Wednesday, July 29

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Macarons

I'm still fighting my way through this year's raspberry harvest.


I freeze many of them every year, but it seems such a shame. The berries are so eye-catching and attractive when fresh, but left to fend for themselves in a cold and unforgiving fridge for a few days... Well, it doesn't take long for their alluring and glossy sheen to fade into a dull, unattractive finish. Of course, freezing them does nothing to counteract the process; either left unattended in the fridge or resurrected from a deep sleep in the freezer, mushy raspberries have just a handful of unremarkable futures.

But at least, if frozen, their usage period is extended. I like to dot pancakes with them in the dead of winter, or sprinkle them into muffin batter on particularly dreary afternoons when I'm lusting for just one more shine of summer sun.

And sometimes I even dip them in chocolate.



And then I sandwich them between two pretty pink macaron shells.

Because it's delicious.



Chocolate Covered Raspberry Macarons
This recipe is the same as Tartelette's, but is use a teeny bit less granulated sugar. Oh, and some of mine have dark flecks because I made them twice, and the first time I used unblanched almonds.
Printable Recipe

3 egg whites, room temp
30g granulated sugar
200g powdered sugar
110g almond meal

Place an unlined shiny baking sheet (to prevent browning) onto your oven's top rack and preheat the oven to 300F.

Prepare a piping bag with a round tip. I like to put mine in a glass so I can simply pour in the macaronage/batter and begin piping as quickly as possible.

Beat the egg whites into a foam, and gradually add the granulated sugar. Continue beating until the meringue no longer slides when you tip the bowl, being very careful not to overbeat. Sift the powdered sugar and almond meal over the meringue and fold to combine, being sure to get out quite a bit of the air. Continue mixing just until ribbons settle indistinguishably into the macaronage. Pour into your piping bag and pipe small rounds onto sheets of parchment paper.


Bake 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet below the one already in the oven.

Chocolate Covered Raspberries
Yeah, I know you probably don't need a recipe for this, but I'm including it anyway because I think it's very important that your raspberries are frozen, and I wanted to make note of it. Since they'll be weakened by the freezing process, the berries will be incredibly juicy. They'll practically explode when you bite into them!

Raspberries, frozen
Chocolate

Melt the chocolate, dip raspberries and allow to set on parchment paper.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1/2c sugar (I usually eyeball it :P)
2 egg whites
6Tbls softened unsalted butter, cut into 1/2Tbls
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cook the egg whites and sugar over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream mayt turn into a soupy curdled mess, but I assure you it will be ok; just beat the shit out of it for a few minutes. It'll come together, and when it does, you should add your vanilla :)

Assembly
Partially flatten a chocolate covered raspberry with a butter knife or a similar utensil. Place in the center of a macaron, and pipe buttercream in one circle around it. Top with a similar-sized macaron.

Store them in the fridge, but enjoy them at room temp!

Tuesday, July 28

New Things - {Apricot Tart}

I often find myself wandering the produce isle, scoping out exotic fruits and vegetables. They're generally easy to find, lounging in their own baskets on the sides of various stands. Amongst a very vast and very boring landscape - composed largely of apples and potatoes - their interesting shapes and vibrant colors seem to scream, "BUY ME!" or, "EAT ME!" as if you're in some sad rabbit-less version of "Alice in Wonderland..."

But I digress...

Apricots are not one of these exotic fruits. Nestled in with the peaches around this time of year and dwarfed in size, they seem lackluster, leaving a consumer such as myself wondering, why in the world would I buy such a small, botched, clone of a peach? Yes, ignorant of so many things, I would pass them by in favor of said peach, or maybe even a nectarine.

But after being introduced to them by a friend and finding them, bedecked with a sale sign reading, "99 cents/lb" and sitting between two particularly sad looking marshes of wrinkly peaches a few days later, well... I decided it was fate. These suckers needed baked!

So I briefly contemplated their future, this Apricot Cream Tart being the result:



It's very similar to a cheesecake, but it lacks the thickness and richness that many - myself included - just don't like about them. The light velvety filling would go well with just about any fruit, but the slightly firm nature of the apricots creates a fantastic textural contrast.
Ingredients:
1 par-baked 7" or 9" tart shell (if you make the 7" tart, you will have a little extra filling)
3 apricots (you will need more for a larger tart)
2 oz (56 g) cream cheese, softened
1/3 c (78 ml) sour cream
1 egg, room temp
1/4 c (59 ml) cream
2 Tbls + 2 tsp sugar
Pulp from 1/4 of a vanilla bean
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Notes: I made a 7" tart, but I think enough filling is produced in this recipe to make a 9" one. I went a little overboard while adding ingredients. Anyone will tell you - I'm embarrassingly bad at estimating!

Preheat oven to 350F (275C).

Skin and pit the apricots, slicing each in half and then into quarters to get 8 slices from each fruit. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until light, and add the sour cream and egg. Beat until fully incorporated and add the cream and remaining 2 TBLS of sugar. Add the vanilla pulp/seeds and extract, beat briefly and set aside.

Arrange the sliced apricots from the colander in your tart shell. Carefully pour the filling around the slices (keep in mind that if you pour it on the fruit, it will bake on the fruit. It's not very forgiving when it comes to desirable presentation :D), and bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then place in fridge until very cold. Serve sliced with Apricot Glaze.

Ingredients:
3 apricots
Sugar, to taste (mine were quite tart, so I used 2 Tbls)
Water
Cinnamon
Notes: If, at any time during the cooking process, your sauce becomes too thin, just remove the lid and allow it to reduce for a bit!

Peel and dice the apricots, then place them in a small pot with the sugar and cook over medium heat until the fruit pieces begin to stick. Stirring with a wooden spoon (in order to retain your pan's integrity!), add a few Tbls of water to thin the syrup, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are completely broken down and you have a thick sauce. Cool slightly and serve warm over chilled pieces of the tart.

Wednesday, July 22

Raspberry Cobbler

Hey.


I could say that baking is just a hobby of mine, but I'd be lying to you.

It's a passion, but I suppose that's a bit of a lie, too. It doesn't quite cover it...

In truth, the passion borders on obsession from time to time, considering the fact that I spend, oh, just about all of my free time thinking about baking, reading about baking, looking at photos of what other people are baking and... Oh yeah, baking. There's something intoxicating about the combination of butter, flour and sugar plus a myriad of other fine ingredients that makes my head spin.


But I wouldn't have it any other way.

My name's Kaitlin, I'm 18, and I don't have a gimmick.

I'm just a kid with a whisk, some ideas, a love of baking and a budding passion for photography.

Maybe you'd like to stick around?



Recipes

Raspberry Cobbler
based very loosely on this recipe. One thing that's important to know about me is that I don't always follow recipes. I know baking is a science, but... I think there's a little room for playing.

Vanilla Ice Cream

It may seem a bit daunting at first, but I assure you that ice cream is very easy to make at home! It's so easy to customize. There's really no limit to the flavors you can create. It's so much better than the store bought stuff, and so worth the small amount of time it takes to make.

1 c (237 ml) milk
1 c (237 ml) heavy whipping cream
4 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c (99 g) sugar

Put the milk and cream into a saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and vanilla until light. After the milk/cream in the saucepan is steaming and very hot (but not boiling!), temper the yolks by pouring a small amount of the milk into them and whisking simultaneously.

Repeat until all the milk is incorporated.

Pour back into the saucepan and, whisking constantly, continue cooking (but don't let it boil!). To test if it's done, dip a spoon into the mix, hold it up, and trace your finger straight through the middle. When it leaves a trail and the remaining liquid does not fill in the space, remove from the heat and place it in the fridge for a few hours, until it's very cold. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions.