Chocolate Licorice Brownie Cookies

Hey, hey, hey wait a second.  Give this a chance before you run away screaming.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve made every cookie out there.  Were I enterprising, the next step would be to work out my own original recipes.  Alas, that will have to wait until my brain is less stuffed with other, more important things (eg whether our bathtub is big enough to keep a pet otter happy and, when I get a pet otter, what I will name it).

So, when I came across a recipe for salty black licorice brownie cookies by Charli Nowak over on Food 52, I was over on Amazon ordering ingredients before I’d even finished reading the article.

Now, I know what you are thinking–adding chocolate to black licorice is like putting lipstick on a pig.  But, stick with me. Something cool happens when you mix the earthy, herbal flavors of anise and licorice root with the smoky sweet flavors of deep dark chocolate.

I’ll admit, my own pump for licorice and chocolate were primed before I saw the recipe.  I’ve been thinking about creating an All Sorts French macaroon for a few months.  If you are a fan of these licorice candies paired with a host of flavors and stacked into colorful little blocks, you already know that chocolate and licorice are good friends.

These cookies are indulgent and immensely satisfying.  They’re deeply chocolate with enough je ne sais quoi to make them sophisticated and dare I say, sexy. Think Valentine’s Day worthy.

Still not convinced?  I’ve got you covered.

In the name of research, I offered up a couple to TD without mentioning the unusual ingredients.  TD is squarely in the no black jelly bean camp.

The verdict?  He was a big fan.

When I asked if he could identify the secret ingredients he guessed chocolate.

Did you know TD is the Latin abbreviation for Captain Obvious?

I ordered my licorice root powder and ground anise from Amazon in larger quantities because, as I mentioned, I have bigger plans for these flavors.  However, you should be able to find them at a spice shop like Penzy’s.  Or, if you live close and want to make these, let me know and I’ll share my stash.

Salty Black Licorice Brownie Cookies

adapted just a bit from Charli Nowak for Food 52

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • stick (1/4 pound or 8 TBS) unsalted butter
  • large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS black cocoa powder (or Dutch-processed cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS licorice root powder (available in specialty spice stores)
  • 2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (plus more or flaky salt for sprinkling on top)
  • optional: 6 ounces mini chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate bits optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 4 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Place butter in a small pot over medium heat and begin melting. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until butter begins to brown and smell nutty. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture and stir until completely melted. Set aside.
  3. To the hot, melted butter, add chocolate, water, and vanilla extract.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
  4. Place eggs and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed for 7 minutes until eggs are pale and ribbony.
  5. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, licorice root power, anise, and salt. Set aside.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add melted chocolate mixture. Once combined, add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Gently fold in chocolate chips
  8. Using your choice of scoop size (I used my favorite 1 1/2 TBS size, the original recipe called for a 3 TBS scoop), portion batter onto prepared trays leaving two inches between each. Sprinkle tops with flaky salt and bake until puffed and crackly, about 11 minutes. Remove from oven, give the tray a good smack against the counter, and let cool for at least 20 minutes.

Posession with intent to distribute

Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues.  And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.

It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is.  No, I’m not going to stop baking).

Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have.  It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family.   Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!

My analytics weren’t super awesome this year.  I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place,  I offer a summary:

  • 35 pounds of butter
  • 75 pounds of sugar
  • 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
  • 25 pounds of chocolate
  • 3500 units

And some old fashioned visuals.  You’ll find a  list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.

 

Holiday Baking 2018: The List

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Ginger

Triple Gingersnaps

World Peace Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut butter (schweddy) balls

Almond Butter Crunch

Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)

 

 

When Pinterest gets ya

 

I’ll admit it, this is a Pinterest find.

It’s funny, for all the baking I do, I don’t spend very much time pursuing Pinterest for baking recipes.   Nope.  The vast majority of my Pinterest time is spent searching house blueprints.  And shoes.  And Vitamix recipes.  Even though I make the exact same protein smoothie every day.

But these I could not resist.  Oatmeal?  Butterscotch?  Yes please!

Now for a confession: I generally haven’t had much luck making oatmeal cookies.  It’s like I’m missing the oatmeal cookie gene.  Quick oats…regular oats…Irish oats…groats…doesn’t matter.  Instead of thick chewy wholesome treats, mine always spread.

So, using the skills I learned in baking class last summer I refrigerated the portioned-out dough over night.  My hope was that this would allow the oats to absorb some of the moisture while also chilling the butter to keep it from causing the dough to spread.

It worked pretty well.  I think there is still room from improvement (maybe smaller, thicker pucks of dough), but this is a delightful recipe with which to practice.

Chewy Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

adapted from Baker by Nature

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour (measured properly/not packed)
  • 1/2 C *quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 C butter (4 ounces), at room temp
  • 3/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSs (not blackstrap)
  • 3 large egg yolks at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C butterscotch chips

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, oats, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, sugars, and molasses on medium-high speed until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes.
  3. Add in egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Mix in vanilla.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, beat on low until just combined; about 25 seconds.
  6. Fold in butterscotch chips.
  7. Using spoons or a scoop, portion out the dough into individual balls or half domes.  Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  9. Using the flat bottom of a cup or mug, gently flatten each ball to between 1/4 and 1/8 inch disks (you may need to dip the glass or mug in sugar to keep the dough from sticking.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 9 minutes, or until set at the edges but still slightly jiggly in the center.
  11. Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Roasted Strawberries and Cream Cookies

If you haven’t noticed, I kind of have a thing for roasted strawberries:  Exhibit A and  Exhibit B.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my little baking brain wondered if replacing the dried blueberries with roasted strawberries in Christina Tosi’s blueberries and cream cookies recipe would make a good swap.  Why roasted instead of dried strawberries?  Because up until about five minutes ago when I checked out Amazon, I didn’t know dried strawberries existed.

Knowledge may be power, but necessity is the mother of invention.  And I needed to make these cookies.  I also needed to stop quoting cliches.

Many of Christina Tosi’s recipes pay homage to her middle-class upbringing.  Without realizing it, I stumbled into a nostalgic favorite of my own.  I’m pretty sure I ate the same thing for breakfast every morning during middle school: Quaker strawberries and cream oatmeal.  As I bit into one of these cookies I was suddenly back in the seventh grade wearing my favorite two-tone Guess jeans and shaker knit sweater from Express wondering if I could talk my mom into carpooling to the mall that weekend.

Oh the responsibilities of being 12 in suburbia.

Anyhow, as summer is right around the corner, it would be pretty fun to make a batch of the original and a batch of the strawberry version of this recipe for your Fourth of July celebrations.

Strawberries and Cream Cookies

adapted from Christina Tosi’s blueberries and cream cookies

for the  streusel

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces chopped white chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine milk powder, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and coarse salt in medium bowl; toss to mix evenly.
  3. Add butter; stir with fork until clusters form. Spread mixture evenly on prepared sheet.
  4. Bake until crumbs are dry and crumbly but still pale, about 10 minutes.
  5. Cool Milk Crumbs completely on sheet.
  6. In a double boiler or microwave, melt white chocolate.  Pour over milk crumbs and toss with a fork until coated.
  7. Continue to toss with a fork every few minutes until the crumbs are dry.
  8. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

for the roasted strawberries

Ingredients

  • 2 C fresh strawberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently wash and cut strawberries into quarters.
  2. Place berries on a cooling rack fitted into a baking sheet, seeds-side-down (note, you can skip the cooling rack and place directly on parchment but will need to turn the berries halfway through baking).
  3. Bake until strawberries are partially dried, about 45 minutes. Let cool.

for the cookies

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons glucose or light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups struesel
  • Roasted strawberries

Directions

  1. Combine butter, both sugars, and corn syrup in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add eggs; beat on medium-high speed until mixture is very pale and sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat on low speed just until blended, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.
  4. Add streusel; mix on low speed just until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer. Stir in strawberries just until evenly distributed (dough will be very sticky).
  5. Using 1/4-cup ice cream scoop for each cookie (I actually used a smaller scoop–1/4 cup scoops make huge cookies), drop dough onto 2 large rimmed baking sheets.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours.
  7. While dough is cold, flatten the domes into disks using the flat-edged bottom of a cup or glass.  To prevent sticking, dip the glass in granulated sugar before flattening each dome.
  8. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F.
  9. Line 2 large (18×12-inch) rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Transfer 6 chilled dough scoops (more if you’ve used a smaller scoop) to each sheet, spacing at least 4 inches apart (cookies will spread).
  10. Bake cookies, 2 sheets at a time, until golden, reversing sheets halfway through baking, 20 to 22 minutes total (smaller cookies cook in about 12 minutes–start checking at 10).
  11. Repeat with remaining chilled dough, cooling and relining sheets between batches.
  12. Transfer cookies to racks; cool completely.

 

 

 

Make these. Now.

A work friend of mine brought in the most ridiculous…ridiculousest? little cookies from a recent trip to Paso Robles.  Rich and carmely with a sandy texture they came from the descriptively named Brown Butter Cookie Company.  Don’t let their humble looks fool you–these are gift worthy little bites.

As she handed me one, my friend threw down the gauntlet: “figure out how to make these.”

Once upon a time this would have been a challenge.  Luckily, and a little to my disappointment, the internet has made things much easier.  A handful of recipes popped up on my first Google search.  The fact that multiple refer to these cookies as copycats to the Brown Butter Cookie Company’s recipe is testament to how delicious they are.

They’re also fun to make.  There is no fancy equipment involved and the brown butter is stirred in while still hot making the dough a lot like wet sand.  Once it cools down, into the oven it goes and in a few minutes you’ve got heaven.  I made one single batch and then the next day got down to business with two more double batches.

Spoiler alert:  I found the first new recipe to add to my holiday baking for 2015.

Brown Butter Sables

adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

note: a single batch yields about 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • sea salt for sprinkling (preferably fleur de sel)

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and allow it to caramelize.  You know it’s getting close when it begging to smell nutty.  Watch the butter closely until it turns a medium to light golden brown.  Do not let it burn.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
  3. Pour butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk-in brown butter and sugar.
  5. Fold-in flour mixture until just combined.
  6. Allow dough to cool to room temp.
  7. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Using a small scoop (I use 1/2 ounce), scoop cookies into half-domes and place on cookie sheets about 2-inches apart.
  9. If desired, gently flatten-out dough domes using the bottom of a glass.  Dough will be fragile.
  10. Sprinkle each with a few grains of fleur de sel.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Allow to cool completely.
  13. Try not to eat all of them at once.

 

Ina’s Jam Thumbprints…with a twist

As you know, I like to vary my holiday baking from year to year.  Each year there are the “they’d kill me if I didn’t make these.”  These are your rum butter nuts, schweddy balls (chocolate peanut butter bon bons) and sugar cookies.  Then there are the newbies–always at least one or two.  The newbies aspire to be tried and true.  Sometimes they advance, like the World Peace addition from a couple of years ago.  Sometimes they see a single season and then are never heard from again–like last year’s white chocolate and pink peppercorn sables.  Finally, there are the rotators.  These guys come in an out every few years depending on the whim of the baker and which way the wind happens to be blowing.  Or something like that.   Baklava, toffee and jam thumbprints among others fall into this category.

Always a personal favorite of mine, jam thumbprints were asked back to the dance this year after a three or four year absence.  They’re festive looking and a nice fruity and nutty balance to the chocolate goodies.  They can also be a pain to make.

In recalling where this recipe came from, I realized that jam thumbprints might just be my introduction to Ina Garten.  I was home from college for the holidays and while polishing the silver or making name cards (tasks which I’ve only recently realized were designed to keep me out of trouble), my mom turned on a show hosted by a lady with nicely manicured hands and a ridiculous house in the Hamptons.  In the episode she made a batch of jam thumbprints, wrapped them up in little glassine bags tied with ribbons then hopped in her Mercedes, hand delivering to friends along the way.

The whole thing seemed so contrived.  And yet.  I wanted to wrap up cookies in cute bags, jump in my German luxury vehicle and drive among the mid-winter dunes delivering cookies like a WASPy socialite santa.

But back to the fact that jam thumbprints are tedious.

The original recipe asks the baker to make the dough, chill it, shape individual balls, roll them in egg wash, roll them in coconut, make thumb indentations, fill with jam and then, finally, bake.  Not awful, but I found that since these are a fairly crumbly shortbread cookie, the rolling and printing after the dough was cold could be problematic.  Often, the dough would crack…and a cracked vessel will not hold its treasure.  And, the egg wash was messy.

So I played with the process a bit in the name of mass production and came up with a technique that streamlines the rolling and dipping and such.

In this little twist, the dough is made and then immediately shaped, rolled in coconut (no need for egg wash), indented and then chilled.  Then, when it’s time to bake all that needs to be done is to fill with jam and into the oven.  No cracks and because the dough is still cold when it goes in, they keep their shape a little better.

Did I take pictures of this?  Of course not.  Why would I do that?  It isn’t like all of this was going to go in a visually driven blog.

You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Ina’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies

methodological twist provided by TMH

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam


Directions

  1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.
  2. Separately, sift together the flour and salt.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.)
  5. Once balls are rolled, roll each in coconut.  Then, go back through and press a light indentation into the top of each with you finger.
  6. Arrange closely on a cookie sheet, wrap loosely and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet with at least 1 inch in between. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown.

 

 

Tartine’s Shortbread

I’ve lost count of the number of shortbread and sable recipes palling around on the Misanthropic Hostess.

I think shortbread has become my holy grail. Such a simple cookie.  And, probably because of this, so easy to get “not quite right.”

This recipe comes from the first Tartine cookbook.  I bought the book for the famed bakery’s laminated dough recipe.  But, like a moth to the flame, this, not their croissants was the first recipe I tried.

And, it does not disappoint. It’s crisp yet tender, light yet sings of butter.   In fact, of all the recipes I’ve tried over the years, this one comes the closest to, what I’m beginning to suspect is an imagined shortbread ideal.

Shortbread

Tartine

Ingredients

  • 1 C + 1 TBS (9 oz, 255 g) unsalted high-quality butter, very soft
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt (TMH uses kosher)
  • 1 3/4 + 2 TBS (9 oz, 255 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C + 2TBS (2 2/3 oz, 75g) cornstarch
  • 1/3 C (2 1/2 oz, 70g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C superfine or granulated sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 6X10 or 8X8 glass baking dish.
  2. Place butter (should be the consistency of mayonnaise) in a mixing bowl.  Add-in salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add granulated sugar until just combined.
  4. Sift-in flour and cornstarch.  Mix only until a smooth dough forms.
  5. Pat the dough evenly into the prepped baking dish.
  6. Bake until the top and bottom are light brown, about 30 minutes though it took about 40 in my oven.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack just until the shortbread is warm.  Do not allow to cool completely.
  8. Sprinkle the shortbread with superfine sugar.  Tilt the dish so that the sugar coats the entire surface evenly, top out the excess sugar.
  9. With a thin, sharp knife, cut shortbread into fingers or squares.
  10. Chill completely before removing the squares from the pan.
  11. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Pumpkin makes the girls go crazy

It’s funny because it’s true.

I’ve spoken of my…struggles…with pumpkin.  Savory gourd I can hang with.  Sweet, not so much.  However, if Trader Joe’s is to be believed, I am in the very slim minority.  Not sure if anyone caught this but nearly every single item in their latest frequent flyer news letter was pumpkin-ified.  Pumpkin yogurt.  Pumpkin macarons.  Pumpkin body butter.  Now I know those guys at TJs like to have some fun but they wouldn’t make it if it didn’t sell.

And this is why I have not one, but two pumpkin recipes this month.

Everyone’s favorite fall spice profile marries with pumpkin, oatmeal, white chocolate and pepitas.

While these aren’t exactly healthy, I bet you could eat half a dozen for the same number of calories in in tall pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

adapted from Chow.com

Ingredients

for the cookies

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 C rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie filling; about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 C white chocolate chips
  • 1 C pepitas (I used the roasted pumpkin spice from TJs)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to  break up any lumps; set aside.
  3. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla, return the mixer to medium speed, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and pumpkin.
  6. Fold-in chocolate chips and pepitas.
  7. Drop 8 dough rounds per baking sheet by the scant 1/4 cup, staggering them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
  8. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges, about 12 minutes more.
  9. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough using cool baking sheets.
  11. Place all of the icing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined. (You may need to add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon if the glaze is too thick to drizzle.)
  12. Place all of the cooled cookies on cooling racks or parchment. Dip a fork into the glaze and drizzle it over the cookies in a zigzag pattern. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze has set, about 20 minutes.

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.

 

 

 

 

Pour l’amour de septembre

This year September is about French macarons. I’ll have a new macaron variation for you each week.

Let’s kick the unofficial start of fall off with an earl grey macaron filled with orange marmalade Italian buttercream.

Infusing tea into macaron shells is a clever way of adding additional sense experience to the macaron eating experience.  Uhm.  What I mean is that, as most people know, smell is an important element of the eating experience. Earl grey has a wonderful floral and citrus nose to it.  So, even before you take your first bite, the seduction begins with the scent of oranges.  It works the same with other tea varietals…chai…green…lapsang soughing (okay fine, I just wanted to type that last one).

Buttercream, Italian or otherwise is also a great bet for filling macarons.  On its own, the filling is rich but stable (no need to worry about it squeezing out the sides).  It’s also a great neutral beginning to a host of added flavors.  In this recipe I’ve whipped in some orange marmalade.

Another fabulous thing about Italian buttercream is that sealed tightly in a ziplock freezer bag (don’t forget to label), it freezes extremely well.  This allows you to cut-off a frozen hunk, thaw it, add-in your choice of flavorings and then fill a dozen or so at a time.

A final note on aesthetics.  I’ve seen earl grey macarons in multiple macarooneries (if this isn’t already a word I’m claiming it).  However, they are often colored grey or even lavender.  I’m not really pro-grey food and I think the lavender is misleading.  So, in this recipe I added just a couple of drops of orange food gel coloring.  After all, earl grey tea gets its characteristic citrus scent from bergamot oranges (though, if I’m being honest, bergamots are actually yellow, not orange).  I also like how the light hue allows the speckles from the ground tea to show through.

Next week, a nod to Fiesta Hermosa (and no, I’m not making an edible driftwood clock or bedazzled acid-wash demin purse).

Earl Grey French Macarons with Italian Buttercream

For the shells

I have found the best way to get consist results with macarons is to use weight measurements.  

Make 20-24 shells

Ingredients

  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp earl grey tea, finely ground (I use a coffee grinder)
  • 20 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 or so drops orange food gel if desired
  • Piping bag (a ziplock can be used in a pinch)

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, tea 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. Add-in your gel coloring if desired.
  7. Beat eggs until they form soft peaks.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 (eh…maybe a little less).
  11. Pipe your shells onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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 Italian Buttercream

The Italian buttercream is this week’s baking class derivative.  The instructor taught us how to test the syrup without using a candy thermometer and I want ed to practice.  The recipe included here uses a thermometer because I have no idea how to accurately describe the “drop syrup dab in  water and see if it forms a soft ball without totally scorching your finger tips method.”

And another thing.  You could half this recipe and still have enough to fill several dozen macarons.

Start with this recipe for Italian Buttercream from Gourmet Magazine (sniffle).  For a single batch of macarons you’ll only need a quarter of the buttercream (at most).  To the portioned buttercream add about 1/2 cup of orange marmalade.  Whip frosting to incorporate.  Frost macarons as desired.  Store remaining frosting in a sealed container in fridge (eh…maybe a week) or freezer (up to a couple of months).