Food & Drink

Apple Butter Muffins

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Fall is here!  I absolutely adore fall and everything that comes with it.  The best part of fall, in my opinion, is all the apple things we get to eat.  One of my favorite activities each fall is making a huge batch of apple butter to can and give out to neighbors.  This year, I made close to a gallon (!!!) of apple butter!  While I am a fan of spreading apple butter on almost everything, my favorite thing to do with apple butter is bake with it.  I decided to convert a very simple muffin recipe into the moistest apple butter muffins.  It will fill your home with the smells of fall, and it comes together in less than an hour.  Score!

Apple Butter Muffins

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

Apple Butter Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Apple Butter Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tb milk
  • 1/4 cup apple butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line or grease standard muffin tins.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, apple butter, and vegetable oil.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients in parts.  Stir with a spatula until well combined and no dry ingredients visible (little lumps are okay).
  2. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. While muffins are baking, make the buttercream.  Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes.  Slowly add powdered sugar until you get an airy texture.  Mix in apple butter and beat until desired consistency.

Food & Drink

No-Knead Rosemary & Garlic Bread

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So about 6 years ago, I was in grad school, and my friend introduced me to this phenomenon – no-knead bread.  No-knead?  How was this possible?  At the time, I lived in a small apartment with a tiny kitchenette, so I was all down for shortcuts and things that don’t require a ton of counter space.

My friend got the recipe from the famous New York Times recipe.  It really is super easy, mix together ingredients, set it and forget it.

While the basic no-knead bread is a classic and one that I make quite often, I have been experimenting with different flavors and my new favorite is the rosemary and garlic no-knead bread.  It’s packed full of flavor and goes great dipped in olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

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No-Knead Rosemary & Garlic Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tb dried rosemary
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cup water

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, yeast, rosemary, and garlic.  Add in water and stir together until it forms a wet dough.  Cover and let it sit for 18-24 hours.
  2. Place a dutch oven with the lid on in the oven.  Preheat oven to 450°F.  Flour your hands and gently scoop the dough out of the bowl and form a round shape.  Once the oven is preheated, place dough in the dutch oven.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Recipe notes:

  • You do not need to oil the dutch oven.  The bread will absolutely not stick.  You can use parchment paper on the bottom of the dutch oven as a sling so it is easier to take out the bread when finished.

Food & Drink

Salted Nutella Macarons

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Four years ago, I posted my French Macarons recipe.  Today, I wanted to do an update on new techniques and tricks that I’ve accrued over the past four years of maracon making. The one thing I didn’t change?  The salted Nutella buttercream filling.  To this day, it’s still my favorite buttercream.  It’s fluffy, airy, and the salt creates such a nice complement to the sweetness from the Nutella.

So the first thing I changed was the way I measured the ingredients.  Now, instead of measuring them using measuring cups, I weigh them.  I have found that by weighing them, I eliminate one thing that can really mess up your macarons – improper proportions of ingredients.  If you don’t have a scale, I highly recommend buying one.  They’re about $10 and they are pretty handy, especially when you are dealing with more finicky recipes.

The second thing that I changed was simply the way I made them.  A while back, while I was deep in the macaron Youtube binge, I found that there are three main ways of making them – the French method (where you beat aged egg whites with sugar then fold it with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture), the Italian meringue method (where you cook a sugar syrup then beat in the egg whites, then fold in the almond flour/powdered sugar), and the Swiss meringue method (where you cook the sugar and egg whites over a double boiler, and then mix in the almond flour/powdered sugar).  Apparently, both the Italian Meringue and Swiss Meringue method are said to be more reliable in terms of giving you a consistent result.  Additionally, the meringue method can give you good results even in “bad macaron conditions” – such as high humidity.  Today, I’m going to show you how I made macarons using the Swiss Meringue method.

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Salted Nutella Macarons

  • Servings: 30 macarons
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Ingredients

Macarons

  • 100g egg whites (~from 3 large eggs, double check to make sure)
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g almond flour
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Gel food coloring

Salted Nutella Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Nutella or hazelnut spread
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Over a double boiler, whisk together egg whites and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is frothy, about 2 minutes.  Transfer this to a stand mixer or a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on medium-high.  Put in a pinch of salt and cream of tartar.  Beat until stiff peaks, about 3-5 minutes.  If you want to color your macarons, add a little bit of gel food coloring at this point and beat for 5 seconds only.
  3. In a food processor, combine the almond flour and powdered sugar.  Pulse 5x.  Sift the mixture into a bowl,  Discard any remaining chunks that cannot be sifted.
  4. Carefully put the almond flour & powdered sugar mixture into the egg white mixture bowl.  Beat on medium-low for 10 seconds.  Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the mixture.  Do the figure 8 test by scooping some batter up with your spatula and draw the number 8.  If the batter does not break, it’s done!  Make sure you do not overmix.
  5. Pour macaron mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.  Pipe out 1-inch circles on a baking sheet.  Bang the pan on the countertop a couple times to release any air bubbles.  Let it sit out to dry until the top forms a skin, about 20 minutes.  You should be able to touch the top without anything sticking to your finger.  When it’s dry, it’s ready to bake.
  6. Bake for 13-14 minutes on the middle rack, rotating the pan halfway.
  7. While the macarons are baking, prepare the buttercream.  In a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat together softened butter and Nutella until creamy.  Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  8. To assemble – pair cooled macaron shells of similar size together.  Turn all of them flat-side up.  Using a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, pipe out a nickel-sized amount of buttercream.  Sandwich the two shells together and press gently so the buttercream spreads to the edges.  Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Recipe notes:

  • The recipe calls for a double boiler.  If you don’t have one at home, no worries.  Simply fill a pot with about 1 inch of water and heat until simmering.  Place a heatproof bowl (glass or metal), and you have a double boiler!
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can skip processing the sugar and almond flour.  Just know that the tops might not be as smooth.
  • I love my Silpat, but in my many attempts of making Silpat work with macarons, it just doesn’t work.  My shells always end up sticking to the mat.  So I just stick to parchment paper.

Food & Drink

French Macarons

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Hello readers!  I’ve been so busy in the past few months (moving back home and all that jazz), that I haven’t really found time to be in the kitchen.  Well, that hiatus stopped this week when I was commissioned by my dear older brother to make hundreds of macarons for his wedding this weekend.  Yes, hundreds.  His specific instructions were: make as much as you can.  He has over 200 guests.  So I donned on my apron and got to baking.  The wonderful thing about homemade french macarons is that in a airtight container, they actually last fairly long in the refrigerator (~5 days).  So this entire week, I’ve been baking tray after tray.  I’ve had some hit and misses.  But I’m pretty happy with the results.

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I made a basic French Macaron with a salted Nutella buttercream filling!  (Foodgasm?)  I wish I had taken more photos along the way to show you guys the process.  Perhaps when I attempt macarons again in the future, I will take some more detailed photos.  But I am pretty giddy about how cute they turned out.

Prep time:  1 hour
Bake time: 15 minutes
Yield: 10 macarons

Ingredients (French Macaron)
– 3/4 cup powdered sugar
– 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
– 2 tbs granulated sugar
– 1 egg white (room temperature … no need to age!)
– Gel food coloring (I used pink and yellow)

Method (French Macaron)
1.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.  On the curly side, draw 20 circles of 1.5 inch in diameter.  Place the parchment paper on the cookie sheet with the drawing face down.
2.  Sift the powdered sugar and almond meal together in a small bowl.  You can use a larger sifter if you would like to fly through the sifting process.  You can toss in approximately 1-2 tbs of the unsifted mix at the end.  But if there is more, pulse the mix in a food processor first and sift again.
3.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg at medium speed.  Add granulated sugar as you beat.  (For extra arm muscle, try whisking by hand!)  When you reached stiff peaks, add 2 drops of the gel food coloring and beat until it is combined.  DO NOT OVERMIX.
4.  Using a rubber spatula, spoon half of the almond/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture.  Begin folding.  It should take you about 10-15 strokes to combine.  Spoon in the rest of the almond/sugar mixture and fold again.  Be sure to fold in the same direction.  You should achieve the right consistency anywhere between 45-55 strokes.  (The test: scoop a bit of the batter on the spatula and hold it over the bowl, it should fall like a thick syrup).
5.  Fill the mixture in a piping bag with a round tip attachment, pipe out the mixture to your pre-drawn parchment paper.  It should fit 20 circles perfectly.  When you are done, tap the pan on the counter several times to release the air bubbles.
6.  Preheat the oven to 300F.  The macaron shells should take about 10-15 minutes to create a hard shell on top.  It will be ready to bake when you touch it and it is not sticky anymore.
7.  Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan halfway.

While the macarons are baking, it’s time to make the Salted Nutella Buttercream filling!

Ingredients (Nutella Buttercream)
– 4 tbs salted butter (softened)
– 2 tbs + 2 tsp Nutella
– 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Method (Nutella Buttercream)
1.  Cream together the salted butter and Nutella until smooth and combined.
2.  Add the powdered sugar and cream until light and fluffy.

To assemble:  Find twins of every macaron shell.  Lay them belly up.  Using a pastry bag, pipe out the Nutella buttercream on one of macaron pairs and gently squeeze the two shells together.

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Mini Macarons are the cutest!

One more thing, I was scared as heck when I first attempted making macarons last year.  I had so many ugly ones.  But I guess the good thing about these French cookies is that even if they look ugly on the outside, they are going to be delicious regardless.  So bake your hearts out!