French Macarons with Strawberry Jam Buttercream – A Seemingly Dangerous Experiment

It’s been so long since I created a recipe specifically for this blog.

Hell, this isn’t really even my own recipe, so does it count? Haaa.

For me, in the battle of cooking vs. baking, I’ve always loved to cook because there is more flexibility in the process. Measure by eye, get creative with the spices, add a little more dry ingredient to offset higher moisture, et al.

Baking? That is SCIENCE.

While there are some baked recipes I’ve made by heart for years now where I can say, “Oh, a few shakes of salt is tantamount to 1/4 teaspoon. I’m good!”, there are some others recipes where the measurements need to be precise. That’s part of the reason I’m not much of a baker, and a huge reason why I avoided baking something I’ve wanted to try for a very long time: French macarons.

I took the task to heart after seeing Mike Bakes NYC make it seem more approachable that other recipes I had come across. He explains the process in his blog in more layman’s terms, and I was, in turn, able to approach making it with less apprehension. And you KNOW I measured with a food scale to a T. I even out-Type A-ed myself here. HA!

Through trial and error, I saw how no one should expect to make that quintessential batch of French macarons on their first try. And if you have…what is your secret? PLEASE SHARE.

1.) When folding the mixture, I feared OVERfolding it and deflating it. I soon came to learn, after seeing my ratchet first batch of macarons, that I UNDERfolded – even though I truly thought I had already OVERfolded – due to utter paranoia. HA!

2.) As I made subsequent batches, the batter got worked in the pastry bag; after that, I started to yield the more quintessential-looking macarons, albeit not perfectly round. Some where oval, some where lop-sided circles, and some even got those pretty little feet on them after they baked!

3.) Some macarons had the dreaded “hollow tops”, while others didn’t. Again, I’m sure that had to do with the folding and baking process. As most ovens have their “hot spots”, there is that risk of over-baking. I baked them to the higher time – closer to 15 minutes than 13 – and I think I’ll try to cook them on the lower end next time to see the result.

French Macarons – They don’t always come out perfect on your first time attempting to bake them! No shame! Practice makes perfect.

I am glad I did this just to prove to myself, “YEAH! Allison, girl, you can make these if ya really wanna!” When all is said and done, it’s cheaper to buy the ingredients to make French macarons at home than it is to buy some at a store; thanks to getting my almond flour from a bulk bin at Whole Foods, I paid less than $10 for all of my ingredients which yielded about 3 dozen small macarons. Better than paying $10 for four macarons at most stores, if you’re LUCKY.

I used Mike Bakes NYC’s recipe for Red Velvet Macarons as a basis, obviously eliminating the cocoa and red food gel while creating my own simple strawberry buttercream to fill them with. Click on the link in the recipe section to follow along for his recipe, then swing back here for my simple Strawberry Buttercream recipe!

HAVE FAITH! Y’all can do this! And if you screw them all up, at least you’ll have some delicious misshapen macarons. It’s really win-win.

French Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream

French Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream

Macarons: Follow the link to the Mike Bakes NYC recipe!

Strawberry Jam Buttercream:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

When macarons are completed per the linked recipe, whip all buttercream ingredients together with a hand blender until smooth. Pipe or spoon buttercream onto half of your macarons and sandwich them together with remaining macarons. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours to allow macarons to “mature” before consuming. Or eat them right away. You do you!

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No-Churn Coffee Hazelnut Ice Cream

Coffee and I have a very interesting relationship. Its smell is intoxicating. Its flavor is bold. Its caffeine often gives me heart palpitations. HA!

My parents are the type of people that drink caffeinated coffee to wind down every evening after 8 p.m. I did not inherit those genes from them.

While I’m not one for a cup of black coffee in the morning and an iced coffee is not a beverage usually attached to my right hand all summer long – though I do crave one every now and then – I appreciate coffee as an ingredient. I loveloveLOVE coffee-flavored anything. This throws back to my childhood, when my Nana Peg would make chocolate sauce with a healthy splash of coffee in it for flavor; of course, the sauce was served over coffee ice cream.

Because giving chocolate and caffeine to a five year old is a GREAT idea! Haaaa.

I wanted to pay homage to one of my many awesome grandmothers and put my own spin on this dessert! While I currently do have access to an ice cream maker at my current apartment – oooh la la – I wanted to make an recipe that’s more accessible for the majority of people that surely do not have one. Plus, no-churn recipes are fun to make, in my humble lil’ opinion!

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Lucky Jack® Coffee Slow Brew Coffee Concentrate truly helped me achieve the flavors I was looking for! I honestly was having childhood nostalgia when that flavor hit my tongue! I also mixed it up in in a few ways: the hazelnuts add a nice texture, but adding in a few cacao nibs adds a greater depth of flavor. I think it tastes great either way, but the nibs are totally optional!

Plus, I know someone else that enjoyed using that cold brew concentrate as intended: in many glasses of iced lattes. 😆

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NOTE: Thanks to Lucky Jack® for providing me with various coffee treats for recipe testing purposes, as well as some occasionally-needed extra caffeine to keep me going as I recipe tested.

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No-Churn Coffee Hazelnut Ice Cream
(Makes ~3 cups)

Ingredients:
– 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, chilled
– 3 tablespoons Lucky Jack® Coffee Slow Brew Coffee Concentrate (or cold brew concentrate of choice)
– 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped, sieved, and chilled
– 1 tablespoon cacao nibs, finely chopped (optional)
– 1 & 1/2 cups cups heavy whipping cream

Before We Get Started…

– Place a large bowl – preferably metal – in the fridge for 10 minutes before whipping your cream in it!

– Can the nuts be omitted? OF COURSE! I love the texture of them in the ice cream, but I also understand allergies and aversions. Haaa. 😉

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, mix together sweetened condensed milk and coffee concentrate. Set aside.

2.) Chop hazelnuts and shake them in a fine sieve to make sure any excess “dust” left over from chopping remains; these finer particles may contribute to some grittiness in your ice cream! Place hazelnuts in a small bowl and place in fridge to chill.

3.) In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks.

4.) Gently fold whipped cream into coffee condensed milk mixture. When almost completely combined – a few streaks of darker brown color may remain – gently sprinkle top of ice cream mixture with the hazelnuts (and optional cacao nibs), and fold in. The color of the mixture should be a uniform lighter brown when completed.

5.) Pour ice cream into a container – a metal bread pan is perfect! – and cover with plastic wrap. Place in freezer and chill for 24 hours.

Honey Chai Nice Cream

Have you ever watched an episode of “Chopped” and think to yourself, “…damn. How do they come up with some of these creations?”

Well, I’m getting a mini-taste of that this summer, so to speak!

Candace and I have been doing a collaboration called the “YBC Ingredient Challenge!” Or, perhaps the younger generation might understand #SSxYBC better. (Ha!) But here’s the skinny: She wanted me to make three recipe posts for her site over the summer: June, July, & August. She mailed me nine ingredients, and I have to use three ingredients each month for each recipe. BUT! Here is the catch: I have to blindly pick them! I had a friend take out all of the ingredients, put them in a bag, and I videotaped myself blindly picking my first three for June’s recipe.

Luckily, I didn’t pick anything too outrageous on this first go-round: Vega One Vanilla Chai All – In – One Shake Mix, honey, and sea salt.

At the time I developed this recipe, I got a really nice summer cold – UGHHHH – and I was looking for something soothing to eat.

Hence, this nice cream! The flavor is really quite lovely; I had read some reviews of the Vega One mix online that were pretty polarizing, but I happened to love the flavor!

Be sure to check out the full recipe at Yoga By Candace! Be sure to check out her blog at the end of this month for the next recipe, as well! Who knows WHAT I’ll pull out of that bag…

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Honey Chai Nice Cream – for Yoga by Candace

 

Baked Banana Donuts

Baked Banana Donuts

Donuts, baby! I love ’em. You should know that from seeing this blog. Ha! The donut pan Adam got me years ago has been one of my most-used kitchen items. I’ve got it down to a science: I can whip up a pretty basic batch of them in less than 30 minutes, sugar glaze included.

Talk about a useful life skill. Ha!

I have tried my hand at healthier donuts, as I’ve shown on this blog before with my Vegan Orange Polenta Baked Donuts. Candace asked if I could whip up something for her blog, and I think I went a lovely healthy-ish route with these Baked Banana Donuts!

Baked Banana Donuts

Baked Banana Donuts

Though you can always use white sugar, white flour, and vegetable oil, I believe in the power of whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, and a combination of coconut oil and unsweetened apple sauce as well! Frankly…these donuts kick ass! They are akin to little portable banana breads, with a nice chewy texture without being overly sweet. The added sugar doesn’t do the talking here, it’s the bananas.

Head over to Yoga By Candace to check out the full recipe for Baked Banana Donuts!

Baked Banana Donuts

Baked Banana Donuts

Chocolate-Bottomed Strawberry Fool

Was I a fool to think I could make mousse? (Heh…heh…heh…) Read on, friends. Read on.

Mousse will always make me think of my father. Ever the chocolate lover, I know I have mentioned multiple times in this blog how I’ve seen him make brownies at midnight many times in my 33 years. I’ve also seen him make his fair share of mousse, the light chocolaty fluff making its usual appearances around the Christmas season, topped with copious amounts of whipped cream.

If my dad’s a pro at it, surely the ability to make it is hereditary!

For a pink sexy Valentine’s Day theme – bolstered for my urge to eat a ton of strawberries during this chilly bleak winter season – the idea to create a strawberry mousse popped into my head. A little crunchy chocolate bottom would make for a nice treat as you dug closer to the bottom, I thought!

Well, I got the cream. I got the berries. I got the gelatin.

I got SCREWED. Ha!

Chocolate-Bottomed Strawberry Fool

So, mind you, having not made mousse before, nor having worked with gelatin outside of helping my dad make Strawberry Jell-O as a kid, I took to Google to find a strawberry mousse recipe. I found what I thought was a good one! I followed it to a T. The photos for this recipe looked luscious!

Apparently, 4 teaspoons of gelatin mixed with 2 tablespoons of water is not the ratio you want. Well, unless you want to pull something out of your fridge a few hours later that springs back at you like a marshmallow!

COME ON. JEEEEEEZ.

Well, after that disappointment – that’s recipe development for ya – I decided to make a Strawberry Fool instead of trying mousse again. Folding strawberry puree into whipped cream is more my style anyways. Simple. Easy.

I’ll save mousse-making for another time, once I am over this trauma…

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers. 😘

Chocolate-Bottomed Strawberry Fool

JOIN IN ON THE VIRTUAL PARTY! Check out the links below for some Valentine’s Day-theme goodies from a troop of wonderful fellow bloggers. Follow along on Instagram with #galentinesday and thanks to The Sweet Nerd for organizing! 

1.) Earl Grey Frosted Brownies by Madeline Hall
2.) Red Velvet Whoopie Pies by What Should I Make For…
3.) Chocolate Wine Cake by The Sweet Nerd
4.) Pink Grapefruit & Thyme Shortbread Hearts by The Beach House Kitchen
5.) Blood Orange Margarita Sorbet by Beyone Mere Sustenance
6.) Vanilla Rose Shortbread Cookies by Seasons and Suppers
7.) Chocolate Panna Cotta with Raspberry Compote by Ciao Chow Bambina
8.) Horchata Latte Cheesecake Meg Is Well
9.) Chocolate Coffee Layer Cake by Katherine In Brooklyn
10.) Chocolate Topped Seed & Nut Bars by This Brown Kitchen

Chocolate-Bottomed Strawberry Fool
(Makes 4 [roughly] 4 oz. servings)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Bottom:
– 16 Oreo cookies (or any chocolate sandwich cookie brand)
– 1 tablespoon melted butter or refined coconut oil

Strawberry Fool:
– 2 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled
– 2 cups heavy whipping cream
– 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

1.) Place cookies inside of a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin until finely broken. Mix crumbs with butter or coconut oil until well combined. Spoon a heaping tablespoon on the mixture into the bottom of a small serving dish and lightly press down to set. Set aside.

2.) Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.

4.) In large (preferably chilled metal) bowl, whip together cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the pureed strawberry mixture and slowly incorporate; do not overmix and allow the mixture to remain light and airy!

5.) Carefully spoon or pipe whipped cream into chocolate-bottomed serving dishes. Eat immediately or refrigerate for no more than 4 hours; mixture can deflate and become somewhat soupy if not eaten quickly.