Caramel Apple Macarons

caramel-apple-macarons-to-celebrate-fall

Leftover caramel in the fridge is a very dangerous thing. Especially when you discover how good it is stirred into a cup of hot coffee. That leftover caramel got me thinking. Lately I’ve been kind of macaron obsessed. Don’t know why, but it seems to comes in waves. The macaron obsession is real. I was in Safeway and started daydreaming of macaron flavors (I know I’m weird) when I spotted this bag of dried green apples. I’m constantly on the lookout for freeze dried fruits to grind up to add to macaron batter. A quick side note: if you use freeze dried fruits they MUST be rock hard and not have any moisture to them or it doesn’t work.

Caramel apple season is upon us, and I’m so ready for apple desserts, so I thought it would be fun to come up with a caramel apple macaron.  Any more than 2 tablespoons of apple powder messes with the shell and it doesn’t come out right; so to amp up the apple flavor even more, I simply sprinkled some on top of the batter before baking. I also sprinkled some on top of caramel filling before capping off the macaron.

You could also cut a piece of the dried apple and smush it down into the caramel and cap off the macaron to achieve max flavor, but since I had some leftover ground up pieces of apple I chose to go that route. Or do both! I love how when you smush the top macaron onto the caramel all the little bits of dried apple are visible on the sides.

caramel-apple-macs-resized

Caramel & Green Apple Macarons

Caramel Filling

yield: about 1  1/2 Cups

200 grams granulated sugar (about 1 Cup + 1 tsp.)

pinch of kosher salt

2 Tbsp. water

90 grams unsalted butter (about 6 Tbsp.)

120 ml heavy cream (8 Tbsp.)

 

In a microwave glass measuring cup  place the heavy cream and microwave until very warm, and set aside. In a heavy saucepan place the sugar, salt, and water and stir gently to combine. Bring to a boil without stirring (brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush if crystals form) and continue cooking until medium amber color. Carefully stir in the cream and whisk to combine. Stir in the butter and continue to cook for one more minute, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes. Pour caramel in a container and chill until ready to use. Note: If you want salted caramel stir in 1 teaspoon of either fleur de sel or kosher salt once you remove from the heat at the very end.

Green Apple Macaron Shells

yield: about 2 dozen macaron sandwiches

Freeze dried granny smith apples

165 gms almond flour

165 gms confectioners sugar

150 grams granulated sugar

115 grams egg whites (about 4 whites)

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

electric green gel food color (I use Americolor)

mint green gel food color (I use Americolor)

 

In a high speed blender place a couple handfuls of the dried apple and pulverize until you achieve a fine powder. Sift through a fine mesh strainer and measure out 2 Tbsp. of the fine powder. Note-there will be some bigger pieces that remain and that’s okay, reserve those to sprinkle on top as well as adding to filling later.

In a food processor pulse the almond flour and confectioners sugar about 5 times. Sift into a bowl and whisk in the 2 Tbsp. of apple powder and set aside.

In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer place the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk until foamy (I actually do this by hand). With the mixer on medium fitted with the whisk attachment, gradually add the granulated sugar in small increments then turn the mixer up to medium high and whisk for about 8 minutes or until meringue appears marshmallow like and stiff peaks are achieved. When the meringue is about 90 percent mixed add in a few drops of both mint green and electric green to your desired color; keeping in mind the color fades a bit when the shells bake.  Tip: to test if the meringue is ready, turn off the mixer and turn the bowl upside down.  The meringue should not shift or move, if it does mix a couple more minutes and test again.  Add the almond flour mixture to the meringue and fold several times until when lifting the spatula, the mixture falls back into the bowl in sheets or ribbons.

Prepare a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Pipe the macaron batter about 1 inch size circles leaving about 1 1/2 inches in between. Rap the sheet pan on the counter several times to release any air bubbles and then sprinkle generously with the reserved apple dust.

Preheat the oven to either 300° F or (275° F if using a convection oven). Bake the shells for 18-20 minutes; stopping halfway to cover the shells with tinfoil to prevent the apple pieces on top from getting too brown. To test if the shells are done wiggle one gently and if the top still moves then bake another minute or two and check again. Let the shells cool completely on the pans before removing.

Let the caramel sit out to soften a bit to piping consistency.  Pipe a small amount on one half of a shell and generously sprinkle some of the reserved apple dust and top off with another shell of the same size. Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 24 hours before bringing to room temperature to serve. store any leftover (as if) in the refrigerator.


green-apple-caramel-macs

green-apple-macarons-with-caramel-filling

 


Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

I have to admit- plums are not exactly one of my favorite fruit. When I do eat a plum though, I like it super ripe and juicy-to the point where you have to lean over the sink to enjoy it. I tend to like the kind with the red flesh (and I can never remember which type it is by looking at the skin).  I’m more of a prune lover (don’t judge my Granny ways), but when I saw this recipe from last years Fall issue of Sift it caught my attention. Plums are bursting in the stores right now, so now is the time to strike! I adore a good streusel pie. My child groans when I make a pie without a top crust, but I love texture-so a pie with streusel? I’m in.  I’m all about that crunch, bout that crunch, bout that crunch, so I amped up the crunch factor by adding walnuts to my streusel. There’s something about biting into a bite of pie with that soft warm oozy filling and topping of yummy crunchy crust. I skipped ice cream and went with an ice cold glass of milk and it was divine.

Note: I let my plums become very ripe (on purpose) when I made this pie and as a result I used 3 Tbsp. of tapioca because of the extra juice generated, and it set up nicely. The original recipe calls for only 2 Tbsp., so you decide. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Plum and ginger streusel pie

The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the filling is a  gorgeous ruby red color

Plum Ginger Streusel Pie

Gingered Plum Streusel Pie

recipe adapted from: Sift 2015 Fall issue 

1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite crust)

Roll out crust and line a 9 inch pie plate and crimp edge as desired. Brush the inside of the crust with beaten egg white (it prevents the crust from getting soggy).  Chill crust for at least 30 minutes before filling.

Fifteen minutes before assembling pie make filling and preheat oven to 375° F

Spoon filling into crust and top with streusel. Place onto a sheet pan to catch any drippings. Bake at 375° F for about 50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and streusel is golden brown. Cover crust halfway through with tinfoil if crust getting too brown.

Filling:

2  1/4 lbs (4 Cups/about 10-11) coarsely chopped ripe (I used very ripe)  black/purple skin plums; skins left on

1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar

2-3 Tbsp. instant (quick cooking) tapioca (I used 3, see above note)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 (heaping) Tbsp. finely chopped crystalized ginger

1 tsp. lemon zest

Combine plums, brown sugar, crystalized ginger, tapioca, spices and lemon zest. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Streusel

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup flour

pinch salt

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped

3/4 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine first 4 ingredients, then cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in walnuts, and set aside.


Vanilla Bean Cream Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Vanilla Bean & Cream Glazed Scones

Sometimes you just wanna be a little plain, am I right? (Ergo- lazy). It’s a total vanilla kind of day. If attitude were a flavor, it would be vanilla. You don’t want to put makeup on, you want to live in your jammies or sweats all day (same thing-duh!) and not get dressed. Forget about engaging your brain. You just want to exist. The couch is seriously calling your name. Perhaps you even called in sick or you blew off your first hour of class or perhaps the whole shootin’ day for that matter. You are oh so ready to binge watch something good all day while you are lazy as a fat cat on your over stuffed couch. Think Garfield on a Monday.

Yep, you are in a vanilla state of mind boo. The signs are all there….you’ve been needing a serious mental health day. Trust me- I’ve been there. Don’t EVEN feel guilty. No! you NEED THIS!

Enter the vanilla bean scone, dripping with vanilla glaze and coffee in hand. This recipe is so easy, you don’t have to think too much about it. This is what you need babe. I suggest you make these ahead of time through the shape and cut stage and freeze them solid on a sheet pan. Then pop them in a freezer bag and bake off as many as you want for those moments when you are feeling like being a little vanilla.

Vanilla Bean Cream SconesVB SconeGlazed Vanilla Bean Cream Scones

 

Vanilla Bean Cream Scones

yield: 8 scones

2 Cups all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 C sugar

1/2  tsp. kosher salt

5 Tbsp. cubed cold unsalted butter

1 Cup heavy cream

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Egg wash:

Whisk together one egg  and 1 tsp. heavy cream (or milk)

Vanilla Bean Glaze

1 Cup confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp.  milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

 

In a food processor place, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add cold cubed butter and pulse 4 times. Dump into a large bowl. Mix the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste together and pour in the bowl and mix gently with a rubber spatula until combined. Dump out onto a lightly  floured board and gently knead about 5 times- just long enough for dough to come together. Pat into a round circle 8 inches wide. Cut into 8 equal triangles. Place onto a parchment lined sheet pan at least 1  1/2 inches apart. Chill for 30 minutes (while you go be lazy for a while). Preheat the oven to 425° F. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. Brush each scone with egg wash  and bake for 15 minutes. Let scones rest for 10 minutes. Make vanilla glaze and drizzle each scone. I like to double drizzle because I’m kind of a slut when it comes to glaze, but if you want to, you can also totally cover them in glaze.

Note: If you are baking them from frozen state, don’t thaw but just bake them a little longer until golden brown.

 


Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

Mini Passion Fruit Curd Tarts with Meringue

 

passion fruit tarts 2

Thank you my loyal followers for stopping by to read my blog. I know I’ve been kind of absent and have not posted as often lately. I recently had back surgery-3 weeks ago,  and I’m still trying to recover and I am not able to stand for very long still, so thank you for being patient! On to the subject at hand!

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you can make it in stages. You can make the tart shells ahead of time and keep them at room temperature in a covered container, and you can make the curd a day or two ahead and keep it stored in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to make it all on the same day; (perfect when your body is not cooperating such as mine).

I am absolutely crazy for passion fruit and I love it beyond words. I know unless you live near or below the equator it can be hard to find. If you cannot find fresh passion fruit you can use the frozen variety that you can find in either Hispanic or Asian markets that allow you to thaw it. One particular brand is Goya, which is a great brand.

I love these little tarts because the tangy tart but sweet floral taste of the passion fruit pairs nicely with the billowy marshmallow like meringue. I read online that it is possible to grow passion fruit vines here in Arizona. Hmmm, that is something to think about!

passion fruit tarts

 

fresh passion fruit

If you’re not familiar with passion fruit- the juice or “puree” is housed inside the seed pockets. Buy the fruit when it is as it’s ugliest- meaning, when it is wrinkly then they are ripe. You have to scrape out the fleshy pods and the juice will burst open. Smush it through a strainer to get the best consistency. The seeds or “pips” are edible. Some people do not care for the seeds, so mostly they are discarded. Other times you will see that a few seeds are left in a recipe, for visual appeal, but not usually all. Your choice!

 

Passion Fruit Curd Tarts

yield 6-8 three inch tarts

Short Bread Tart Dough

Note: this recipe makes enough for 12 individual tarts or one 9 inch tart (so freeze the remainder or cut the recipe in half to make 6 tarts)

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 C  confectioners sugar

1  1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

lightly beaten egg white

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed; cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla bean paste and combine briefly until smooth. In a small bowl whisk the flour and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture on medium low speed until the mixture is almost combined; there will be some bits at the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer and with your hands lightly  mix the dough together to incorporate any little bits until it is combined.

Measure a size ball of dough about a ping pong ball size and press the dough into the tart pans/rings until it looks fairly even. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes before you bake them. I chill mine an hour so it helps prevent the crust from shrinking when baked. Once the crust has chilled, dock the bottom of the crust very well all over with the tines of a fork and blind bake the shells. Bake at 350 º F for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust looks no longer wet. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the bottom of the tart shells lightly with a beaten egg white. The egg white will prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the crusts cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Passion Fruit Curd

(yield: ~ 2 cups)

1/2 Cup passion fruit puree, divided

1 tsp. powdered gelatin

1 Cup sugar

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

 

1.  a small bowl measure out 2 tablespoons of the passion fruit puree and sprinkle the gelatin over and set aside to bloom. Keep the rest of the puree for the remainder of the recipe in step 2.

2. Place the remaining passion fruit puree, sugar, egg, egg yolks, and salt in a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until mixture reaches 160° F. Remove from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the butter. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap directly over the surface and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Note: you will have some curd leftover which you can freeze or store in the fridge to spread on scones etc. or stir into yogurt (coconut yogurt in particular is fabulous!) You can also stir curd into vanilla buttercream to make passion fruit buttercream.

Swiss Meringue

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup sugar

Place the whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl (I use the bowl of the stand mixer) and place over a bain marie and whisk while heating until the sugar is dissolved and temperature is around 160° F. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mixture is billowy and fluffy and resembles marshmallow.

 

To assemble tarts:

Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of chilled curd into each tart shell. Top with a heaping scoop of meringue, and pull up with a knife to achieve some spikes or swirls.  Use a hand held torch to brown the meringues. Serve immediately. Store any leftover tarts in the fridge.

 


Chocolate Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Cookies Bake From Scratch 2

Are you ready for Summer and Ice Cream Sandwiches?

When I was just a kid (about 100 years ago) I used to ride my bike up to our favorite diner and we would buy an ice cream sandwich for (I swear 50 cents). A group of us would jump on our bikes and make the trek into town. By the time we got there on our mile journey we would be hot and sweaty, but it was so worth it. Of course you can buy a good ice cream sandwich anywhere now a days, but with making your own cookies, the combination is endless with a quick scoop of your favorite ice cream. You can even go that extra mile and make your own ice cream if you like. My new favorite magazine is Bake From Scratch from the people of Hoffman Media Publications and every one of their recipes are simple but scrumptious. This recipe is from their current Summer issue. Whip up a batch and channel your inner 10 year old!

Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies 2

chocolate cookies for ice cream sandwiches

 

Do you know how hard it is to get a good picture of ice cream  in a hot Arizona kitchen?!

Ice Cream Sandwiches Cookies For

 

Chocolate Cookies (for Ice Cream Sandwiches)

Recipe from Summer 2016 issue of “Bake From Scratch”

yield: 14-16 cookies

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 Cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1  1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/3 Cup Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

 

Beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla bean paste, beating until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and the next 3 ingredients. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until combined. Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or more.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll out between sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Cut with desired cutter (I used a 3 inch cutter). Reroll scraps of dough as necessary and chill the dough if it gets too soft to work with. I found that it was easier to remove the cut cookies after chilling the dough for about 10 minutes. Place the cut cookies on prepared sheets, spacing them about an inch apart (they don’t really spread much) and dock the cookies with the blunt end of a wooden skewer. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 7-8 minutes or until slightly puffed. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Store the cookies in an airtight container.

To make ice cream sandwiches take a scoop of your favorite ice cream and sandwich between two cookies and wrap sandwiches in wax paper and store in the freezer.


Strawberry Blackberry Galette

 

Strawberry Blackberry Galette

I’ve said it before, but it’s true. I always have a pie crust or two sitting idle in my freezer for such an impromptu idea as whipping together a quick simple pie or tart. Cruising through the store the other day the strawberries and blackberries were on sale and they looked divine, so I picked up a few cartons. Summer is all about simplicity when it comes to desserts and this is no exception. When you make a pie crust, get in the habit of making double and park that crust (wrapped really well in plastic wrap) in the freezer. Crust is the most time consuming part when it comes to whipping a pie together. The filling is the easy part, especially when it comes to berries because unlike say apples, there is minimal prep work. This simple pie would also work with throwing in some blueberries as well in place of some of the strawberries. Take note that because the strawberries carry a lot of liquid, the pie is best eaten the day it is made.

 

Strawberry Galette

It’s best eaten when the filling is still warm and the crust is crispy. Vanilla ice cream optional. Mmmm

Summer Galette

Strawberry-Blackberry Galette

1/2 recipe fearless pie crust (or your favorite pie crust)

3  1/2 C  fresh berries (mixture of strawberries and blackberries)

1/3 C sugar + more for sprinkling edge of pie crust

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1/2 C almond meal

1 tsp. orange zest

heavy cream (or half and half for brushing pie crust)

1  1/2 Tbsp. Seedless Strawberry or Raspberry Jam for finishing

 

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll out pie crust to approx. 1/8 inch thickness. Place the pie crust onto the prepared sheet pan.  Toss the almond meal, flour and orange zest together and sprinkle onto the rolled out pie crust, leaving about a 2 inch border.

Wash and dry the berries. Cut the strawberries in half or quarters depending on size. Aim for the same size as the blackberries.  I found strawberries that were really small in size so I just halved them (leave the blackberries whole). Toss the berries with the sugar (right before you assemble the pie).  Place the berries onto the bed of the almond meal mixture in a nice high pile and fold in the sides of the pie crust, pressing lightly. Brush the crust with the cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the pie in a preheated oven for approx. 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Note: you may need to cover the pie with tinfoil for the last 10 minutes or so if the crust is getting browned too quickly.

In a small bowl mix the jam vigorously to smooth out any lumps. Allow the pie to cool slightly then brush with jam  and serve warm.


Strawberry Apple Cobbler

Strawberry Apple Cobbler

I’m falling in love all over again with my cast iron pan. Not that I fell OUT of love with it mind you, but I was rearranging my pots and pans in the cupboard and I came across my old friend. He was hidden in the back, but not completely forgotten. Comfortable like an old shoe, and familiar; the cast iron pan can do many jobs. He’s a Jack of all trades. Lately I’m in a phase of simplicity and easy recipes. That can all change on a weekly basis, but my old friend fits into my easy breezy lifestyle that I’m embracing this week. This is a recipe that comes together  rather quickly and you’ll be singing the praises of your iron clad buddy as you spoon out warm strawberry oozy goodness to your family and friends. Have some vanilla ice cream at the ready….

Strawberry Apple Cobbler Filling

Strawberry Apple Cobbler

serves six

1  1/2 lbs fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled (very large ones cut in half) otherwise kept whole

1 Cup sugar, divided

3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 pink lady apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

2 tsp vanilla, divided

1/2 Cup butter, divided

1  1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Cup heavy cream

Turbinado sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Prepare the biscuit topping:

In a large bowl whisk the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. Cut 1/4 cup of the butter into small cubes. Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry cutter until butter is the size of small peas. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and stir gently until just combined. Set aside while preparing the filling.

Filling:

In a 9 or 10 inch cast iron pan place the strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and vanilla and stir to combine.  Heat over medium heat until bubbly and starting to thicken; about 3 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the butter and the apples. Drop the biscuit topping in six equal portions over the hot filling, sprinkle biscuit portions with turbinado sugar and place in preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, then serve warm. Top with vanilla ice cream if desired.