Food & Drink

Triple Mango Macarons

DSC_5490DSC_5493

I’ve been waiting all week for these!  Ian is going out of town for work and this weekend, my best friends are coming down from New York to have a girls’ weekend in Philly.  We’ve been saying that we want to have a fancy tea party, so tomorrow, we’ll be serving so many tea party worthy foods – cranberry walnut scones, crackers with goat cheese and dill, cucumber sandwiches, and so much more.  But the crowning glory to the spread we’ll be having are these triple mango macarons.

I had this idea of making a mango macaron with a mango buttercream AND a mango jam center.  Since summer is here and mangos prices are dropping, I thought there is no better time than now to tackle these macarons.

DSC_5491

Triple Mango Macarons

  • Servings: 30 macarons
  • Print

Ingredients

Mango Macarons

  • 100g egg whites
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g almond flour
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp mango extract (optional)
  • Yellow and red food coloring (optional)

Mango Jam

  • 3 cups chopped mango (I used 3 champagne mangos)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Mango Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup mango jam
  • Yellow and red food coloring (optional)

Method

Macarons

  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, cream of tartar, and mango extract.  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. Find matching pair of macaron shells.  Place them side-by-side and belly up.  Pipe the mango buttercream around the outer edge of the macaron to create a barrier.  Spoon about 1/2 tsp of mango jam in the center.  Gently place another macaron on top and press gently to adhere.

Mango jam

  1. In a pot, bring sugar and water to a boil.  Add mango and lemon juice and bring this mixture to a gentle boil and stir.  Use a potato masher and mash the mango until it breaks apart.  Cook until the jam is thickened.  Set aside to cool.

Mango Buttercream

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, powdered sugar, and mango jam until light and fluffy, about 7-10 minutes.  Add food coloring, if desired.

Recipe notes:

  1. The mango jam will yield about 1 pint of jam.  The rest of it … do with it what you will!

Food & Drink

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

DSC_5211

I did a thing!

So let’s back up, in February I went on a family trip to Monterey, California.  There, we stayed at Portola Hotel & Spa.  The hotel itself is nice and all, but the best part was this massive oatmeal chocolate chip cookie they greet you with at the front desk.  This is not an exaggeration, it was the best cookie I’ve ever had.  My entire family thought so.  It was so good that we’d sneak down to the lobby and ask for seconds throughout our stay.

Luckily, the packaging had a list of ingredients: brown sugar, pastry flour, rolled oats, chocolate chips, butter, eggs, milk, salt, baking powder, baking soda.  I knew my task once I went home, I was going to recreate these amazing chocolate chip cookies.

Back home, I got to experimenting.  I first scoured the internet for a copycat recipe, but there weren’t any.  There was a YouTube video on their page talking about the cookies and there’s a brief overview of them making it.  But it was in massive quantities so it was hard to translate that for the home cook.  But what I got from the video was the steps that went into making these babies, and boy … they are quite different from your regular cookies!  The weirdest thing you might notice is combining the oats with eggs and milk in the beginning.  In my opinion, I think what this does is it softens the oats a lot so when you eat it, it’s not this sharp and hard bit that you’re biting into.  So here’s my ode (and attempt) at recreating the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

P.S. One of my favorite episodes of Friends is the one Monica tries to figure out Phoebe’s family recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  So if this recipe is basically Betty Crocker’s, please don’t tell me because I’ll be absolutely gutted.  Lol.

DSC_5202

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and vanilla extract.  Add rolled oats to the egg mixture and use a spoon to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine pastry flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Add oat mixture and the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until well incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and mix until just mixed.  Divide dough into 8 large balls.  Flatten gently on the cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and there are cracks on top of the cookies.

Food & Drink

Waffle Cookies

DSC_5137

DSC_5121

A while back, I was perusing the aisles of Whole Foods when I discovered their cookie section in the bakery.  It was basically a display case of a few dozen options for cookies.  I immediately gravitated towards these waffle cookies.  They were these bite-sized cookies and just so darn cute.  However, at $11.99/lb, I was quickly brought back to reality and I walked away, super sad that I was cookie-less.

I haven’t stopped thinking about those waffles and wondered how I can achieve those at home.  I have a waffle maker.  I know how to make cookies.  I donned on my apron and go to experimenting.  These cookies needed a little bit more butter because they need all the help they can get in crisping up since the cooking time on these is super quick.

Waffle Cookies

  • Servings: 2-3 dozen cookies
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and both sugars until creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder.  Beat until well-mixed.
  2. Preheat waffle iron on the highest setting.  Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray.  Drop a tablespoon of cookie batter on each well/section of the waffle maker (I have 4 sections to my waffle maker, so each time I make 4 cookies).
  3. When the waffle maker indicates the “waffle” is finished, lift and check for browning.  If it’s too light, continue cooking, checking every 10 seconds.  Remove the waffles when done and transfer to a cooling rack (it’ll be soft when you first take it out of the waffle maker and it’ll crisp up as it cools).  Repeat until you finish cooking all the cookies.

Food & Drink

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

DSC_5103.jpg

When I first met my husband, he didn’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets.  But the one thing he did have was an ice cream maker.  When we first got married, I was pretty set on donating the ice cream maker, since I don’t really see the merit of homemade ice cream, since I can just go to the store.  But since then, I’ve changed my tune and I’m really glad that Ian stuck to his guns and fought for his ice cream maker.

There’s something really special about homemade ice cream.  Besides ensuring that you are only using clean ingredients, I really love how I can experiment with various combinations and create something kooky and crazy.

Cookies & cream really isn’t crazy.  But this is probably the easiest ice cream recipe I have.  It’s so crazy delicious and it makes about 5-6 cups of ice cream.  Perfect for making a big batch and enjoy throughout the week.

These fun waffle cones are from Trader Joe’s!  You know summer’s just around the corner when your grocery store starts stocking ice cream and bbq supplies!

DSC_5105DSC_5109

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 Oreo’s

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, milk, and sugar on medium-low heat until it reaches a gentle simmer.  In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and pour about 1/2 cup of cream mixture.  Whisk to temper eggs.  Slowly add the egg mixture back in the saucepan, along with pinch of salt and vanilla extract.  Gently whisk until it reaches a low simmer again.  Remove from heat.  Let cool slightly and refrigerate until cool to the touch, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pour mixture in ice cream maker, and turn on ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  This process will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes to churn.
  3. While ice cream is churning, coarsely chop Oreo cookies.  Toss into ice cream maker during the last 5 minutes to incorporate.  Pour ice cream into airtight container and freeze until set.

Food & Drink

Classic Meringue Cookies

fullsizeoutput_5489.jpg

Okay, so Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite stores (grocery and otherwise), so when I poke fun at it, it’s all with lots of love.  So the best aisle in Trader Joe’s is without a doubt the aisle with the frozen foods in the bottom freezer and cookies and chocolates on the top shelves.  I think I’ve only managed one trip in my entire life where I walked down that aisle without picking something up.

The one product that always makes me giggle when I see people buy is their Vanilla Meringues.  I just sometimes want to whisper to people “psssttt, the Dress Circle Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies gets you more bang for your buck”.  But for real, if you buy a tub of meringues, you’re really paying $3 for egg whites and sugar.  Let’s spend that $$ on more fun cookies!

Meringue cookies are so easy to make and truly a one-bowl recipe.  The prep time takes less than 10 minutes, and the cookies spend most of the time in the oven (baking and cooling).  In my opinion, the easiest way to go about this is baking it 1 hour before bed, turning off the oven and it’ll be done cooling in the morning.

My meringue recipe uses less sugar than most recipes out there.  In my test batches, I find that too much sugar (although helps with keeping the shape of the meringue), takes away the depth of the flavor.  The meringues end up tasting like balls of sugar.  To add more dimension to the flavor profile, I opted to include orange extract, which I think gives it just enough of a critrus flavor.

DSC_4844

Classic Meringue Cookies

  • Servings: 4-5 dozen
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand beater), beat together egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until foamy.  On high speed, add in granulated sugar, about a spoonful at a time and wait about 5-10 seconds between each addition.   When you reach soft peaks, add in extracts and beat until you reach stiff peaks.
  3. Spoon egg white mixture into a pastry bag fitted with the piping tip of choice (star tips are the most common).  Pipe into 1 1/2 inch rounds on baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave cookies in the oven to completely dry out and cool, about 1-2 hours.
  5. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe notes:

  • Not so good at piping?  No worries!  Most of the meringue cookies I did a swirl pattern using the star tip to create more textural interest.  I also did some which I simply piped down and up.  You can see in the pictures some where the ridges go straight up and down.  These have a very classic look and I think look quite nice as well!
  • Think classic meringue cookies are too boring looking?  After piping them out on the baking sheet, add some sprinkles to brighten up the meringues.

Food & Drink

Chocolate Biscotti

fullsizeoutput_545b

Following yesterday’s biscotti train, I decided to make a chocolate version.  Because I like almonds in my biscotti, I kept them in.  If you don’t like almonds, leave out the sliced almonds and almond extract, and put more chocolate chips and vanilla extract instead.   Due to the addition of the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, I needed to change up some proportions to make sure that everything gets an even rise.

The tricky thing about chocolate biscotti is timing.  Because they are brown in color, it is hard to tell if they are done because we can’t use the “golden brown” as a measure.  Instead, use a fork to gently tap during both of the bakes to see if the sides and tops have developed a hard exterior.

fullsizeoutput_5454.jpg

Chocolate Biscotti

  • Servings: 24 biscotti
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

Optional

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Tb heavy cream
  • powdered sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,  sliced almonds, and chocolate chips.  In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, and butter.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Divide dough into two and place on baking sheet and work into a long, flat, oblong shape (sort of shape it like a naan bread).
  4. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until edges start to harden.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf into 12 pieces.  Place the cut side down.  Return to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, flip the biscottis, and bake for another 8 – 10 minutes, or until both sides are golden.  Let cool completely.  (The biscotti will harden more as it cools, so no worries if they aren’t fully crisp yet).
  5. Optional: while the biscotti are cooling, melt chocolate chips and heavy cream over a double boiler.  Dip the biscotti in the melted chocolate (or drizzle over) and let cool completely.  Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar.

Food & Drink

Almond Biscotti

fullsizeoutput_544b

My mom loves biscotti.  One of her favorite indulgences is purchasing the large tub of chocolate dipped biscotti from Costco.  I think it’s because biscotti don’t taste particularly sweet, she thinks it’s “healthy” and therefore she happily eats one or two with her afternoon coffee.

Biscotti means twice-baked (thanks to my Great British Bake Off knowledge), so these “cookies” will spend a considerable amount of time in the oven (upwards of 40 min!).  If you’ve scoured the internet for biscotti recipes like I have, you’ll find that there’s a lot of different ways to make them, some have butter, some don’t.  Some use baking powder, some use baking soda.  Some use granulated sugar, some use brown sugar.  In my recipe, I just do it all.  I’ll explain.  In my experience, for a perfect biscotti, we need both baking powder and baking soda, as baking powder gives it the perfect rise, while baking soda creates the nice air bubbles inside the cookies, making it have a crispy and light texture.  I have made biscotti without butter, and it honestly just isn’t as good and the flavors aren’t carried out as well.  With the sugars – I opted to use both white and brown sugar.  The reason why I used brown sugar is two parts – one, it helps with leavening the cookie, so I am guaranteed to have a nice height to the biscotti; two, because these cookies are being baked for 30-40 minutes total, I wanted to ensure that in the slow bake, moisture is being drawn out steadily, so my biscotti don’t overbake or burn.

fullsizeoutput_543e

fullsizeoutput_5445

Almond Biscotti

  • Servings: 24 biscotti
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

Optional

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 Tb heavy cream
  • powdered sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sliced almonds.  In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, and butter.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Divide dough into two and place on baking sheet and work into a long, flat, oblong shape (sort of shape it like a naan bread).
  4. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until edges start to get golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf into 12 pieces.  Place the cut side down.  Return to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, flip the biscottis, and bake for another 8 – 10 minutes, or until both sides are golden.  Let cool completely.  (The biscotti will harden more as it cools, so no worries if they aren’t fully crisp yet).
  5. Optional: while the biscotti are cooling, melt chocolate chips and heavy cream over a double boiler.  Dip the biscotti in the melted chocolate (or drizzle over) and let cool completely.  Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar.