French macarons are now being called the “new cupcake”. Not to be confused with the American macaroon – the one with the coconut, these little concoctions are those multi-colored sandwich cookies that you see in patisseries. They are made with almond flour, sugar and egg whites then filled with buttercream, jam or ganache. They are crisp and airy like meringues only with filling. I love macarons, but boy-oh-boy did they frustrate me as I tried to make them at home. For some odd reason (or maybe professional kitchens just have magical powers) i had 8 macaron fails. E-I-G-H-T. Yep, that’s a lot of almonds, sugar, and egg whites! I tried two different recipes, one with italian meringue, and one using french meringue. And the french finally worked.
So here’s a few tips when making these:
- “Age” your egg whites, almond flour and confectioner’s sugar at room temperature for 24 hours. Aging the whites will help it lose moisture and make a better meringue. Also “age” your finished shells before filling them.
- I made my own almond flour by grining up blanched skinless almonds. Make sure you sift them really good and process your almond flour and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor to have perfectly smooth shells.
- The mixing part can be really tricky. You can undermix or overmix so it takes patience and practice until you get it right. The consistency you’re looking for is somehow like the “ribbon” stage for egg yolks. Undermixing can cause cracking or not having “pied” – the little tiny feet underneath the cookies.
- After piping your macarons, you need to dry them enough to create the “pied”. Patience is all you need. Some recipes ask for 20-30 minutes or until its dry to the touch – I’ve done this but depending on the environment you are at – temperature, humidity, etc. it could take longer. The perfect batch I’ve made dried for 2 hours.
- Invest in an oven thermometer. An oven too cool or too hot will mess up your macarons.
Until then…. Happy Macaron Day!
ps I will blog about the process of making these pretty little cookies next time
A few days ago, it was my mom’s birthday and she had a special request for her birthday cake. She wanted a mocha roll, just like what they sell at Goldilocks. For those of you who don’t know, Goldilocks is a famous bakery in the Philippines. They also have branches here in the US and Canada but unfortunately, they’re all in the west coast. So after hours of researching, I stumbled upon this website. I gave this person’s recipe a try. I must say, it definitely tasted just like the cake I ate growing up.
For the Cake:
- 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon coffee/espresso granules [Nescafe instant coffee recommended]
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon water
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat your oven to 375 F. Prepare your baking pans. If making a roll, use a 10.5″ x 15.5″ x 1″ pan. Spray lightly with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl on low speed until combined. Switch to medium speed until “ribbon” stage. Ribbon looks like your egg yolks are pale yellow and when you lift your whisk and drizzle it, it forms a “ribbon”.
- Dissolve espresso or coffee granules (I used Medaglia D’ Oro Instant Espresso) and cocoa powder in water and vanilla extract. Pour into the egg yolk mixture. Add canola oil and beat until combined.
- Sift cake flour and baking powder into the egg yolk mix. Stir until well blended. Be careful not to deflate your mixture by over mixing.
- Transfer your egg yolk mixture to another bowl and clean your mixing bowl to whip your egg whites. A clean bowl is the key to whipping whites! Any traces of oil or other stuff may ruin your egg whites. (In making sponge cakes, owning 2 mixers is amazing!)
- Whip your egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
- Fold your egg whites into the mocha batter. “Sacrifice” a dollop first to liquefy the batter a little bit. Then fold in the rest in thirds.
- Pour your batter into the jelly roll pan. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Rotate the pan after 6 minutes.
- Lay a kitchen towel flat on the counter top and dust it lightly with powdered sugar.
- Once the cake is done, turn it over on the towel and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Slowly roll the towel and cake altogether. Cool on a wire rack with the seam side down.
- After about an hour, unroll and remove the towel and spread a layer of mocha buttercream.
- Frost the outside of the cake, and viola! Its done For the Mocha Buttercream
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, soft, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon coffee/espresso granules
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 5 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 teaspoons amaretto
Whisk sugar and egg whites for 3 to 5 minutes in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (water should not touch the bottom of the bowl), until meringue is hot to the touch. The sugar granules will be dissolved and you will be left with a fluffy marshmallow cream-like froth. Remove bowl from heat and beat for 5 minutes with whisk attachment on medium speed. Add half of the butter and beat until smooth then add the other half. Beat for 6-10 minutes on medium high speed. Dissolve cocoa and coffee in water, vanilla extract and amaretto in a small bowl. Pour into the buttercream and beat until smooth.
I know I’m a few days late, working in the restaurant industry is crazy during Valentine’s Day!
I decided to make some rose meringue cookies today. Meringues are light and airy crisp cookies, hence my blog post title “love is in the air”
What I love about meringues is how simple it is and how you can go on and on with the list of flavors you can make. They’re very easy to make too! I believe they are fat free as well
You will need (This makes about 20 – 2 1/2 inch cookies)
- 180 grams (about 6 egg whites) – make sure they are at room temperature (take them out about 30 minutes before whipping. Also, I found out that Great Value egg whites from Walmart work for whipping whites. Other egg white packages you can find at the grocery will not work. You can also use Papetis Liquid Whites.
- 300 grams (1 1/2 cup) superfine sugar – just grind your regular sugar in a food processor for a few seconds if you don’t have any
- 1/2 – 2 teaspoons rose extract (depending on your taste buds)- Rose is a very strong flavor, be careful when adding it. I bought my extract at Sur La Table. You can also use vanilla or any other extract if you like.
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar – Don’t freak out if you don’t have this! Just substitute it with vinegar or lemon juice.
- 1-2 drops pink food color – Make sure it’s water based. If you use oil based color, it will deflate your egg whites. Sometimes I add a little bit more because your meringues will become paler after they bake.
- Preheat your oven to 200 F.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat your egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks then gradually add your sugar and continue to beat on medium high speed.
- Continue beating until stiff peaks. Add your extract and color.
- You can use a piping bag with a star or round tip, whichever you prefer. If you don’t have any, you can use a ziploc bag and cut the tip of the bag, or you can drop the meringue with a spoon onto the baking sheet.
- Bake the meringues about 1 hour – 2 hours depending on the size you make them. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the door open a little bit and let them dry for several hours or overnight.
- The meringues should last several days. Enjoy!
making the world sweeter,
I currently work at BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. And we’re celebrating our 3rd birthday!
Come see us this Sunday, February 12th, and get some free cake!
BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier 1600 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
I dedicate this to my dear grandmother – my very inspiration to make this possible.
I spent 17 years of my life with her. She taught me all things about life, and most importantly, the love for food.
She’s the best cook I know. I remember her showing me how to make cookies, amazing bread that she kneaded with her own hands, how to whip up a great sponge cake (I can still remember her scolding me for over whipping egg whites or folding incorrectly) and a lot more things about baking.
The most important thing she taught me was to have passion for everything that you do in life.
And so here I am… fulfilling her dream of becoming a pastry chef, and trying to make the world sweeter, one day at a time.
Lots of chocolate, audrey