Tag Archives: yum

Salted Caramel Banana Macarons

Salted.

Caramel.

Banana.

Macarons.

Can you say “yum?”

In all seriousness, these are yum.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning. The very beginning.

A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of going on a trip to London and France (Paris and Arles in the south). And let me tell you…all those things you’ve heard about French pastries being the best things in the world…those aren’t lies. Those of you who have gone to France, am I right? *Insert everyone nodding their heads yes!*

(photo taken by me)

Breakfast every morning was divine (I even became a local at this one cafe!)…freshly baked bread and a croissant, with the choice of spreading on jellies and/or butter. There is literally no way to describe how good this was. And if you thought butter was good in America, you’d be wildly impressed with French butter – it’s that much better!

Besides indulging in breakfast (and lunch, and dinner), I also made many stops to little patisseries. Of course, I had to go to Ladurée, famous in particular for their macarons. Being the dessert-lover I am, I not only indulged in many macarons, but also a heavenly pastry with rose water and raspberries. Yep, be jealous. This was a food lover’s dream!

Yep, that's the rose water and raspberry dessert. (photo taken by me)

And on a complete side note, some of you may be wondering how much weight I gained after all of this eating. Well, prepare to get even more jealous: the answer? None. Yep, I gained no weight. I think it had to do with how walkable a city Paris is…I mean, you just want to walk everywhere.

But back to the main story: So, I guess you could say I became officially in love with macarons during this trip. But really…how could you not? Macarons are adorable and tasty, and I was in Paris – the place where undoubtedly you’ll get the world’s best macarons.

Ever since returning from that trip, I wanted to make my own macarons. But then I heard all those horror stories about them, which I’m sure you’ve heard:

“Macarons are impossible!”

“Macarons are so finicky!”

“Macarons never turn out!”

“Don’t try making macarons – you’ll never get them right!”

Naturally, I was scared away from the task, although the curiosity and obsession with macarons never left me.

And then, over a year later, one fateful day (dramatic!), there I was: watching Anne Thornton’s Dessert First on the Food Network. And what was she making?! Macarons!

I thought to myself, “If a TV show geared at the home baker is encouraging you to make macarons, you make macarons!” Right? Right!

That very next day I got the few ingredients I was missing that I needed to make them. And then, I made them.

And guess what?! They turned out perfectly!

They were not impossible.

They were not finicky.

They did turn out.

And, boy, did they turn out well!

I don’t know if it was a good recipe, luck, or what it was, but they turned out. And I loved them.

Moral of the story? Don’t let myths keep you from trying something you really want to make.

Or, maybe you just need to find a really good recipe.

Or, maybe you just need pure luck.

But try these for me.

You won’t regret it.

(I should note that the recipe does not make a ton….but that’s fine, as long as that’s what you expect.)

Salted Caramel Banana Macarons

adapted from Anne Thornton’s Dessert First

1 ¼ cup almond meal

1 ¾ cup powdered sugar

3 large older egg whites* (i.e. not freshly bought – preferably older than 4 days)

3 tablespoons meringue powder

fleur de sel, enough to sprinkle

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 teaspoons heavy cream

¾ teaspoons fleur de sel

1 ripe (not overripe) banana

*Preparation: Separate the egg whites when the eggs are cold – just out of the refrigerator. However, before moving on, allow to come to room temperature.

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper

Sift together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Begin sprinkling in the meringue powder as you beat. Increase the speed to medium speed and beat until soft peaks form. From here, keep beating cautiously until you have firm glossy peaks – do not beat until you have stiff peaks (i.e. meringue should not stand up straight when a whisk is lifted from the mixture).

Gently fold in about 1/3 of the almond meal mixture. Once combined, add the remaining almond meal mixture in 2 more batches. Being gentle is key. Incorporate the ingredients fully, but do not over-fold.

Put a pastry bag with about a ½ inch tip (or plastic bag with a tip cut off) in a glass or cup. Fold the top of the bag over the lip of the glass/cup. Fill the pastry bag with the mixture.

Pipe 1-inch circular mounds of batter onto the prepared pans. If the mounds do not smooth out on their own, using a wet fingertip, tap the mounds gently to create a smooth top. Another option would be to tap the pan on the counter…but I’d recommend the finger-tip option. Let the cookies sit for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle each cookie with fleur de sel. Allow the cookies to rest 30-60 minutes more, depending on the humidity.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, 1 sheet at a time. They should not be browned, but they shouldn’t look too underdone either. Let the cookies cool.

Make the filling:

In a saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Let the sugar melt and turn into a caramel – but do not stir the mixture, and do not rush this process. Carefully, as steam will be released, add the butter and heavy cream. Stir until incorporated, and then add the fleur de sel. Let cool.

In a small bowl, mash the ripe banana with a fork (don’t worry about the texture seeming strange…it’ll work in the end!). Add the cooled caramel to the mashed banana.

Spread the filling on the flat side of a cookie. Make a sandwich by sandwiching the flat side of another cookie against the filling. Continue this process for the rest of the sandwiches.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to mature for at least 24 hours…but honestly, you’ll want one before, and I found that there wasn’t a huge difference in taste between the more freshly finished and 24-hour matured versions. So, go ahead. Enjoy them now! (And think of Paris….*sigh*).

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Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

I’d like to give myself a little pat on the back for this one….because I can take credit, can’t I? Afterall, I came up with the idea to mesh two great recipes into one.

Buuuut…back to the title. Genius? Wanna see the proof that I’m not lying? People, these MAY be genius material!

Yep. Maybe you’re not convinced yet. Well, let me show the math it takes to get to the end result. Maybe that’ll help you.

TWO (2) of Alton’s chocolate chip cookies

+

a slathering of cookie dough cream cheese filling

=

ONE (1) perfect Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling (and let me answer the question posed in its name…yes, it’s genius!)

Still not convinced? Maybe some more pictures will do the trick.

Still not convinced? Well, I do have an answer for you. It’s one word – therapist! Seriously, if you aren’t convinced, I don’t know what’s wrong with you (with all due respect!)!

I made these lovely creations for a party Rachel was attending. When she tasted the finished product, she said I had out-down myself. Now that’s a compliment. When Rob tasted them, his eyes nearly rolled back…they were that good! But now I ask you, how could they not be?! I mean, cookie dough lovers rejoice…this recipe is for you!

*As a note, if you really wanted to, you could just make these cookies (if so, don’t freeze-roll-freeze-slice-bake, but rather freeze-scoop-bake). I’d venture to say they’re better than the (Supposedly) Perfect Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Actually, I’d say they are. And of course, you could also just make this filling and use it as a dip, as it was originally created to be used for. And if you did either of these options, I’d still respect you. Because they’re perfectly good on their own, of course. But why would you do that when you can combine them?!!?!?!?!? Really, it’s not even a choice, if you ask me. But do as you please (but really?!?!?!?!?!).

Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

Adapted from Food Network and How Sweet It Is

 

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

½ cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

8-oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cups chocolate chips

Make the cookies: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat, swirl the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn. You don’t want to overcook it. Remove from heat. While butter is melting, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in your main mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend. Mix again. Let sit another minute. Add the egg, yolk, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take out of the freezer, and using waxed paper to wrap the dough in, form about 1.5 inch logs out of the dough (you will have several logs). Chill in freezer for 15 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, meanwhile.

Slice off evenly cut rounds of dough from the logs (if you aren’t using a log, keep it in the freezer). Place on baking sheets and bake until just golden brown (4.5 minutes in convection oven was perfect). Let cool on sheets for several minutes and then transfer to wire racks. Before placing more dough on sheets, let the sheets cool (place in fridge, if you want).

Make filling: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool a bit.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined.

In food processor, crush chocolate chips slightly (the chips, for the most part, will still hold their shape). Beat crushed chocolate chips into cream cheese mixture.

When cookies are completely cooled (you may refrigerate them to speed up the process), take one cookie and slather on some filling (the amount, my friend, is up to you!). Top with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies to make the rest of the sandwiches.

*For the cookies: If you don’t have bread flour, use all-purpose. You can also use 2 tablespoons milk in place of the combination of 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream if need be.

Enjoy these genius cookie creations!

Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake

Are you ready for this?

I don’t know if you are.

I mean, really.

It’s that good.

Seriously.

That good!

And the pictures do not do it justice…not even one bit. But hey, I’ll show you ’em anyway.

So what is this “Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake?” Well, let’s start with the base. It’s a super thick chocolate wafer crust, filled with cheesecake. But, in the cheesecake filling are 1-inch pieces of brownie. And really delicious brownie pieces, at that. Then, it’s topped with a super dark ganache. If your mouth isn’t watering, there’s something wrong with you.

Madison and Rob loved it. Needless to say, I did too. If you need a dessert to bring to an event this holiday season, look no further – this is the one. If you need a pick-me-up, look no further – this is the one. If you just want to bake, look no further – this is the one. Get the picture? This is a must-try dessert!

(As far as easiness goes, this isn’t a beginners’ recipe, but it’s not too, too difficult. It’s definitely on the more time-consuming side though. I somehow, in a way I’m not quite sure of, misread the amount of eggs in the brownies, and only put one in…when they came out of the oven, I realized my mistake and mixed in the other two and rebaked the brownies for 10 more minutes. They came out perfectly, luckily!)

Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake
Altered ever so slightly from Smitten Kitchen

Part One: One Bowl Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack.

Refrigerate brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have extra brownies left over. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

Part Two: Crumb Crust

3 cups or 10 ounces chocolate wafers (you could use another chocolate cookie if you want)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt

In a food processor, blend the wafers until they are fine crumbs. Add the butter, sugar, and salt and mix well in the food processor. You may have to do the crust in two batches (if so, divide ingredients in half for each batch). Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubs (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan. With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

Butterfinger Blondies

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not a huge Butterfinger fan at all. There, I said it. So why did I make these? Rob, Madison, and Rachel all love them, so I decided to make something for them. Nice, right?

Not so nice? When I loved these bars so much I wanted to steal them from them. True story. I mean, wow! These are great!

Sure, these might not look super duper impressive, but trust me…their taste is! And who ever said blondies were known for looking impressive?! They’re kind of a humble snack dessert, aren’t they?! And aren’t those types of desserts sometimes the best?!

I urge you to make these. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if you like Butterfingers or not…you will like these! Ooey-gooey-scrumptiousness!

Butterfinger Blondies

Adapted slightly from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine

2 1/4 cups all purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (I was low on dark, so I used some light as well)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 11oz bag bite sized Butterfingers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Unwrap all of the Butterfingers and place them in a food processor. Grind them up until you have pretty fine pieces (this could be a matter of preference though).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a second mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and beat in eggs and vanilla, mixing only until eggs are incorporated.

Fold in flour mixture followed by most of the butterfingers. Reserve some (about ½ cup-ish) for topping.

Pour into pan and spread to edges. Sprinkle remaining Butterfinger pieces over top and bake for 28-30 minutes.
Let cool completely, then cut into bars.

(Supposedly) Perfect Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know, I know. You’re saying, “Another chocolate chip cookie recipe?!” Yes, it’s true – there are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, for such a seemingly simple cookie. But this is probably unlike any you’ve made before. You see, you brown the butter! Intimidated? Don’t be! In fact, the aroma you get while mixing up these cookies might just be better than the actual cookie. Might. Oh, and did you know so have claimed these to be the perfect cookie?! True fact.

Notes:

These are a bit more time consuming than your average chocolate chip cookie, but didn’t I mention the aroma given off while making these?! It makes it  totally worth the extra time!

Rob, Madison, and I all enjoyed these. Are they the most perfect cookie we’ve ever eaten? Are they the best cookies we’ve ever eaten? Debatable. Probably not. But worth you giving them a try? Yes. Definitely.

 

(Supposedly) Perfect Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie”

Makes about 32 medium-large cookies

1¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup milk chocolate chips (if you want, use all semi-sweet instead)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes (this may easily take longer, but don’t rush it, and watch it carefully!). Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces) into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Drop dough onto cookie sheets, using about 2 tablespoons of the dough per cookie (increase this if you want really large cookies!). Allow quite a bit of room for expansion.

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Final advice? Make these! Give them a try! Who knows…they may turn out to be your perfect cookie!

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake

As you can tell, I’ve switched my layout! I finally did so because I was hearing it was hard to know how to comment…and that wasn’t good! So, I sincerely hope you’ll start/continue to comment! And please keep in mind that as of now, I’m not totally satisfied with the look…I’ll be revising! On to today’s post…

I told you yesterday that yesterday was my birthday! Today I’m going to share my birthday cake with you! As I said, I didn’t make it, which unfortunately means no details on the process of making it or even a recipe (but, if you google the cake, I’m sure you could find a similar recipe!). Man, this cake was gooood! It was so dense, rich, and moist. As I said yesterday, I’m not a huge fan of frosting, except for cream cheese frosting. This was a cream cheese based frosting!

I had a great birthday yesterday and this cake was the perfect way to end it! A special thanks to Madison for making the cake!

Chocolate Pumpkin Shortbread

Oh, goodness. This was a disaster recipe that actually wasn’t a disaster in the end. I don’t have any pictures, which is probably good because you most likely wouldn’t say, “Man! I have to make that!” But, if I just tell you how good it indeed was, hopefully you will go ahead and make it. And make it you should! Shall I explain what happened with these bars?

The Details:

The Process: I saw this recipe and let me say that I love pumpkin. I was so excited to make these that I made them the same day I found them online! This was the first of hopefully many pumpkin recipes this season…so hope you’re okay with that! Anyway, I mixed up the bars…no problem. I put them in the oven. Baked ’em for awhile. Decided they weren’t done. Put ’em back in.  Checked again. Put ’em back in. Checked again. Put ’em back in. Repeated this process a few more times, until finally I was so worried I was going to overbake them. I baked them for much longer than the recipe called for, but I still didn’t think they looked down. Nevertheless, I took them out. I made the chocolate topping, which didn’t spread so well over the bars. I chilled them. I cut into them…and they were totally and utterly undercooked! However, the flavors were divine. Let’s just say I modified the recipe quite a bit for you guys (i.e. different baking times, a different chocolate topping, among other changes)!

The Verdict: Everyone couldn’t help but agree they were very underbaked. They all liked the flavors though. Madison especially loved them.

Chocolate Pumpkin Shortbread

Adapted from Picky Palate

Makes about 9 bars

 

2 sticks softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups canned pumpkin

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

¼-1/2 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a stand or electric mixer cream the butter and sugars until well combined.  Slowly add in flour and salt until dough forms.  Press into the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking dish that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.

To prepare pumpkin layer, mix pumpkin sugar, cream, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixing bowl until well combined.  Pour over shortbread layer (pan will be filled quite high).  The baking time is a bit unknown…in my convection oven, 45 minutes meant underbaked bars. I would watch very carefully, but in a normal oven, it will probably take at least an hour. Try not to underbake for best results (the flavors will still be divine if you do though!). Sorry that I can’t be more helpful!

Let cool for 30 minutes.  Melt chocolate over a double broiler or in microwave until smooth. Using a fork, spoon, or whatever other utensil you wish, drizzle the chocolate evenly over the bars. You may serve at room temperature, but I highly recommend eating it chilled.

Final advice: Don’t let me scare you about this recipe…with the modifications I’ve made, I’m sure you’ll have more luck! And really, the flavors are exceptional!