Polar Bear Macarons

peppermint macarons with a ganache filling in cute polar bear shapes. Recipe on kokocooks.com

Tis the season for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I’m so glad I participated this year.  I was very upset with myself when I missed last year’s deadline.  Not only does the swap connect bloggers from all over the globe, but it also raises money for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer.  This event has become well known, and this year over $7000 was raised!  That’s a lotta cookies!

peppermint macarons with a ganache filling in cute polar bear shapes. Recipe on kokocooks.com

Since I’ve become rather good at macarons, I wanted to make some for the swap.  I went with a seasonal flavor – peppermint shells with a chocolate ganache filling.  And since I have the baking mats with a bear shape already printed on them, why not go for a wintry polar bear theme as well?  The trick to making them look like polar bears is to make the ears small, and more on the side of the head than on top. I scoured pictures of polar bears (real and drawn) to figure this out.

peppermint macarons with a ganache filling in cute polar bear shapes. Recipe on kokocooks.com

The chocolate peppermint combination of the cookies was delicious! It was like eating a peppermint patty.  I used an edible food marker to draw the faces onto the shells.  I couldn’t help smiling every time I glanced down as I worked – those faces were just so darn cute!

peppermint macarons with a ganache filling in cute polar bear shapes. Recipe on kokocooks.com

Unfortunately, my macs did not fare well on the voyage through the mail.  So, if anyone has any recommendations for shipping macarons, please let me know.  I am open to all suggestions.

Polar Bear Macarons

Polar Bear Macarons

Ingredients

For macaron shells
see recipe here, using peppermint extract instead of the vanilla bean.
Chocolate ganache
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 oz. heavy cream

Instructions

  1. For the macaron shells: make shells according to instructions. Substitute 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract for the vanilla bean. Pipe small circles on either side of each circle to form the ears for the polar bear.
  2. Once the shells are cool, draw a face on half the shells.
  3. For the ganache: break chocolate up into small chunks. Place in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Warm up the cream over medium heat. Watch it carefully. Heat until small bubble start to form around the edge and it feels very warm when you dip your finger in. Do not let the cream boil.
  5. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then slowly stir until mixture is combined and smooth. Let the ganache cool to room temperature before spreading over the half of the shells without a polar bear face. Top with a face-drawn shell.
http://kokocooks.com/2015/12/polar-bear-macarons/

Read More:

Share

Vanilla Bean Macarons

An easy recipe for macarons, plus a few tips for success. Recipe on http://kokocooks.com

Macarons are my culinary “white whale.”  I have well-documented my many, many, many attempts at making these delicate cookies.  I even tried the supposedly more stable Italian method, which seemed like a lot more steps than the French method.  So, when Julie invited me to a macaron class with her, I was eager at another chance to get it right, this time with some supervision.

An easy recipe for macarons, plus a few tips for success. Recipe on http://kokocooks.com

Unfortunately, I was busy the day of the macaron class.  Not surprising since it was during the school year.  So once summer hit, Julie and I spent an afternoon baking.  Well, first we made arancini – girl’s gotta eat, you know!  We weighed, ground the almonds, sifted, ground some more, whipped egg whites, and folded.  We were in a bit of a hurry towards the end of the baking process, but our macarons miraculously had feet!  It was the easiest time I’ve ever had with these darn cookies.  So, I set about seeing if I could duplicate the success at home.

An easy recipe for macarons, plus a few tips for success. Recipe on http://kokocooks.com

Every time I make macarons, I learn something else about how to be more successful.  This time around, I learned the importance of mixing in all the ingredients.  First attempt:  I forgot to add the additional powdered sugar to the batter.  They subsequent cookies were overly eggy, foamy, and flat yet grainy.  Second attempt: I only stirred in half the almond/sugar mixture into the batter.  Again, these cookies ended up grainy and cracked on top.  UGH!  I also realized that I tend to not fold the batter enough.

Tip #1:  The final macaron batter should be thick and a little syrupy.  Achieving this consistency is known as “macaronage,” as explained eloquently by Stella of Brave Tart.  It should be thick enough that it doesn’t spread once you pipe it out, but thin enough that the peak that forms when you pipe the cookies will flatten back into the rest of the batter (see below picture).  If there’s still a little lump, just smooth it out with a barely damp finger.

An easy recipe for macarons, plus a few tips for success. Recipe on http://kokocooks.com

Which brings me to Tip #2: if you live in a humid climate (like me), or if it is raining when you make macarons (like it was every time I recently mad them), then you may want to dry out the macs before baking them.  This is not a necessary step, but I was more successful when I did this.  I simply set my hairdryer on low, and went over the piped circles for a few minutes.  The tops of them started to loose their sheen, and that was enough.  The macs that I dried also seemed to result in fewer hollow shells, which may or may not have helped.  If you have always wanted to try making these beautiful cookies, or have tried and have yet to be successful, give this method a try.  It is much less finicky than other recipes I’ve used, and I (so far) have had good success with it.  Good luck!

An easy recipe for macarons, plus a few tips for success. Recipe on http://kokocooks.com

recipe adapted from Truffles & Trifles

Vanilla Bean Macarons

Yield: 40-48 cookies, 20-24 sandwiches

Vanilla Bean Macarons

Before starting: Make sure that the mixer, whisk attachment, and any utensil that will come into contact with the egg whites have been washed in the dishwasher (or washed with boiling water, which is what I do sometimes). Seriously, any bit of oil on anything that touches the egg whites may keep the whites from beating to the requisite fluffiness. Similarly, if any bit of yolk gets in your egg whites, you need to scrap them and start over.

Ingredients

3 egg whites
4 oz blanched almond meal (you can also use whole almonds)
1 ½ c powdered sugar
½ c granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and seed scraped out of pod

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you want to make sure your macs are all the same size, trace 2-inch circles onto the parchment paper with a pencil, keeping a good amount of space between the circles. Place the paper pencil-side down on the baking sheet.
  2. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment set. Let the egg whites come to room temperature while you carry out the next step.
  3. Place almond meal and ½ c of the powdered sugar in a food processor. Place the remaining 1 c of powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Pulse the food processor so that the almond meal and powdered sugar combine, and form very fine grains. (If you are grinding whole almonds, this will take a good 5-10 minutes of pulsing.) Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the powdered sugar. There may be a few tablespoons of almonds that don’t make it through the strainer, and that’s okay. You can toss them or save them for another use. Stir the contents of the bowl together.
  4. Beat the egg whites on medium until foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla bean seeds and continue beating until almost-stiff peaks form. They should be somewhere between soft and stiff peaks - when you lift the whisk out of the bowl, the egg whites should stand up and maybe just start to curl over. (See photo in blog post) Knock the whisk on the edge of the bowl to remove the egg whites from the whisk.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half the almond/powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold in the remaining almond mixture until evenly combined. The batter should have the consistency of lava, although I’ve never seen lava first-hand, but I can imagine. When you lift the spatula out of the bowl, the batter should drop in a thick ribbon, and should melt back into the main batter after a few seconds. This is the trickiest part of the process, and you get the feel for it the more times you make them.
  6. Fill a pastry bag (I like disposable ones) with half the batter. Twist the top of the pastry bag closed. Cut a hole in the tip of the pastry bag, and pipe circles onto the prepared baking sheets. If you drew circles onto the parchment, fill until the batter just reaches the edges. Make a little swirly movement when you’re done piping each circle to keep a peak from forming on top of the cookie. Don’t pipe too close to the edge because they spread a tad.
  7. Tap the baking sheet on the counter a few times to bring any air bubbles to the surface. If drying, use a hairdryer set on low and gently wave it over the macs until the surface of the circles starts to dull.
  8. Bake macs one tray at a time at 300°F for 7 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake another 7-8 minutes longer. Let the macarons cool on the pan, then gently peel from the parchment. They should come off easily. Sandwich two cookies together, feet side facing in, with jam, buttercream, or whatever filling floats your fancy!
http://kokocooks.com/2015/08/vanilla-bean-macarons-2/

And, here’s a recipe for an easy buttercream to fill the macs with:

4 Tbs butter, softened

2/3 c powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste)

1 tsp milk

Beat ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer until fluffy.  This is the perfect amount to fill the macaron shells.

Read More:

Share

Easter Egg Macarons


I saw Easter egg-shaped macarons at a local bakery, and really wanted to make some of my own. However, I haven’t had the greatest track record with macarons.


Stella over at the Brave Tart recently wrote a post about Macaron Myths. She demistified a lot of steps to the macaron process: aging the egg whites, bringing them to room temperature, drying the almond flour, adding cornstarch to the powdered sugar, baking on a humid day….Basically, the two most important steps to successful macarons were: beating the egg whites to the correct stiffness, and folding the mixture with the almond flour and powdered sugar to the correct consistency.


When all I had to worry about were these two steps, the recipe became much easier. I didn’t have to think too far ahead when it came time to making macarons. My success rate improved a little – up to about 65% compared to 35% – but the steps were way easier.


Whenever I make macarons, I always make a half-batch. Since I never know if the shells will co-operate, there’s less waste if there’s less batter to begin with. Since I use egg whites from a carton, they are easy to measure out. I also use a kitchen scale set to grams to measure out all the ingredients, to ensure the correct amounts.


The flavors I made were: pistachio, lavender, lemon, and tangerine. The yellow and orange ones were sacrifices to the Flat Macaron gods, which is why there are hardly any of them in the pictures. I had never baked with lavender before, and loved the delicate, floral flavor it gave the purple macarons. Decorating the shells was fun, although challenging with a toddler clinging to my legs.


adapted from Brave Tart

Easter Egg Macarons

Easter Egg Macarons

Ingredients

57 g almond flour
115 g powdered sugar*
72 g egg whites
12 g sugar
Large pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Trace shapes onto parchment if desired.
  2. Process the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor for about a minute. Take out the mixture and sift it, reserving whatever bits don’t pass through the sieve. Add these bits back to the food processor and run the machine for another minute. Add this into the dry mix.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high (6 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.
  4. At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed.
  5. At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. Dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. After about 25 folds the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully.
  6. The macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. Transfer the batter to a piping bag. Pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Stop piping just shy of the borders of the circle, as the batter will continue to spread just a bit.
  7. Bake for about 18 minutes, cool thoroughly, then peel the cooled macarons from the parchment, using a metal spatula if needed.
  8. For lavender macarons: add ¼ tsp dried, crushed lavender to the egg whites.
  9. For lemon or tangerine macarons: add 1 tsp desired zest to the egg whites.
  10. For pistachio macarons: use finely ground pistachios (skins removed) in place of the almond flour.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/easter-egg-macarons/

Read More:

Share

Macarons, second attempt

 

This was my second stab at making macarons – my first being The Great Egg White Massacre of 2009. I had been kind of avoiding them ever since. But a good friend of mine loves macarons, ever since her trip to France last summer. So I made some to give as a Christmas gift.


I’ve learned from making this batch that I tend to over-beat the egg whites. The first sheet of cookies came out with a crinkly surface and sans feet. But the second sheet (after the batter had rested while the first sheet baked) poofed nicely and had feet. Success! I’m still figuring out the correct consistency for the egg whites, but I’m heartened that it didn’t take five batches of batter.
from Claudia Flemming’ The Last Course: The Desserts Of Gramercy Tavern
as seen on Tartelette

Macarons

Macarons

Ingredients

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
  2. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
  3. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
  4. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
  6. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
  7. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
  8. Cool on a rack before filling.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/01/macarons-second-attempt/

 

Read More:

Share

Macarons – 5th time’s a charm (October Daring Bakers)

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge

recipe.

This was my first time making macarons, and it involved a steep learning curve. My first batch of macarons looked like this:


By the end of the day, I think I had them figured out.
It only took 5 batches.
Batch 1: a big runny mess (see above). The cookies didn’t hold their shape from the get-go. I think it was a combination of things – not letting the egg whites get stiff enough, not using aged egg whites (especially in Florida’s humid climate), and overmixing the batter.Batch 2: Instead of aging the whites, I nuked them in the microwave for 10 seconds, then another 8 seconds, as recommended by Helen of Tartlette. Unfortunately, the whites never got past the soft peak stage. I think there was some residual oil from the previous batter.

Batch 3.0: I overcooked the egg whites in the microwave by 2 seconds, and scrapped them before they even saw the inside of the mixer.

Batch 3.1: I got distracted by the squirt, who was in a fussy mood, and by the time I returned my attention back to the egg whites, they were most definitely at the stiff peak stage. Probably over-stiff. Here’s what cookies from an overmixed batter look like.


Batch 4: The eggs were at the perfect stiff-peak stage, the batter piped like a dream, and they maintained their shape after the drying period. Unfortunately, I turned the oven to “broil” instead of “bake,” and ended up with flat, underdone cookies. But hey, at least they had feet!


Batch 5: By this time it was 9 p.m., and I seriously debated whether or not to make another attempt. The squirt settled down after being fed, so I decided to go for it. This time, I double checked everything. I held my breath when I opened the oven….and success! There were these perfectly shaped, slightly poofy cookies with the little crusty bottom.


5th time is a charm!

The next day, I whipped up a vanilla cinnamon white ganache, and assembled the macarons. I have an almost full bag of almond meal, so some macaron experimentation may be in my future.


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Macarons

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down
before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaron for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Vanilla Cinnamon White Chocolate Ganache

4 oz white chocolate
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Place white chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan until scalding. Pour cream over the chocolate, and let the chocolate melt. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and stir to mix. Let cool until the ganache is a spreadable consistency.

Read More:

Share