This blog is seriously lacking in desserts, isn’t it??
That is really, honestly, and truly, not a reflection on how often I bake and eat desserts though! This last week, I made a Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake (Recipe from Yammie’s Noshery, one of my favorite food blogs) and a Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake (Recipe from The Shortlist) for the San Diego Chapter of the California Dietetic Association‘s Installation Dinner. For some reason, people always find it funny that desserts like these would be served to dietitians, but believe me when I say, that we dietitians like our dessert too! Rich and delicious and decadent, just like every one else. (Probably the only difference, is these two cakes fed about 35 people…It’s all about portion sizes!!!)
Left-Right: Dark Chocolate Gnache Cake, Caramel Toffee Cheesecake and Mint Chocolate Chip Macarons
I also made my first attempt at making French Macarons. I have read a lot of scary stuff about making them: Do you age your egg whites? Use cream of tartar? Get cornstarch-less powdered sugar? Do you have to turn your mixer off and gradually add your granulated sugar?? Do they have to sit overnight??
It seemed a little ridiculous! …and super intimidating.
Until I came across a no-fuss Mint Chocolate Chip Macaron recipe, (again, from Yammie’s Noshery) that seemed easy enough for me to make. And although mine were nowhere nearly as pretty as the pictures on her blog, they tasted delicious. I tried making a few adjustments to my technique, tried swapping out extracts and food coloring to create a little variety. Then watched this amazing youtube tutorial:
I felt like after I watched that video, I could take on the world! So, if you plan on making this recipe, or even a different macaron recipe, I would start with the above video. It gives you a really good visual of what “stiff peaks” looks like, how to fold in ingredients gently, and what the final consistency should be like.
Last shout out on my macaron journey: This super helpful troubleshooting guide to making macarons. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to figure out why my egg whites wouldn’t get to the stiff peak stage, no matter how much I whipped them. The answer was that I had a little bit of egg yolk in with my whites. I was being lazy and in the end, caused way too much more work for myself.
So, going back to the method I have adopted…
Start with either grinding your almonds to make almond meal, which I really know nothing about, OR you could purchase almond meal from Trader Joe’s. This is a versatile product you can use as a gluten free breading, or cut with flour to make lighter and fluffier desserts (perfect for making cake flour out of regular flour). I use 2/3 cup almond flour, but start with probably about 1 cup, (or two heaping scoops with my 1/3 cup measuring cup) and sift it a few times to get the grainy, husk part out of my mix. Then once I am happy with the consistency, I will sift in my powdered sugar and matcha green tea powder. Just keep in mind, you really can’t over sift these ingredients when making macarons.
In the mean time, you want to have pre-heated your oven to somewhere between 280-300. If it is too high, they won’t turn out. The original recipe I followed said 280, but that seemed a little too low for my baking sheet. I have one air bake pan, that needs a higher temperature, and a regular aluminum pan, that 280 is perfect. So, moral of the story, you might need to experiment with your oven temp based on your altitude and baking sheets. If you watch the video above, she really stresses the importance of oven temperature, so listen to her (not me, I am not the expert!)
Stiff Peaks Forming
Now, a lot of recipes call for aging your egg whites. If you want to, I am sure you would end up with a better product. But I really don’t have time for that, otherwise, I probably would never make macarons… So I just whip my egg whites straight out of the fridge. Make sure to not get any shell or yolk in there, or you’ll run into problems. Once the egg whites reach the “foamy” stage, you can go ahead and add your sugar. Again, I have encountered many different techniques with adding sugar (some turn off the mixer in-between adding each tablespoon and mixing a little at a time), but I choose the lazy method of just adding all my sugar at once. It works out just fine for me. Continue to mix your egg whites until you get to the stiff peaks stage. This will look a lot like the meringue you see on top of lemon pies. You know you have reached it because when you pull the mixer blade away, a peak will form, and won’t flop back over (which is what would happen if you were still in the “soft peak stage”).
Folding in ingredients
At this point, you want to add any additional wet ingredients, like food coloring or extracts. I added just a few drops of green food coloring, but you could add more to have a more robust color. Gently fold in these ingredients. The thing with using whipped egg whites as a leavening agent, is you can’t stir it too much, or you will let all the air get out (that you just trapped by whipping them), so less is really more with stirring and folding ingredients into egg whites. Once your additional wet ingredients are incorporated, you can fold in half of your dry ingredients and then once fully mixed, add the rest of the dry ingredients. This is another crucial step, because under-mixed macarons will crack easily, and over-mixed batter will spread out too thin. As I mentioned before, go up and watch the video (specifically, at 4:44), that will give you a great visual of what to look for. I started with undermixing my macarons, and they did have a lot of cracks and broke apart really easily.
Examples of under-done and slightly over-done macarons
Once they are mixed, transfer to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch-3/4 inch tip, and pipe about 1 inch circles, that are about 1/2 inch apart on the sheet. they won’t really spread like other types of cookies, but they will rise a little. Also, try to make them about the same shape and size, so they can fit together nicely. Once all piped out, hit the baking sheet (rather hard), a few times on the counter. I am told that this will help the cute little macaron feet develop, that are a signature for macarons. I feel like it is a little silly, but I do it any way. Then you just let your macarons rest for about 15-45 minutes, until they have hardened a little bit on the top. You want to be able to touch it with your finger and not have batter come off. Then just pop it in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until it easily slides off of your parchment paper, but has not started to brown. It is another step that you kind of have to be super careful about.
Cooled off and ready to get slapped with a big blog of gnache!
Once they are done in the oven, let them cool completely, I transfer them to a wire rack. They cool fairly quickly, so you can go ahead and start making your chocolate gnache filling…which is super easy. I was a little nervous that this wouldn’t turn out, because the chocolate was super super runny when assembling. But after it cooled back down to room temperature (or, fridge-temperature, rather), it was perfect. You just have to be a little careful with assembly, to not put too much on, and not let it spill over the sides (so, don’t squish the sandwiches together too much).
And the best part of this?? You can get all the ingredients you need to make this during your usual trip to TJ’s! No special stops for special ingredients. MAAAAYBE the food coloring, but that is really not necessary. The matcha powder is green and will give a little tint to the cookies, they just won’t be a super dark green.
So, have fun, and enjoy!!
Matcha Green Tea Latte Macarons
- 2/3 Cup Almond Flour (sifted)
- 1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar (Sifted)
- 2 Tbsp Matcha Green Tea Latte Powder
- 3 Egg Whites
- 5 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Few Drops Green Food Coloring
- Pre-heat oven to 290 degrees. Line your baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
- Sift almond flour, powdered sugar and Matcha green tea powder in a bowl and set aside.
- In an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if available), beat egg whites until they get nice and foamy. Add granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time and then continue to beat until you reach the stiff peak stage.
- Gently fold in vanilla and green food coloring until just barely combined.
- Gently fold in half of the dry ingredients, then mix until fully incorporated, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold until completely incorporated and it reaches the “lava flow” phase (this just means that it will flow off of a spoon when you raise it up, and then once it falls back into the mixture, it retains its shape, up slowly envelopes back into the mix).
- Using a pastry bag with a 1/2-3/4 inch tip, pipe the mix on top your baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Make them about 1 inch in diameter. Once all are piped out, hit the pan on the counter a few times. This helps to develop the signature feet. Then let them rest for 15-45 minutes, or until they develop a hard “shell.”
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they can easily pop off of your baking sheet and have not yet browned.
- Let cool completely, then fill with chocolate gnache and sandwich it up!
Chocolate Gnache Filling
- 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp Whipping Cream
- Place Chocolate Chips, Butter and Whipping Cream in a microwave safe dish, and microwave at 50% power for ~ 1-2 minutes, or until completely melted (or if you have a double boiler, you can melt them all together over the stove).
- Stir until completely blended together.
Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom. Can I eat them? Can I eat them?