almonds


My day started bright and early… the alarm went off at 5 am, I had some coffee, read a few emails, and tweeted a little. An hour later I was rushing to get ready for my adventure in the Spago kitchen.

Hungry for more A day in the Spago Kitchen?

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There are a number of reasons why food bloggers might plan a get together.

Perhaps it’s to finally meet long-time fellow food blogger friends in person.

Many times we get together for a worthy cause.

Since we love what we do, we are always looking for ways to learn and improve our craft; we’ll get together for that.

However, regardless of the circumstance that might bring us together there is one thing you can be certain of… rarely does one show up empty-handed.



Those who know me, know that I usually show up with a batch or two of french macarons. And, anyone who knows Rachael of La Fuji Mama knows without a doubt that she will most likely show up with a delicious batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Which, while we are on the subject I really think should be renamed to “Fuji Nana’s Dangerous Chocolate Almond Toffee” because:

a)You run the risk of not being able to control yourself once you have possession of said toffee.

b)You can end up with a chocolate dipped chin or a chocolate dipped lens.

c)You might turn your head at the bowl of oatmeal you had planned on having for breakfast, and have this instead.

So consider yourself warned…



Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee
inspired from Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee

1 cup roasted unsalted hazelnuts
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped or ground walnuts

1. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat, spinkle the hazelnuts in a single layer over the over baking sheet to cover an area of approx 9 X 12; set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan or copper pan combine butter, sugar and salt. Cook over high heat stirring constantly until the candy reaches 300 degrees F (Hard Crack stage) this step takes between 5 – 7 minutes. Remove for heat, stir in hazelnut liqueur, and quickly pour candy over the hazelnuts; allow to cool completely.

3. Melt chocolate in the microwave oven in intervals of 40 seconds at 50% power and stirring inbetween until chocolate is soft enough to spread. Spread chocolate mixture over cooled toffee and sprinkle with your favorite ground nut. Allow chocolate to cool completely before breaking toffee into bite-size pieces.


Here’s a batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee I made a couple of weeks ago. Mmm Mmm Mmm…

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Here we are again, another month has flown by… it’s now time again for another entertaining Mac Attack round-up this time, the theme is “Sing… Sing a Song”.

Let me tell you it wasn’t easy deciding on a song. Initially I planned on selecting a song with a summery theme, then I switched gears and decided to focus on the 80s (my all-time favorite music decade). I also wanted to make sure the song I chose would reflect a little of who I am and what I like. No simple task let me tell you.

Finally after a lot of searching and weeding I found the perfect song.

“Pretty in Pink”

by Roger Morris, John Ashton, Duncan Kilburn, Vince Ely, Tim Butler, Richard Butler
Performed by The Psychedelic Furs

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Pink Macaron Shells

100 gr egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites), aged for at least 48 hours
50 gr granulated sugar
180 gr powdered sugar
110 gr ground almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
1 tsp cherry pink powdered food color

Prepare the macarons:

In a bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, ground almonds, and the food color. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they appear foamy. While the mixer is running carefully pour in the sugar in a slow stream. Continue beating the whites on high until they reach a consistency similar to that of shaving cream.

Be careful not to over-beat, or the meringue will be too dry.

Add the nut, powdered sugar mix to the meringue, and begin folding, continue folding until the batter resembles a thick pancake batter. The folding should not take more than 50 strokes.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

When ready, bake for 14 to 15 minutes, depending on their size they might require a longer baking time. Let cool.

Pink Macaron Shells

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Pink Lemonade Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes by Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, thawed
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 (3 sticks) cups unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Puree strawberries, lemon zest, and lemon juice with an immersion blender or in a food processor.

Whisk egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Place bowl over a medium saucepan with simmering water. Continue whisking until mixture is warm and smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.

With the whisk attachment fitted on your mixer, whisk the warm egg and sugar mixture on medium-high until no longer warm and soft peaks form. This process takes approximately 10 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium-low and being adding small cups of butter about a tablespoon or two at a time making sure it is well blended before adding more.

Once all the butter has been blended in, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and switch to the paddle attachment, mix on low to help remove all air bubbles 1-2 minutes.

Add strawberry-lemon puree and continue mixing until smooth. The buttercream may or may not curdle if it does continue whipping, it should eventually smooth out.

Store leftover buttercream in a sealed container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer. When ready to use whip with the paddle attachment of your mixer for about 5 minutes.

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Strawberry Lemonade - Pretty in Pink Macarons

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Tortoise Macarons Reunited
Platypus Macarons Reunited
Don’t let the pretty pictures above fool you. Sure these guys look pretty happy now, but it’s nothing like what they looked like a few hours ago.

In search of the wild Macs...
This morning while Tommy the Tortoise was quietly enjoying his lunch of yummy leafy greens, he was approached by his friend Paul the Platypus.

“Tommy, Tommy, stop eating I have something important to tell you! Kimi the Kangaroo just told me that she saw both our families head out on a quick excursion this morning and they haven’t returned yet. I’m worried, I think we both need to go out and look for them.”

Tommy left his half-eaten lunch, and left with Paul in search of their families. According to Kimi they were headed in the general direction of the Evil River Lady’s house. So that’s where they decided to go.

Frightened Tortoises
Tommy quietly sneaked into the Evil River Lady’s house and found his family hiding inside their shells and as still as can be there on her kitchen counter.

Chocolate Macaron Shells
Tommy quietly tapped his brother’s shell and told him he was there to help get everyone out.

Tortoise Macarons in the making
After hearing the good news that they were being rescued, everyone quickly popped out of their shells.

Tortoise Macarons
And followed Tommy through the escape route.

Where the wild Macs are...
While attempting to escape Tommy heard a sound, he told everyone to sit still and wait quietly.

Where the wild Macs are...
After the coast was clear they all made a run for it and made it out of there safely. Paul was glad to see Tommy reunited with his family. Now it was Paul’s turn to bring his family to safety as well.

Intermission…

Chocolate Macaron Shells

100 gr egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites), aged for at least 48 hours
50 gr granulated sugar
180 gr powdered sugar
20 gr unsweetened cocoa powder
110 gr ground almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)

Prepare the macarons:

In a bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and ground almonds. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they appear foamy. While the mixer is running carefully pour in the sugar in a slow stream. Continue beating the whites on high until they reach a consistency similar to that of shaving cream.

Be careful not to over-beat, or the meringue will be too dry.

Add the nut, powdered sugar, and cocoa mix to the meringue, and begin folding, continue folding until the batter resembles a thick pancake batter. The folding should not take more than 50 strokes.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

When ready, bake for 14 to 15 minutes, depending on their size they might require a longer baking time. Let cool.

Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup bittersweet (60% cocoa) chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan warm the heavy cream once hot and before it comes to a boil remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate chips sit for a minute or two then whisk until it is smooth and creamy. Let the ganache cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Once the ganache has cooled down, whip with a hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Back to the story…

Platypus Macarons in the making
When Paul got to the Evil River Lady’s kitchen he was shocked to find his entire family asleep belly up. It turns out the Evil River Lady’ gave Paul’s family a sleeping potion.

Platypus Macarons in the making
Not knowing what to do, Paul went and got Tommy to come and help him out with the situation.

Where the wild Macs are...
Paul and Tommy began waking everyone up from their deep sleep.

Platypus Macarons in the making
Once everyone was half-awake they all managed to follow Paul out of the Evil River Lady’s kitchen and out of her house.

Where the wild Macs are...
They were relieved that they had managed to get out of there safely. Paul was so overjoyed with excitement; he wanted to celebrate having his family by throwing a big party.

Where the wild Macs are...
Unfortunately the effects of the sleeping potion had only worn out temporarily, after a few hugs and smiles everyone but Paul fell fast asleep again.

Paul decided he was going to celebrate on his own… he went for a refreshing swim in the river then he filled up on a yummy shrimp cocktail.

Mac Tweets Logo

In keeping with this month’s MacTweets – Mac Attack Theme “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”, not only did these little Macs take a walk on the wild side, they ended up getting lost on the wild side.

Luckily for everyone they were rescued and brought to safety.

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This week while my good friend Rachael from La Fuji Mama is taking in the sun in beautiful Cancun, Mexico she asked if I would do a guest post for her, I’m sure you can guess what my response was.

Rachael lived in Japan for about two years hence the name of her blog La Fuji Mama. Although she started blogging to keep her relatives updated on her life while living in Japan, once she returned to the US she began food blogging instead.

Let me tell you I’m so glad she did because she has so many amazing recipes to share with us. There’s one I’m particularly fond of, just search her site for deadly chocolate almond toffee you have to try it, it’s amazing!

Butterfinger Mochi Ice cream
In trying to keep with the theme of her blog I chose to make butterfinger Mochi Ice cream which is made with a Peanut Butter Creme Brulee Ice cream base, chunks of homemade butterfinger candy and wrapped in mochi dough.

I hope you hop on over and check it out!

Butterfinger Mochi Ice cream

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