Vacherins with Raspberry Curd and Chantilly Cream

For some reason I was in the mood to make vacherins, so I made them heart shaped for Valentines Day. The meringues are a good vehicle to house raspberry curd and whipped cream. If you are not feeling ambitious, you can fill your meringues with raspberry sorbet or your favorite flavor of sorbet, and top with the cream, just make your meringues a little bit bigger. For the purposes here I made 8 small vacherins. Either way, they are delicious. Make sure to give yourself an extra day to make the meringues so they have time to fully dry and harden.

Valentines Day Vacherin 3

Filling Vacherins

Filling Vacherins 2

Piped Vacherins 2 one last picture to show how pretty they look before going into the oven…..

Heart Shaped Vacherins with Raspberry Curd & Chantilly Cream

Raspberry Curd

recipe: adapted from all recipes.com

yield: makes 1  1/2 Cups

one bag frozen (12 oz.) raspberries, thawed

3/4 Cup sugar

4 lg. egg yolks

1 stick (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter, cubed

pinch of salt

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. cornstarch + 1 Tbsp. water (cornstarch is not typ

Thaw the berries in the bag overnight in the fridge or over a couple of hours at room temp. Press the berries through a strainer to remove any seeds and save all the juice and any pulp and place in a 3 quart saucepan.  Mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry and set aside. To the berry juice in the saucepan, add the rest of the ingredients: sugar, yolks, butter, salt and lemon juice. . Over medium heat whisk the curd until it becomes thickened. Add in the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until curd becomes thick. Cover with plastic and chill until firm and ready to use.

Chantilly Cream

1 Cup heavy whipping cream, well chilled

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Place the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks. Chill until ready to use.

Tips about egg whites & making meringue:

* Always separate your egg whites with cold eggs; it’s much easier with cold whites.

* Always separate your egg whites into one small “clean” bowl and then transfer each white to a designated bowl. One tiny drop of yolk can “contaminate” your whites and they will not whip if any fat is in the mix.

* One large egg white usually measures about 34-35 gms (if you prefer to use “liquid whites”)

* If you are making a large batch (of anything) that requires egg whites, you might want to consider buying “liquid whites” in the carton to avoid having to separate a lot of whites and also to avoid having a lot of leftover yolks.

* Always whip whites with room temperature whites. To speed up the process you can place your whites in a clean glass measuring cup and place the cup carefully into a larger bowl of hot water, and let sit for about 15 minutes, changing out the water as necessary with fresh hot water.

* Make sure the bowl you are whipping whites in is very clean.

* To achieve a clean bowl, wipe bowl several times with a paper towel that has been dampened with a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar, then wipe bowl dry.

Vacherins:

3 Lg. egg whites (or 105 gms of liquid whites), room temperature
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

dark pink or red food coloring (optional)

1.  Prepare a parchment sheet of paper by drawing hearts with a pen to desired size. Turn paper over and place on a baking sheet.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

3. In a small bowl whisk the sugar and cornstarch until combined. In a bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl whip the egg whites (with the whisk attachment) until foamy; about 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form. Add in the sugar a few tablespoons at a time and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Add in the optional food coloring and continue to whip. Place the meringue in a prepared piping bag fitted with a plain circle tip and pipe onto prepared sheet. Start by piping a base of meringue the shape of a heart. Pipe concentric “walls” of  heart shapes over base leaving the interior free. Place sheet in a 200 degree oven and bake for 3-4 hours until meringues have become firm and dry. Turn off the oven and let meringues sit in oven until cool or even overnight.

4. Fill cooled meringues with raspberry curd and chantilly cream. Garnished as desired.


Black Sesame Macarons

There are grown up cookies and there are kiddy cookies. Guess what this is-this is a grown up cookie. The flavor is not something perhaps your 9 yr. old would like; nor even your 12 yr. old (as I found out), but it is good. This is the beauty of a good macaron. There are some really wild and crazy interesting flavors out there [in a good way] and this is one of them. I love anything with sesame seeds. I cannot go out for dim sum and NOT get a sesame ball. I simply cannot do it. There are times I crave for a sweet sesame rice ball and nothing will do. Days will go by and I will try to push it out of my brain. That damn sesame ball will keep calling my name. I cave every time. The Husband has been known to navigate the streets around Chinatown in (loop de loop like fashion) while I dodge into the congested bakery to claim my sesame ball. He knows when I get that wild look in my eye and proclaim I NEED a sesame ball that there is no turning back. The ticket has been bought- you are strapped into the seat and the ride is starting. Although this is not a sesame rice ball, it is my ode to the sesame seed in macaron form. If you want to go all out sesame-you can add some sesame powder to the vanilla filling as well and make it all sesame.

Black Sesame Macarons

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Black Sesame Macarons

200 gms almond flour, sifted

200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted

2  1/2 Tbsp. black sesame powder

75 gms egg whites

200 gms granulated sugar

50 gms water

75 gms egg whites (room temp)

pinch of cream of tartar

1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, and confectioners sugar and sesame powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites, and stir to combine to form a paste. Set aside.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.

At the same time combine the 200 gms of  granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low-speed.

3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.

4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to  fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.

5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 15-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool on the tray. Sandwich with the filling. Store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.

Vanilla Buttercream

2 egg whites

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup confectioners sugar (note: although not traditional in swiss meringue buttercream- it helps add a firmer structure to the filling)

Black Sesame Buttercream Filling Option: add 1-2 tsp. of black sesame powder (to taste) to the vanilla buttercream and mix well to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Use a generous 1 tsp. full to fill macarons.


Caramel Macarons, Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

I can’t stay away from caramel. Not necessarily eating it, but baking with it. Okay, yes, I eat it too. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating;one of the most fascinating things about baking is how you can literally take a few ingredients and come up with something amazing. Caramel is one of those examples. If you have never made homemade caramel you must give it a try. Try my salted caramel recipe.  Sugar, water and cream and you have caramel. You may have noticed I have  a lot of posts with caramel. I could write a cookbook just with caramel recipes alone. Hmmm, might have to think about that….Anyway, here is yet another caramelicious post. I wanted to make extra-large caramel macarons to use for ice cream sandwiches. I’m planning on filling these with heath bar ice cream. Pralines and cream ice cream would be good too. You could also make regular size macarons and fill with salted caramel, caramel buttercream or vanilla buttercream.

                                                                                              Caramel Shards waiting to be turned into powder

                                                                                                                         Caramel Powder

Caramel Macarons

(yield: ~ 24 large macarons)
200 gms almond flour, sifted

200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp. “caramel powder” see recipe below*

75 gms egg whites

200 gms granulated sugar

50 gms water

75 gms egg whites (room temp)

pinch of cream of tartar

*Caramel Powder: Line a sheet tray with either Silpat or lightly greased tin foil.  In a 2 quart saucepan place 1/4 Cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Swirl the pan to combine while the sugar melts. Bring to a boil without stirring over high heat; swirl the pan every so often until the caramel reaches a medium-deep amber. If the caramel starts to smoke slightly it is done; pour out onto prepared sheet and let cool completely. The “caramel” will be clear. Once cool, break the caramel into shards and blend into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, confectioners sugar and caramel powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites and stir to combine. Set aside.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.

At the same time combine the 200 gms of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low speed.

3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.

4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to  fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.

5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 16-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool. Sandwich with the filling of your choice. If you are using a filling other than ice cream, store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.


Gluten Free Chocolate Crackles

Gluten Free eating is becoming very popular as more and more people find they are gluten intolerant. I have a lot of friends who are gluten intolerant. Some of them have begged me to open up a gluten-free bakery. That’s not going to happen…but I’m obliged to post a gluten-free recipe from time to time to help. This recipe was not deliberately sought out for that reason, but more to do with the fact that they are very rich and fudgy. The gluten-free aspect is just an added plus if you are one of those people who cannot eat flour. Not a speck of flour in these chocolately fudgy cookies. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

When you bite into the cookie; it is crunchy and chewy on the edges and gooey and fudgy on the inside- the perfect contrast in textures….

Gluten Free Chocolate Crackles

(recipe from Epicurious)

Ingredients:

1  1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips  (*or bittersweet chocolate bars chopped into small pieces) (this is what I used as I did not have any chocolate chips in the house and I used Ghiradelli bittersweet baking bars and I loved the way they turned out)

3 large egg whites, room temp

2  1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

1. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips (or 1 cup chopped chocolate) in a glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow cream. In a medium bowl: whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. On low-speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue. Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will be very stiff).

3. Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into a ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.


Coffee Macarons With Chocolate Ganache

I realized this week that I have not been drinking as much coffee for some reason. This is very unlike me. It suddenly dawned on me why. The Husband is out of town and he consumes massive amounts of coffee. The coffee is always made. Rarely am I ever brew master. No need. Most mornings he is up way before me and he brings me a cup as he gives me “the look” while I laze in bed.

There I am, slunched down in bed staring mindlessly into the TV in my jammies psyching myself into getting up. He shoots me the look like, Hey, you gonna get movin soon?

I am not a morning person. He was warned by yours truly. My Mother even warned him when we were first married. Shortly after our wedding The Husband asked my Mother, “Is there anything I need to know about Susan?” Without even skipping a beat my Mother replied,

“YES, don’t EVEN try to talk to her in the morning”. That’s right. I don’t speak in full sentences until at least 8:00 Am (that’s on a work day). You are lucky if you get a few grunts out of me. I like to save all my energy for sippin’ coffee. Coffee, silence, and Al Roker. That’s all I need. Okay, maybe a slice of toast. These macs provide a good dose of java nirvana. Almost as good as sleeping in. Zzzzzz. Thank God it is the weekend.

Coffee Macarons With Chocolate Ganache

Coffee Macarons With Chocolate Ganache

200 gms almond flour, sifted

200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted

1 single serving size sleeve/packet instant Columbian Coffee (I like Via from Starbucks= about 2 tsp.)

75 gms egg whites

200 gms granulated sugar

50 gms water

75 gms egg whites (room temp)

pinch of cream of tartar

Chocolate ganache:

6 oz. semisweet chocolate;chopped fine

5 oz. heavy cream

Make the ganache: In a medium bowl place the chopped chocolate. Heat the heavy cream on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring to combine thoroughly. Place the ganache in the fridge while you make the cookies.

Making the Macarons:

In a large bowl combine the almond flour, confectioners sugar and ground coffee. Add the 75 gms of egg whites and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.

At the same time combine the 200 gms of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low speed.

Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.

Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to  fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch. If you like halfway through the resting phase you can sift some cocoa powder over the tops of the macs for a decorative touch.

Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 16-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool. Sandwich with chocolate ganache. If you can, store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the ganache helps the texture of the cookie.

{Printable Recipe}:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QA_6i8zo6NpIo7k-j0lf8W8HUs7lwSmEsH8UIGvRcJM/edit