Have a Very Independent Day

Happy Independence Day family and friends! Have a wonderful day, full of independence, liberty, personal freedom, free speech and remember our government is OUR government, NOT our elected representative’s government.

For Daniel and Frances’ 4th of July BBQ yesterday I made a U.S. flag tart with crème patisserie filling, raspberry and meringue stripes and blueberry and meringue stars. I also made red, white and blue macarons.  The only new recipe I incorporated into these two desserts (the other recipes can be found elsewhere in this blog) was the Italian meringue used to fill the macarons and make the stars for the flag.  I wish I had kept the 4 star, 3 star, 4 star pattern, but miscounted in the middle of piping. Yeah, I miscounted on the way to 4. Oh well, next time.

 

As you probably know, there are 3 common methods of making meringue. French meringue is the most common which is made by whisking sugar into beaten egg whites. While the easiest to make, it is the least stable meringue and is perfect for filling or toppings, or folded into batters for sponges, jocondes etc. Italian meringue is made by beating egg whites to stiff peaks then drizzling a simple sugar, heated to 2400 F, into the whipped egg whites. This is the most stable meringue and is great for frosting cakes, top filling pies and mousse. Swiss meringue is made by gently beating egg whites and sugar in a bain marie until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture reaches 1300 F. The mixture is then removed from the heat and whisked at high speed to create volume, then lower speed to cool the meringue and is very stiff. Swiss meringue is often used as a base for buttercream frosting.

ITALIAN MERINGUE

Makes about 360 ml (or 1½ cups), Author: The Tough Cookie

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
  • 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
  • 60g (or ¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
  3. Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a candy (or sugar) thermometer.
  4. Cook until the syrup reaches 240°F, then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
  5. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
  6. Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start weeping, leaking or collapsing.

NOTES

Italian meringue can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed (covered with plastic wrap).

 

 

 

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Mah Jong Snacks Anyone?

Last week Fran’s mah jongg group met at our house. While they tend not to each very much before, during or after their games, but I was asked to make something for this week. I had not made pan au chocolat in quite a while and had just seen this recipe for Oreo macarons online. There were very few of anything left.

 

Macarons and Pain Au Chocolat

 

 

 

 

 

Pain au Chocolate

INGREDIENTS

  • Puff pastry
  • Chocolate
  • Confectioner’s sugar

METHOD

  1. Roll out puff pastry
  2. Dust with confectioner’s sugar
  3. Cut into 2” wide
  4. Lay chocolate at one end, roll one time, press down gently and roll again, press gently again
  5. Add second row of chocolate and roll one last time, press gently
  6. Chill overnight
  7. Brush with egg wash
  8. Bake 360 deg 20-25 min on parchment lined baking sheet

Oreo Macarons

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs whites, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup superfine almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoons black food coloring
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • ½ cup cookies and cream filling
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (takes about 2 hours to reach room temp)
    • 4 oz. salted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups powdered sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 285ºF/140ºC.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy.
  3. Keep beating and slowly add sugar until stiff peaks form.
  4. Sift powdered sugar, cookie crumbs, almond flour, and cocoa powder over the egg whites.
  5. Fold the dry mixture into the egg whites completely, but make sure to not overmix or the macarons will not rise.
  6. Once the batter reaches a lava-like consistency, add the food coloring. Mix until just combined, without over mixing.
  7. Place the mixture into a piping bag or zip-top bag. Cut of the tip to pipe.
  8. Pipe 1½-inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tip: take a little batter to “glue” down the edges of the parchment paper so it stays put.
  9. Let the cookies rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until they are no longer wet to the touch and a skin forms on top.
  10. While resting, make the filling
    1. Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.
    2. Mix in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  11. When the cookies are dry to the touch, bake for 15-18 minutes until they have risen.
  12. Let rest for 10 minutes before filling. To fill, pipe about about a tablespoon of the buttercream onto one macaron and place another on top.
  13. Macarons are best kept refrigerated until serving.

In His Cap And Called it Macarons

I am sure I once posted making Macarons before, but if I did, I cannot find it. If anyone happens across it, please let me know. I hate to think of it wandering around the ethereal web, homeless, begging for a cup of sugar (confectioners of course.)

I am talking macarons, not macaroons. These are the almond flour confection with the “feet” not the shredded coconut cookie type. I made macarons-2these with two different fillings, buttercream for Amy and blackberry jam because I had some extra blackberries in the fridge and I like blackberries. Plus, we thought they would travel better than other pastries.

I use a modified version of the Food Network’s macaron recipe and technique.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops gel food coloring (see below)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla, almond or mint extract

METHOD

Cookie

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F using the convection setting. Line a large double-thick baking sheet with parchment paper that you drew 1¾” circles about ¾” apart and flipped clean side up. Measure the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour by spooning them into measuring cups and leveling with a knife. Transfer to a bowl; whisk to combine.
  2. Sift the sugar-almond flour mixture, a little at a time, through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula to pass through as much as possible. It will take a while, and up to 2 tablespoons of coarse almond flour may be left; just toss it. Sift a second time.
  3. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a mixer on medium speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium high; gradually add the superfine sugar and beat until stiff and shiny, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Transfer the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the almond flour mixture. Draw a rubber spatula halfway through the mixture and fold using a figure 8 pattern until incorporated, giving the bowl a quarter turn with each fold. Be sure the spatula goes all the way to the bottom in incorporate all the dry mixture.
  5. Add any food coloring and/or extract. Continue folding and turning, scraping down the bowl, until the batter is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin flat ribbon, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ -inch round tip. Holding the bag vertically and close to the baking sheet, pipe 1¾ -inch circles (24 per sheet). Firmly tap the baking sheets twice against the counter to release any air bubbles.
  7. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the tops are no longer sticky to the touch, 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the humidity. Slip another baking sheet under the first batch (a double baking sheet protects the cookies from the heat).
  8. Bake until the cookies are shiny and rise 1/8 inch to form a “foot,” about 20 minutes. Bake time is everything, too long and they will discolor, too short and they will be soft inside.
  9. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  10. Peel the cookies off the mats and sandwich with a thin layer of filling.

Berry Filling

  1. Puree berries in a food processor
  2. Sieve puree to remove seeds and solids
  3. Equal amounts (weight) of sieved berry puree and granulated sugar.
  4. Boil in a small saucepan until mixture reaches 225 F, stirring frequently to keep from burning.
  5. Cool jam until it is thick enough to pipe, or spread but not flow.