Meringue


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

1001

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

0621

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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June 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

This months Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. She challenged us to make Chocolate Pavlovas filled with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse based on a recipe from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

A challenge consisting of two chocolate based recipes? There was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity…

I hope you enjoy my version of this delicious dessert.

Chocolate Pavlova Shells

Chocolate Meringue

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Meringue
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Cocoa Powder and Meringue
Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Chocolate Meringue for Pavlovas

Pavlovas Base
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Chocolate Pavlova Shells
Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Pavlova Filling

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Chocolate Mousse
Warm heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once warm remove from stove and pour chocolate chips, whisk until chocolate chips have melted and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
Whip mascarpone on medium until soft peaks form, be carefull not to overwhip. Carefully fold the chilled heavy cream and chocolate mixture into the mascarpone.

Chocolate Pavlovas
Fill a pastry bag with the chocolate mousse and pipe onto the cooled pavlovas.

Chocolate Pavlovas topped with Kiwi Fruit
I topped my pavlovas with sliced kiwi fruit, and drizzled them with melted white chocolate. Deb’s version called for a mascarpone creme to be drizzled over the top of the pavlovas. But there was just too much craziness going around so shhh…I took a little shortcut.

DBmissmeasuresmall

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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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Graduation
Well, what do you think? Not too bad for my first attempt at cookie decorating right?

I have a secret or two I want to share with you today.

My dear friend Bridget from Bake at 350 started this really cool site, called University of Cookie. It is exclusivly dedicated to video tutorials on all things pertaining cookie decorating.

So far I’ve learned how to properly thin out icing for flooding, how to make a quick version of royal icing, and how to map out the colors you need and basically get everything prepped.

Obviously after watching the videos and absorbing all of that information, I had to put my newly gained knowledge to the test. Hence this attempt at cookie decorating.

Now a little about the designs/shapes I chose:

I chose the graduation caps because my two younger boys are both graduating this year, my middle son is graduating from Jr. High, and the youngest from Elementary School.

Ice Cream Cone
I don’t think I even have to explain the Ice cream cone right? If you’ve been visiting me for a while, you know ice cream is my favorite dessert.

Eiffel Tower
And last but not least the Eiffel Tower… sigh. I so want to visit Paris, well not just Paris but Spain and Italy as well. The Eiffel Tower symbolizes my future trip to Europe, I don’t know how, or when I’ll make it over there, but it’s one of my goals.

OK, enough melodrama… time for some cookies and decorating.

This recipe for sugar cookies was absolutely amazing! I decreased the original recipe by half, after all this was my first attempt at cookie decorating and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

Next time I’ll be making the full batch, because with 2 teen-aged boys, an 11 y/o cookie monster, and ahem… the sweet toothed taste tester (yours truly), half was not nearly enough.

Decorated Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Modern Cafe by Francisco J. Migoya – The Culinary Institute of America

roll and bake sugar cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, approx 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and blend until completely incorporated.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and slowly mix until the dough has come together and formed a uniform mass.

Shape the dough into a square, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

This is how we roll...
[I have no idea how that glass of wine got in the shot…]

When ready to bake roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to .5 inch thickness, place it on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the freezer and cut into desired shapes. If desired dock them down the center. Place them on a parchment/Silpat lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.

Bake just until the borders turn golden brown, approx. 13-15 minutes.

Cool to room temperature. Cookies will keep for up to 6 days if they are stored in a cool dry place tightly wrapped or inside an airtight container.

Royal Icing
from the Cookie Decorating Guru Bridget from Bake at 350

Decorate Cookies

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup (optional)
few drops clear extract (optional)

In a bowl combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. Bridget says: (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. The corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.

Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. This is the consistency you want to use to outline your cookies.

Be careful to not overbeat.

Royal Icing
Now you can divide the icing and use gel based food coloring to add color to the icing fill up you pastry bag and outline your cookies.

Once you’ve outlined your cookies, you need to thin out your icing to flooding consistency.

I couldn’t explain it better than Bridget, so I’ll let her show you how to properly thin out your icing for flooding. Here’s the tutorial.

I have one other tip I wanted to share with you. This one is courtesy of The Cake Boss himself:

A couple of weeks ago Rachael had Buddy Valastro AKA The Cake Boss on her show for a Cake Boss – Cake Tip-off.

Can you guess which tip I used? Not only was it only a good tip for cake decorating but it was also a great tip for novice cookie decorators like myself. Hint, I took a picture of said tip.

decorated cookies

Eiffel Tower
EiffelTower

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Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons

Happy pre-Cinco de Mayo everyone!

To bypass the “mini” history lesson, scroll down to: “OK, now for the fun part!” :)

I wanted to share just a little bit of history for those that may be unfamiliar with the origins of this holiday.

Contrary to popular belief, this holiday is not a major holiday in Mexico, it is mainly only celebrated or observed in the state of Puebla. Unlike September 16th Mexico’s Independance Day, which is the biggest patriotic holiday in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo conmemorates the victory over the French during the Battle of Puebla. Here in the US and in other parts of the world, this day is seen as a day to celebrate Mexican Culture and Heritage.

OK, now for the fun part!

We all know very well there is no better way to celebrate a holiday than with a little F & B (food & beverage) right?

So…….. I made these just for you, a little F & B rolled into one. Enjoy!

Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons
Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons

Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons

Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons

Orange-Lime Macaron Shells

90 grams aged egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
70 grams blanched almonds
40 grams ground pine nuts (pignolias)
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon grated key lime peel

Place the powdered sugar, almonds, and pine nuts in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Sift a couple of time to remove bits and pieces. Regrind if necessary.

Once your nuts, and powdered sugar are mixed together, rub them in between your fingertips to break the bigger pieces.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Add the dry ingredients to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

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.

If using convection: preheat the oven to 280F. If using regular electric or gas, preheat the oven to 300F.

When ready, bake for 18 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool

Orange-Lime Buttercream

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon tequila sauza gold
1/2 teaspoon cointreau
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon key lime zest

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.

How to age egg whites:

Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place the whites in a clean bowl. Leave out at room temperature, uncovered or loosely covered with a towel for 24-48 hours. At this point the whites can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring egg whites to room temperature before making the macaron shells.

Pipe macarons onto shells, top and refrigerate. Remove macarons from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

Orange-Lime Margarita Macarons

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