Sunday, September 22, 2013

Funfetti Cookie Dough Macarons

     Life is crazy as a sophomore.  I can't even spell "sophomore" without spell check helping me.  Since when was there an "o" in there? Since when was I in tenth grade? Someone transport me back to freshman year, please. 
      I'm stressed out sometimes.  Looking at pictures of sprinkles and macarons makes me happier, though. 

   I know my photography isn't that great, but that was nice.  Too bad the macarons are all gone now.  

   Here's how you can make them.

Make a basic vanilla macaron batter. 
Pipe it on parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle sprinkles on top. Let rest, then bake.
Make cookie dough. Subtract eggs. Add sprinkles and chocolate shavings (optional).
Fill macaron shells, then roll around in sprinkles. 
P.S. Here's something else I made with sprinkles. I'll try to post the recipe soon.
Everything's okay when you have macarons.

Funfetti Cookie Dough Macarons

makes 20
adapted from Love and Olive Oil

For the Shells:

85 grams almond flour or finely ground almonds
150 grams powdered sugar
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature
55 grams superfine sugar (or granulated sugar processed in a blender)

For Cookie Dough Filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoon heavy cream (or as needed)
grated chocolate and sprinkles (optional)

Sprinkles, for rolling

  1. Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar.
  2. Place egg whites in a large bowl. Mix on medium speed until frothy, then slowly add superfine sugar, a little bit at a time with the mixer on medium speed, scraping down the side of the bowl periodically. When all the sugar has been added, increase speed to medium high and whip until meringue is firm and glossy and forms medium-stiff peaks.
  3. Pour half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and stir, folding and scraping a few times until no dry flour remains. Add the remaining flour and mix, folding and spreading the batter against the sides of the bowl just until the meringue and flour are incorporated and the batter falls off the spatula in thick ribbons.
  4. Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe small circles onto a parchment or silicone-mat-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch of space between them.
  5. Rap the baking sheet firmly on the counter, then smack the bottom of the baking sheet multiple times with your hand to remove any remaining air bubbles. If any pointy 'tips' still remain, you can gently press them down with a lightly moistened fingertip. Sprinkle with sprinkles, and set aside until the tops are dry.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they do not brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack, then gently remove from baking sheets.
  7. To prepare filling, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, salt, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed until incorporated. Add cream and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes, adding more cream if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Stir in grated chocolate. Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Gently pipe about a teaspoon of filling onto underside of half of the cooled cookies, then top with remaining cookies. Roll edges of macarons in sprinkles.
  8. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Apple Pie Bars

     It's still summer, but I'm already craving the fall flavors.  The cinnamon, nutmeg, and of course, the fresh, crisp, perfect apples. 

      Sadly, apple season isn't quite here yet.  I know because my mom hasn't brought home any boxes from the farmer's market, and I haven't been eating my wonderful "apple a day." And my mom isn't making her "famous" apple pie every weekend to get rid of all the apples that we haven't managed to eat.  

      Still, my sister made me make these for her and her boyfriend a while ago, because apple pies just can't be limited to apple season.  

       Apple pie has always been my favorite.  If you can believe, I used to not like pie, but then apple pie finally changed my mind.  As I said, my mom makes apple pie frequently.  Her pie consists of apples that have been sitting in the fridge for a while, cut thick, and a store-bought crust which she always has difficulty rolling out.  It's not like those fancy double-lattice, two-different-kinds-of-apples pies, but it's delicious in it's own way.   Inspired, I made these simple but ever-so-delicious apple pie bars.

     In short, buttery shortbread crust+ gooey apple pie filling + crumbly oat topping = pass me a shovel, please.  The great thing about this formula (you know, besides the crumb topping and shortbread and apple parts) is that you can substitute any kind of fruit pie filling in place of the apples.  

     How are you preparing for fall?

Apple Pie Bars

makes one 9x13" pan (around) 18 squares


For the shortbread crust:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the apple pie filling:
1 cup water
1 Tbsp apple juice, apple cider, or lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 cups apples (I used Granny Smith), cored, peeled, and chopped

For the crumb topping:
3/4 cup walnuts
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled


  1. Make the shortbread crust: Preheat oven to 350*F.  Cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Blend in the flour and baking powder. Pat into a 9x13" glass dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. Let cool.
  2. Make the apple pie filling: While the crust is baking, combine water, juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until it boils. Cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and apples.  Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Make the crumb topping: Toast the walnuts at 350*F for 2-8 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Blend in the butter with your fingertips, until the mixture is coarse and has clumps the size of peas.  Chop the walnuts and stir into the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Assemble and bake: Preheat oven to 375*F. Pour and smooth the apple pie filling over the shortbread.  Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top.  Bake for about half an hour, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Let cool to room temperature and then cut into squares. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mini Banana Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

          In a way, mini cupcakes have a higher standard than regular cupcakes.  Those two bites have to have the perfect texture and flavor so that you aren't left with a feeling of disappointment. It's like what I learned in statistics class: the smaller the data sample, the more representative everything has to be or you'll get the wrong impression.  

         These cupcakes are fluffy ans moist, with a strong banana flavor because of the mashed bananas.  They are fluffier than banana muffins, and they are truly banana flavored.  There isn't any cinnamon or nutmeg to distract.  I made dulce de leche Swiss meringue buttercream with some left over dulce de leche I had from these cookies.  The caramel flavor added more intensity to the cupcake, I think.  I topped them off with candied walnuts, which added crunch and tied all the flavors together.  The walnuts are coated in caramelized sugar and so they add more of that caramel flavor.  

         They were some fine specimens of cupcake.  
First, cream together the butter and sugar. 
Beat in eggs and stir in 2 ripe mashed bananas (I pureed the bananas in a blender). Stir in baking soda that has been dissolved in hot milk.
Fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
Portion out the batter, filling the liners 3/4 of the way. 
Bake and they will get puffy. Then let cool. 
Make a Swiss meringue buttercream, following the normal procedure: heat egg whites and sugar over simmering water, beat until firm, cream in butter, and mix in flavorings (dulce de leche).

     Then just frost the cupcakes, top with candied walnuts, and enjoy! The cupcakes will keep at room temperature for a few days.  

Banana Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

makes 3 dozen mini cupcakes, or 18 standard cupcakes


for the cupcake:
125g (4oz + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
175g (6oz) sugar
2 eggs
2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp Baking soda
2 Tbsp boiling milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
225g (8oz) flour

for the buttercream:
2-1/2 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup of dulce de leche, room temperature 

candied walnuts, follow directions here 


  1. Preheat oven to 325*F.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter & sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in mashed bananas.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk and stir into the banana mixture.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold into the wet ingredients until incorporated.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.  Bake in over for 10-12 minutes if you're making mini cupcakes, or 18-25 minutes if you're making standard cupcakes.  They should be light golden brown and a toothpick should come out clean.  Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
  6. To make the buttercream, combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring the mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  7. Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume and forms firm peaks when the whisk is pulled up out of the meringue.
  8. Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dulce de leche and mix to combine.
  9. Frost the cupcakes and top with candied walnuts.  Keep at room temperature.