French Macaron with Tart Cherry Chocolate Ganache

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French Macaron with Tart Cherry Chocolate Ganache

I’m a huge fan of tart cherry anything and have a couple of freezer bags of tart cherries that I picked this summer just waiting to be used.  Chocolate and Cherry are a marriage made in heaven and in this macaron they are delicious!  I used the standard recipe for french macarons from wilton.com  and created my own recipe for the filling.


Tart Cherry Chocolate Ganache Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Cup pitted tart cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons Amaretto
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions:

Saute pitted cherries in 1 tablespoon of butter until soft; add 2 tablespoons Amaretto and saute an additional 5 minutes.  Add tart cherry mixture to a food processor and process to a thick puree.

Heat heavy cream to almost a boil (bubbles will appear around the outside of the cream) and pour over chocolate chips.  Wait 2 minutes and stir until smooth.  Add cherry puree and stir.  Put in fridge to desired thickness.  Pipe ganache onto macaron.

Enjoy!

French Macaron – Lemon with Lemon Lavender Ganache

img_8911I challenged myself with baking French Macarons.  From everything I read French Macarons are indeed a challenge with a multitude of things that can go wrong.  My first batch were under baked.  My second batch had feet that spread (oven temp. too high – adjustments need to be made) and my 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th batch have been perfect!  When my first perfect batch came out of the oven it was just myself and my puppy in the kitchen – I did a happy dance and we did a high five!

Macarons are my newest obsession – they are so much fun and can be made in so many different colors and flavors the list goes on and on and on.  My co-workers love it – I have Macaron Monday every week and they get to eat my Macarons and I get to try new flavors and colors – it’s  a win win.

 

French Macaron  (Adapted from Wilton.com)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups Confectioners’ Sugar

1 Cup almond flour

3 egg whites (room temperature)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt

3 teaspoons granulated sugar

Step 1

Preheat oven to 275°F. Prepare 2 cookie pans with parchment paper. Fit a 16 in. decorating bag with tip 1A.

Step 2
Step 2

Sift confectioners’ sugar and almond flour together, discarding any bits of almond flour that are too large to pass through the strainer.

Step 3
Step 3

In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high speed until foamy, then with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar. When the mixture reaches soft peaks, add lemon, vanilla and color.

Step 4
Step 4

Continue whipping just until mixture forms stiff peaks.

Step 5
Step 5

Gently pour the almond mixture over the whipped egg whites so they don’t deflate. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites until the mixture holds a 10 count, meaning when batter falls from the spatula to the bowl it takes about 10 seconds until it fully blends into the rest of the bowl in the batter. This way, the almond mixture is fully hydrated but egg whites still retain some air. The mixture is thick enough to pipe without running everywhere, but the peak at the top of each piped cookie will fall on its own, making a perfectly smooth cookie. This takes about 45 turns, but depending on how aggressively you fold, it can be more or less.

Step 6

Transfer the batter to the prepared decorating bag.

Step 7
Step 7

Pipe 1 inch rounds of batter onto the parchment lined pans, spacing at least 1 inch apart.

Step 8

Tap the pans hard on the countertop 4-5 times to release trapped air, and then let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes or until the unbaked macaron form a skin and do not stick to your finger when touched. Allowing the macaron to crust over is what leads to their signature “feet,” the holey ring that arises during baking at the base of each cookie.

Step 9

Bake for 18-22 minutes on a shelf in the center of the oven. If baking 2 pans at a time on different oven racks, rotate the pans from bottom to top midway through baking. There isn’t a great visual on how long to bake macaron. When underbaked, the centers can be wet. When overbaked, they start to brown slightly and become very crunchy instead of crisp on the top with a softer interior.

Step 10
Step 10

Cool the macaron completely on a cooling grid before sandwiching with your filling of choice. Flavored buttercreams, jams, and chocolate ganache are all great options.

Makes 36 to 48 sandwiched cookies.

Lemon Lavender Ganache

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 teaspoon culinary food grade lavender buds

1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract

8 oz. white chocolate
Heat heavy cream just until barely  boiling and add lavender.  Let sit in fridge at least 5 hours to infuse flavor.  Strain out the lavender buds, reheat and pour over white chocolate.  Let sit for 2 minutes and stir to combine with lemon extract and food coloring if desired.

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Decorated Sugar Christmas Cookies

I love baking Christmas cookies; especially sugar cookies.  There are so many fun cookie cutters … I just love Mr. & Mrs. Claus and the traditional colors of Christmas.  These cookies were decorated with Royal Icing.  I taught myself to decorate cookies with Royal Icing several years ago.  I read a lot of blogs on how to decorate and found  Sweet Sugar Belle to be a very talented cookie decorator with a lot of tutorials and great tips!  There is still time … so go ahead and get your supplies and get your sugar cookies and mad decorating skills on, put on some Christmas music and have fun!

This recipe for sugar cookies is really good – the dough doesn’t spread when baking and the cookies are perfect!  Sometimes I omit the almond flavoring and just double up the vanilla.  Always use the best ingredients possible when baking … it makes a difference!

Recipe Source:  food.com

Kittencal’s Buttery Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use Madagascar Vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. For cookies; in a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  4. Set oven to 400°F.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only)
  6. On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness.
  7. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.
  8. Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet.
  9. Bake 8-9 minutes (oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on the cookies)

(I do not use the icing recipe that come with this cookie recipe.)

I’m Seeing Bunnies in My Sleep

Bowtie Bunny

I spent this week-end baking and decorating sugar cookies for Easter.  I usually make cookies for everyone in the office during Christmas time and this past Christmas slipped by without decorating any sugar cookies.  This year everyone is getting Easter cookies.

The recipe I use can be found in this post Sugar Cookie Recipe.  If you’ve never decorated sugar cookies with royal icing I encourage you to give it a try.  It’s really not hard, it’s fun and the cookies are adorable.  There are several sites on line that give step by step instructions on decorating with Royal Icing.  Enjoy!

Chick in Egg

Bunny

Bunny on Egg

Easter Egg

 

Black Raspberry Pie – A Taste of Summer

 

Fresh Black Raspberry Pie

 

Black Raspberries remind me of summer … summer in Vermont where I grew up.  If I close my eyes I can see the fields and feel the grass on my bare feet and smell summer in the air.  Black raspberries/black berries grew wild on large bushes in a field near my house.  I was young, with not a care in the world, except to pick black raspberries and plop the sun ripened berries into my mouth one after the other.

Sigh … I am not as young any more and now I live in Ohio where black raspberries do not grow wild near my house and I cannot pick them for free.  I did, however, find a wonderful berry farm about 45 minutes from my house and the black raspberries were delicious … and yes, I still plopped them into my mouth … one after the other.

I picked enough berries to make my first ever Black Raspberry Pie.  WHY have I never made this pie before.  Bursting with fresh black raspberries and few ingredients, this pie way exceeded my expectations; which just goes to prove my saying that the simplest things in life bring the most pleasure.  ENJOY!

Fresh Black Raspberry Pie

Old Fashioned Black Raspberry Pie

INGREDIENTS:

  • CRUST
  • Double Crust (Your favorite pie crust recipe)
  • FILLING
  • 4  or 5 cups fresh or frozen and partially thawed black raspberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Dash of salt

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:

PREPARE recipe for double crust pie. Roll out dough for bottom crust. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Press to fit without stretching dough. Trim even with pie plate. Do not bake

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

COMBINE blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, butter and salt. Toss gently. Spoon into unbaked pie crust. Moisten pastry edge with water.

ROLL out dough for top crust. Place onto filled pie. Trim 1/2-inch beyond edge. Fold top crust under bottom crust edge to seal. Crimp and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to allow steam to escape.

BAKE 1 hour or until filling in center is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving

Recipe Source:  http://www.crisco.com

What is worth a splurge and is filled with red raspberries and dark chocolate?

Bakery Style Muffins with Red Raspberries and Dark Chocolate

 

Bakery Style Muffins with Red Raspberries and Dark Chocolate …. YES, PLEASE!

This was the best recipe find EVER for muffins!  I’ve tried so many muffin recipes over the years to get that “bakery style muffin” to no avail … until now that is.  These muffins are over the top … large and delicious.  They are moist and bursting with fresh raspberries and dark chocolate – a match made in heaven!  I liked these so much that I made 2 batches. I added more raspberries to the second batch … personal preference.  Then I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer … just because I was tempted to have more than one.  ENJOY!

Source:  Sallysbakingaddiction

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour (very careful not to over-measure)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk, at room temperature (I prefer buttermilk)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) canola/vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) dark chocolate chips, (or semi-sweet)
  • 1 and ¼ cup (215 grams) fresh raspberries*
  • coarse sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray jumbo muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined – a 20 second toss to disburse everything together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand. *Avoid over-mixing,* which will produce tough, dry muffins. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be extremely thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips, then *very gently to avoid them from leaking their color,* fold in the raspberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Muffins taste best fresh the same day. Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Muffins

Garlic Scape Hummus and the Best Ever Pita Chips

Garlic Scape Hummus

What is growing in your garden this year?  One of the things I am picking is garlic scape (those cool green spiral thingies that grow out of your garlic plant pictured above).  I am also picking sugar and snap peas and radishes.

Grow garden …grow

Cher's Garden

If you are growing garlic don’t miss out on picking these garlic scapes.  Garlic scape are milder in taste than garlic and are awesome stir fried in a pan with other vegetables, made into garlic scape pesto, or as I just discovered, made into Garlic Scape Hummus.

Garlic Scape Humus

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper (to taste)
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic scapes, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper until finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed.

2. Add the chickpeas and process to a rough puree (the chickpeas will be just about completely mashed).

3. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Check the consistency; if it is still thick and paste-like, you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with your favorite vegetables, pita chips, etc.

Now don’t say I didn’t warn you … if you make these home-made pita chips you will never ever buy them in the store again.  You will tell yourself  “I’m only going to have one more” … after having had about 10… they are that good and super easy.

Homemade Pita Chips
Ingredients
3 pitas, cut into 8 wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Preheat heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut pitas into 8 wedges. Pour olive oil into a bowl and add garlic, salt and pepper. Brush pita chips olive oil and garlic mixture. Arrange pita chips on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys – FoodNetwork