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 & Green Apple Macarons
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.
I know you want something easy. Nothing too fussy. Nothing too hard to pull together on a weekend. Sure, I get it. A good low maintenance recipe. A good
reason , err– excuse to eat pie (sort of) for breakfast. I gotcha. More grown up than a pop tart. Something to throw into the hand of a 13 year old zooming out the door who doesn’t eat breakfast but complains he’s hungry. A grumpy husband perhaps who “doesn’t do breakfast”. Uh huh- you know the type. Enter stage left…duh duh duh the turnover. Your answer to something you can hold in your hand and shove (yep, conveniently it has a starter corner) into your–dare I say it–“Pie hole”. Sorry…I had to go there. Your welcome.
yield: 4 turnovers
1/2 package of ready made puff pastry; thawed in the refrigerator
2 Golden Delicious apples
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried currants (optional)
1/3 Cup sugar + 2 Tbsp.
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
2 1/2 tsp. water
egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. water
coarse white sugar or sugar in the raw (Demerara sugar)
1. Peel and chop the apples into about 1/2 inch pieces. Immediately toss the apples with the lemon juice to coat evenly. Stir in the (optional) currants. Add the sugar and spice and combine well. Mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a skillet melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until apples soften. Stir in the vanilla and then add the cornstarch mixture and heat until filling bubbles and thickens, cooking for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the filling to a bowl and chill to allow the mixture to cool.
3. Unfold the puff pastry and sprinkle both sides lightly with flour. Using a rolling pill smooth out the fold lines and roll the pastry lightly into about an 11 inch square. Cut the puff pastry into 4 equal squares. Looking at each individual square of pastry brush the left inside and lower edges of each of the squares lightly with egg wash; being careful not to get the edges too wet. Place about 3-4 tablespoons of the apple filling to the middle of each square. Fold down the top left corner edge of pastry to meet the opposite lower right corner to meet the corners together to form a triangle, and press lightly with your finger to seal. Take a fork dipped in flour and press/seal the edges of the triangle together. Place the turnovers onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush each turnover with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Pierce the top of each turnover with a fork twice. Chill the turnovers directly on the tray for 30-40 minutes.
Note: you may fill & assemble each turnover and freeze unbaked. To bake off in a 425° F oven from frozen state; just bake a bit longer.
Note: you most likely will have about 3 Tbsp. of the filling leftover; you can save it and use to stir into oatmeal or yogurt later in the week.
4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
5. Bake turnovers for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool the sheet over a wire rack until turnovers are cool enough to handle. Best served warm.
Fall is for apples, pumpkins, corn mazes, spiced cider and picking. Picking (literally) up any harvest you can get your hands on. In this case- we’re talking apples. I’m a Midwest girl. A Michigander. Apple cider probably runs in my veins. I know this sounds biased, but you just can’t get good apple cider outside Michigan. #SorryNotSorry. It’s the truth. I never met an apple I didn’t like.
Seth grew up in the city of San Francisco, so it’s not like he had tripped or stumbled upon an apple orchard before. I wanted Seth to experience visiting an apple orchard- so we took a little trip to Cranes Apple Orchard which is in Fennville Michigan; not too far from where I grew up. The smell of ripe apples, the crisp Fall air, the slightly soggy ground as you trudge along row after endless row of delicious sweet (or tart) apples. Every variety of apple you can imagine. Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Gala…as well as some names I’ve never even heard of…the list was endless.
Yes, there is the ubiquitous sweet elderly lady-(probably there volunteering and not getting paid a dime- (but she doesn’t mind) serving up fresh apple slices. She’s donned in her striped woolen hat, and appropriate cold weather jacket as she lovingly grips a dark ruby red apple in her rough -(years on the farm)- worn calloused hand. She carves off a little chunk and hands you the little morsel as she awaits your reaction as you bite into the sweet juicy nugget. You nod, you chew, you pause just long enough, and politely without food in your mouth. “It’s sooo good!” you exclaim, as you make eye contact with her, and she smiles back in approval. You can try a slice of each variety (she seriously doesn’t mind) before you dodge deep into the orchard abyss of appleness to begin picking. This is not the Piggly Wiggly or Safeway. This is nature. Looking around you see apple trees as far as the eye will take you- with apples of all different hues. Your nose dripping from the cool air as you search each tree for the perfect apple to place in your bag. Apples that have NOT been shined, waxed or stacked up in a perfect tower of pyramid fashion. Children need to see where their food comes from once in a while. It’s a good thing. Beautiful ripe apples with leaves still attached. To top off the day, we stumbled and sometimes even fumbled- our way through the large corn maze on the property.
I hope you enjoy the pictures~
Even on the ground they are still beauties
Something tells me in this picture below; a little one must have dropped a Golden Delicious amongst the Cortland apple trees…
And just when we thought we had no energy left- we hit the corn maze; just a one hour detour…no biggy.
For some reason, I’m thinking of popcorn…
Seth is thinking, Hmmm, maybe we should have turned left back there…
but I’m happy to report we made it out safe and sound.
Dreary rainy weather, check. Urge to make bread, check. Soft cozy blanket, check. Kettle of tea, check. Time to make bread. This is the kind of bread that will have your neighbors stopping by for no good reason; like they got your junk mail and thought they should bring it by. Uh huh. Trying to sell your house? Make this bread right before your showing or open house-the house smells divine while it’s baking. With apples being abundant right now it sounded like the perfect type of thing to be baking in the oven with the rain falling outside. Cuddled on the couch with your favorite soft cozy blankey, rain falling, sipping a cup of hot tea. What could be more perfect. You might even have all the ingredients on hand. I tweaked the original recipe a bit and added apple pie spice to the batter and a little cinnamon to the streusel topping. Enjoy~
Apple Pie-Spice Bread
recipe: adapted from Better Homes and Garden “Baking” cookbook
yield: one standard loaf (9x5x3- inch) pan
1/2 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup buttermilk or “sour milk”
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. apple pie spice (such as McCormick)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup raisins (I used golden)
1 Cup chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted
2 Cups shredded, peeled apples (about 3-4 medium-I used a mixture of not too tart and not too sweet)
1 recipe streusel-nut topping* (see below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F or (180° C). Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and apple pie spice mix with a fork and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer or large bowl cream together the 1/2 Cup butter and 1 Cup sugar until fluffy; about 1 minute. In a glass measuring cup combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla with a fork. Add the milk mixture gradually to the mixer with the running on low and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat on medium low (careful if using a hand mixer) until combined, being careful not to overbeat. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. With a rubber spatula fold in the shredded apple along with any juice that collected. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Prepare the streusel topping and sprinkle over the top of the bread.
3. Bake at 350° F for about 60-65 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Let the bread cool in the pan over a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the bread from the pan and continue to cool completely over the wire rack. Note; this streusel falls apart easily when cutting; to help prevent this, wrap the loaf in plastic wrap first and cut it the next day. If you can wait that long!!
Streusel Nut Topping:
1/4 Cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. slightly soft butter
Last week Seth and I went to the farmers market for a fruit run, and also to have a quick Sunday breakfast. The market has quite a gathering of food stalls. I was in the mood for something savory, and Seth was in the mood for something sweet. Seth decided to wait in the line for a Belgium waffle. While Seth was waiting in line for his waffle, I quickly grabbed a mushroom empanada at a nearby stall and joined Seth again while he waited patiently in line. As I was munching on my empanada, it got me thinking about hand pies. I love to make hand pies. These blackberry-apple hand pies would be perfect for a Spring picnic. Gather your posse, pack some fried chicken, potato salad, iced tea and these sweet little pies. They are the perfect end to a great picnic.
Who’s ready for a Spring picnic?
Blackberry-Apple Hand Pies
recipe adapted from fine cooking
yield ~ 1 dozen (3 inch) hand pies
One recipe of my “fearless pie crust” or pie crust of your choice
6 oz. container fresh blackberries (washed, dried) and cut in half
1 Lg. pink lady, fuji, or gala apple, peeled, cored and diced small
1/2 Cup lightly packed golden brown sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
For egg wash: Mix 1 lg. egg yolk + 1 tsp. water in a small bowl
For sprinkling: coarse sugar
1. Prepare pie crust ahead of time and let it rest (by chilling in fridge) at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
2. In a medium bowl combine all of the filling ingredients except the egg wash and coarse sugar. Roll out pie crust until thin. Using a 3-4 inch cutter, cut out rounds of crust. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling onto each round and brush along outer edge lightly with egg wash. Try not to get the edges too wet or the crusts will not seal. Place another round on top and crimp with a floured fork to seal. Brush with egg wash and cut 3-4 vents in top of pies.
3. Bake pies in a 400 degree F preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until crusts are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Apple, spice and everything nice. That is what fall baking is all about. I made this cake for a very dear friend of mine; Annie who loves spice cakes, and she has a lot of spice herself. A three layer moist cake with grated apples in the batter, notes of caramel and lots of spice. Fill and slather this wonderful cake with a dose of rich indulgent cream cheese frosting, top with a generous caramel drizzle and you will make friends fast. The apples are made by tinting marzipan into various apple colors, shaping into small rounds and gently pierced with a chocolate jimmy. Happy Birthday Annie!
Notice the dark green apple top left with the worm sticking out of it? that was Seth’s idea. He is so creative. Hmmm, I wonder where he gets that from…..
Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 Cups unsalted butter, room temp
1 Cup brown sugar, packed
2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. golden syrup (such as Lyles Golden Syrup)
6 Lg. eggs, room temp
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 Cups cake flour
1 1/4tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 Cup sour cream
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
Purchased Caramel topping (for drizzle)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 3 nine inch pans by spraying with nonstick baking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugars on medium high-speed until light and fluffy. Add in the molasses and syrup. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and alternate with the sour cream in 2 increments. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition and end with flour addition. Stir in the apples until fully combined.
3. Divide the batter between 3 prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack about 15 minutes and then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely. Fill and frost with cream cheese frosting. Drizzle with purchased caramel topping.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 (8 oz. packages) (1 lb. total) cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 Cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
(optional)* 8 oz. white chocolate melted and cooled
Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake or frost cupcakes with frosting.
* Suzie variation: Sometimes I like to add the white chocolate. It gives the frosting a little more body and adds a really rich flavor.