their work. I took them to the department and was considering grabbing one mid-morning, but found the empty platter staring at me. It was 9:48am. That is the sign of a good batch of cookies.

ONE YEAR AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SIX YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire