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


White Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Here in San Francisco there is an Asian bakery chain called Sheng Kee that bakes all kinds of amazing and yummy treats including bread, cakes, Asian pastries, and several types of cookies.  One of the cookies they make are these tiny little coconut macaroons. They are a one bite/pop in your mouth sensation. They are so addicting it is hard to eat just one. My son calls them coconut bombs. They have the perfect chewiness and coconut flavor without being too sweet. Whenever we walk past this bakery my son Seth cannot help but stop and buy a bag. “Oh Mommy, let’s get some coconut bombs”!  he’ll say. One of their bakeries is smack right next to Home Depot; oh so conveniently located while The Husband shops for drill bits. This recipe reminds me of that cookie. I took it one step further and dipped them in white chocolate.

Coconut Macaroons Dipped in White Chocolate

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

(yield 4 dozen cookies)

3/4 Cup egg whites

1  1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar

12 oz. unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

12 oz. finely chopped Ghiradelli white chocolate

1. Position oven racks in the center and upper portions of the oven and heat the oven to 350°. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy and add sugar, and vanilla bean paste until combined. Stir in the coconut until combined.

3. Scoop the mixture using a one tablespoon scoop (1/2 oz. scoop) onto the pans leaving 1 1/2 inch spaced in between cookies. Bake until the cookies are an even golden color and they appear dry; not at all sticky or wet looking; about 25 minutes. Halfway through baking, switch the pans from top to bottom and rotate them from back to front also for even baking.

4. Let the cookies cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Place the chopped white chocolate in a micro wave safe bowl and at 50 % power melt the chocolate slowly by using 15 second intervals stirring in between until the chocolate is melted. Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate and place onto a wax paper. Let cookies set up until chocolate sets.

My beautiful Son and official cookie taster Seth

{Printable Recipe}:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fADab3nGyh30f9rTG7U6wZHz75-HzFfd7KlcABT4d04/edit


Almond Joy Cookies

Apparantly I’m a jam hoarder. I didn’t realize how bad this habit of mine was until we recently got a new refrigerator. Jams, preserves, jellies. Whenever I see jam on sale I can’t stop myself; if it’s something I even fancy I’m apt to buy it and squirrel it away. It’s not that I eat it on toast. I rarely eat jam on toast. It’s more about what you can do with jam. You can take an ordinary buttercream and make it raspberry by just adding a bit of jam. I was shopping one day and right next to the jams and preserves I came across coconut curd. I have never seen “creme coconut curd” in my life.

When I saw this little jar of Dickinson’s creme coconut curd   www.dickinsonsfamily.com  you know I had to buy it. On the way home from the store I was already thinking of ways to use it. In between soft chewy cookies, as a filling in cake…the possibilities started swirling in my head as I drove.

The sublime combination of chocolate, sweet chewy coconut and almonds which make up an almond joy are the inspiration for these cookies. The cookie portion of this recipe is similar to a parisian macaron type cookie but because I live in serious heavy fog; I created the recipe to suit the weather here. (Macaron’s do not come out well when the weather is foggy). The result is a very fudgy, soft, and chewy cookie.

Almond Joy Cookies

Cookies:

1  1/4 C almond meal

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 C dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Valrhona)

3 egg whites (from large eggs)

pinch salt

pinch of cream of tartar

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

*whole salted almonds (save for garnache-for the top of the cookie)

Purchased Dickinson’s creme coconut curd 

OR Coconut buttercream filling: (see recipe &  method below)

Coconut Buttercream: (see method below)

2 egg whites

1/2 C granulated sugar

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. coconut flavoring/extract

1/2 cup dried dessicated coconut

Bittersweet Chocolate ganache (see method below)

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

4 oz. heavy cream

Method for cookies:

1. Combine the almond meal, cocoa powder,  and confectioners sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment; whisk the egg whites, pinch of salt and cream of tartar on high until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking on high until the meringue has stiff peaks; about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add about a third of the sugar/almond meal mixture to the meringue and fold until combined. Add the rest of the almond/sugar mixture until the cookie dough is combined and flows like lava when you lift the spatula and let it fall in the bowl.

4. Spoon the cookie dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip (I use a # 806 Ateco). Pipe the cookies on a parchment lined tray about 1 inch in size and leave about 2 inches in between each cookie. After you have piped all the cookies; take the tray and rap it on the counter to help release any air bubbles in the cookies. Let the trays sit out for 1 hour so the tops become fairly dry.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes, drop the temperature to 300 º degrees and continue baking the cookies for another 6 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cookies it in the oven for about 30 minutes-40 minutes or until the cookies are able to be pulled from the parchement paper without falling apart. (This takes long at my house because of the high humidity/heavy fog where I live). Check the cookies- they should be set and look wrinkly on top, and you should be able to pull them off the paper easily upon lifting.

6. Remove the cookies and let sit on a wire rack to cool completely.

Method for coconut buttercream:

Place the egg whites and sugar set over a bain marie and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature is 160 degrees. Remove from heat. Whip the mixture with a handheld beater (in a large bowl) or on a stand mixture until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time while continue whisking; you will see the mixture start to separate (that’s normal) and continue adding the butter a piece at a time until all the butter is incorporated. Add in the extract and dried coconut and whip until combined.

Method for ganache:

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a measuring cup in the microwave until the cream is hot. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute before stirring the mixture to become smooth.

Assembly: Dip half of the cookies in the ganache and let sit for about ten minutes and top with one whole almond.  The other half of the cookies pipe or spoon about 3/4 tsp. of coconut filling onto one cookie half; carefully place the ganache topped cookie on top of the half with the coconut filled cookie and twist gently into place.

Printable Recipe:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1a9Ow0GPIZKCS0I76XHnwJa3aCFCF8bvZXHNJB1gX2uc/edit?hl=en_US