Pierre Hermé’s Lemon Macaron

After making what was the best lemon dessert I’ve ever had, I didn’t want to just settle with a boring old tart.  I wanted to make macarons. Remember when I was trying to find the ultimate macaron recipe? Well I can’t say that I’ve found the recipe yet, but I can say that Pierre Hermé’s recipe comes pretty close. I didn’t come across Pierre Herme’s Lemon macaron when I was first making the comparison recipe. If I had made these macarons, I think my decision-making skills would have been severely impaired.

Here’s a secret to Pierre Hermé’s macarons: the shells aren’t flavored. After years of “research”, Pierre believes that the easiest way to infuse flavor into a macaron is by letting the entire cookie age and letting the flavor take over the shell. I don’t think he’s wrong – it’s worked for me so far.

Like his other macaron recipes, this utilizes an italian merengue. In fact, other than the food coloring, these macarons are indistinguishable from the pistachio macarons (as far as the shell is concerned). The filling is essentially the lemon cream, thickened with some extra almond flour. After aging in the fridge for 24 hours, these macarons seemed to be heaven sent.

As you can see from the pictures, I used the Trader Joe’s almond flour. If you’re interested in the difference compared to the typical Bob’s Red Mill almond flour I use, check out my recent post here. My friend/co-worker Melissa (shout out!!!)  mentioned that she would have preferred not seeing the brown specks throughout the cookie. As a designer and crafter that I regard highly, I can’t say I disagree.

Pierre Herme’s Lemon Macaron

Ingredients

Macaron Shells:

  • 300g Ground almonds
  • 300g Icing sugar
  • 110g Aged egg whites
  • yellow food coloring
  •  300g Granulated sugar
  • 75g Mineral water
  • 110g Aged egg whites

Lemon Filling:

Method

Macaron Shell

Pulse the the icing sugar and ground almonds and sift twice. Stir the coloring into the first portion of the egg whites. Pour them over the mixture of icing sugar and ground almonds but do not stir.

Bring the water and sugar to boil at 118C (244F). Start whisking on low when the water boils. When the syrup reaches 115C (239F), simultaneously start whisking the second portion of liquefied egg whites to soft peaks on a medium speed.

When the sugar reaches 118C, pour it over the egg whites. Whisk and allow the meringue to cool down to 50C. Fold meringue into the almond-sugar mixture. Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe rounds of batter about 3.5cm in diameter, spacing them 2cm apart on baking trays lined with baking parchment.

Rap the tray on the work surface covered with a kitchen cloth. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, until a skin forms on the shells.

Preheat the fan oven to 180C (356F), then put the trays in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, quickly opening and shutting the oven door twice during cooking time. After 12 minutes, remove the macarons and slide the shells on to the work surface.

Filling

Fold almond flour into the lemon cream. Pipe onto a macaron shell and place another macaron shell on top, squeezing gently.

Mushroom Lasagna

So if you followed along to my NaBloPoMo posts, you can probably figure out that I was hinting at some pasta dish with mushrooms with my post from yesterday. I don’t know about you but I’m really excited for this mushroom lasagna.

When I first started collecting recipes, this caught my attention. First of all, I love lasagna. I love the idea of combining pasta, sides and throwing copious amounts of cheese between each layer. I love the soft tender bite bursting with multiple flavors. I love the excuse to squeeze food into an entree, so I can make more sides.


With this recipe, not only do I get all the perks of lasagna, it incorporates two of my favorite italian inspirations in cooking, mushrooms and white sauce. The best part – making everything from scratch (well, not the pasta) . I thought it would be a great way to show the world that its really not that hard to make your own sauce. The recipe uses a familiar technique of a flour roux, which is used for gravies and sauces.

I used to have lots of trouble making good roux-based sauces. Past tense used to. My secret to a good roux is as followed. Heat up your liquid, make sure its at least warm and let it sit in a separate container that you can poor from easily, I used a pitcher. Make the actual roux using a one to one ratio of butter and flour. Melt the butter, add all the flour, and whisk away. Let the roux cook for a least a minute to cook out the flour flavor.

The secret to a smooth luxurious sauce, is to add the liquid in every so slightly in the beginning. I poured in a few tablespoons at first. After whisking a bit it’ll seem like lumpy mashed potatoes. Don’t worry! keep adding liquid 1/4-1/2 cup at a time using the pitcher and whisk CONSTANTLY. Soon you’ll get a thick smooth sauce on the top right. At that point it’s usually pretty safe to add all the liquid. I like to add my spices at this time and let it cook with the sauce to thicken. My favorite spice profile in this lasagna – nutmeg.

Always ground fresh if you can, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

The rest is pretty simple. Pasta, sauce. cheese. mushrooms, repeat. The best way to do this? A mini assembly line! I was a bit thirsty so I had a cup of freshly blended smoothie pulling me through the night.

Mushroom Lasagna

Originally adapted from Serious Eats, with notes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to the directions on the packaging. Drain in a colander, and then toss with the olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  2. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the minced garlic. Turn heat to medium and bring to a simmer. In a second saucepan, melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter over medium heat, and then whisk in the flour. Turn heat to low, and cook, whisking constantly, for one minute. While continuing to whisk, add 1/4 to 1/2 cups of milk and whisk until combined. Repeat until you have a thick and smooth sauce. Add the remaining milk slowly while whisking constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and the nutmeg. Turn heat up to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, three to five minutes. Turn off the heat.
  3. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Toss in about half of the mushrooms, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released some liquid and are starting to brown. Remove these mushrooms and set aside. If more fat is needed, add another tablespoon of olive and butter, and cook the remaining mushrooms.
  4.  Using a large spoon, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12-inch baking dish. Add one layer of the lasagna noodles, a few spoonfuls of the sauce, 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan. Repeat process two more times. Finally, add a layer of sauce on and top with a 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.
  5. Place baking dish in the oven and cook until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let rest for a few minutes before digging in. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Almond Flour Showdown: Trader Joe’s VS Bob’s Red Mill

Almond flour is the one distinctive ingredient used in french macarons. As a budding baker one year ago, I attempted to address some questions regarding the almond flour used in macarons. Over one year later, one of the top viewed posts on this blog is my post on almond flour for French macarons.

Today I want to revisit the reoccurring question that many emerging bakers have – does the type of almond flour used in macaron batter matter? To address this question, I decided to run a little experiment of my own, I made Pierre Hermé’s Pistachio macarons from another post using almond flour purchased from Trader Joe’s and Bob’s Red Mill.

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Lemon-Lemon Lemon Cream

I love lemon curd. It’s sweet tangy and so refreshing, I always look forward to licking the spoon after making a batch. I thought it was my favorite lemon dessert, until I came across this lemon cream. This lemon cream, ladies and gentlemen, I can eat with a spoon. The light, smooth texture is what hits you first. Then the intense notes of lemon, citrus and a refreshing burst of sweet and tartness comes through. In closing, a creamy flavor mellows the overall flavor out creating a delicious dessert.

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Friendly Pumpkin Bread

Half way through fall quarter of freshman year, I met a girl named Aurora. One day, Aurora was particularly craving a pumpkin dessert. Specifically, she was dying to have an “out-of-this-world, super-moist, and unbelievably dense” pumpkin bar that her friend once brought for her. Determined to please my new friend, I googled a few recipes and decided to try something out.

Two years later, I’ve added a few adaptations from the original recipe. Some call it a pumpkin pie in bar. Others say its the best pumpkin bread they’ve ever had. Originally, the recipe was intended to be prepared in a jelly roll pan as a pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting but this version makes it a lot more healthy. I used more spices than the original recipe to increase the familiar thanksgiving flavors. To be honest, cinnamon is the only “crucial” flavor but I like having a variety. If you have a pumpkin spice you’re particularly fond of, feel free to substitute that in!

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The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake

These are it. The ultimate vanilla cupcake. Fluffy and light with an explosive flavor, this cupcake is the secret cupcake that I talked about in my post yesterday about Vanilla Bean Buttercream. The original recipe was tested by 50 “Explorers”, and then approved by a 2/3 majority. In other words, which means that over 33 individuals have tested and considered this to be the ultimate cupcake recipe.

This experiment was initiated by the Cupcake Project. Check out the process and recipe of the ultimate vanilla cupcake here.

Heres some statistics. I doubled the batch and made 32 of these cupcakes. Rarely do I ever follow a recipe exactly when it comes to technique, but for these babies I did. Out of the 15 people who had a cupcake, 12 had it day one and 3 had it day two. All 15 people loved the cupcake. Multiple people stated that it had the best frosting they’ve had in their life.

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream

This independence day, I was determined to do something that would set the bars high for myself. In other words (for my friends at least) I promised everyone cupcakes for fourth of July. This was a small problem for me. When you’re entertaining a group of college students each with strikingly picky taste buds, and preferring a different pallet of flavors, it becomes increasingly difficult to find something that will please everyone.

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Fast Focaccia Recipe

Only I would decide to add an unplanned appetizer to an unplanned dinner about 3 hours ahead of time. And of course I would choose something that requires time to rise. And of course it’d be something that I’ve never learned about in the past.

This past Saturday was the first time I saw my friends since finals week here on campus and I decided it’d be a great idea to celebrate with French Macarons, and a simple carbonara.

But of course, I couldn’t serve a pasta dish by itself. I wanted to make a flat bread for my guests to enjoy with their pasta. Given any other crowd, or any other day I would have went ahead and made my famous garlic bread. I had to break to norm. My crowd was one that was used to my wacky concoctions, sometimes more successful than others.

So I clicked through the internet, did the research, jotted down some notes, and I came up with this.

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Bacon-less Chicken Carbonara

We’ve all had those nights where we’re just too lazy to cook. I was having one of those nights. I was also being a picky eater, refusing left overs or microwaving anything. My apartment mate from last year, Gustavo, also came home from a busy day of work. I needed something that would feed the both of us. Something delicious. So, I looked to carbonara.

Carbonara is typically a pasta dish thats made with an egg based sauce, bacon, cheese, and pasta. Its simple, versatile, and delicious. With chicken and mushrooms in the fridge, I was set on making a bacon-less version adopting the same ideas of carbonara.

Truth be told, carbonara actually doesn’t have a sauce that needs to be made separately. Instead, hot, drained pasta is added to onions, bacon, and some form of fat. Eggs, mixed with Parmesan is then added to the hot pasta off the heat and mixed very rapidly so that the eggs coat the pasta and are cooked by the residual heat. Easy. People always fear making scrambled eggs instead of a creamy pasta sauce, but with this basic principle, you’ll be on your way to tasty pasta in no time!

Too lazy to head to the store, I reached for onions, mushrooms and shredded rotisserie chicken. I had all the ingredients on hand, and from start to finish it only took me 30 minutes to finish everything. Including the time it took for me to take pictures in between each step.

I’ve also included one of my pasta making tips in this post – reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. The starchy water is perfect for thinning out sauces. And if you accidentally over thin the sauce, the starch will thicken the sauce right back up with an extra minute on the stove!

Try this, trust me, you won’t regret it.

Bacon-less Chicken Carbonara

Makes : 4 servings or 2 hungry college students

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan (use more or less to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is boiling, chop onions and slice mushrooms
  2. Cook pasta over medium high heat until just before al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet. Fry onions and mushrooms together until onions are translucent, more if you prefer. I like my onions more caramelized so I left them on the stove for an extra minute. Reserve vegetables.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs with shredded parmesan until there are no clumps
  5. Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat up the shredded chicken. When the chicken is thoroughly heated, add the vegetables and add the drained pasta. Cook for a minute until the pasta is pipping hot.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the egg mixture while tossing in the hot pan. Do not stop tossing and mixing until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add the reserved pasta water to thin out as needed. I only needed a few Tbsp to thin it out.

As for the endearing prompt: Talk about the best prank you ever pulled. Reading this on the NaBloPoMo blog sent my mind racing back to the days in first or second grade. My grandparents used to hang out with a friend who had cancer. Their daughter, about 5 years older than me, was the coolest person ever back then. Together, we slowly scooped out the meat of grapes and filled them with ice cream in the middle of July. Today, my grandfather’s friend is no longer with us–but the memories of creamy grapes on a hot summer day will never fade away.