Mishaps

Lemon Macarons

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Now I’ve done a lot of research on macaroons.  Alright, it’s not like I’ve done a dissertation on the topic but I’ve done comparisons on lots of different recipes.  And what I’ve found is that all the recipes are pretty much exactly the same.  Well, not exactly — they do differ on different flavorings and whatnot.  But since the base recipe is pretty simple and standard, you can get a little creative with flavorings.

I admit, this is not my best batch ever.  Guess I'm out of practice.
I admit, this is not my best batch ever. Guess I’m out of practice.

Of course, “lemon” isn’t exactly creative, but I had some lemons in the fridge already so that was an easy choice for me.  Plus, the zest won’t really change the moisture content of the ingredients.

But let me backtrack a little bit.  If you don’t know what macarons are, they are those really colorful, round, meringue-based, French cookies that looks so intimidating to make but really aren’t.  They have some specific requirements though.  Anyhoo, here’s what you’ll need. . .

Still, some turned out okay.
Still, some turned out okay.

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 c. superfine sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • yellow food coloring (optional)
  • lemon oil (optional)

1.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.Sift together the almond flour and powdered sugar together twice.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, start to whip until foamy.  Then add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks.

3.  Once you get soft peaks, start gradually adding the superfine sugar with the mixer on low.  Then continue to whip on high after all the sugar has been incorporated until you get stiff peaks.  Add the food coloring and lemon oil (if using) and whip until combined.

4.  Add the zest and flour mixture in three batches, folding well each time.  Continue folding until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

5.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip.  Pipe into small circles, about 3/4 inches across.  Rap the pan on the counter to release any bubbles (I don’t think I did that hard enough this time).  Now let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

6.  Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 10 – 15 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned.  Cool for about 10 minutes on the pan, then peel off parchment and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Set aside whilst you make the filling.

I like smaller macarons.  They're cute!
I like smaller macarons. They’re cute!

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 c. superfine sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla

In the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Assemble the cookies by matching up similarly sized cookies.  Spread a small amount of the filling on one of the matching pair and sandwich them together.  Serve immediately.

I found this on the interwebs (the website is in the bottom corner of the pic).  Hope the pic helps clear up any confusion.
I found this on the interwebs (the website is in the bottom corner of the pic). Hope the pic helps clear up any confusion.

Notes — I could not find the piping tip that I needed so these didn’t exactly look the way I wanted. . . Try not to diddle with them too much after you pipe them. . . Now I made a lot of filling for this (again, I had a brick of cream cheese available) — just cut it in half, or just make a double batch of cookies, or just use it to make a cheesecake, or schmear it on a bagel. . . I have read that you should age your egg whites.  Not sure why.  Haven’t done it before.  Maybe I’ll try that out just to see what differences there are. . . I’m also not sure you’ll need the cream of tartar, but whenever I make a meringue I always throw some in there. . .

Gluten-Free Caramel Nut Brownies (a.k.a. Failed Rocky Road Brownies)

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Who doesn’t like a good brownie?  I know I do.  This is my take on a good brownie recipe with a little twist.  Originally I had wanted to do a Rocky Road recipe but it didn’t quite work out.  So this really turned out to be more of a Caramel Nut Brownie, which is still good and tasty!  See, what had happened was I had added the marshmallows to the recipe, but in the process of baking they had melted down to form a caramel-ly nugget in the brownie.  It tasted great, but not exactly the intent.  But that’s how we got penicillin, right?  Well, not really but same principle.

Caramel Nut Brownies!
Caramel Nut Brownies!

On another good note, these are actually gluten-free.  Brownies are one of those things that are easier to make GF since the ratio of flour in the recipe is quite low when compared to a cake.  So you could just swap out the flour with anything that you have on hand, like bean or coconut flour.  I had some GF flour and some xanthan gum on hand so that’s what I used.  Yay me!

Breakfast of champions!
Breakfast of champions!

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa and you’ll need a half sheet pan.  Here’s what else you will need:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 lb., plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 T. instant coffee granules
  • 2 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 t. xanthan gum
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 2 c. mini marshmallows
  • 2 T. cornstarch

1.  Preheat your oven to 350  degrees F.  Now butter and flour your half sheet pan and set aside.

2.  In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter, 1 lb. of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a double-boiler.  Allow to cool.

3.  While the chocolate is cooling, in a large bowl mix the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Once combined, gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Let cool to room temperature.

4.  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together your flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Add this to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  In a small bowl, toss together the walnuts, marshmallows, and cornstarch.  Add them to the batter and incorporate.  Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes, then gently drop the baking sheet onto the oven shelf to help any excess air escape from the pan.  Finish baking for about another 15 minutes, until done (test with a cake tester).

6.  Allow to cool completely.  Cut and serve.  You could dust with a little powdered sugar if you like.

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Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.
Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.

An experiment with Honey, Raspberries, and Cream Cheese

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Alright so this isn’t all that much of an experiment, but I’m doing this in a different way.  But what I wanted to do is try to make some mini cheesecakes and clean out the pantry at the same time.  I had a bunch of cream cheese in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole cheesecake; I had some raspberry coulis left over from the Marquis Roulade I made a few weeks ago; and there was some honey that I was just tired of looking at.  Throw in some graham crackers and some frozen raspberries and it all made sense.

Definitely looked better with the pink liners

Actually there is a little bit of an experiment going on here.  Instead of making the filling using a stand mixer, I tried to make everything in the blender.  I was thinking to myself that this should work, in theory.  It actually didn’t work out too bad.  There was a little bit of work trying to get the blender going at first, but the batter was very smooth.  Doubt that I could do this for a full cheesecake recipe though — my blender is too small.

There were really stuck in there. So use liners!

It’s hard to figure out a recipe here.  Like I’ve said before, I do have a specific formula for cheesecakes that I like to follow, so I just used that as a guide.  I cut down a graham cracker crust recipe in half which I just sprinkled on the bottom of the tins or cupcake papers.  My serious recommendation that I have for a recipe like this is to definitely use paper liners.  One of the pans that I used is non-stick which I also generously sprayed with cooking spray — I still had to dig the cheesecakes out with a fork and spoon.  Here’s what you need:

For the crust:

  • 6 graham crackers
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted

Pulse the crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Mix in butter and set aside.

For the filling:

  • 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • about 4 oz. frozen raspberries
  • raspberry coulis

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard cupcake pans with liners.

2.  Throw the cream cheese, eggs, and honey in a blender.  Or you could beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the honey and combine.  Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  (See!  Using the blender is easier).

3.  Place a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Lightly press down and place 1-2 of the frozen raspberries on the bottom.  Fill about halfway with the cheesecake batter.  Add about 1 t. of the coulis and carefully fill the liner about 2/3 full.

4.  Bake in the over for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the middle is set.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Bungled Breakfast

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Mental note — do not make pancakes while Hot Fuzz is on the tele.  The concept itself wasn’t bad, and I am referring to the breakfast, not the movie, although I love the movie.  Anyhoo. . . I wanted to make a nice anniversary breakfast and came up with some Apple-Pecan pancakes (since I had to use up an apple and had some pecans in the freezer).  Plus I had an apple syrup / extract that was leftover from a pie that was made a couple of weeks ago.

Tasty! Actually they tasted good. It's the newest thing -- blackened pancakes! And since it is the month of March, a college basketball bracket is always nearby.

Although a little charred, they didn’t taste bad.  They just needed a little bit of extra syrup :)  At least these pancakes are great makeshift doggie treats.

The Orange Devil Cake

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So here’s a recipe finally!  I made this as a special birthday cake.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that this makes a hefty cake.  It didn’t even fit in my covered cake plate.  And usually there’s no problems with finishing off a cake, but with this one — I had to cut it into quarters and freeze a couple of sections.  This should really be no surprise since there are four layers of cake and eight layers of filling, plus frosting.  And after thinking about it, I did go a little overboard with the non-cake aspects of the recipe.

This was adapted from bon appétit, with one change.  Well, maybe a couple changes, and I did a couple different versions.  The original recipe is a Devil’s Food Cake with a Peppermint Frosting and a double ganache filling.  Well, I omitted the peppermint in the frosting (which was very much like a seven-minute frosting), and with the white chocolate filling, I added the zest of an orange, hence the name of my version.  But keep in mind when you’re whisking the white chocolate, be sure to clean off the tines of the whisk (they’re called “tines”, right?), because the zest will get caught all up in ‘em.  There’s a different version of the cake that I made for a friend as a “thank you” where I just used the orange / white chocolate cream alone.  That’s the one with the rosettes on it.  Of course, I also I made a chocolate frosting for that one and coated it with toasted cake crumbs.

Here's a pre-frosted Orange Devil Cake

Now this recipe can seem a little complicated, but that’s just because there are several components involved.  So if you break it down in that way, it’s not too bad.  Or you can just omit certain parts and make up something else.  Here’s what you need:

For the cake:

  • 2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 c. ice water

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F.  Butter two 9 in. cake pans with 2 in. high sides.  Dust pans with cocoa and tap out excess.  Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in yolk.  Add cocoa and beat until well blended.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition.  Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes.  Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely.  Can be made 1 day ahead.  Wrap in foil; store at room temperature.

Here's the other version of the Orange Devil with the chocolate frosting, cake crumbs, and orange / white chocolate cream

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 1 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T. light corn syrup
  • 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan.  Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Transfer to small bowl.  Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.  Can be made 1 day ahead.  Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

For the orange / white chocolate cream:

  • 12 oz. high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 c. chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • zest of 1 orange

Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl.  Bring 1 c. cream to simmer in a saucepan.  Pour hot cream over white chocolate.  Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth.  Whisk in zest.  Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours.  Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.

Add 2 c. chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form.  Can be made 3 hours ahead.  Cover and chill.  Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.

Assemble the cake:

Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half.  Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up.  Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake.  Spoon 2 c. white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges.  Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream.  Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream.  Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down.  Chill while preparing frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 T. light corn syrup

Combine sugar, 1/2 c. water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer.  Whisk by hand to blend well.  Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes.  Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Beat on high-speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.

Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake.  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.

A Rosy Orange Devil

Notes — Alright so I made a common mistake with the ganache filling.  I accidentally overheated the chocolate which causes the chocolate to separate.  I’m sure this has happened to lots of folks.  So how to fix this?  There’s lots of things that you can do to get things come back together.  First of all, transfer everything into a new bowl to help cool things down.  One of the things you can do is to gradually add some additional chocolate.  This helps to temper it.  You could also add some additional cream or butter; adding fat helps smooth things out.  Immersion blenders can also prove very useful as well at this stage.  What I did was a combination of all these and I also added a brick of cream cheese to this batch.  Problem solved!. . . If any seizing or separating occurs when you’re working with chocolate, keep in mind that you cannot use it to coat anything anymore.  It doesn’t matter if you fix it and everything looks fine — it will not coat properly!  You can still use it for frostings though, or in brownie recipes, or things along those lines. . . This Devil’s Food Cake recipe is different from other recipes that I have.  Most recipes that I know of combine the cocoa and some hot water together, which you then add to the batter.  This one, as you’ve read earlier, combines the cocoa into the batter and adding ice water separately.

Trusting your food

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I saw this today on Pinterest and it made me laugh ’til I peed, because it’s so true for me!  And given the week I’m having, I needed a good guffaw!  What do y’all think?

I don't like raisins. Really, they're gross.

I luv all kinds of dried fruit, but raisins?   Maybe it’s just psychological, especially when you get raisins as a gift from your piano teacher when you’re a kid.  Who gives a kid raisins?  I’d rather have nothing!  But raisins really are gross.  Use currants instead (real currants, not those tiny raisins)!

And don’t forget to visit me on Facebook!  And oops! — I just realized that I haven’t posted an actual recipe for some time.  So tune in tomorrow!

It’s been one of those days. . .

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So I’m having one of those days.  Actually it’s been a couple of days.  Last night, I had one of my worst games in recent memory (I play in a local volleyball league).  And it’s now spilled over to today.  I’m working on a couple of birthday cakes for the weekend and nothing ever looked quite the way they are supposed to.  The ingredients weren’t mixing correctly, the batter looked weird, and then they weren’t baking right.  And then it hit me halfway through the baking time — I never added any sugar!  Nice.  Ever wonder what cakes without sugar look like?  Feast your eyes!

I wonder what they taste like. Oh right -- terrible. Actually, it wasn't too bad. More like chocolate bread.
They look like little round pumpernickel loaves, or maybe giant whoopie pies.
They're nice and piping hot, though!

I just started a Facebook page for Jereme’s Kitchen so stop by and like my page because it’s just me so far!  I added a widget at the bottom of the sidebar.  It’s so sad — number of likes = 1 :)