Monday, April 30, 2007

Hazelnut Fingerprints

In making the macarons from my prevous post, I ended up with 2X+ the ganache I actually needed. Not wanting to have a container of strawberry chocolate sitting around to tempt me, I went searching for a quick way to use it. I found something that halfway suited; I forgot how hard it is to shell hazelnuts. These turned out to be well worth it. They're like soft shortbread: dry, with a gentle crunch from the nuts, made moist by the chocolate topping. Yum.

* 2/3 cup Sugar
* 1 cup softened Butter
* 2 tsp Vanilla Essence
* 1 tsp grated Lemon Peel
* 1 Egg Yolk
* 2 1/4 cup Fine Wheat Flour (Maida)
* 1 1/2 cup ground Hazelnuts
* 1/2 cup Jam (I used chocolate spread instead)

How to make hazelnut cookie recipe:
Preheat the oven at 325 degrees. In a bowl mix sugar and butter, beating the mixture till soft and fluffy. Add vanilla essence, lemon peel and egg yolk, mix well.

Add the flour and the hazelnuts. Make 1 1/4 size balls out of the dough. Take a ungreased cookies sheet and place the balls on it 2 inches apart. Press the cookies in the center with the thumb.

Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. When completely cool fill the cavity of each cookie with ½ teaspoon jam.

Chocolate-Strawberry Macarons

After reading through Zinnur of Our Patisserie's adventures with macarons, I decided it was time to try them myself. Luckily for me, I had the benefit of her experiences to draw from, as well as those from David Lebovitz's blog (he's in France, where they have ingenious recipes like Salted Caramel Ice Cream. -droooooools-) I decided to use David's recipe, with a few minor changes. The end result was gorgeous: crunchy, chewy, sweet and fruity all at once. My ganache for the center was a little too soft: I didn't drain the strawberry juice before adding the puree because I wanted to keep the full flavor. In retrospect this was a mistake; next time I would add the juice to the cream and boil it a little.

Macaron Batter
* 1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
* ½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
* 3 tablespoons (25 gr) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
* 2 large egg whites, at room temperature* 5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling
* ½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream* 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
* 4 ounces (120 gr) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon (15 gr) butter, cut into small pieces

Strawberry Filling
* 15 medium strawberries (pitted), about 5 ounces (150 gr) strawberries
* 2½ ounces (70 gr) best-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons Amaretto

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn't quite fine enough. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Strawberry Filling:
Smash the strawberries with a fork until you have a rough puree. Using a sieve and a wooden spoon, push the strawberry juice into a small saucepan. Keep the pulp. Melt the milk chocolate and the Armagnac in a double boiler or microwave, stirring until smooth. Stir into the strawberry puree. Cool completely to room temperature (it will thicken when cool.)

To make the chocolate filling:
Heat the cream in the small saucepan with the corn syrup and strawberry juice. When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, turn down the heat so it simmers for 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Stir in the pieces of butter. Let cool completely before using.

Spread a bit of batter on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together. (You can pipe the filling it, but I prefer to spread it by hand; it's more fun, I think.)I also tend to overfill them so you may or may not use all the filling.

Let them stand at least one day before serving, to meld the flavors. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze. If you freeze them, defrost them in the unopened container, to avoid condensation which will make the macarons

Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies

I found these last minute, and it turned out to have the best (and funkiest) texture I've ever found. Although the dough was soft, these cookies crumbled with you touched them and melted in your mouth. The boyo tried one under duress but was soon begging for "just one more!" Recipe compliments of Diana's Desserts.

* 1/2 cup raisins
* 7 tbsp. (3/4 stick/3 1/2 oz/100g) butter, softened
* 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used smooth)
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 2. Sift together the flour and baking soda.
2. Mix in sifted dry ingredients to butter mixture to form a dough. Add raisins and mix well.
3. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on cookie sheet; flatten balls with fingers.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated 350 degree F (180 C) oven.
5. Leave cookies to cool on cookie sheet. Makes 16 cookies.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cappuccino Cupcakes

Ok, so, these things are a pot of coffee and a half. I mean, I was twitchy after eating one. They're flippin' fantastic tasting though. They're a deep chocolate-coffee bottom, a chocolate-espresso ganache middle, and finally a mascarpone-cream topping. Probably just as well I can barely eat one at a time. Recipe was snitched from taste everything once.

* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
* 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/4 cup instant coffee powder
* 1 1/2 cups cake flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 large eggs
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 1/3 cup coffee beans, crushed
* 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
* 2 cups mascarpone cheese
* 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 30 standard muffin cups with paper liners.Combine the milk, cocoa, coffee and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, constantly whisking, until the cocoa and coffee have dissolved. Let cool and pour into a liquid measure.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture in three batches, ending with the liquid.

Fill each muffin cup halfway with the batter. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.


Combine 1 cup of the heavy cream and coffee beans in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean sauce-pan and bring back to a boil.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over it, stirring slowly, until the ganache is smooth. Spoon enough ganache over each cupcake to fill the liners to the rim.

Using a whisk or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attach-ment, whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Add the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Spoon the mascarpone cream into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip and pipe the cream on top of the ganache in a circle.