Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chanukah Macarons

Whose idea was it to have an eight-day holiday centered around greasy foods?

I already feel ill. And my Instagram feed is starting to fill up with kale soups from fellow members of the tribe who are ready to go on a juice cleanse just four days into this holiday.

Jews around the world mark the festival of Chanukah by eating oily foods like jelly doughnuts, called sufganiyot, and fried potato pancakes, called latkes. If this seems odd to you, you probably spent the weekend driving around with a tree tied to your car roof. I could Jewsplain the whole thing, but basically...

They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat. (Applies to most Jewish holidays.)

But, seriously, who would actually eat a jelly doughnut any other week of the year? What is that red gloop in the middle? What fruit makes jelly that glows in the dark?

I went to the best kosher bakery and got a few of every kind. Even the kids were unenthusiastic.

So, I whipped up these Chanukah macarons and used raspberry jam in the buttercream. See, it's kinda like a jelly doughnut! I happened to have candy melts and molds around, but gelt toppers are super cute.

This "recipe" is more of a concept. Basically, you take your plain macaron shells, top with gelt, and fill with frosting mixed with jam. But, if you were looking for something more specific, I'm happy to oblige.

(But only if you buy a scale. You just can't make macarons without one.)

Chanukah Macarons

Yield: 24 4cm filled macarons


For the Macarons:
72g egg whites
36g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon powdered egg white (optional)
60g blanched almond meal
115g powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the Filling:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (170g)
8 oz marshmallow fluff (227)
1 cup powdered sugar (120g)
1/4 cup seeded raspberry jam

Optional Decorations:
Candy melts

  1. Beat egg whites, granulated sugar, and powdered whites at medium speed (KitchenAid 4) for three minutes. Increase speed to medium-high (KitchenAid 7) for three more minutes, then up to high (KitchenAid 8) for a final three minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts and any gel coloring you desire, then beat at top speed for an additional minute.
  2. While eggs are whipping, sieve together almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt. When meringue is ready, fold the dry ingredients into it until the mixture has a texture like lava. You'll know you're there when you can a drop of batter settles back into the mixture within thirty seconds.
  3. Pipe 1.25" rounds, 1" apart on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment. I use this template underneath as a guide. After piping, take the tray and bang it very forcefully on the counter to knock out all the bubbles. Do not skip this step - it is much more important than resting the macarons!
  4. Preheat the oven to 300˚ (280˚ convection). Rest the macarons for about 15 minutes on the counter while you make the buttercream. Bake one tray at a time for about 15 minutes. You will know they are done when you touch one with your finger and it feels solid, rather than wobbly.  
  5. Let the macarons cool in the pan for at least ten minutes before flipping over and filling.
  6. Beat softened butter for three minutes on medium high to aerate. Add in fluff, then powdered sugar. Finish with the jelly, but use your judgement about the quantity - the moisture content of jellies varies widely.
  7. Pipe or spoon frosting between shells. Decorate with gelt or melts, glued on with a dab of melted chocolate chips or melts. Let rest at room temperature for three hours, or overnight in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Puckery Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

In November, we make lemon cake.

There aren't many lemon desserts happening around here the rest of the year. I can take or leave lemon, but the kids won't touch it. So the only time my husband gets lemon cake is on his birthday.

I know, Poor Guy, soldiering through eleven months of chocolate cakes, bundts and macarons. It's a hard life.

This recipe is a bit of a mash-up. The cake is adapted from Lomelino's Cakes, by Linda Lomelino. I wanted to punch up the frosting though. And, honestly, how much swiss meringue buttercream can you eat? Am I the only one craving a little variation? So I pulled this recipe for microwave lemon curd off the King Arthur Flour website and used it to flavor a cream cheese buttercream.

The frosting recipe makes enough extra to fill three dozen macarons. If you find the acidity too intense, add more sugar and a splash of milk to maintain the consistency. Knowing that the kids weren't going to eat it, I left ours very tart.

So...a very sour cake for my very sweet guy.

Puckery Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

Yield: Three 7-8" layers of vanilla cake with blueberries, frosted with lemon-cream cheese buttercream.



For the Blueberry Cake Layers

2 sticks softened butter (226g)
2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (320g)
2 teaspoons baking powder (7g)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (19g)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup greek yogurt or sour cream (160g)
2/3 cup milk (150g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
4 large eggs
12 oz bag of frozen blueberries (340g)
three 7-8"-round cake pans
baking spray with flour

For the Lemon Frosting

1/2 cup lemon juice (115g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
4 tablespoons melted butter (56g)
1 egg
8 oz softened cream cheese (227g)
12 tablespoons softened butter (170g)
4-5 cups powdered sugar (480-600g)
2-3 tablespoons blueberry preserves

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ (325˚ convection).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar for five minutes. While the mixer is doing its thing, whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. In yet another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, vanilla and lemon zest.
  3. Scrape down the mixer bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between the two, and beat until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  4. Spray the pans thoroughly, and divide the batter between them. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans to ensure even cooking. When the cakes are browned and cooked through, rest in pans for five minutes, then invert onto cooling racks.
  5. While the cakes are baking, get on with the lemon curd. Whisk the lemon juice, granulated sugar, melted butter and egg into a large, glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on high for one minute, then whisk. Repeat until the curd is thick, about six minutes, then refrigerate until ready to frost the cake.
  6. Using the mixer's whisk attachment, beat the softened butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Mix in the cooled lemon curd until fully incorporated. Add the powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, until you achieve the texture and sweetness you prefer.
  7. Crumb coat the cake and give it a good chill to set the frosting. Apply the finish layer of frosting using your preferred method, then use your knife tip to mar the surface in several spots with holes about half an inch wide. Fill the holes with blueberry jam, then use a long knife or other frosting tool to spread the jam just a bit over the cake's surface. Keep going until you are happy with the design, then chill to set.
  8. Decorate with optional macarons, blueberries, or lemon rind.