>> Monday, March 28, 2011

I attempted something I've never done before!

I made macarons.

Unfortunately, it was a bust!

My batter didn't set very well, and they did not get that nice puffy look that macarons are known for. No light airy yummy texture.
Well, they were still yummy, but they just broke apart! :)

I decided, that I would still post about them however, because sometimes, things just don't turn out! And what better way to learn from it, then share it, and then either you can fill me in on what I did wrong, or learn from me! :) So, I think where I went wrong was my meringue - I thought it had set enough (i.e. forming stiff peaks), but I think this was my problem.

They did have an amazingly yummy dulce de leche buttercream frosting in the middle. And this turned out great!

So, well, as embarrassing as it is, here's the recipes - pictures and all! :)

**Anyone have any advice?
**Have you ever made macarons?

**You will need a kitchen scale for making macarons since they are a French dessert and measurements are in metric units.

Macarons with Dulce de Leche Buttercream (By: Tartelette)

For the Macarons:

90 grams egg whites (brought to room temperature)
25-50 grams white sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds (I used slivered, but can be chopped, blanched, sliced, etc)
small amount of gel food coloring (optional)

For the Buttercream:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup prepared dulce de leche

1. First place the almonds in a food processor and grind till super fine consistency. Then measure, to make sure you have 110 grams.

Kitchen scale from CSN - review coming soon!
2. Then measure 200 grams powdered sugar and combine with almonds in food processor. Pulse until well blended. Run the mixture through a sieve to get out bigger pieces, and rub those between your fingers to break up. Set aside.

It's a little difficult to get exactly precise measurements on here. It was at 200 and I picked up my camera and then it was at 201 - I figured 1 gram wouldn't hurt. But maybe it did.

3. Measure the egg whites and place them in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Whip the eggs until it reaches a frothy/foamy consistency. (Tartelette describes it as bubble bath consistency).
3. Gradually add the sugar and continue mixing until mixture reaches shaving cream like consistency with stiff peaks.
4. Add the nuts/powdered sugar mixture to the meringue and fold ~ 50 strokes. Add in food coloring if you choose and fold until combined.

5. Using a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, pipe small amounts on a baking tray with silpat or parchment paper. Allow to sit for 30 min. before baking.
6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely before removing.

For Buttercream:
While cookies are cooling:
1. Combine powdered sugar and butter in a bowl until creamy.

2. Add rest of ingredients (cream, vanilla, dulce de leche) and combine until no lumps and mixture is creamy.

3. Spread onto cookies and enjoy.


Just In Time

>> Monday, March 14, 2011

For St. Patrick's Day that is. Here are some Mint Chocolate Chip cookies to get you in the spirit! I usually don't do much for St. Patrick's Day other than just wearing green.

When I was a kid, I was always the kid who didn't wear green very noticeably, and got pinched, and then I would yell out, "Look, I'm wearing green RIGHT here" (Who cares if it was on my socks that were covered up with my pants). Clearly, I was not very popular when I was a kid.

I have to admit, it seems really silly to be worrying about celebrating St. Patrick's Day and making green cookies when such a horrible tragedy is taking place in Japan. The earthquake and tsunami are literally heartbreaking, and I feel very very helpless in the middle of it. I do at the very least want to remind everyone to pray for Japan.

These little 'gems at end of the rainbow' are quite tasty! They are the cookie version of mint chocolate chip ice cream! The dough on the pan even looks like scoops of ice cream!

I could not find the creme de menthe baking chips at any grocery store (checked 3), so I ended up just crushing Andes mints, and I think the result was just fine!
I think you should make some for your family today! Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (Adapted from: Betty Crocker)
1 package sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
6-8 drops green food coloring
1 egg
1 cup Andes mints - crushed
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the sugar cookie mix, butter, extract, egg, and food color until a soft batter forms.
2. Add in the Andes mints and chocolate chips and stir in.
3. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon and spoon a small amount onto a pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.


Changes and Celebrations

>> Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's amazing how one little moment in time can make such an infinite change in someone's life. One of my closest and dearest friends, Aimee, gave birth to twins on Friday!! Two beautiful boys that are absolutely amazing!

{Meeting Noah}

{Archie's going to make such a good dad!}

{So absolutely amazed by him!}

What a difference they have to look forward to. We are so excited for them. It was so fun getting to be there at the hospital with her for a bit. I've gotten to meet one of the boys, but the other is needing to be monitored for a while in the nursery, so I will get to meet him soon.

{Elijah right after birth... can't wait to meet him}

It's so crazy to me how they went in on Friday morning, and within 15 minutes she had 2 beautiful babies (I know I'm excluding the time in the womb, but you know what I mean). What a glorious change in a small family!

So, here's to celebrations. Celebrations of the new life of two precious little boys that are so incredibly blessed to have such amazing parents! And trying not to think of the idea of them moving away in 4 months!
{So blessed to have such amazing friends!}

On a completely unrelated note... how about some popcorn! :) This is such an easy snack, and somewhat on the healthy side (minus the butter, but there's really not much compared to the amount of popcorn)... it's a nice treat when you want something sweet, but don't want to blow the diet! I think I had the idea that homemade popcorn was hard - not true! You don't even have to have a popcorn maker - just a large pot!

** Post update - I have made this with real maple syrup and the results tasted just as good!

Honey Buttered Popcorn (Adapted from: Tasty Kitchens)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup white popcorn kernals (uncooked)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. fleur de sel salt (you can certainly substitute regular salt)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a small sauce pan place honey, vanilla, and butter together on low heat. Leave on low and allow to melt together.
2. In a large pot place the 2 tablespoons of oil. Place two kernels of popcorn in the pan with the oil and place on medium heat with the lid on.
Allow to heat until you hear the kernels pop open - that's how you know the oil is hot enough to place in the rest of the popcorn. Once open, pour in the kernels.

Place the lid on and shake frequently. Isn't my hubby a nice helper! :)
Remove lid when popping has stopped to 1-2 seconds between pops - otherwise it WILL burn! You should have glorious looking popcorn that looks like this!

Go ahead and give a good sprinkle of fleur de sel, and then drizzle with the honey butter mixture. Mix it all up, and enjoy your yummy creation! SO much better than movie theatre popcorn!