A Passion for Chocolate

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Chocolate Filled Macarons

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is my second macaron post! While the French method recipe is fine for a climate-controlled environment if you’re without air-conditioning and it’s humid, it can be unreliable.  So after finding lots of recipes agreeing on the proportions below I gave the Italian method a go. I’ve made this recipe many times, in all types of weather, and it’s close to invincible.

Macarons, Italian Method, Makes about 36

200 g almond flour

200 g powdered sugar

[Variation: Add 3 T. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder for chocolate macarons]

200 g granulated sugar

50 g water

1/2 t. vinegar

150 g egg whites, divided into two 75 g portions

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache, or other filling of your choice

It’s easier if you pre-measure everything and have it ready. Combine the almond flour [cocoa if you’re using it] and powdered sugar in a bowl. Mix well, I use an immersion blender. Add 75 g of egg whites and stir it into a thick paste.

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Combine the water, vinegar and granulated sugar in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to make sure all of the sugar dissolves. Let it boil while you put the other 75 g of egg whites in a mixer bowl.

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Beat the whites until they hold stiff peaks. Turn the mixer down to stir if your sugar syrup is not quite at the soft ball stage. When the syrup comes to temperature, turn the mixer to high and pour the sugar syrup in a steady stream. Try to avoid the whisk if you can.

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Continue beating on high until the mixer bowl is no longer hot. The resulting italian meringue will be very stiff. Fold the almond paste into the meringue.

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Take some strong strokes at first to knock a little air out and then keep folding for about another 20 strokes. It’s perfect when you can drop some of the macaronage back into the bowl and it will hold its shape for 15 seconds before starting to slump back in. When you get close to 20 strokes just evaluate it one stroke at a time until you’re there.

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Grease your cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper, or use a silpat. Pipe 1-1/2″ mounds. They won’t spread a lot so you can keep them fairly close. Drop each pan onto the counter three times to get any air bubbles out.

Preheat the oven to 300 and let the sheets sit out for about 15 minutes. The macarons will form a bit of skin on top.

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Bake for 15 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may want to change racks halfway through the baking time.

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Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets and then remove them with thin spatula. Sandwich two halves with ganache and store them in the refrigerator. Take them out 10 minutes or so before serving.

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The chocolate variation:

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Chocolate YOLO Grenades

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People say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity, for some of us that line disappears under smears of chocolate and cake batter. I myself was pushed across this line by Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, which my family gave me for Christmas.   It’s my favorite kind of cookbook, with tons of stories along with the recipes for things like liquid cheesecake, bagel bombs and the infamous crack pie.

So, when I went to make my old-fashioned chocolate crinkles today and finish off my cookie posts I asked myself, “What would Christina Tosi do?” If you don’t have a strong constitution it’s probably best not to ask yourself that question. I answered it with hazelnuts, almonds, coffee and sea salt caramels. If I had some good-quality chocolate jimmies I swear on all that is sacred I would have used those as well.

Chocolate YOLO Grenades, Makes 18

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. ground hazelnuts
1/3 c. almond flour
1 t. instant coffee (I used Mackinac Island Fudge coffee.)
1/3 c. dark cocoa
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 c. milk
5 large sea salt caramels
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. powdered sugar

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the melted chocolate.

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Beat in the nuts and coffee.

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Combine the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat in half the flour mixture, beat in the milk, and then the rest of the flour. Chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.

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Cut the sea salt caramels into quarters, and put the sugars in separate bowls. Preheat the oven to 350.

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YOLO mise en place

Scoop out a spoonful of dough and mold it around a square of caramel.

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Roll it in the granulated sugar, then the powdered sugar.

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Leaving about three inches between cookies, place the balls on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. The centers should still be slightly shiny if you’re going for Tosi-gooey.

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There you have it. Check out that runny caramel in the brownie-like center. Brutal. Warm these a touch before serving.

I hope you’re happy Christina Tosi – I have a feeling you will be 🙂


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Everyday Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Growing up we were more pie and cake people as I recall but I have always made a point of keeping a full cookie jar in our kitchen. It’s one of the things I hope the kids will remember when they set up their own houses. With a fast-growing 14-yr-old son and an active nine-yr-old daughter, our jar starts to empty as soon as I fill it up.

These oatmeal chip cookies have a lot of things going for them. This recipe makes a lot – I typically get around 60 per batch, you can sneak in healthy things like flax seed and quinoa flakes in addition to the oatmeal, and if you underbake them slightly they are good keepers.

They are classic homemade cookies, in search of a glass of milk.  I bake a batch nearly every Saturday afternoon, provided it’s not too hot to turn the oven on!

Everyday Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)

3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

3/4 c. white sugar

2 eggs

2-3/4 c. flour

1-1/2 c. oatmeal (whatever style you prefer – quick cooking tends to disappear more in the cookie)

2 t. vanilla

1 t. salt

1 t. baking soda

8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Other mix-ins of your choice: flax seed, quinoa flakes, wheat germ – all good

Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, chips, baking soda and salt – include any extra mix-ins at this point. Beat on medium until everything in incorporated.

Drop by generous teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. I like to underbake them (for gooey centers) so I check them at 8-10 minutes. When they are done to your liking, remove them and let them cool. Make sure they are completely cool until stacking them in your cookie jar. It’s perfectly acceptable to taste them to determine the appropriate temperature for storage. . .

So because I was feeling a sprocky the other day, I added 3 T. of Hershey Special Dark Cocoa. If you like brownie-type cookies underbake them by 2-3 minutes. They will crisp as they cool.