December 9: Deconstructed Cherry Macarons

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French Macarons

(from The Tasty)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and process on low speed, until extra fine. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  4. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a spatula to gently fold until combined. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up.
  5. Transfer the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
  6. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  7. Pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch (3-cm) circles, spacing at least 1-inch (2-cm) apart.
  8. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles.
  9. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry to the touch.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
  11. Bake the macarons for 17 minutes, until the feet are well-risen and the macarons don’t stick to the parchment paper.
  12. Transfer the macarons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

So I like to keep it real with all of you. I’m not a professional baker. I’m a writer. And since I’m not a professional baker, sometimes, a little batter must fall.

Yes, there was a baking fail. And that’s okay. Because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And a variety of other cliches about things not going right.

I made the exact same recipe from last year, the exact same way, and the results were not the same. Here’s a pictorial account of my cookie for the day:

And after doing everything right, this is what I got:

Macarons with feet that were too big. They still tasted great, but looked hideous.

Which is when I invented the Deconstructed Macaron. I tell ya, if this was a real thing before I coined it, you’d be paying double for one at your local bakery. It’s like when the Cronut was invented. Or penicillin.

Instead of going into the center of my misshaped macarons, the buttercream I made (butter, powdered sugar, cherry juice, cherry butter) got ladled (yes, ladled) on top.

And though they are ugly–and they are–they are still delicious. But make no mistake; they are ugly. Not even this Spode Christmas plate could pretty them up.

But that’s okay. You heard it here first. Deconstructed Macarons were invented in 2019 by a writer in Chicagoland!

December 3, 2017–Cherry Divinity

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In every cookie blogger’s life, a little sugar must fall. Or in my case, Cherry Divinity.

I’ve never made this before, but I had some marshmallow fluff leftover from the night before (it’s a long story) and google was there for me this morning with the answer to “Christmas Cookie with Marshmallow Fluff.”

Enter Cherry Divinity.

I supposed Divinity is more a candy than a cookie, but I make allowances for butter mints and toffee, so Divinity is given a pass.

The recipe seemed simple enough, though there was a glaring typo that I was ready to pounce on. Joke’s on me though, because this one didn’t quite turn out the way it should have.

I did everything right up until the 10 minutes of mixing, when I left to go write some of my research paper. When I returned, the substance in the mixer looked a little grainy. But I thought maybe it would be okay.

It wasn’t really.

Divinity isn’t supposed to look like this. I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like, but this is SUPER sweet. However, my kids have been snacking on it all day long, which tells me maybe there’s a market for this treat. I’m just not it.

And Dixie Sugar, it’s “loses” not “looses,” but after my experience, it’s clear that maybe I’m the loser on this one.

Cherry Divinity (from Dixie Sugar)

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line countertop with wax paper.
  2. Place marshmallow fluff in stand mixer bowl and attach the paddle attachment. Set aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and slowly pour sugar mixture into the marshmallow fluff with the mixer on medium.
  5. Bring the speed up to medium-high and beat until the mixture thickens and looses it’s glossy sheen (and looks more matte), about 10 minutes.
  6. As soon as it’s the right texture, stir in vanilla and candied cherries. Working quickly, drop the divinity onto parchment paper using two large spoons: one spoon to scoop it and one spoon to push the candy off the other. Place a cherry onto the top of each piece of divinity.
  7. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

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When I think of the flavors I love, the top two are lemon and caramel. (What, you don’t sit around and think what two flavors you would want if you could only have two flavors for the rest of your life? Yeah…me either…) And since I live in the south now, sometimes I am blessed with a bag of lemons straight from someone’s tree. img_0028

(You can grow LEMONS and other citrus fruit down here! It still blows my Northern Girl mind!)

Mini- Me’s friend’s grandma gave us a bag of lemons and satsumas before Thanksgiving, and I thought there had to be a recipe out there for a deliciously lemon cookie.

I found one on Pinterest and went to work. Though as tasted the dough, I realized that it was not lemony enough for my liking. And then this Northern Girl realized that the lemons that grow down here are Meyer Lemons, and not as sour as your everyday lemons. Oh well.

To try and rectify my sourpuss sensibilities, when it came time to make the lemon icing, I improvised a little. Instead of just powdered sugar and water, as the recipe calls for, I tried to make a sour lemon icing with the juice from the Meyer Lemons and sugar, boiled and reduced in a pot, and then added to powdered sugar.

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The result? Lemony icing, but still not sour enough. Oh well. They still taste good to the non-lemon flavor purists out there, and that’s a success in my book.

 

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

(from Swankyrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Icing (as they wrote it, not my 24daysofcookies.com variation)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl fit with a paddle attachment of a mixer. Cream together for about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and continue to mix. Add egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add half the flour, all the baking soda, salt, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add lemon juice and the remaining flour. Mix to combine until the dough starts to form like a ball. Add a little more flour until slight ball starts to form. Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2-3 hours or up to a few days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie dough. Roll cookie dough between hands to get a nice round ball and place on prepared cookie sheet.Bake for 8-10 minutes, removed from oven and while still hot, slightly press down if desired. Allow cookies to cool down completely before transferring. Cookies will slightly harden overnight a little more so don’t bake them much longer.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar and water together in a small bowl. Whisk fast until ingredients are combined with no lumps. Dip cookies upside down into icing or drizzle icing over the top and allow to harden.

December 2: Swedish Butter Cookies

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I blame this guy.

Tommy in my kitchen, just hanging around.

Tommy in my kitchen, just hanging around.

Just ask Little Miss Muffett–spiders are no good.

(Actually, I kind of like spiders, but today, they are on my list.)

This was supposed to be a post about how good these Swedish Butter Cookies are, and how I got the recipe last year from Michele, a friend of mine from college. (Since last year, she has increased her children by 2/3…twins arrived right before Thanksgiving.)

But, I got a little distracted by that dude at the top. As I was baking the cookies, I saw him (I’ve decided it’s a him, and I’ve decided to name him Tommy, after the boy in 2nd grade that I had a distracting crush on) and was fascinated. You can even see it in the video below, complete with oven timer blasting away.

In as much time as it took me to get a good picture of Tommy (and I think it is a pretty rad pic), my cookies burnt. Yes, I am a mere mortal. The tops and sides looked okay, but the bottoms, well…

Sad panda.

Sad panda.

So I whipped up another batch after I made the video. These fared much better.

And as for Tommy, he disappeared somewhere on the linoleum floor. Maybe he was a feline snack; maybe I’ll see him again.

Here’s the video. Let’s all just remember that I had to make these all over again without the camera.


2nd time around...

2nd time around…

Swedish Butter Cookies

courtesy of the Divine Ms. Michele!

½ lb. butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 egg yolk (save whites to whip)
1 T. half & half (I always use milk)
½ t. baking powder
½ c. chopped pecans
1 bottle maraschino cherries
Cream butter, add sugar; add egg yolk then vanilla and mix well.  Next, add the flour with the baking powder mixed in.  Alternate adding the flour with the half & half.  Form dough into little balls the size of a walnut.  Whip egg whites stiff.  Dip dough balls into whipped egg white and roll in pecans.  Place a half of a cherry in the center and push it down lightly.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-20 min. in a 350 degree oven.  Watch them so they don’t over brown.  Yum, yum, yum!
Cookies today: 26
Cookies this year: 88