Is it a cookie or is it porn?

We’re still in Australia.

I spent the first half of my trip to Australia in Sydney for work.  We were based right in the middle of the CBD with access to all of the great shops, restaurants and, of course, coffee spots.

Australians take their coffee very seriously.  Home of the flat white, Australia has a vibrant coffee culture and with it, all of the bits and goodies associated with a strong cup.  It was early in the week and my travel partner (and frequent Australia traveller) noted that she was on the hunt for a melting moment.

“A what?” I asked as my 15-year-old-boy mind immediately went somewhere sexual.

Much to the disappointment of my pubescent brain, a melting moment is not a sex toy, but a sandwich cookie.

Often lemon, these little treats entail two shortbread cookies that bookend a generous dab of buttercream filling.  Once identified, I saw them at just about every coffee shop, bar and kiosk, often stacked invitingly in big glass jars.

Turns out, melting moments are also known as Yo-Yos.  In fact, they are the first recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s 2017 volume, Sweet.  Helen Goh is the pastry chef for Yotam Ottolenghi’s namesake restaurant, Ottolenghi, in London.  And, she’s originally from Australia.  This is a fantastic cookbook and while it was already sitting on my shelf before I left for Australia, it wasn’t until earlier this summer–and after I made the batch shown here–that I discovered her recipe (more on this cookbook and my current favorite chocolate cake in a couple of weeks).  The recipe below is actually modified from a mango version I found on Food 52.

Now that I know about Ms. Goh’s  Yo-Yo recipe, I promise to make them as well.  In the name of research of course.

Melting Moments

adapted just slightly from a recipe for Mango Melting Moments   by Emiko on the Food 52 site.

makes 12 completed cookies (this recipe doubles well)

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2/3 C (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 C (250 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C (75 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 C (250 grams or 8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • Finely grated and then chopped zest of 1 lemon

For the lemon buttercream:

  • 1/4 C (65 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 C (125 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBS (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 320° F (160° C).  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
  2. Sift sugar, flour, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. When creamy and soft, combine with the flour mixture and begin folding together with a spatula or by hand. Continue combining the mixture until you have a perfectly smooth, soft ball of dough. Be patient, it will take a few minutes.
  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls or use (try to get the same size each time; about 2 level teaspoons-worth is ideal) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
  5. With the tines of a fork (easier if you dip the fork into flour each time), gently flatten each ball until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick (it will spread a little more when baking and you do want these fairly thick rather than thin).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are still very pale but feel dry to the touch. They will still be quite delicate and soft, so let them stand on the tray for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They will harden when cooled.
  7. Make the lemon buttercream by whipping the butter, sugar, and lemon juice together until smooth and creamy.  While called buttercream, the consistency will be more like play dough.  Roll small 1/4 tsp-sized balls of buttercream and place in the center of half of the cookies.  Gently top with the other half, pressing down until the buttercream reaches the edges of the cookies.   Let them set in the fridge in an airtight container for 30 minutes before serving. They will keep a few days stored like this, but make sure to bring them back to room temperature before serving. Plain cookies without the buttercream will keep 1 week in an airtight container.

 

And one for the road…Espresso Macarons

I know it’s October but I’ve got one more for you.

The theme of this run of macaron recipes seems to have been “stuff you can add to the shells without totally messing up their fickle, fickle structure.”  Maybe I should have started with this recipe because really, it’s a no brainer: espresso powder.  I was so lazy I didn’t even use the instant variety.  Nope, I just took a knife to a Nespresso pod (I do the same thing for my favorite brownie recipe) and the rich bitter results went straight into the batter.

A million years ago I worked as a cocktail waitress at Lawry’s the Prime Rib in Beverly Hills.  I’ve talked about this right?  Anyhow, when we made espresso we’d serve it with a lemon twist.  As a nod to the citrus brightness that plays so well with the espresso’s bitterness I added a drop or two of orange oil to the chocolate ganache filling.

Happy October!

Espresso Macarons with Bittersweet Chocolate and Orange Ganache

for the shells

Ingredients

  • 60g almond flour
  • 100g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground espresso
  • 50 g egg whites
  • 20 g granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 315 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  I like to draw the circles with Sharpie on a couple of pieces of parchment as a stencil. In order to use them multiple times I lay another piece of parchment over the top.
  2. Weigh and measure out all of your ingredients.  When I’m making multiple batches I actually weigh out the almond flour, sugar and any other dry ingredients into separate zip-lock baggies and label them.
  3. In a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse together almond meal, espresso powder and confectioner’s sugar.  Give it a few pulses then sift into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or an electric hand mixer), add the egg whites.  Beat on medium low until frothy.
  5. Increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar and pinch of salt.
  6. Beat eggs until they form soft peaks.
  7. Working in three batches, add first portion of almond meal mixture to the egg-whites.  Gently fold until just combined.  Repeat with the additional two portions of meal folding to combine while using as few folds as possible.
  8. To test if the batter is ready to pipe, scoop about 1/4 tsp onto a flat surface.  The batter should act like lava and spread enough to lose its peak but not its shape.  I usually do this test several times starting at the point where everything is just combined.  If you under-mix the batter you can always give it a few more folds.  However, you are out of luck if you over mix.  So, err on the side of multiple tests.
  9. When the batter is ready, pour it into your piping bag.  To be honest, I don’t bother with a tip, I just snip the bag about an inch or so from the tip.
  10. Pipe your shells onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  11. Allow to sit for 10-60 minutes or until the shells appear dry.  I have found this process is heavily dependent on the weather.  The more moisture in the air, the longer they need to sit.
  12. Working with one sheet at a time, bake for about 20 minutes.  To test, gently grab one corner of the parchment and attempt to peel it from the shell.  A clean peel means the shells are done.  If they are sticky, back in the oven for another 5 minutes and test again.
  13. Let the shells cool but once cool, carefully remove from the parchment.  I have found that you don’t want to let the cooled shells sit on the parchment.

for the ganache

Ingredients

  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 TBS butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 drops orange oil

 

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan gently warm the cream until little bubbles form along the perimeter.  Remove from heavy.
  2. Add in chopped chocolate swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is covered.  Let rest for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Gently whisk chocolate and cream to combine.  Add-in butter, salt and oil. Whisk until smooth and silky.
  4. Pour into a heat-proof container, cover and allow to set in fridge.