National Macaron Day 2020: Black Sesame Macarons

Open sesame. The sesame seed isn’t commonly used in American cuisine except for hamburger buns and it’s definitely not something that is synonymous to desserts. On the other hand, it is regularly used in Asian cuisine from sesame oil to garnishing almost every recipe with the tiny seed. So it’s not surprising that they also use it to flavor their desserts.
You can transform your everyday vanilla frosting into black sesame ones by adding black sesame paste. What does black sesame paste taste like? I would describe it as a nuttier, more roasted peanut buttery flavor or a stronger flavored tahini. It is too intense to eat straight out of the jar, which makes sense because it comes out of a tiny container.  It’s perfect for those who do not like desserts that are too sweet.
I painted my macarons with a little bit of edible food coloring and vodka. I think the black and copper make a pretty cool contrast. As a tip, try and use a drier brush when painting your macarons to keep the surface smooth. Too much liquid will turn the smooth shells into a bumpy texture.
It’s also National Macaron Day! If you’re quarantined and making macarons was something you’ve always wanted to try, this is a great time to hunker down and give these a try. It doesn’t have to be these macarons. I have so many fun flavors to try on the site!

Cereal Macarons with Cereal Milk Frosting
Chocolate Chestnut Macarons
Chocolate Frosted Flake Macarons
Coffee Macarons
Cookies and Cream Macarons
Funfetti Macarons
Injeolmi Macarons
Karamel Sutra Macarons
Lemon Basil Macarons
Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons
Pumpkin Cookie Butter Macarons
Raspberry Rosé Macarons
Strawberry Macarons

Above all, stay healthy and safe. 🙂

Black Sesame Macarons

For the Macaron Shells:

Ingredients:

212 g. almond meal (aka almond flour)
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  13. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  14. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  16. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.

For the Black Sesame Frosting:

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp – 3 tsp black sesame paste

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucier over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and sesame paste starting with 2 teaspoons and adding more if needed.
  8. Pipe finished frosting onto cooled macaron shells and enjoy.

The Gaming Series: Link Brownies (Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Brownies)

I’ve been taking a lot of baking orders for the past year. Not so often that it’s been unmanageable (or even often enough that I’d say it’s profitable), but enough that most of my spare time was spent creating for others. Only recently did I realize I was in a baking rut. I wasn’t making fun things that were inspiring to me. Yes, I tried out new recipes and that is always good but it never tapped into my creative side. So I’ve made a decision on making things for just me (and you, if you are reading this). What does this look like? Probably a smattering of posts of things that I like but mostly will be centered on a series of subjects that I am a fan of. All of the recipes that I’m sharing will be just as delicious, only that they’d reflect the selected theme. So I’m excited to announce that I’m kicking off this season with The Gaming Series.
I’ve loved video games when my brother got his very first Gameboy. I’m talking about that grey box with the monotone green screen. My three siblings and I would crowd around that one tiny screen and watch each other play for hours. Going forward, my younger brother and sister would eventually lose their interest, but my other brother and I would continue with our fandom for years.
Our very first console was a Nintendo 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first RPG that we played. Because the game is meant for one player, I would be the backseat driver to his playing. And even though I rarely physically held the controller, I was every bit as immersed and taken by the storyline and the gameplay.  I could almost feel the heat of Death Mountain, the cool waters of Lake Hylia and the dryness of the Haunted Wasteland. I wanted to ride on Epona and drink a gallon of Lon Lon Milk. Link was probably my first video game crush. (Even now that blonde hair and blue eyes makes my heart sway a bit.)  So unsurprisingly, my first post is of Link.
First, I have to let you know this recipe is the bomb. The light, crispy, chewy and slightly salty brown butter rice krispy treat offsets the smooth, fudgy brownie base in the best way. Second is that I just love how the candy melts pop against the black background. I have to thank @emilylynncantera because her artwork is what inspired this project.
zelda browniesI hope you enjoyed the post and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you. The hint for the next theme has to do with a certain fungi kingdom.

Link Brownies

You will need:

Brownies (recipe below)
Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies (recipe below)
2 to 3 cups Mini Marshmallows
Candy Melts in Black, Brown, Purple, Yellow, Orange, White, Green and Blue
Link Stencil

Instructions:

  1. Bake the layer of brownies. (*Important, the 8 inch pan must be at least 3 inches tall. Otherwise the recipe will not layer into pan.)
  2. When cool, layer the rice krispies being careful not to pack it in too tightly. This results in dense and tough rice krispies.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt and stir 2 c. mini marshmallows (melt 3 if you want your marshmallow layer to be thicker) in the microwave.
  4. Spread the marshmallow layer over the rice krispies layer.
  5. Melt enough black candy melt to spread over the top of the pan. (About ½ – ¾ c.).
  6. Let set.
  7. Put stencil over the top of the pan and using an x-acto knife, stencil the outline onto the candy melt.
  8. Remove the stencil and using candy melts of the right color, fill in the stenciled area. Let set and enjoy.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Ingredients:

¾ c. dark chocolate chopped into small ¼ in. pieces
10 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 ¼ c. sugar
¾ c. + 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
½ c. all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F, oil and line an 8” square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate, butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Microwave mixture about 1-2 minutes until mixture is melted and smooth when stirred.
  3. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract until batter is smooth and shiny.
  4. Fold in the flour until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 20-25 minutes until a toothpick poked in the center of the batter comes out with moist crumbs.
  6. Let cool completely before adding the rice krispies layer.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies

Ingredients:

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
One 10 oz bag of marshmallows
¼ tsp. kosher salt
6 c. (160 g.) crisp rice cereal

  1. In a medium to large pot, melt butter on medium-low heat. Keep stirring butter with a rubber spatula until the butter foams and small brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. (The butter will smell nutty.)
  2. Once the butter is browned, stir in the marshmallows until the marshmallows melt into a smooth mixture.
  3. Stir in the cereal and salt and spread into the pan with the brownies.
  4. Do not firmly squish the cereal into the pan. This will result in jagged, hard rice krispies. Gently push it into the pan and into the corners. Let cool and set.

Brownie recipe adapted from the Feed Feed.
Rice Krispies recipe adadpted from the Smitten Kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

Chocolate Chip Tahini CookiesChocolate chip cookies made with chocolate chunks are the best cookies. There, I said it. I’m not saying I would say no to any other cookie. But, when I have the choice, I will always go with chocolate chip. Why do I say chocolate chunks > chocolate chips? I like the larger bites of chocolate and how they generally taste and look better. So far, my perfect salted chocolate chunk cookies have yet to find a contender. Of course, there are other versions of it that are different and perfectly divine, like this one from a couple of years ago that took the internet by storm.
Chocolate Chip Tahini CookiesSo why the heck am I sharing another chocolate chip cookie recipe, you ask? Because this one is the most delicious “healthy” chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. A ridiculously short ingredient list (8!), gluten free, and refined sugar free make them almost a miracle cookie. You don’t have to refrigerate the dough or wait for butter to soften (because there is none), and the dough comes together quicker than it would take you to read this post.
Chocolate Chip Tahini CookiesI will be honest in saying that no, these do not taste exactly like chocolate chip cookies made with butter and flour, but it is a great alternative to it. Goes great with coffee and is a nice afternoon snack. It also stays soft for days thanks to the tahini. However, just because they are more nutritious than a regular chocolate chip cookie, they are not low-calorie! So please remember to just have a cookie or two and not eat the whole batch (<= This is scarily easy to do. That’s why I pack it up and try to give it away asap.).
Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 13 cookies

Ingredients:

1 egg, large
½ c. tahini
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ c. almond flour
½ c. coconut sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 ½ oz. chocolate chunks, chopped from a 70% dark chocolate bar
maldon salt, for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix egg, tahini, vanilla extract, almond flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and kosher salt together until a thick batter forms.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
  4. Using a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop (or a measuring spoon), space out cookies on baking sheet.
  5. If using maldon salt, sprinkle a bit on each cookie for an extra salty bite.
  6. Bake cookies about 8-9 minutes checking at 8 minutes to see if the tops are lightly golden. Cookies can burn easily so check frequently.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Living Kitchen by Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman.

Baymax Macarons

I’ve always been intimated by shaped macarons. If you look back on my archives, they’re mostly round with details added to them. But recently, I made Hello Kitty macarons and I learned that it is quite easy to do as long as you use a smaller piping tip. The key is understanding that macaron batter is not like frosting, it moves and doesn’t make crisp lines without help.
As you know, I have made Baymax macarons before, but never posted a tutorial on it. So this time, I added tiny hands to make it a little more dimensional and fun. I think that if you’ve made macaron batter before, then this is possibly the easiest shaped macaron you can do.
These were filled with black sesame frosting which was quite interesting, and have their own post coming up. But before I post that one,  I have an amazing chocolate banana bread recipe I want to share. So there is something to look forward to soon!

Baymax Macarons

You will need:

1 batch of basic macaron batter (recipe below)
frosting
edible black marker
wilton decorating tip, #2 (or any tiny round tip)
½ inch round decorating tip

Instructions:

  1. Prepare two piping bags each fitted with the ½ inch round tip and the #2 tip.
  2. Divide ⅞ of the batter into the ½ inch round tip bag and ⅛ of the batter into the #2 tip bag.
  3. On a baking sheet lined with a macaron template and parchment paper, pipe rounds of macarons as you usually would with the ½ inch round tip bag. (as shown in picture #1)
  4. Let the macarons set until dry, about 20 minutes. Then pipe tiny rounds on the bottom half of the macaron circles forming hands with the #2 tip bag. (as shown in picture #2)
  5. Bake macarons as usual. (as shown in picture #3)
  6. Once cool, find a match for each macaron sandwich. Sometimes the hands will not line up perfectly, that is okay.
  7. Using an edible marker, make two dots and a line in the middle forming Baymax’s face. (as shown in picture #4)
  8. Fill each half with frosting and sandwich together.
  9. Enjoy

Basic Macaron Batter

Ingredients:

212 g. almond meal (aka almond flour)
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Preheat the oven to 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  13. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  14. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  16. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.

 

S’mores Cookies

Why is s’mores a “summer” thing? Toasted marshmallows and melty chocolate seem more suited for winter, no? Because I like it so much, I decided to go homemade on all the components of it. I’m not knocking on my ol’ standby of Honey Maid graham crackers, Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do some from-scratch projects.
I guess (for most people) the deciding factor boils down to: is it worth it? I won’t lie that the store-bought s’mores are almost as good and are way quicker to make, but do you see the char on that homemade marshmallow? You just can’t get the same toast on a ready-made version. If there was one component of the cookie that is worth making, it would be the marshmallows. The texture and flavor is unbeatable when compared to its commercial counterpart.A couple of notes about making marshmallows: 1) It is very sticky. Do not wrestle with it or try to get every bit out of the mixer. 2) Gelatin smells. When you whip up the gelatin and hot sugar mixture, it will smell awful. It’s hard to explain…but to me, it kind of smells like a farm? (I once took a class in college that required me to take care of a cow. It takes me back to that experience every time.) Either way, it is not a pleasant smell, but it will dissipate when the mixture cools. 3) You NEED a thermometer. There is no way around it. My thermapen might be the most used kitchen gadget and is worth every penny. Please, do not try and buy the $10 thermometers on Amazon. I promise you, you will not regret it.Homemade graham crackers are more flavorful and you can cut them into any shape and thickness that you want. Plus, you know every single ingredient that goes in it. And as for the chocolate coating, you can use way better quality chocolate. Oh! I tried using the sous vide cooker to temper chocolate and I’m not kidding, the best way to do it, EVER. We were having lunch as a group the other day and I was talking smack about my sous vide cooker… how it takes forever, how it’s only good for making steaks. But after this experience, I take it all back. I’m sorry I talked smack about you, I love you forever.
S’mores is one of my favorite cookies because it combines everything I like: crisp cookie, a soft-chewy marshmallow and rich chocolate. So I decided to share it with you guys along with a bunch of other cookies from my very talented blogger friends! Seriously, the list is outrageously delicious. If a recipe stands out to you, please visit and show them some love!

What Should I Make For… – Ugly Sweater Gingerbread Cookies
The Sweet Nerd – Gingerbread Cookies – All Spruced Up
Girl Heart Food – Orange Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies
The Beach House Kitchen- Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
Beyond Mere Sustenance – Brandy-Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
Seasons & Suppers – Lemon Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Ciao Chow Bambina – Lemon Drop Italian Cookies
Contemplating Sweets – Hedgehog Cookies
Salt & Lavender – Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Bars
Meg Is Well – Bradshaw Cookies: A Sour Cream Cookie with Cream Cheese Frosting


S’mores Cookies

You will need:

Homemade graham crackers (recipe below)
Homemade marshmallows (recipe below)
8 oz. chocolate, tempered (I used the sous vide method here)
Toppings, optional

Instructions:

  1. Put all the chocolate in a tall container for easier dipping. I used a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Have a sheet pan lined with a parchment paper ready.
  3. Place one square of marshmallow on top of the graham cracker and lower both on an angle so you get a crisp line. Work quickly so your chocolate doesn’t fall out of temper.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate covered side with any toppings you want. Above, I used nonpareils, freeze dried strawberries, royal icing poinsettias, and flaky salt. The flaky salt looked the least impressive, but tasted the best.
  5. Let set. Toast marshmallow with a kitchen torch before eating for best taste. The chocolate melts a little when you toast the marshmallow, giving you the s’mores effect.

Homemade Graham Crackers

Ingredients:

2 ½ c. plus 2 tbsp. all purpose-flour
1 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 c. honey
5 tbsp. whole milk
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
  2. Add in the chunks of frozen butter and pulse until the mixture looks very crumbly, or a coarse meal.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the honey, milk and vanilla extract and add it to the flour mixture.
  4. Pulse the mixture until the dough barely comes together. Do not over process, the cookies will become tough.
  5. Wrap the dough in a large piece of plastic wrap. The dough will be sticky, so try to avoid using your hands and use the sides of the plastic wrap to form the dough into a large rectangle. Refrigerate the dough for two hours, or overnight.
  6. Take the dough out and divide it in half, refrigerate the half that you are not using.
  7. Roll out the dough (remember, the dough is sticky, so use flour as needed) about ⅛ inch thick, and use a square 2 ½ inch cutter to cut out squares.
  8. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Take the thicker end of a skewer and poke nine holes in each square, like a cracker.
  10. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and ground cinnamon for the topping.
  11. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the topping and refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes until firm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once you cut out all the squares, put the scraps together and re-roll and cut out more squares.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and bake the cookies about 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

Homemade Marshmallows

Ingredients:

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1 c. ice cold water, divided
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp, vanilla extract
¼ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Place the gelatin into a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add ½ c. ice water and let bloom.
  2. In a small pot either fitted with a candy thermometer (or not, if you’re using an instant-read thermometer), combine ½ c. water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.
  3. Heat mixture over medium high heat and cook until the mixture hits 240˚F, which should take about 6-8 minutes depending on the type of pot you used and the heat of the stove.
  4. Once the mixture hits 240˚F, take it off the heat and start your mixer on low speed.
  5. Add the hot sugar to the gelatin mixture slowly, avoid hitting the whisk.
  6. Once all of the sugar is mixed in gradually raise the speed of the mixer to high.
  7. Mix for about 12-15 minutes, or until the side of the bowl is luke warm and the mixture becomes very thick. Add in the vanilla in the last minute of mixing, taking care to lower the speed while you add it in, so you don’t fling extract everywhere (like I did. Ha!).
  8. Prepare an 8×8 pan, with high sides (at least 2 inches), by spraying the inside with nonstick spray and lining the inside with parchment paper.
  9. Spread the sugar mixture into the 8×8 pan using a silicone spatula also sprayed with nonstick spray. Try to smooth it down the best you can.
  10. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together. Use a mesh strainer to dust the top of the marshmallow mixture and wrap with plastic wrap overnight to cool and set. Save the rest of the powdered sugar mixture for the next day.
  11. When the marshmallow is set, overturn it on a cutting board dusted with the powdered sugar mixture.
  12. Use a 2 ½ in. square cutter to cut out squares of marshmallows. Dust the cutter with the powdered sugar to avoid sticking.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Graham cracker recipe adapted from the smitten kitchen.
Marshmallow recipe adapted from the food network.

The Best Edible Cookie Dough

I’ve been in a motivational slump lately. Creative juices are at their all-time low, and laziness has taken over my life. It’s not like I don’t have content to share with you, but parking myself in front of the computer and writing a post seemed so pointless and boring I just didn’t have the heart to write. Anyway, I’m working on moving past the slump and onto a more productive track.
These mini cupcakes are vanilla cupcakes that I made from leftover wedding cake batter (a post on that soon) and are topped with a scoop of (what I think) is the best cookie dough, homemade magic shell and flaky salt. While all the parts of the cupcake are delicious, the star of this particular recipe is the cookie dough. What I think makes this cookie dough better others is a key step: toasting the flour.
Did you know that ingesting raw flour can cause foodborne illnesses such as E.coli and Salmonella? I know. I was surprised too. Toasting the flour not only makes it safe to consume, but it also gives the cookie dough a delicious nutty flavor that cuts down the sweetness of the cookie dough too.
Other than toasting the flour, you would need some great quality chocolate chips. Artisan Kettle happened to send me some bags to work with, and they were delicious. I’ve really tried about every brand of chocolate out there, and for the price point, they’re hard to beat. Bonus, they’re organic, fair-trade and gluten free. It’s simple to make and so so easy. I happened to make the cupcakes because I had them on hand, but you can always just make a jar of cookie dough and store it in the fridge for a cold scoop able treat.

The Best Edible Cookie Dough

Recipe for cake can be found here: Strawberry Ombre Cake

Ingredients:

¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. butter, softened
⅓ c. sugar
2 tbsp. heavy cream
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c. milk chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a small sheet pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Spread flour evenly on the sheet pan and toast in oven for about 10 minutes, or until the flour is lightly browned and smells nutty.
  3. 5 minutes into baking, stir the flour to toast it evenly.
  4. Remove and cool flour before use, about 10 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add the sugar, cream and salt and mix until combined.
  7. Add flour and mix until combined.
  8. Fold in chocolate chips. Either scoop on top of mini cupcakes or store in fridge for easy snacking.

Recipe adapted from espresso and cream.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere isn’t much that I remember about living in Seoul, South Korea as a little girl. But one memory that lingers after all these years is how the streets were perfumed with the scent of roasted sweet potatoes in the winter. I don’t know how it is now, but back then the streets were filled with carts that sold perfectly roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted Korean sweet potatoes are very different from their American counterpart. They are insanely sweet and the flavor is chestnut-like. And unlike American sweet potatoes, they don’t get watery. Instead, they are more fibrous and hold their shape when peeled. For many years, I’ve tried to recapture that memory by roasting Korean sweet potatoes in my oven. The smell was spot on, but I couldn’t get that same roasted taste that I remembered.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere is a Korean market that I stop by for snacks when I’m at my local Laundromat. If you stop by in the colder months, there is a small machine that churns out roasted sweet potatoes and the whole store smells has that warm roasty toasty smell. Anyways, after having one that was properly roasted, I became obsessed with trying to recreate it at home and scoured the internet on how to do it. I finally came upon a blog that featured this pot and after finding it in a Korean supermarket (It’s so much cheaper. I got it for less than $20 because it was on sale), I gave it a try and I finally reached sweet potato nirvana. Tip: The instructions say to roast on medium heat for 20-30 minutes but I found that roasting for about an hour on low heat produces the best results.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsArmed with my new roasting pot, I wanted to feature sweet potatoes differently and made these macarons. Purple sweet potatoes are just as sweet but not as flavorful as their yellow cousins. However, I couldn’t resist their beautiful purple flesh. I suppose I could’ve made the frosting a vibrant purple by adding a little food dye, but I wanted you to be able to see what it would look like without it. The best part about the frosting is that it takes just one stick of butter and about ¾ cup of powdered sugar (which just might be perfect for filling cakes for babies since you are using minimal sugar).
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsCan you tell that I originally made these for Valentine’s Day? The purple ombre effect is easy to achieve by using an edible food color spray can. They’re easy enough to find on amazon. You want to be careful to be light handed or you will end up spraying the entire macaron purple. This is especially true if your spray can is new. There are so many options out there, I feel like you have a rainbow at your fingertips and it’s an easy way to spruce up a plain macaron.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsEven if you don’t decorate it, they’re definitely worth giving a try and best eaten within two days. Since the frosting has low butter/sugar content, it will turn your macarons soggy as the days go by.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

For the macaron shells:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
purple edible spray paint
heart sprinkles
white pearl sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
  8. Mix ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture twice until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. Fill batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with the pearl and heart sprinkles. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  12. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 300˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 300˚F.
  14. Once the shells are cool, spray one side of the macarons lightly about 7 inches away from the surface. Fill with frosting.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Frosting

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb Okinawan sweet potatoes, roasted (about 3 medium potatoes)
4 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter
¾ – 1 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Peel the outer skin of the sweet potatoes and put them the food processor.
  2. Puree the sweet potatoes until very smooth and silky. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in ¾ c. of the powdered sugar and the sweet potato puree and whip until a smooth frosting forms. If not sweet enough, add the remaining ¼ c. powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Fill the macarons.

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseI’m feeling the post-holiday blues. I can’t motivate myself to go to the gym. I don’t want to leave the house and face the cold. Now that I finally put the Christmas tree away, there is a sizeable vacant spot in my apartment. The cats loved to spend time on the tree skirt and when it was gone, they sat on the bare floor with a confused look wondering why their butts were so cold. In my heart, I know that this is just one step towards warmer weather and one month closer to Disney World/Universal. (I’m going in May! I’ve never been! I’m excited to wear the Minnie headband, eat a dole whip, take a photo in front of the castle, have all the butterbeer, and visit Hogwarts.) But that seems forever away. Bah humbug.
Grapefruit MousseThere is something about the bright hues of citruses that lifts the spirits. Are there any types of fruit that are more refreshing? I think it’s ironic that they are at their peak season when the weather is so cold. I crave citrus fruits the most in the summer when the weather is hot and humid. The sharp acidity and mellow sweetness is the perfect answer to beat the weather. But I can’t argue that they’re the juiciest during the winter and I wanted to make the most of it when I saw the recipe for a grapefruit mousse in a magazine.
baked pavlovaGrapefruit MousseThe truth is whipped cream and any type of fruit will guarantee you a win and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. The lightly sweetened whipped cream goes well with the tart juiciness of the grapefruit. I love the contrast of the dark pink against the white.
Grapefruit PavlovaAs for the meringues, I took a cue from use real butter, and boiled down the grapefruit juice until it became syrupy. Then I brushed the syrup onto the baked meringues and let them sit in warm oven until completely dry. This way you get sparks of citrusy tartness with each bite of the sweet meringue. It’s delightful.
Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseLooking back on the pictures makes my heart a little lighter. After all, how can we enjoy the warmth without having braved the cold? (Meh. In hindsight, I still think I could go without the cold, but I definitely appreciate it more after winter.)Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse
Makes about 6-8 mini pavlovas

For the Grapefruit Pavlova:

Ingredients:

300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 large grapefruit
1 tbsp. sugar
grapefruit mousse
mint, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 4 inch circles on the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Flip the parchment paper over. The circles will be your guide lines for the meringues.
  11. Fit a medium open star piping tip into a piping bag and pipe little meringue cups starting from the center onto the edge of the circle. Once you get to the edge of the drawn circle, pipe one more layer of meringue on the outer edge, forming a bowl shape.
  12. Once you piped all the meringues, take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of each circle, deepening the bow.
  13. Bake the baking sheet with the 4-inch circles for 1- 1.5 hours until they are crisp and sound hollow when tapped.
  14. While the meringue is baking, peel and section the grapefruit.
  15. Reserve the sectioned grapefruit for the grapefruit mousse.
  16. Squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit husk to get approximately 1 cup of grapefruit juice.
  17. In a small pot on medium heat, simmer the grapefruit juice until about ¼ cup of the grapefruit juice remains. Set aside.
  18. Remove the baked meringues from the oven and using a basting brush, brush specks of grapefruit concentrate all over the meringues making sure not to over saturate the meringues (as in, do not paint it too generously or you it will lose its crispness).
  19. Place the meringues back into the oven.
  20. Turn off the oven and let it dry out for about an hour until the grapefruit concentrate is dried onto the meringue.
  21. If you are not yet ready to decorate the meringues, places the meringues into a zip lock bag until ready for use.
  22. If you are ready to fill the meringues, use a medium or large disher to scoop out round mounds of the grapefruit mousse into the meringue cups.
  23. Garnish with the smallest mint leaves if desired.

Grapefruit Mousse

Ingredients:

Sectioned grapefruit reserved from the grapefruit pavlova (above)
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Instructions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Line the sectioned grapefruit on the parchment paper in rows.
  2. Take a paper towel and dab the grapefruit to get rid of excess juices.
  3. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the grapefruit.
  4. Take a kitchen torch and caramelize the sugar on each grapefruit section. (Alternatively, you can broil the grapefruit for 5 minutes in the oven.)
  5. Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you reach firm peaks.
  6. Fold in the caramelized grapefruit.

Grapefruit meringue recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.
Grapefruit mousse recipe adapted from The Family Circle.

2016: A Year Recap

This was my #1 post this year.
This was my #1 post this year.

I’m not sorry to see 2016 go. I kind of felt like it could be salvaged until Carrie Fisher died. That kind of gave it the nail in the coffin. It was as if 2016 was saying, “Sayonara, sucker!” while waving a rude gesture. I’m not quite looking forward to 2017 either, the exception being that I am looking forward to creating more projects for you and sharing this and that about my life (hopefully good news, and not bad). By the way, I did finish the holiday cake I was raving about in my last post. Unfortunately, I came down with a severe case of sinusitis and I couldn’t work on the actual post. I think I will save it for 2017. (Side note: I hope unicorns are still relevant by this point next year.)

top posts 2016

Here are the top 10 posts from this year:

  1. Lucky Charms Cake (featured in beginning of post)
  2. Blueberry Cruffins (Croissant + Muffin)
  3. Paw Patrol Cake
  4. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
  5. Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
  6. Strawberry Ombre Cake
  7. Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
  8. Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
  9. Star Wars Mini Doughnuts – Part 1 & 2
  10. Calcifer Meringues

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I mean every word of it.

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesIt seems like Friendsgiving is kind of a big deal this year, which makes me kind of wish I thought of hosting one. I used to have a Thanksgiving potluck with my church members after Thanksgiving and it was always such a great time. And giving thanks for what we have…twice? It makes you appreciate it even more. Even if you aren’t going to a Friendsgiving, holiday potlucks/parties are just around the corner and these cookies fit the bill.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesI know these cookies aren’t much in terms of looks. But I’m telling you, every single time I’ve made these cookies (for home or for other people to bring to potlucks) they always get a hit review. Super fudgy with a crisp edge and the sweetness is toned down by the tart dried cranberries, which makes it a perfect holiday cookie. Oh, and you can make it in one bowl for easy clean up.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesCan’t believe Thanksgiving is in a few days! Uh… I still haven’t done my shopping yet (except for my two 12 pound turkeys). I’ll probably do the rest today. Wish me luck!

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients:
8 oz. (two sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 egg, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
⅓ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. white chocolate chips (or chunks)
1 ½ c. dried cranberries

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until lighter in color and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla on medium speed and mix until glossy.
  3. Add cocoa and mix until homogeneous.
  4. Change the speed to low and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in white chocolate and cranberries.
  6. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Dose 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto parchment paper. Spacing each ball 2 inches from each other.
  8. Bake about 9 minutes, until the edges just set. (Rotating the baking sheet halfway if your oven heats unevenly.)
  9. Let cool and enjoy.