Monday, August 17, 2009

Gift Cake!

Anglaise Macarons Pour Ma Petite Soeur

My sweet lil' sis left for a year of studying abroad in Paris just last week. Of course, we had to send her off full of sweets and memories of a week long celebration...we are just trying to make sure she comes back at the end of the school year! :)
You can follow her adventure on her brand new blog at From P-town to Paris

I wanted to make something French inspired for the party and these colorful macaroons were just what I was looking for. I was a bit intimidated as so many blogs and articles mentioned the difficulties of getting them just right, but I was up for a challenge and my fridge was stocked with cold bevees to get me through!

I started with a chocolate recipe that I found and doubled the recipe.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
2 large egg whites
5 tablespoons sugar

I lined a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper and got my pastry bag ready.

I grind the powdered sugar, almond powder, and cocoa in the food processor.

Then, in the kitchenaid I beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then added the sugar while it continued mixing.

Folding in the dry ingredients (in 2 batches) and being careful not to over mix.

The combined ingredients:

Then I piped the cookies onto the baking sheet as close to the same size and shape as possible.

I baked them for 16 minutes at 375 degrees. YAY! They actually look like macaroons!

I paired them up to prep for the filling.

The filling is super rich and not too sweet. I think next time I will use semi-sweet chocolate..I just can't get enough SUGAR!!!
I went with a Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Filling that I found on Epicurious.
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate-chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter-softened
1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract

I heated the cream and chocolate in the microwave (instead of on the double broiler-too much work). Then stirred in the raspberry extract and butter.
I cooled it completely and it was still too thin, so I refrigerated it until it was thick enough to spread like butter! I am so turning into Paula!
The finished Chocolate Macaroons with Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Filling-so yummy!

For my regular macaroons I made the mistake of blanching the almonds myself. It took me a good 45 minutes and lots of vino! I was going crazy peeling the skins off of these little monsters!
I used this cookie recipe where I also got the raspberry chocolate ganache.

I doubled this recipe:
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 oz. blanched almonds
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
Food coloring ( I chose four colors to compliment the party in hot pink, lime green, lemon yellow, and bright orange)
Blanching almonds consists of pouring boiling water over them-let sit for a couple minutes:
Then rinse with cold water. All the articles I read made it sound like the skins would just fall right off-BUT NO!

You have no idea what this meant to me once these were lookin' like this...2 drinks later!

I lined my baking sheets again and got the piping bag ready!
I pulsed the almonds and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar until very finely ground (3 minutes).
I transferred it to a big bowl and then sifted in the rest of the powdered sugar and stirred it up.
Next, I beat the egg whites and salt in the kitchenaid until soft peaks form and then slowly added the sugar while beating the eggs until stiff peaks formed.
Since I had four colors to make, I divided the mixture into four bowls and added the colors. I love this part!

Then, divided the almond mixture into each color....

The finally piped cookies. These were harder to get into the right size and shape then the other batter for sure!

I let them stand for 30 minutes until they were no longer sticky and had a light crust. Then into the oven at 300 for 25 minutes (or before edges begin to brown).

I started up the delicious buttercream filling... this is soooooo buttery and irresistible!
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla (my addition to the recipe)
(I skipped the 1 teaspoon of instant coffee in 1 tablespoon of hot water as I was going for a vanilla flav)

Whip up the butter until fluffy and add the powdered sugar and drizzle in the vanilla.

I had so much fun mixing up the colors of frosting to match the cookies.

The damage! I was tipsy dish washing for hours!

The FINALLY finished cookies. These are so much work, but they are so cute and delicious! I will definitely be making them again.

The dessert buffet with my dad's beautiful fruit tarts.... I think this will make her want to come back at the end of the year! We are already planning her homecoming party sweets!

My beautiful sis!

Je t'aime Natalie!
à la vôtre!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My "Go To" Linzertorte

The hubs and I had some last minute plans for a little mid-week dinner get together at our place and with dinner looming in the back of my mind I knew I had to whip up an easy dessert. I learned how to make this Raspberry Linzertorte in a baking course that I took at Cooking with Class and it is sooo delicious and easy!

I started by mixing up the yummy Almond Short Dough the night won't even need a glass of wine to make this dessert, but you will want one with it!

Blend 8 oz of butter and 6 oz of sugar on low until they are smooth.

Then add 5 oz. of powdered almonds ( I just threw some almonds in my food processor).

Then mix in 1.6 oz of eggs and 1/2 teaspoon on vanilla until just blended.
Then sift in 10 oz of pastry flour. I don't always have pastry flour around, so I substituted at a ratio of 1 3/4 cup of regular flour to 1/4 cup of cornstarch.

Then blend and chill. I chilled it over night and then rolled it out and filled the pan during my lunch break that day... making chicken piccata took up all my time that evening!

This is the best part! Just fill it with Raspberry Jam.

Rolling and cutting the lattice crust.

I didn't have time to weave them, but it tastes the same and no one will notice by the time dinner and a few glasses of wine have been enjoyed!!

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.

Topped with yummy Trader Joe's Vanilla Ice Cream!

Cheers to great food and great company!

The Perfect Margarita

This recipe was introduced to me this weekend by my sweet friend, Michelle. These are the best margaritas I have made and we enjoyed them at the pool. You must try this!

They are so easy to make:
Equal Parts of....
Frozen Lemon Lime-aid mix
Lemon Lime Soda

Just stir up all equal parts and serve on the rocks....

Sooooo delicious and the fiz makes them even more refreshing! A new poolside tradition!

Cheers to weekend margaritas by the pool and great company!
Thanks Michelle!