Desserts/Pastries

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies….it’s Aloha Friday!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Happy Aloha Friday, Friends!

Since Wednesday, I’ve been blaring my Hawaiian-Island jams just willing the weekend to come faster.

You see, in a former life, I think I must have been Hawaiian. For years I’ve been immersed in the Polynesian culture and have spent the good part of 8 years with hula and producing lū’aus. You can ask any one of my former students and they can confirm what a hot mess I became the weeks leading up to large shows or the annual lū’au. But you know what? I wouldn’t have traded a moment for anything in the world.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

So you can imagine my overwhelming joy and delight when my sister enrolled my niece, Maya, into a hula school (hula hālau). Trust me, I’ve been heavily “hinting” for all the little ones to join a hālau for years, but Maya so far, is the first. Hālaus are more than just a dance school. They are communities that not only instruct on dance but also pass on culture and values.

My baby girl was in her very first lū’au this past Sunday—and I cannot express how much overwhelming pride I had that day for her. Sure, I had to resist every cell in my being from jumping in to take charge of one aspect or another—hey, I’m somewhat of a control freak. But I was just so happy.

Check out Maya (3rd from left) with the other little keiki girls. Adorable, right?

My sis asked if I could bake a little something to donate towards the bake sale. I enlisted the help of my older two nieces and we made a TON of these delish White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies. Totally appropriate, right?

We made a few tweaks from batch to batch on the recipe and I believe, found the ideal proportions. Chewy, crispy and chopped full of nuts and chips.

Maya

Isn’t she just a sweetheart? Now if we can just get her little brother (my god-bebe) Lucas into classes……

Aloooooha!!!!!!!!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes approximately 1½ Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour, plus 1 Tablespoon
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
¾ Cup Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg plus 1 Egg Yolk
1 Heaping Cup White Chocolate Chips
1 Heaping Cup White Macadamia Nuts (roasted and unsalted), roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the white chocolate chips and the macadamia nuts by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 14 -15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Desserts/Pastries

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you add oats to a cookie, it becomes totally healthy.

Right?

Or am I having one of my delusional moments again?

Though with 3 cups of oats in these Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, they could almost double as a granola bar!

That settles it….I’m still calling them “healthy”. So please, don’t burst my bubble.

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Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Quaker Oats via Bakergirl
Makes approximately 20 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, optional
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets and set aside.
Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, then add to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
Scoop dough into rounded tablespoons and place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Lightly press down to flatten each dough ball. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until done (these won’t look done at first glance, they’ll have a gooey, dough-y looking centers that sets when they’re cooling, so I baked mine until they were crispy & brown around the edges. You can always poke them with a toothpick if you want to be sure). Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Desserts/Pastries

Mojito Cookies……Havana is Calling.

Mojito Cookies

 

 

I know I should be a little more humble about this but…….

I make amazing Mojitos.

As in so freaking good, you would think you were being whisked away to the streets of Havana.

 

 

Mojito Cookies

 

So when I saw that my beloved neighborhood Cuban patisserie, Azúcar offered mojito cookies, I felt compelled to try my hand at making some!

Using a sugar cookie base from Baking Illustrated , I incorporated a “mint sugar” I made and fresh lime zest to give that bright kick that mojitos are so known for.

 

Mint Sugar

 

Chewy, crispy, slightly sweet, and minty.

 

 

Mojito Cookies

Now if there was only some subtle way I could sneak the rum into them…….. 🙂

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Mojito Cookies
Makes approximately 2 dozen
Adapted from Baking Illustrated Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened but still cool
1 Cup Granulated Sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling dough
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
1½ Cups Loosely Packed Mint Leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
1½ Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse one cup of granulated sugar and mint leaves until the leaves have been ground down and combined with the sugar (see photo).

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream the butter, the mint sugar, and the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg, lime zest and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Place the ½ cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off any excess (this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that the sugar sticks to the dough). Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between moistened palms, roll the ball in the sugar, and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, moistening your hands as necessary and spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in the remaining sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking (after every 2 or 3 cookies).

Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and their center are just set and very lightly colored, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Desserts/Pastries

Reese’s Pieces-Peanut Butter Cookies

Reese’s Pieces-Peanut Butter Cookies

E.T. was the first movie that I have actual memories of watching.

And I’m not embarrassed to admit…..it scared the BEJESUS out of me. No joke.

Sure, to some, he may be a cute little extra-terrestrial that was just trying to phone home. But to a 4 year old, he was a scary little creature scampering about and hiding in stuff animals.

No bueno.

Reese’s Pieces-Peanut Butter Cookies

But you know what, that little guy had some great taste in candy—–Reese’s Pieces to be exact. Lately, my co-workers have fallen into some Reese’s Pieces kick so I took it upon myself to make last week’s “Smart Cookie Award” with these delish peanut butter candies.

By tweaking my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe (courtesy of Cooks Illustrated) with a hefty amount of Reese’s Pieces, my co-workers were super happy campers!

And although I can’t say for certain, I’m pretty darn sure, E.T. would approve. 🙂

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Reese’s Pieces-Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

2½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Reese’s Pieces Candy

Adjust oven rack to low center position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add candies and stir gently until just incorporated.

Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into large balls, placing them 2 inches apart on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Gently flatten each dough ball with the bottom of a glass. Bake until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges, but not top, 10 to 12 minutes (they will not look fully baked). Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 7 days.

Desserts/Pastries

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finding the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe is near impossible. A few years ago, the NY Times published a pretty extensive article about these iconic cookies and interviewed some of the top experts in all things chocolate and cookie related. They talked about the importance of the quality of chocolate, temperature, types of flour and even aging the dough.

And the good news is, the Chocolate Chip Cookies they published are freaking delicious.

My sister made these for us a few years ago and I’ve loved them every since. Fantastic texture—somehow both chewy and crispy. And with the light sprinkle of sea salt on the top—just LOVELY!

 

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

The dough comes together fairly easy—though it does require two types of flour.  Unfortunately the hardest part is having to wait 36 hours to age the dough before you can bake it. Just killer!

But don’t let the time deter you from making them because these cookies are amazing. They were a hit with my co-workers and it’s always been one of my rules of thumb to keep the people you work with happy and fed. 🙂

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New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Jacques Torres
Yields 16 5-inch cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Desserts/Pastries

Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies

Candy Cane "Kissed" Nutella Cookies

Ever since I stumbled across a bag of Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, I’ve been fixated on making holiday cookies with them.

Lucky for me, I had a Cookie Connoisseur at my disposal. That’s right friends, my 5 year old niece Maya. I asked Maya what kind of cookie she liked. Sugar cookie? Peanut Butter? Chocolate? Nutella? “NUTELLA!”, she exclaimed! I think it may be a result of her morning Nutella Sandwiches for breakfast.

As fate would have it, Giada De Laurentiis had a recipe that I could work with. With her “Chocolate-Hazelnut Smooches”…..Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom! I had my Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies. True Story.

These cookies were simple to make and had that wonderful crispy exterior, chewy interior, and minty finish to it. WINNER! And you know what “up’ed” the ante on this cookie? I actually made the dough a few days in advance, rolled it, and froze it. When it was time for me to use it, I added 3 minutes to the baking time and it was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

So MOVE OVER prepackaged-store bought cookie dough….these gems are SO much better  and are just as quick!! But of course, they would be just as amazing if you made the cookies right away.

Oh that Maya…. she knew what she was talking about 🙂

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Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies
Adapted From Giada De Laurentiis

1¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Cup Nutella
½ Cup Butter, softened
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
½ Cup Sugar (to roll cookies in)
24 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, place the nutella, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Rolls the balls in the sugar pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

**If you would like to freeze the dough to bake at a later time, place the sugar coated cookie dough balls in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Move the cookie sheet to the freezer and allow the dough to harden for at least 30-45 minutes. The dough balls can then be transferred to a gallon sized freezer bag and kept up to 2 weeks in the freezer. When it’s time to bake, place dough balls directly from freezer to cookie sheet. Add an additional 3-4 minutes baking time.

Desserts/Pastries

Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies

Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies

 

I have a very specific picture in my head when I think of a Holiday Cookie Platter. Gingerbreads, a smattering of butter cookies, an array of sugar cookies, perhaps a few “American” macaroons…..and of course, Linzer Cookies.

These buttery cookies first originated in Austria and were derived from the Linzertorte—which is essentially a tart filled with preserves. How did these buttery delights converge as a holiday cookie staple? The world may never know. But I was inspired by the recent wave of Linzer Cookies postings in the blogosphere and decided to try my hand at the wonderful Dorie Greenspan’s take on these delectable bites.

The ending results yielded a rich and buttery cookie that had a lovely “nutty” flavor profile due to the almond meal I used. The richness from the cookies were “cut” by the tart raspberry jam I used to sandwich these goodies. A rad balance indeed.

What could have I done better? Well, I won’t lie. The recipe called for me to roll the dough to a ¼ inch thickness and I may have gone a smidge thicker.

Just a “smidge” mind you. 🙂

But still, the cookie sammy was too thick once all was said and done. My suggestion, if you’re going to deviate from the recipe—-go a smidge thinner and reduce the baking time.

Did I care much? Nah…when a cookie is this tasty, very little matters.

And as I wipe the cookie crumbs away from my mouth, I wonder….How many other Holiday treats can this gal cram in before the holidays end????

 

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Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies
From Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

1½  Cups Finely Ground Almonds
1½  Cups Flour
1½  Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
¼  Teaspoon Salt
¼  Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 Large Egg
2 Teaspoon Water
½  Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
½  Cup Sugar
½  Cup Raspberry Jam plus 1 Teaspoon Water
Confectioner’s Sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg and water.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture and beat until combined. On low speed, add the nut and flour mixture and beat only until just combined.

Divide the dough into two halves, and shape each half into a disk. Place each disk between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap, and with a rolling pin roll out until the dough is 1/4 inch thick. Place both pieces of wrapped dough on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or freeze for about 45 minutes, or until firm. If you don’t want to bake right away, you can keep the dough refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

After dough is firm, preheat oven to 375ºF and place rack in center of oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Using a 2-inch round (or scalloped) cookie cutter, cut out, cut out as many cookies as possible. If you want a hole in the top cookie so you can see the jam inside, use a small cookie cutter to cut a small shape out of the center of half of the cookies.
Set the scraps aside, you can combine them with the scraps from the second sheet of dough.

Place cutout cookies on the cookie sheet, leaving space in between cookies. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Repeat with the second sheet of dough, and also roll the scraps out between two sheets of wax paper and repeat.

While cookies are cooling, combine the jam and teaspoon of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool.

Spread half of the cookies with about 1/2 tsp of jam and sandwich together with another cookie. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Makes about 25 sandwich cookies.

Desserts/Pastries

Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies

Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies


I think if you asked most people what their earliest candy memories were, they would probably say licorice, jellybeans, lollipops, or even chocolate bars. Nope, not me. My earliest candy memories were of Andes Chocolate Mints. Sure, it may seem strange for a 4-year old to love Andes Mints, but they were the special treats that our grandparents would give us—mostly by my Grandpa, Ôn.

When we were good (or needing consoling), he would hand us a few of the one-inch rectangles of minty-chocolate goodness. I would savor each little piece, allowing it to slowly melt in my mouth. Yum. And to this day, I attribute my love of “minty” things to these delicious confections.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across a bag of Andes Mint Chocolate Baking Bits at the local grocery store. (And they were on sale, too–SCORE!) So many options came across my mind of how to incorporate these minty bits into some type of decadent dessert. Should I make Brownies? Cupcakes? Ice cream?

Upon my sister’s suggestion, I settled on Cookies and looked to America’s Test Kitchen for some guidance. The recipe below is quite similar to the Chocolate Toffee Cookies I had made a few months ago with the same rich, brownie-like consistency. But of course what made these cookies so special were the bits of mint sprinkled throughout each bite. Truly reminiscent of Andes Chocolate Mints and my childhood.

Now Friends, a question for you…….What was your  favorite childhood candy?

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Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Ingredients:

16 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
¾ Teaspoon Salt
4 Large Eggs
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
10 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1½ Cups Brown Sugar
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1½ Cups Andes Mint Chocolate Baking Bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate. This can be done by placing the bowl over a pot of simmering water (for a make-shift double-boiler) or in the microwave at 50% power. Stir and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand electric mixer), beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar at medium at speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add one egg a time to the butter mixture, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until well combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in mint-chocolate baking bits. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture is easy to scoop and fudge-like.

Using 3 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, switching the position of the sheets and rotating them back to front halfway through baking. The cookies are baked when the edges are set, but the center are still soft. The cookies will still look a little raw in between the cracks, but are done.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the dough, using cooled cookie sheets. Serve the cookies warm or at room temperature.

Makes 25 to 30 cookies.

Note: I only had dark-coated baking sheets on hand when making these and found that the bottoms of the cookies were too dark despite the decrease in oven temperature to compensate for the sheets. As a result, I switched to using Silpats instead of parchment and had much better results.



Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies
Did I mention that these would be delicious as a vessel for Ice cream Sandwiches? YUM!

Desserts/Pastries

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Coconut again?! Yup. This time in Macaron form. What can I say, I’m a coco-nutty kind of gal.

I learned my lessons from our first Parisian Macarons experience and paid heed to do the following:

  • Use a scale to measure the weight of ingredients;
  • Age the egg whites;
  • Let the shells “harden” for at least 30 minutes before baking;

Initially I had wanted to fill the Coconut Shells with a Passion Fruit-flavor filling but was unsuccessful in finding a pure concentrate or nectar flavoring agent. But since I had Mango extract on hand, I figured it would be a nice tropical “oompf” for the white chocolate ganache filling. Unfortunately it didn’t bring out as much of the mango flavor as I had hoped—though the end result was still quite tasty. Next time, I’m taking my sister’s advice and use a pineapple filling. Coconut Shells + Pineapple Filling = Piña Colada Macarons. And that, dear friends, is a Nguyen-Win Situation at its best 🙂


Coconut Macarons
Piped shells “aging” for 45 minutes. I only had almond meal that had almonds ground with their skins in tact—thus the pretty speckled pattern.


Coconut Macarons
Les pieds des Macarons!!!! Oh YES– the feet 🙂

I have to admit that I did exhale a sigh a relief after making these little treats. Thank goodness that it wasn’t just beginner’s luck last time! But on the next try, I think I’m going Caramel flavored.

So until my next kitchen adventure Mes Amis, a tout le heure!


Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

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Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Ingredients:

Macarons Shells:
110 Grams Almond Meal
180 Grams Confectioners’ Sugar
25 Grams Ground Desiccated Coconut
100 Grams Egg Whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours
50 Grams Granulated Sugar

White Chocolate-Mango Ganache
8 Ounces White Chocolate, finely chopped
4 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Pure Mango Extract
1-2 Drops Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Grind almond meal, desiccated coconuts, and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor to remove any lumps. Sift mixture into another bowl and set aside.

In a mixing stand, whisk egg whites until frothy. Slowly add granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Carefully begin incorporating dry mixture into the meringue—gently folding until all items have been integrated.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe small rounds of the mixture onto Silpat lined baking sheets. Rounds should be about 1½ inches in diameter. Once baking sheets are filled, tap the sheet carefully but firmly on the counter to remove any possible air pockets. Let baking sheets sit on the counter for 45 minutes to harden the outer shell before baking.

Bake at 300 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Transfer the pans to cooling rack and cool completely before removing shells.

In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and strain the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve directly into the bowl of the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture sit 1 to 2 minutes without stirring, and then gently whisk until the chocolate is entirely melted. Stir in the mango extract and food coloring. Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Transfer ganache to a piping bag and fill the macaron shells.

 

Coconut Macarons with White Chocolate-Mango Ganache

Desserts/Pastries

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

One of my staff members L-O-V-E-S cupcakes…Red Velvet, in particular. And for the past two years, I have made her Red Velvet cuppies to celebrate her birthday. But this year had to be fabulous for “P” so I was on the hunt to take a different spin on the old favorite.

Inspired by the recent swarm of postings featuring Red Velvet Cake Pops, Red Velvet Cookies, and Red Velvet Ice Cream, I decided to try out Better Homes and Gardens’ “Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies”. I liked the idea of a small cookie that “P” could enjoy that wasn’t too sweet but paid homage to her beloved favorite cuppie.

The BHG recipe was pretty easy to make but I found that it wasn’t exactly accurate.

  • They said to use a 1½ inch round cutter but I found that it was too small–especially compared to the photo of the cookie that they displayed . A 2½ inch round cutter was much more accurate for the quoted 2 dozen cookies
  • 3 ounces of white chocolate is definitely not enough to dip the cookies in—double it!

The recipe I included below is directly from BHG. A few of my suggestions to enhance the recipe would be:

  • Use an additional 3 tablespoons of butter.
  • Up the granulated sugar to ½ cup.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • I like my red velvets REALLY red and used an additional ½ tablespoon of red food coloring

Overall, these cookies were pretty fun and “P” enjoyed them. I think with the listed modifications, they would be awesome! I also liked how the white chocolate was reminiscent of the cream cheese frosting found on traditional red velvet cupcakes. Will it replace the beloved Red Velvet Cuppie? Maybe not. But it does offer a fun alternative–and who couldn’t use a new makeover every once in awhile? 🙂

 

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

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Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
From Better Homes and Garden

Ingredients:

1¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, cut up
1 Tablespoon Red Food Coloring
3 Ounces White Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ Teaspoons Shortening
Finely Chopped Pistachios or Rainbow Nonpareils (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Cover and process with on/off turns until combined. Add butter and red food coloring. Process with on/off turns until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Process until mixture just forms a ball.*

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough lightly until nearly smooth. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured 1-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and reroll.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a heavy small saucepan, melt white chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with pistachios or nonpareils. Let stand on waxed paper until set. Makes about 24 cookies.

UPDATE: If the dough is too soft to roll out, chill it in the fridge for a 5-10 minutes. Also, if you taste them directly after baking, they will be really crumbly and almost flavorless. These shortbread cookies need to be “aged” a bit and will improve in flavor/texture the next day after they’re baked.