Salted Caramel Macarons

Salted caramel oh how I love thee. You seductive diet breaker, you call me out of the depths of keto and beckon me in the middle of the night just longing for me to plunge my spoon into your jar. You are the like the forbidden apple of my Kitchen Garden of Good and Evil, but even a good girl has to have a forbidden fruit once in a while. These are a variation of other caramel macarons I’ve made in the past. This time I just flavored them with the wonderful salted caramel filling on their own. I sprinkled some sugar in the raw on top for visual appearance, but it’s totally optional.

Salted Caramel Filling

280 g granulated sugar

120 g heavy cream

200 g unsalted butter

1 tsp. Maldon sea salt

 

  1. Start by making a dry caramel by melting and caramelizing the sugar gradually. At the same time, heat the whole liquid cream.
  2. When the sugar is completely melted and it has a nice caramel color, gently pour the hot cream over the caramel while mixing with a whisk and paying attention to the mixture rising; be careful as it will foam up. 
  3.  Continue to cook for another few minutes, until the caramel is 245° F, then remove from the heat and add the unsalted butter and whisk thoroughly to combine, then add in the salt. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap the chill until thickened.

 

Macarons

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

gel food colors in Espresso (dark brown)  and gold

optional sugar in the raw to sprinkle on top of unbaked macs

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130° F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on  power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.
  4. Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.
  5. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in a bit of gel food color (I use Americolor).
  6. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1-3 minutes or until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  7. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 continuous ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  8. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  9. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Bake the first tray right away (no resting), in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.  After the cookies have cooled about 8-10 minutes turn them upside down and let the cool on the tray until completely cooled. (I find this helps prevent hollow shells). Cool the cookies completely and pipe the salted caramel filling between two cookies and sandwich together.
  10. Chill the macarons in an airtight container for 24-48 hours to impart flavor and help soften the macarons to desired chewiness. Bring to room temp to enjoy.

 


Black Cocoa Chocolate Galaxy Cake

 

Did you know there’s a thing such as black cocoa powder? Yep, the same type that Oreo’s are made from. You can buy it online. I purchased some quite a while back from King Arthur when I make homemade style Oreo’s and I wanted to play around with some colors on top of some black buttercream. I tweaked this buttercream from Sweetapolita’s recipe for glossy black buttercream slightly, as well as her recipe for black cocoa cake on her site that is called Glam Rock Cake. It was super fun to play around with smearing some other colors on top of the black frosting to get the galaxy look. I always use Americolor gel color paste; and besides the super black that was used in the frosting, I used electric blue, electric purple and electric pink along with some white to get my galaxy look. You have to start with a black smooth canvas then randomly smear on little dabs of the colors and then take your bench scraper to lightly mix the colors. I then took some silver luster dust mixed with a little super white gel food color and thinned it with a tiny bit of vodka to get the right consistency to splatter on the white space matter. I also “threw” (literally) on some tiny edible silver stars for the final flourish.

The galaxy styled cake was a surprise birthday cake for a friend of mine in my church group, and he loved it!

The inside of the cake is black velvet filled with cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries. The raspberries help counteract the sweet contrast of the buttercream. I love how it looks also when you slice into it. I used bittersweet chocolate in the frosting but in hindsight; since the black cocoa is a very forward flavor, if I make it again I would use half semi sweet and bittersweet as I thought it was a little too bittersweet for my taste, but it was delish none the less.

 

Black Cocoa Galaxy Cake

Black Cocoa Cake

recipe: from Sweetapolita Glam Rock Cake

2 1/3 Cup all purpose flour

3/4 Cup plus one Tablespoon best quality black cocoa powder (I used King Arthur brand)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 Cups buttermilk, room temperature (or mix one cup whole milk with 1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar and let sit for at least 10 minutes)

1/2 Cup hot coffee

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

2 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar (it seems like a lot; but the cake needs it)

2 tsp. vanilla

4 large eggs, room temp

1/4 cup mayonnaise, room temp

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

 

Preheat the oven to 350° F and spray three 8 inch pans with baking spray and line with parchment circles.

In a bowl sift together the flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large glass liquid measuring cup mix together the buttermilk and coffee. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment ,or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and mix gently. Decrease the speed to low and add in one third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add in one half of the buttermilk/coffee mixture. Add in the remainder of the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk mixture, ending with the flour mixture until combined; being careful not to overmix. Remove the bowl and carefully mix in the mayonnaise.

In a small bowl quickly mix the baking soda and vinegar and quickly add to the batter, whisking until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the pans and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-27 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched and the cake just starts to pull away from the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Black Glossy Fudge Frosting

recipe from Sweetapolita 

1  Cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp. black cocoa powder  (I used King Arthur brand that I purchased online)

2-3 Tbsp. hot water

1/4 cup sour cream

3/4 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (melted along with the bittersweet chips)

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

gel paste color in super black (Americolor)

In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer beat the butter until pale and fluffy; about 6 minutes. Sift the confectioners sugar, salt, and the cocoa together and add in and mix on low first to avoid a mess, then add in the hot water and sour cream and mix to combine. Increase the speed and beat for about 2 minutes to combine. Add in the melted chocolate chips and beat for another minute or two to combine. Add in about 1/2 tsp. of the black gel paste color and beat to combine. Let the frosting sit for about 15 minutes (it darkens as it sits) and then add a little bit as necessary to achieve the color you want. Note; the frosting darkens considerably after sitting. I made the frosting the day before and let it sit covered in the bowl on the counter and it went from very dark brown to black; so if you have time; make it the day before so you can gauge the blackness of the final product.

For decorating the galaxy look: 

White vanilla purchased frosting (you want a white white color so your colors are not off) for coloring small bowls of divided frosting with electric blue, electric purple, and electric pink (all Americolor gel colors) to use for decorating the outside of the cake.

Note: I also used a small amount of silver luster dust mixed with bright white Americolor and vodka to achieve a thickened liquid consistency to “splatter” on the outside of the cake using a clean small paintbrush (that I buy in the craft store- and use solely for this purpose). Clean afterwards and you can reuse and store in your containers of gel colors to have handy.

To decorate; after your cake is smoothed with your final black frosting; smear on random small amounts about 1 inch of each colors randomly around the cake and gently smooth using your bench scraper going around the cake and adding in colors as needed to achieve your final look. Avoid smoothing too much; you want spots of color to show. I also add on some white frosting and gently smooth to get some gray color. While the frosting is still sticky; if you want toss against the sides with edible silver stars and splatter with your mixed silver luster dust/white gel color/vodka mix.

 

Fluffy Cream Cheese Filling

recipe: sweetapolita

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

8 oz. softened cream cheese, cut into small cubes

2 (6 oz.) containers fresh raspberries, washed and dried

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and decrease the speed to low and beat for one minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy; about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth, about one minute. Try not to overbeat as the frosting will become too loose if you fdo. Fill the cakes by gently spreading one half of the frosting over two of the cakes and placing the raspberries onto the frosting, and then gently smushing them down onto the frosting before topping with the next cake layer; repeat with the second cake layer, and top with the third cake layer and frost the outside of the cake with the black frosting and decorate as described above.

 

 

 

bonus photos of some galaxy macarons I made; but decided not to use in the end

 


Fudgy Brownies with Rolo’s

 

If I crave something sweet it usually involves caramel, or chocolate and caramel. Admittedly I use have a jar of homemade caramel in my fridge. I know….It can be a problem, but there is nothing better than stirring it into hot coffee. I have tried brownie recipes before that involve a layer of caramel but it always seems to disappear and I had an idea of folding these delicious little nuggets into the batter; more of an experiment than anything to see if they would totally melt or not. These are the things that keep me up at night; recipe ideas that swirl in my head; will a Rolo candy melt into brownies or not. Weirdness factor 10 out of 10 I’m aware. But this is when I usually get my best ideas; laying in bed at night pondering life’s mysteries.

So you know I HAD to try it out. Oh my….they retain their shape and that little bit of chewy goodness is divine when married with a fudgy brownie. This recipe is great if you like fudgy brownies; feel free to experiment and fold in other things like toasted walnuts or dried cherries if you want to play around and eliminate the Rolo candies. It’s a great base recipe if you need brownies for a crowd. If you want an 8×8 pan instead; just cut the recipe in half.

Rolo Fudgy Brownies

1 Cup all purpose- flour

1/2 Cup Dutch process cocoa powder [I used Hershey’s extra dark]

1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed

6 large eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 Cup unsalted butter

8 oz. 60 %  bittersweet chocolate

2 oz. milk chocolate

2 Tbsp. sunflower, grapeseed, or vegetable  oil

10 oz. unwrapped Rolo candies, divided

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F degrees.
  2. Save the butter wrappers and use to grease all sides and bottom of 9×13 inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper across the width of the pan leaving at least 2 inches of overhang.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt, set aside.
  4. In a heat proof bowl place the chocolate(s), butter and oil and place over a pot of simmering water and stir until melted, then remove from the heat while you proceed  with the next steps.
  5. In a stand mixer bowl place the eggs and the sugars; being careful to hand sift through the brown sugar to catch and smash any lumps of brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment, on high mix the eggs and sugars until the mixture has become creamy looking; about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and pour in the melted chocolate/butter-oil mixture.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in 5 oz. (half of your Rolo candies).
  7.  Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth out so batter is level. Set the timer for 13 minutes and bake the brownies. While the brownies are baking take the other half of the reserved Rolo candies and cut half of them in half; (cutting from the top down); keeping the other 2.5 oz. whole.
  8.  After 13 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle over the reserved 5 oz. of  Rolo candies; randomly scattering over the top so you have both the full and half cut candies on top of the partially baked brownies. Immediately return the brownies to the oven and continue to bake about 25 minutes more; but checking them after 20 minutes to ensure they don’t overbake. Test with a wooden skewer and remove when you have moist crumbs.
  9.  Allow the pan of brownies to cool completely over a wire rack. Once cooled; cut into squares.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rum Cake

 

Rum Cake

recipe slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven

2  1/2 Cup cake flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 3/4 Cups sugar, divided (use 1/4Cup  for egg whites)

3 egg whites, room temp

pinch of cream of tartar

6 egg yolks, room temp

10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to sl. warm

1 Tbsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 Cup golden rum

Spray a Bundt pan liberally with nonstick baking spray or butter. Add in a few tablespoons of sugar and coat the pan until the entire pan is coated; ensuring that you also get the middle core.

In a bowl combine the dry ingredients; including 1 1/2 cups sugar and whisk; set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment (make sure it is super clean) place the 3 egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar and whisk until starts to get foamy. Gradually start adding the remaining1/4 cup of sugar about a tablespoon at a time until they reach stiff peaks. Scrape out the whipped egg whites into a medium bowl.

In the same mixer bowl (no need to clean) place the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, rum, and melted butter. Pour in the egg mixture on medium low speed and mix for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again for 15 seconds until combined. Stop the mixer and fold in 1/3 of the egg whipped egg whites to lighten the batter. Add in the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold through to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread even on top. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes or until when a wooden skewer returns with moist crumbs.

While the cake is baking, make the butter rum syrup.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool over a wire rack for a few minutes. Poke the cake all over with a long wooden skewer and then pour over 1/2 of the rum syrup. Let the cake rest for 30 minutes, then invert the cake a slowly pour over the remaining syrup and allow to soak in before serving. Cover any unfinished cake and leave at room temp so the cake does not dry out.

Butter Rum Syrup:

1/4 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

1/2 (1 stick unsalted butter)

6 Tbsp. rum (I used 3 Tbsp. Golden Rum and 3 Tbsp. Meyers dark rum)

In a small saucepan place the water and sugar and heat until sugar starts to dissolve; a few minutes. Add in the butter and heat until boiling; and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add in the rum and stir.

 

 

 

 


Chai Spice Glazed Cookie Thins

I don’t know why a chai latte taste better on a cold rainy day or why we tend to think of spices more during Holiday time, but chai spice is something I tend to equate with colder weather. A lazy Sunday morning snug inside your favorite cozy robe with your cold hands wrapped around a hot mug of tea definitely beckons for one of these cookies. You’ll suddenly forget you have piles of laundry to fold or the dog needs to be fed. All of a sudden, it’s only about you and this moment of sweet bliss while you sip on your tea and nibble on a couple of these sweet, but not too sweet spicy cookies. The thing is, this cookie dough almost taste better after it has sat in the fridge for a few days while the spices mingle together. You can even let the dough rest in the fridge for a week as long as it’s well wrapped in plastic wrap to avoid taking on any other odors; making sure not to park it next to an onion for instance. I tested a couple batches with 1/8 inch and also 1/4 inch thickness and found that I like the thinner version better. You can certainly make them thicker if you like; just bake them a minute or two longer. Do not skip on the glaze-it totally makes this cookie!

 

Chai Spice Blend

3 Tbsp. cinnamon (I like Saigon cinnamon)

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground ginger

2 1/2  tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. white pepper

Mix together all the ingredients and store in a glass jar (you’ll have some leftover)

 

Chai Glaze

2 Cup confectioners sugar

1/ 2 tsp. chai spice

3 Tbsp. water

 

Chai Spice Cookies

(yield: 2-3 dozen depending on size) 

1 Cup unsalted butter

6 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

1/3 Cup honey

3/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 /12 Cups flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. chai spice blend (from recipe above)

 

1. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the honey in a slow stream and mix until combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix. Combine the flour, salt and 3/4 tsp of prepared chai spice in a separate bowl with a fork. Reduce the mixer to low and add the flour in two additions and mix until combined.

2. Divide the dough into two portions, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for a least 8 hours or even up to one week. Unwrap one disc at a time and roll out onto a floured board into 1/8 inch thickness and cut into circles with a small cutter. Place onto a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Bake in a 350 preheated oven for 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Allot to  chill completely.

3. Dip the tops of cooled cookies into glaze, then turn cookie vertical and allow excess glaze to drip down off cookies; run finger around edge to clean off edges then rest on a wire rack to allow glaze to set until no longer wet.


Oreo (Cookies and Cream) Macarons

There are times I crave an Oreo. I mean, seriously there is nothing like an Oreo. Now snuggle a piece of that favorite cookie down into a blanket of oreo buttercream between two crisp but chewy delicious macarons and I’m telling you it’s divine.  I spent the better part of a week working on my recipe. Made some with cocoa inside, some with spirls, non swirls, some without a piece of cookie inside….you get the idea.  Last week I went a little manic macaron nuts and became obsessed-baking off tons of shells playing around with some new colors I bought and although these little morsels are colored grey I did have to play around even with the amount of black I added until I was happy with that shade of grey. Fifty shades of grey indeed.  I realized what elevates these to another level is to break off a piece of cookie and snug it down into the filling before topping if off. The surprise inside bite of that cookie and cream is delish. The Husband proclaimed “Hey, these are a keeper!” He usually loves everything I make but when he hollers back that statement after the first bite I know he really loves the recipe. He yelled that from the other room the other night after I casually dropped one in his hand while passing through the kitchen.

Oreo Macarons

 

Oreo Macaron Shells

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130 F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.
  4. Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.
  5. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in a bit of black gel food color (I use Americolor).
  6. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1-3 minutes or until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  7. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  8. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  9. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Bake the first tray right away (no resting), in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.  After the cookies have cooled about 8-10 minutes turn them upside down and let the cool on the tray until completely cooled. (I find this helps prevent hollow shells). Cool the cookies completely and pipe the buttercream between two cookies and sandwich together.

*A word about oven temperatures: EVERY one’s oven is different and after painstaking doing several batches of macarons I determined that in MY oven 300° F low convection setting is best for me. Check your oven temperature against a thermometer placed in the middle of your oven. Some people bake there’s at 285, 290, 310 etc. unfortunately it’s something that you have to play around with and determine what is best for you and your oven. 

Cookies and Cream Filling

60 g softened unsalted butter

150 g confectioners sugar

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

3 Tablespoons finely crushed Oreo cookie crumbs (discard filling)

extra Oreos broken into small pieces  (with filling)

In a medium bowl cream together the butter and confectioners sugar with a rubber spatula. Add in the heavy cream and stir vigorously to combine. Stir in the cookie crumbs.  Keep chilled until ready to use then stir gently and place into a pastry bag with a large open tip.

Fill and sandwich two cookies together with the buttercream and before topping with the second cookie place a small piece of oreo into the buttercream. If desired, roll the sides into crushed cookie crumbs. Let assembled macarons chill in a covered container in the fridge for one day for ideal texture. Serve a room temperature.

Here are some of my other batches where I swirled the batter with extra black color.

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Sometimes I like to dip one side of the assembled cookie into Oreo crumbs for a dark/light look.


Guava and Cream Cheese Mini Empanadas

Sometimes you make something so simple that even you are surprised how tasty it is. This is the case of these little morsels. I made them for a party I catered which I made several mini desserts. It was a Fiesta themed party so I made these Pastelitas with sweetened cream cheese and guava paste. The flaky dough is something that comes together really quickly in a food processor or even in a large bowl if you don’t have one. They turn out flaky and the tang of the guava with the sweetened cream cheese pair really well together. I’m lucky that I live near some Hispanic markets and guava paste is readily available. If you have a Chinese grocery store too most often you can find the guava paste as well. I had some leftover dough so I also played around and made another version with fig jam and bleu cheese crumbles.

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Empanada Dough

8 oz. unsalted butter, room temp

4 oz. cream cheese, room temp

1/4 Cup heavy cream

1 1/2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In a food processor place the butter, cream cheese and cream and pulse to combine. Add in the flour and salter and process until it just comes together into a ball. Dump the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cut into two equal pieces. Wrap each into a flat disc and chill for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling; prepare the filling as below.

Working with one piece at a time, roll out to approx. 1/8 inch thick onto a lightly floured board. Cut into circles using a 3 1/2 inch fluted cutter. One one side place a small amount of cream cheese and top with a small amount of guava paste onto top; using a finger dipped in water to smush the paste down slightly into the cream cheese. Dip a finger into water run around the opposite edge of the pastry to help secure the edge when folded over. Fold over the pastry and crimp with a work dipped in flour. Pierce the top with a floured fork and brush with egg wash. Assemble a tray full then chill for 30 minutes before baking. Note: you can assemble these and freeze in a ziplock bag unbaked and bake off as desired.

Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl place the cream cheese and microwave a few seconds until soft. Mix in the sugar and vanilla and combine. Place in a pastry bag if desired for assembly.

 

7 oz. store bought Guava paste

2-3 tsp. water

Cut the guava paste into small cubes and place in a small bowl with the water and microwave about 10 seconds at a time and still until smooth. Let cool and place in a pastry bag for assembly.

Egg wash

one egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water.

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Bake the pastries in a 375° F preheated oven until very light golden brown. Let cool and then dust with powdered sugar.

FYI- here’s a picture of my fig, chopped walnut, and bleu cheese version. Just combine a dark fig jam with some finely chopped walnuts and top with some blue cheese. Fold over and crimp in the same manner; brushing with egg wash and chill, then bake.

 

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