Category Archives: Cooking

Macaron, Macaroon, Macarena

Last year – it was salted caramel.  This year, it is the Macaron.

Last years trend sensation was footloose and fancy free.  Salted Caramel could do anything, go anywhere and do no wrong.

2014’s obsession is rife with controversy.  That sexy little strumpet known as the Macaron knows how to stir up publicity – good or bad.

The Macaron is not the Macaroon.  Both are made from egg whites, sugar and are gluten free.  But the Macaroon’s star ingredient is coconut.

Make these little babies and you’ll immediately make an impression.  “They’re so hard to make!”  “I can’t believe you made those!”

You’ll also be told – repeatedly – that your pronunciation and perhaps your spelling is wrong.

They both have a somewhat murky history – but Macaron’s are most definitely French.  Which probably explains a lot.

Whatever your opinion – these light and sweet, chewy little treats are delicious!

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French Macaron Cookie

How to make them:

2 egg whites
2/3 Cup Almond Flour (cheat and buy yours at Trader Joes like I did)
1/4 Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Powered Sugar
1 tsp extract of desired flavor

Separate your egg whites and combine in a  mixer with your granulated sugar.
Beat on low for 2 minutes
Medium for 2 minutes
High for 2 minutes
Top speed for 2 minutes

While the egg whites are beating – sift your almond flour and powered sugar together in another bowl.
Once the egg whites have formed stiff peaks and hold their shape you can dump in the almond flour/powered sugar and any flavoring you desire.
I used espresso powder and vanilla.

Fold together until just mixed and spoon into a pastry bag.  You can use a big round tip but your can also just cut off the top of the bag if you’re using the disposable kind.

Pipe nice 1″ round circles onto a parchment or silpat lined pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.

Let cool completely – ESPECIALLY if you are using silpat.

Fill with your choice of filling – frosting, etc.  I used butter cream mixed with either Vanilla, Meyer Lemon (juice and zest) or Raspberry.

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8 lbs of Powdered Sugar

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Yep – it took 8 lbs of sugar to make 25 Giant Santa Claus Cookies – that and a new(ish) oven.

With the oven possessed, I looked to see if there was anything on cheap Craigslist.  My oven just isn’t worth fixing.  For the near the same amount it might be better just to find a used oven.  Sorting by lowest to highest – I found two ovens listed in my $150 price range – one was a white Bosch oven with no picture.  I didn’t even know Bosch made ovens?

The lady had redone her kitchen and loved her Bosch range but went with all stainless steel.  (I know I’m going to offend EVERYONE here but I hate stainless steel appliances unless they’re used in a modern industrial look)  She texted me pictures and told me it was gas and convection.   She took my offer of $120.00, assured that it went to a good home.

Dr. Malibu came over to test it out.  We put the oven in the self-cleaning mode, lit up the burners and made dinner.  Sautéed breaded chicken, risotto and cauliflower were cooked to perfection.

This delayed my plans of baking.  So Saturday morning with Thing 2 at my side we made another batch of gingerbread and started piping, flooding and flocking.  My kitchen and dining room looked like a bakery exploded.
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The pressure was on this year.  I had to step up my game because last year Kendra pulled out the Salted Carmel Shortbread cookies.  I went with a giant Santa Claus face.   Thing 2 and I were dubious about the design. We’d seen enough pictures on the internet to know this had the potential of a Pinterest Fail.  But those Santa heads turned out great and I was flattered that a few people at the Cookie Exchange were taking pictures with them.   I was especially happy to have the time to spend with my friends who I sometimes only see once a year at this party.  I know I’m not the only mom who feel’s like Cinderella, when every weekend is hijacked by your kids social/school/sport calendar.  This is a mom only party where we can all relax, catch up with each other’s lives and take a moment to breathe!  Oh, and the cookies!  The cookies are just an excuse but there is something so lovely and magical about a table bedecked with a large assortment of delicious baked goods.  It means its Christmas!

Smells like Burnt Gingerbread

Thing 1 and 2 were with their dad for the next two days, Maui and I were alone, so I was able to begin baking gingerbread for the 6th Annual Cookie Exchange, (using, of course, the Dexter Morgan Method of baking cookies.)

In an undertaking of this scale  (3 large batches) it helps to have multiple baking pans, plenty of silpats, gobs of plastic wrap and copious space available in the apartment sized refrigerator.

Making and preparing the dough is one thing.  Baking is another.

My oven SUCKS.  I think it’s from the 1970’s (gauging from the vintage décor in my kitchen)

The broiler doesn’t like to open.  Its inconveniently positioned all the way at the bottom near the floor and it requires a feat of strength to open or close it.

I’m pretty sure the burners are trying to kill me – especially the front right one.  It plays coy when you go to light it, click, click, click, click, then FOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!    Right when you’ve leaned in closer to see what’s the matter.  Fucker – I see your smirk.

It’s temperamental and cooks uneven – the right side being hotter than the middle or left side.  Everything  needs to be centered slightly to the left.  And it’s really difficult to set the temperature.  I use two temperature gauges in the oven and when the average of the two readings is the temperature I want – I cross my fingers and bake.

I was able to get through half of the baking last night and tried to squeeze in a couple racks of cookies this morning.  I set the oven to warm up and made my morning latte.  When the temperature was right on 350, I popped in the trays, set the timer and walked away.  10 minutes later, the smell of burnt cookies reached me in my bedroom.  Opening the door, I discovered that the left side of the cookies were burnt and the temperature had shot up to 500 degrees!  Yet the knob on the oven was still set at 350!  Arrrggghhh!  With still another batch and a half left to bake, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I think I need to start cruising Craigslist for a new oven.

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On your mark, get set – BAKE!

It is Dr. Malibu’s birthday this week (I mention week because every week starting in mid November it’s someone’s birthday in my immediate family).

Dr. Malibu is not a fan of the traditional birthday cake with lighted candles.  But he IS a fan of cherry pie.  After four years of knowing him and him knowing that I’m a baker – he finally put a request in for a pie for Thanksgiving.  Cherry Pie.

So when he held a little impromptu gathering for his birthday at the Boneyard Bistro – I made him this.

In between the birthdays celebrations I have to squeeze in baking for the annual Cookie Exchange held as Ms. Pahukoa’s house next weekend.  The pressure is ON this year.

Every year I bake the same cookie – gingerbread.   Martha Stewarts Gingerbread recipe.   In the past I’ve made snow flakes, reindeer and Santa’s sleigh, Christmas trees and other designs.

But what to do this year?

These cookies are a lot of work.  It takes me a full week to bake enough cookies for 20 – 30 guests.
And I like BIG cookies which means a LOT of cookie dough.

To get a head start – I measured out all the ingredients for three batches – flour, baking soda and baking powder into 3 super-sized Tupperware containers.
Then I measured out all the spices into 3 smaller Ziploc containers.
The pantry was checked to ensure I had all the other ingredients – eggs, molasses and butter.

Ready.  Now all I have to do is mix and bake and bake and bake and then decorate, decorate, decorate.
I’m enlisting Thing 2.

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