Showing posts with label cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cookies. Show all posts

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mexican Cinnamon Cookies

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday - all you moms, all you friends of moms, all you teachers and nurses and doctors and amazing folks who help moms do what we do.  I hope you all gave yourselves a big hug yesterday, realizing what an amazing job you do every day, growing the next generation.

Being the second Monday of the month, today's post is the reveal for the Secret Recipe Club.  And doesn't really have to do with Mother's Day.  Actually, it has to do with last week's holiday, Cinco De Mayo.

My assigned blog this month was Jane's Adventures in Dinner, written by the amazing Jane.  She's a chef, a teacher, a mother and an absolute wonder. Her blog is a real delight and her recipes all look absolutely delicious.

But, I kind of knew what inspiration I'd be looking for this month, regardless of what blog I was assigned - I knew I'd use this month's SRC as a way to find something new and fun to make for Cinco De Mayo.

And Jane didn't disappoint. She had several recipes to choose from, but I wound up choosing these, delightful looking Mexican style cookies that looked like they'd be the perfect Cinco De Mayo treat.

They came together super easily. 

Like other Mexican style cookies (called Mexican wedding cookies) that I've seen, these use powdered sugar as the sugar, rather than granulated. And these have a lovely helping of cinnamon, making them spicy and delicious.

I mixed the batter...

...and little man mixed up some cinnamon-(powdered) sugar, which we then used to coat balls of the dough.

 Little man got a big kick out of helping me make sure each of the dough balls was thoroughly coated. He used a fork to, as he put it, give each dough ball a hat of the powdered sugar/cinnamon mix. I know it's a blurry photo, but it was seriously adorable.

The prepared cookies were then placed on a cookie sheet...

...and baked to light-golden perfection.

And we all loved them! They're light and crisp, with a slightly spicy sweet taste from the cinnamon - the perfect end to our Cinco De Mayo meal!

And, by the way, I also tried one other recipe from Jane's blog. Well, sort of.  She has this delicious sounding Black Bean Soup recipe that just looked amazing. But I knew I'd be the only one in the house to eat it, no matter how good it was. So I used it as the inspiration for a black bean side dish that I served with our Navajo stack tacos.

Definitely repeating that - so delicious. And I also want to try the slow-cooked pork taco recipe she has at that same link with the black bean soup. As I said - there was no lack of inspiration this month!

Thanks, Jane, for the delicious recipes, the awesome inspiration, and for your super fun blog!

Mexican Cinnamon Cookies
(from Jane's Adventures in Dinner)

1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, then stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture to form a stiff dough.
In a separate bowl, mix together the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll each ball in the powdered sugar/cinnamon mixture, then place on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until nicely browned. Cool cookies on wire racks.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Easy Rice Flour Snickerdoodles

So,  a couple of months ago, I made cookies for a new friend as a thank you. Because... it's what I do.

But then I found out that she eats gluten free.

Oops. I mean, she said that her family enjoyed the cookies, but I still felt bad. And told her that I'd take it as a new personal challenge to make yummy treats that she could enjoy, too.

Now, I do happen to have a few gluten-free flours in the house - coconut flour and rice flour.  So, between google and pinterest, I started searching for recipes that I could easily try.

When I came across this recipe for simple rice flour sugar cookies, I thought I'd give it a shot. I mean, it looked super easy and I had all of the ingredients. But I thought I'd take them a step further and turn them into snickerdoodles. I mean... a snickerdoodle is basically a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar, right? How bad could it be?

Now, when I say that the recipe is easy, I mean it. No mixer needed. One bowl.

Using a spoon, cream together softened butter and brown sugar.

See? Easy! Just make sure the butter is soft enough. Or else you're in for a really good arm workout.

Add in an egg, rice flour and some baking soda and mix again.

And then the dough is done!  Roll the dough into little balls, then roll the balls in cinnamon sugar.

Then bake!

It's that easy.

And guess what? They're delicious! And have a good texture! And you'd never guess they're gluten free!

And the best part? My friend liked them! Woo hoo!

I am definitely looking forward to trying other gluten free recipes - both to share and for us. Because if these are any indication, it's not as scary as it sounds!

Easy Rice-Flour Snickerdoodles
(only slightly adapted from Yummy Laura)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking sheet.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg, then stir in flour and baking soda. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Scoop dough and roll into balls approximately one-inch in size. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes until golden.
Cool on cooling rack.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Soul Cakes (an SRC bonus!)

Last week, a call went out on the Secret Recipe Club's facebook group page that they needed help for a blogger whose assigned blogger was having trouble putting up their post.  With how busy I have been, I haven't been all that creative, cooking and baking wise, unless it's been challenge-related. So I immediately volunteered.

The blog to which I was directed was Lavender and Lovage, run by the amazingly impressive, talented and fantastic Karen. I had never visited Karen's blog before, but I can now guarantee that I'll be a regular visitor. Because WOW. She is amazing. And she's writing a cookbook of British recipes, which I can't wait to see!

I had a bit of a tough time deciding what to make, because there were so many amazing choices. But I finally chose to try a recipe for something called "soul cakes." I had never  heard of soul cakes before, but apparently they are traditional in British history, and are made in celebration of All-Soul's Day, which falls on November 2nd each year.  Karen described the soul cakes as kind of a cross between a scone and a biscuit. And looking at her amazing photos, they reminded me a bit of tea biscuits from one of my favorite bakeries. So I decided to give them a try!

The recipe is simple and straightforward. The "hardest" part is separating three eggs.

I did make two slight changes in the recipe. I omitted the currants (again - we'd just had the hot cross buns and my kids don't like dried fruits in their baked goods enough for me to do it too often...), and I chose to use my chai masala as the "mixed spice" that is called for in teh recipe.

The chai spices were whisked into the flour while the butter, sugar and egg yolks did their thing in the mixer.

Once the flour mixture is added, the resulting dough is rolled out...

...and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter.

Yes, I still use a drinking glass as a biscuit cutter. It works great!

The soul cakes are marked with a cross, and I chose to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar on top of them, as well.

And then they bake!

These came out as pretty rich cookies, and not very much like the tea biscuits I'd been thinking about, but they still pair extremely well with a cup of tea, and are a very delightful treat.  They are really delicious, though I think that next time (and yes, there will be a next time!) I will make them smaller, more like traditional cookie sized.

Karen, I thank you for your beautiful and inspirational blog and I can't wait to learn more about British cooking from you!

Chai-Spiced Soul Cakes
(only slightly adapted from Lavender and Lovage)

175 grams butter
175 grams caster sugar
3 egg yolks
450 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice (I used 1 teaspoon of chai masala)
100 grams currrants (I omitted)
a little milk to mix (I needed just about a tablespoon)

Preheat oven to 390 degrees (F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.
Sift the flour into another bowl with the mixed spice, then carefully add it to the butter, sugar and egg yolk mixture.
Stir in the currants, if using,  and add just enough milk to make a soft dough, similar to scones.
Roll the dough out (I made it between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch thick) and cut out little cakes with a biscuit cutter (or drinking glass!). Mark each cake with a cross and then place them onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cakes for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and the store in an airtight tin for up to 5 days.


Thursday, January 30, 2014


Like most dabbling bakers, I have a mental list of things that I'd really like to try. Some day.  Between the Daring Kitchen, Sourdough Surprises and The Secret Recipe Club, I've been really lucky to have the opportunity to try lots of them, but there are still plenty more I want to try.

For a long time, rugelach has been on that list.  Rugelach is a crescent-style pastry with some sort of filling.  I actually haven't eaten rugelach for years, but I have still wanted to try it.

Last week, I finally had the occasion that called for something special, so decided to tackle this pastry.  What was that occasion? I'd reached the final class on a Groupon I had for a local, awesome Zumba studio. And I wanted to thank both the amazing instructor and the awesome, friendly woman at the front desk. What better way to thank someone than with a tasty treat?

There are many recipes out there for the actual pastry dough for rugelach, ranging from very simple to very complicated. But most that I saw were of the simple variety, with only a few ingredients.  Flour, a touch of salt, maybe some sugar (I used brown sugar) and lots of butter and cream cheese.

These were mixed together in the food processor until they almost form a cohesive dough...

 ...and then I did a quick, final knead to really bring it together. The dough is enough for two sets of pastries, so I divided it up and popped it into the fridge.

Now... there was just one problem.

All that butter and cream cheese. While I was making these treats to share with the lovely folks at the studio, I still wanted to save a few for my family.  But with all that butter and cream cheese, there was no way that little man could eat these.

So I made a quick half-batch just for him. Dough came together exactly the same...

...but with two slight ingredient substitutions.

Okay, so that's not so slight. In place of butter, I used coconut oil, and in place of cream cheese, I used a vegan cream cheese alternative.

It was actually really easy.

The vegan dough went into the fridge right next to the other one, and there they all rested overnight.

The next day, it was time to get rolling.


Each disc is rolled out into a circle about 1/8 of an inch thick, then spread with any filling you choose.

My first filling was one that is relatively traditional for rugelach - chocolate and cinnamon sugar.

Once the topping is spread over the dough, simply cut the circle into wedges (I used a pizza cutter - super easy!) and roll each wedge up crescent-roll style.

A quick egg-wash and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar...

...and these were ready for the oven to turn into flaky deliciousness.

As the first batch baked, I started on the second flavor.  I re-mixed some of the brown sugar-chai masala filling that I'd used for the chai-spiced cinnamon rolls and used that.

And these baked up just as beautifully.

And finally, it was time to roll the vegan dough.  The coconut oil made this dough a little tougher to roll, and it cracked a lot more while I was rolling it, but I was finally able to work it into a thin circle, which I spread with blackberry preserves.

To keep these vegan, I skipped the egg-wash and, instead, brushed these with a bit of coconut milk.  The preserves leaked out more than the other fillings, but other than that, they didn't look too bad.

Now, seeing that this was the first time I'd ever made these, I had to taste them before packaging them up! And I was super happy with the results. Even the vegan version were crisp and flaky.  The chocolate and cinnamon sugar ones were my favorite, but all three had a really nice flavor and were really fun to eat.

So I was super happy to share these to thank the wonderful folks at the Zumba studio. And luckily, they told me that they liked them - so I'd say it worked out pretty well.

(based on

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks (vegan alternative: coconut oil)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks (vegan alternative: vegan cream cheese, such as Tofutti brand)
any filling of your choice (about 1/4 cup filling per portion of dough, more or less to your preference)

Combine flour, sugar and salt in your food processor, pulsing a few times just to combine.
Add chunks of butter and cream cheese slowly, pulsing to combine as you add. Once all of the butter and cream cheese has been added, run the food processor until the dough forms large curds.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it lightly just a few times to bring it together.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces, form each into a disc and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough at least two hours or overnight.
When you are ready to prepare and bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and remove the dough from the refrigerator.
Roll each section of dough into a circle approximately 1/8 of an inch thick. Spread the dough with the filling of your choice (chopped chocolate, cinnamon sugar, jams - the choices are limitless!). Cut the dough into wedges (a pizza cutter makes this simple). Each circle can make 12-16 wedges.
Roll each wedge, from the wide end toward the tip. Place each rolled piece onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
If desired, brush each piece with egg wash (or, for the vegan pastries, coconut milk) and sprinkle them with a touch of cinnamon sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (mine took about 22 minutes).
Transfer pastries to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool a bit before tasting. They will crisp up a bit more as they set.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Daring Bakers' Challenge - Sfogliatelle

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was a real challenge. Despite the relatively simple ingredients and well written instructions, this was a true challenge from start to finish!

Sandie of the lovely blog, Crumbs of Love, was our November hostess. Sandie challenged us to make a traditional Italian dessert, along with its American version – Sfogliatelle (or better known in the US – lobster tails!) The flakey, 1000 layers of super thin dough, shaped into a horn and filled with a scrumptious filling. Così buono!

I'd seen these flaky, layered cookies in my favorite Italian bakery, but, to the best of my memory, I really don't think I'd ever tasted it before.  But just looking at the photo... it was daunting! It looked so complicated and difficult!

Reading the recipe and directions, the first thing that jumped out at me is that the whole process "requires" a pasta roller - it's how the initial dough is kneaded, and how the final dough is rolled out to form the thin, flaky layers.

I don't have a pasta roller.  

No problem. Other members were having luck without one, so I hoped I would do just as well. 

The dough is actually incredibly simple. Flour, a touch of salt, and water.

The problem is the proportions.  The dough is, by design, very, very dry.

Very. Very. Dry.

According to the instructions, this very rough, very dry dough should be brought together and worked through a pasta roller many times, which works to hydrate the dough enough to make it cohesive and smooth.

I tried kneading the dough. It did not work well at all.

So I used my counter, rolling pin and body weight to create my own pata roller.

Pushing with all my weight, I was able to work the dough enough that it finally, actually, came together!

Now, it was still VERY tough, but at least it was smooth, and looked kind of right.  The dough then rested for a few hours in the fridge, then at room temperature for a few more hours (totalling overnight resting for this dough. Trust me - the time helps hydrate the dough. Don't rush it!)

I was then ready to proceed with the next daunting part - rolling out the dough.

In order to work the dough as thin as it needs to be, the dough is divided into four sections.

Each section is then rolled as thin as possible (if you have a pasta roller, use it!!) into a long, four inch wide rectangle. The rectangle is then coated with a mixture of butter and shortening (well, the recipe calls for lard... I used shortening...)...

...and then stretched even thinner and rolled up. This process is repeated with each of the four sections of dough, with each section being rolled up around the previous sections, until you are left with one greased up dough log.

This is then wrapped in plastic wrap and put back in the fridge. Overnight. Again. (yes, this took  me three days!)

And now came the fun part. Actually making the cookies!

It starts with cuttting the dough log into half-inch sections.

Then you take a few photos with some jokesters photo-bombing the whole thing...

Then I handed the camera over to daddy because I knew my hands were about to be greasy.

Each of those half inch sections is pressed, using the heal of your hand... create a cone-type shape.

Now, let me step back  here for one second. The next step is to pipe in filling.  The filling is supposed to be a ricotta-semolina filling. Which sounds amazing.  With little man's dairy allergy, I skipped that part. I made a filling using vegan cream cheese.  So what you see here is that vegan no-bake-cheesecake-style filling being piped into the dough cone.

Then just press the open end together and they're ready for the oven!

And that is where the magic happens. The layers open up, all that butter and shortening crisps everything to a nice goldenn brown, and you are left with these cool looking cookies!

A sprinkling of powdered sugar...

...and they were finally done!

I have to say - while they weren't all picture perfect, and while I know that there were a few technical errors in there (hello, gaping holes!), I was really proud of myself after making these. They were a lot of effort, but were well worth it. My in-laws told me that they were just like what they remember from fancy Italian bakeries, in looks, taste and texture. How cool is that??

Sandie, I can't thank you enough for this awesome challenge. Truly challenge, truly rewarding, this was a great challenge and you were a lovely, encouraging and enthusiastic hostess!!

And a special shout-out to my baking buddy this month, Korena! She and I spent the whole weekend messaging each other back and forth with questions and tips and progress reports - it made the whole thing so much fun. Couldn't have done it with out you, Korena!!

To see the other amazing sfogliatelle baked in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

And to see the full recipes as provided by Sandie this month, check out the full challenge here.

Sfogliatelle Ricci 
Servings: 14-18 pastries

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water (about 100°F)
4 oz lard (I used vegetable shortening)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
filling of your choice (recipe for what I used below)

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir in the water, or use your standing mixer with the paddle attachment. The dough will be very dry. If you feel absolutely compelled, add an extra teaspoon of water but it is supposed to be very dry. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it together, bringing in all the dry bits as best as you can. At this point get your pasta roller out and ready. Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch (10 mm) and pass through your pasta machine at the widest setting. Fold the dough in half after each pass also change the direction of the dough occasionally. After about 15 passes the dough should be very smooth. 
If you don't have a pasta roller, this will take a lot of muscle, time and determination, but I promise, you can do it. Letting the dough stand for a few minutes after every few minutes of kneading will help the dough to hydrate a bit better, which will make it a bit easier to knead. I promise, the dough will become smooth.
Knead the dough back into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate and rest the dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
When you are ready to proceed, beat the lard/shortening and butter together in your mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer) until very fluffy. Make sure it is thoroughly combined. Set this aside, you will need it in easy reaching distance once you start rolling.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time (cover the other pieces with a towel or plastic wrap), lightly flour a piece pass it through the pasta roller set at the widest setting. Try to get the dough as even as possible, your goal is an even rectangle strip, about 4 inches (10 cm) in width. If needed, fold it over on itself a few times until you get an even strip. Once even, pass the dough through every setting, ending with the highest.
If you don't have a pasta roller, you will need to roll the dough by hand. A little bit of warmth is a big help in rolling the dough by hand. You can either create a heat tent by heating a pot and placing it over the dough or by gently microwaving each section as you begin to work with it. Be patient with it and roll carefully.
Whichever way you roll out the dough, you should end up with a long 4 inch wide strip. Repeat with the other three remaining pieces of dough.
Place one piece of a strip on you clean work surface and paint (or smear) it liberally with the lard/butter mixture. It might be easier to spread only section at a time rather than the whole thing at once, but you will find what works for you. Gently pull the sides of the dough and stretch it, starting from the middle and going out, until it is about 8 or 9 inches in width. Again, do this slowly and carefully. Begin from the short end and start rolling the dough into a very tight roll. When you start to reach the end of your stretched section, stop and liberally grease up another section, stretching and rolling until all the dough is finished. When one strip of dough is finished, overlap the end of one to the beginning of the other; continue to pull, stretch and roll up until all of the dough is in one rolled-up log.
Spread the lard/butter mixture over the entire finished log and starting in the middle gently run the hands down the length to extend the length another inch or so. This will release any air pockets and tighten the roll. Your finished roll should be approximately 10 or 11 inches long.
Wrap the log in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months at this time. Once frozen, simply defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.

When you are reaady to bake, preheat your oven to moderately hot 400°F, line 2 baking sheets with parchment, remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place on a cutting board. This is also when you need your filling ready, so be sure that you have it made and in a piping bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut - whatever works!). 
Slice off about an inch from each end of the dough log so that the ends are straight and even. Cut the roll into 1/2 inch slices. 
Take one slice of dough and place it on your workplace. With the heel of your hand, push out from the center in one direction. Rotate the dough and do this in all four directions. This forms the dough and opens up the layers. Pick up the piece and insert your thumbs on the inside with your forefingers on the outside meanwhile gently stretch the center to make it more into the shape of a cone. You don't want the layers to actually separate. Holding the cone in one hand, squeeze some of the filling into the cavity so it is full. Lightly push the opening closed. 
Place the closed dough triangle onto the prepared baking sheet and very lightly brush the outside of each completed pastry with the lard/butter mixture (I skipped that part - there was plenty of the butter/shortening mixture on my dough so I didn't feel the need to add more.) 
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown.
Remove the trays from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. These are best served warm with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar on the day they are made. To reheat them, just place them in a moderate 350°F oven for about 5 minutes.


The filling that I made was a vegan no-bake cheesecake filling:
8 ounce container of vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until it is soft and fluffy.
Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until well incorporated and very fluffy.
Transfer the filling to a piping bag or plastic bag from which you can cut the corner to create your own piping tool.
Simple and delicious! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Daring Bakers' Challenge - Choose Your Own Adventure

Now what in the world does that mean??

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

In a comedy of errors (okay, not comical at all - as a result of an injury to a wonderful member of the Daring Kitchen community, not to mention a lovely friend...), this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge didn't occur as originally planned. But our esteemed leader, Lisa, had a super fun idea to "rescue" the month - she invited all Daring Bakers to choose any previous challenge, on either the cooking or baking side of the board, that they wanted. Maybe something that had been posted as a challenge before they had joined. Perhaps a challenge that they'd completed, but did not achieve the desired results. Any challenge, any reason - the choice was ours.

I knew right away what challenge I wanted to do.

In October of 2009, just a few months prior to my joining the group, the Daring Bakers' Challenge was French Macarons.  I have never tried these highly regarded little confections and was very glad to have the opportunity now to do so!

But there were a few complications along the way.

The first is that the meringue cookies are made with almond flour.  Little man is allergic to all tree nuts, so this is a no go.  The main substitution I saw online called for making pumpkin seed flour.  I chose to try my hand at making flour out of something we had on-hand already... sunflower seeds!

Now... if you remember what little man's other allergies are, you may be scratching your head a bit. Yup, one of his other food allergies is egg. And I did say that these cookies are meringues. Which are basically baked, whipped egg whites. A no-no for him. So why did I go to all of the trouble to find a substitute flour, considering he can't eat the cookies no matter what I use?

Two main reasons. First, no need to bring an unnecessary nut product into the house. Second, it looks like he may be outgrowing his egg allergy. So these cookies may become a possibility in the future! So practicing with a non-nut flour (seeing as the likelihood of him outgrowing the nut allergy is very, very slim) is just preparation for the glorious day when we learn he has one less allergy!

Anyway, once the sunflower seed flour was prepared (I'll share that in a future post), it was time to really dive in!

In order to build up my nerve for what is regarded as a very challenging cookie to make, I watched a few youtube videos about the process. I found one that was not only amusing and informative at the same time, but that used a simple recipe with smaller quantities than those called for in the challenge recipe. So I went with that one.

As I mentioned, the main component of the macaron is the meringue cookie.  So I started out whipping my egg whites.

The goal with the whites is to get them to hold nice, stiff peaks. I always check it by holding some upside down.

Yup. Nice and stiff. And shout out to little man in the background for helping line the baking sheets with parchment. Good job, little man.

The stiff egg whites are then gently folded into sifted and mixed sunflower seed flour and confectioners sugar.  And then the mixture is piped into little circles.

At this point, I was pretty sure that I hadn't ground my flour finely enough. Even though I then sifted it, so I thought it was good enough, you can definitely see seed-bits in my piped meringues. Oh well. I carefully tapped down those points on the tops of my cookies and proceeded to bake them.

When they came out, I was of two minds. One mark of a perfectly baked meringue cookie, in the French Macaron camp, anyway, is when the cookie rounds have little "feet" on the bottom. And if you look closely, many of mine do, actually, have the markings of those feet. On the other hand, the tops of these cookies are supposed to be nice and smooth. Which mine aren't. I'm going to blame either the flour (not fine enough) or my folding technique when incorporating the egg whites into the flour/confectioners' sugar mix... I either over mixed it or under mixed it. I'll have to dig a bit to see which one is most likely.

Regardless, for a first shot with a major substitution, not too shabby.  But they're not done! A macaron is not just the meringue cookie, oh no! It is two of them, with some sort of filling sandwiched between them! Generally it is some sort of ganache or buttercream. I chose a dark chocolate ganache.

To be completely honest, these are very sweet. Very tasty, mind you, but very, very sweet. So one is plenty.

But they were very fun and I am super glad to have had the opportunity to complete a challenge that I'd previously missed out on!

To see what past challenges the other members of the Daring Kitchen revisited this month, check them out here.

French Macaroons
(recipe slightly adapted from Lovely Lady Cakes)

3/4 cup sunflower seed flour, sifted
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 egg whites
4 tablespoons white sugar

In a large bowl, sift first the flour and then the confectioners' sugar, then mix gently to combine the two together. Set this bowl aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin beating the egg whites on high speed until they begin to become frothy, about two minutes. Begin slowly incorporating the white sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk on high until the egg whites hold stiff peaks, about an additional 3-5 minutes.
Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/confectioners' sugar mixture, adding the eggs in three additions.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and carefully pipe quarter-sized circles of the meringue mixture onto the parchment.
Set the piped meringues aside to allow them to rest for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Once the meringues have rested (they should have a slight shell on the outside of them now), lower the oven to 300 degrees and bake the meringues for 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
*note - I saw a tip on another video (I don't remember which, sorry...) that said that your oven rack should be either high or low for these, but not in the middle, and that you should only bake one tray of the meringues in the oven at a time... so I did that - set my oven shelf to the top of the oven and baked one tray at a time, 8 minutes, rotate, 8 more minutes, remove first tray, raised oven temperature back to 325, then lowered back to 300 and put in the second tray.
Allow cookies to cool completely, then choose a filling to create your completely macarons.


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