Friday, January 31, 2014

Feeling Frenchy

I'm feeling a little Frenchy after posting the Macaron recipe.
So purdy. Gaaaaaaw

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ladurée French Macaron Recipe

I made a batch of  French Macarons the other day. Boy do I love these little things, but they are a pain to make...until I tried this recipe! Daniel and I honeymooned in Europe and we stopped in Paris to try the ever coveted Ladurée macarons. They were amazing! I picked up their English Sucré cookbook so I could make them at home. Be patient, say a prayer and they will turn out beautiful. 

This is a macaron shell recipe from Ladurée -- the crème de la crème of macarons in the world! And I whipped up the filling recipe myself...
Makes approximately 50 macarons
Bake at 300F

Macaron Shell Ingredients
2 ¾ cups + 1 tbsp (275 g) fine almond flour
2 cups + 1 tbsp (250 g) confectioners' sugar (aka powdered sugar)
6 +1/2 egg whites (room temp)
1 cup + 1 tbsp (210g) granulated white sugar
3 drops of whatever food coloring you desire

Directions for Macaron Shells:
1. Combine the ground almond flour and the confectioners sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles a fine powder {do not over mix or you will end up with paste! Nooo!}. Sift through a sieve to remove any lumps.

2. In a large bowl {I use my KitchenAid}, whisk 6 egg whites until foamy. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar {precisely 83.3 oz}. Whip until the sugar has dissolved. Add another third of the sugar. Whip for 1 minute. Add the last third of the sugar and whip for one minute. Egg whites should be glossy and hold soft peaks. Using a spatula, delicately fold the almond flour and confectioners' sugar into the whipped egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add it to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the macaron batter.

3. If you only want to make one color of macarons, then add your desired food coloring to the batter bowl. If you want multiple colors, divide your batter into separate bowls and add coloring to each. Try not to over mix.

4. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag {you can also use zip lock bags with a cut corner}. Pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a  lined baking sheet. I like to line mine with a silpat or this fancy macaron mat. Parchment paper will also do. Lightly tap the tray on the counter to release any air pockets. Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, so a thin dry coat forms on the top {you should be able to gently touch them without the batter sticking to your finger}. Now they are ready for the oven. Only bake one tray at a time. Bake at 300F for approximately 15 minutes or until they form a smooth shell and little foot.  
*You can prepare the next tray while you wait for the first batch to bake.

5. Ok here is where you'll need to be extra patient. Wait until the macarons have completely cooled before peeling them off the mat. If they stick, they are not ready. * My method {because I'm impatient} to speed things up, try placing the hot baking sheet on top of cold damp dishtowels. This can cut your waiting time in half!

Macaroon Filling Ingredients
8 tbsp jam
4 tbsp soft butter
splash of whipping cream
Fills approximately 50 macarons 
{If you want to make different flavors on a smaller scale just measure 2:1 ratio for jam and butter}

Macaron Filling Instructions
Easy part!
1. You can use any flavor you want. For these macarons, I made different flavors for each color -- peach, strawberry, blueberry and chocolate. Mmmmm. My friend gave me some amazing homemade jams that I mixed with butter and a splash of whipping cream.  Your measurements will vary depending on how much filling you want for each flavor. Just mix jelly, butter and whipping cream until you reach a semi-solid consistency at room temp. This one is pretty hard to mess up.  
*I used Nutella for the chocolate hazelnut filling.

Good luck my friends!

           ^^^ Whipping the egg whites and sugar                       ^^^Smooth shell and little foot!                                                  

^^^Blood orange and framboise macarons from Lauduée on our honeymoon.

We jumped on a bus and took our macarons to the Eiffel Tower. Cliche? Yes. But this was a perfect moment for us. We sat on a park bench, gazed at the tower and savored every bite of of these Frenchy treats. Macarons, a pretty day in Paris and the love of my life... what more could I want! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bar Cart Bliss

Ahhhh I've been dying for a gold bar cart! Alas I cannot find one that I love that is in my very limited budget. I have no idea why they are so expensive!!!? $1200? Why!? So, I will continue my hunt for the perfect {and affordable} cart. I just love how they bring a refined vibe into your home. I guess if a bar cart could talk it would say, “Yeah. I like to party, but I be classy.” Plus it's a great way to display some of your favorite items… artsy glassware, flea market finds and pretty bottles etc. Daaaaarling, The styling opportunities are endless. It would be perfect for little get-togethers with friends. And the bar cart has been around since the mid-1930′s so you KNOW it’s not going out of style any time soon. Here are some carts from around the web + decorating inspiration!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cortaditos {With A Stove Top Espresso Maker}

Cortadito, is a Cuban espresso topped with steamed milk. It's by far my new favorite way to drink espresso! Sweet, creamy and full of flavor.

Here's what you'll need:

Stove top espresso maker
French coffee press
2-3 tablespoons Cuban espresso {Italian is fine too...I won't tell}
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup evaporated milk

Makes 4

1. Prepare your espresso maker according to the manufacturers directions. The amount of grounds used will be specific to your individual pots. Most require 2-3 tablespoons of espresso grounds. Fill the bottom container with water {just below the pressure valve} and then spoon your espresso into the metal filter. Gently smooth the grounds with the back of a spoon.  Screw the top back on and place on the stove. Wait for espresso to peculate.

2. Scoop 4 Tbs. of white sugar into a cup. Pour a few drops of hot espresso into the sugar and vigorously mix. This will result in a creamy, light brown paste. Add the remaining espresso to the paste and stir, creating a light brown layer of foam. 
*This is the cheaters way of simulating crema with a stove top espresso maker...not all of us can afford fancy pressurized machines, right? This is the next best thing.

3. Pour your sweet espresso in to tiny cups {fill halfway}.

4. Pour 1 cup of evaporated milk into a microwavable cup. Heat for 30 seconds or until hot. Then pour it into a French press. Pump the filter on the French press a few times to force oxygen into the milk, this will make it thick and frothy -- perfect for fine foam. 
*If you don't own a French press, you can stir the milk with a whisk and tap the cup on the counter to get rid of any large bubbles.

5. Pour the hot evaporated milk over the espresso and top with a pinch of cinnamon.

Beware. They are extremely addictive. I may have had 4 in one morning... Maybe I should just make them in a bigger cup? Ehh? No? 
I say yes. 

P.S. Dan is hooked too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pirch Cooking Class

Last Saturday Dan and I took a free cooking class at Pirch {it's this super beautiful home design and fixtures wonderland. No joke.}. This place is amazing, even if you aren't a home owner, it's great to get ideas and look at all the purdy things. Dan and I are in the middle of building two rental houses, so we like to walk around this place and dream of the day when the houses will be finished or better yet, dream of the day when we can move into our own home someday {I love the little house we are renting, but it'll be nice to have a place we can officially call our own}. Oh I'll take that granite counter top and the built in espresso machine please -- if money only grew on trees right? Every square inch of the Pirch is spectacular!
So as I was saying. We signed up for a FREE cooking class! As soon as we entered the Pirch we were greeted by some lovely baristas offering us fancy coffee! What? Can we live here? Then two chefs gathered us for a walk to the local SOCO Farmers Market where we learned about organic farming and free range livestock. After sampling cocoa almonds, blood oranges and avocado honey we walked back to the Pirch to begin our cooking lesson.

Our awesome chefs John and Craig.

        Me and Danny concentrating on choppin' veggies. 

Eggs over sautéed kale and chard. Dan's new favorite dish...he's made it twice this week! I love it when he cooks! I even managed to take it to work with us {hot out of the oven}! I looked semi- ridiculous carrying a hot pan to my car in the morning, oven mitt and all. Worth it.

It was a fantastic class and a great start to our weekend. I can't believe they offer it for free! So cool. A big thanks to the Pirch for being so amazing. We had a lot of fun! 

Pictures 1,8,15 and 16

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lemon Velvet Cream Pie & Tarts

I would have to say that this is my favorite pie/tart recipe {you can either make 1 pie or 6 tarts}! The texture is perfection...smooth like a velvety custard with a tart refreshing taste and a creamy finish. I like mine served cold with a glass of milk!

1 refrigerated 9 inch pie crust {or 2 9inch for tarts}
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
6 egg yolks
2 cups sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup fresh lemon juice

For Decorating:
Whipped Cream
Lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line your pie pan or tart pans with premade pie crust and place in the oven at 375 for 15 minutes. Be sure to prick the bottom and sides of pastry with a fork so the crust won’t bubble up when baking. Cool on a wire rack.
In a small bowl mix 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cold water for 5 minutes. Then heat in microwave for 10 seconds and set aside.
In large mixing bowl combine 6 egg yolks and 2 cups of sweetened condensed milk. With an electric mixer, beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes until well combined. Add gelatin,  1/4 cup whipping cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt on low speed. Add 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Pour into prepared crust {pie will be full}.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until center of pie if firm when gently shaken; cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate until time to serve.
Top with whipped cream and lemon zest