Love and Confections: February 2010

February 8, 2010

Hazelnut Mocha Macaroons

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Macaroons are small confections made from egg whites, sugar and ground almonds. It has a crisp exterior and a soft, chewy interior. It can be flavored with other ingredients such as citrus, coffee, chocolate or coconut. Other ground nuts can be substituted for the almonds (which I did in this recipe). In France, macaroons are sandwiched together with a thin layer of ganache or raspberry or apricot jam. Their origin dates back to 14th century Venice and its name is derived from the Venetian word "macarone" which means "fine paste."
The best known macaroons come from Paris. The most famous are Laduree and Pierre Herme and can sell 15,000 a day. Macaroons have remained relatively unknown in the United States and are often confused with coconut macaroons. They have recently become a novel dessert for weddings and a growing addition to specialty pastry and bakery shops. Classic flavors include vanilla, chocolate, coffee, almond pistachio, lemon and raspberry. Newer flavors can include pumpkin, cinnamon, passion fruit, peanut butter and jelly, green tea, truffles, olives, and many more.
I love macaroons! They are DELICIOUS! If you've never had one - try it. They are light and chewy and crispy - you can't have just one.
I decided to use some hazelnut flour I had and use that instead of almond flour. Hazelnuts and chocolate - a great combination. I still need to practice more. I've only made them two or three times in school - mine have some peaks and a little too much volume. Like my mom says, "Good, Better, Best - Never, never rest until your Good gets Better, and your Better gets Best!"

Macaroons after resting 1 hour

Hazelnut Mocha Macaroons
adapted from Tartelette
90 grams Egg Whites
2 tablespoons Sugar
110 grams Hazelnut Flour
200 grams Powdered Sugar
The egg whites need to age at room temperature for at least 24 hours, loosely covered.
Whip the egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons granulated Sugar until you have a glossy meringue. Don't overbeat.
place 110 grams of Hazelnut Flour and 200 grams Powdered Sugar in a large bowl.
Add the whipped egg whites and fold. You don't have to fold too gently, but you don't want to over fold either. If you want to color them, add powdered food color halfway through folding.
When the batter is ready, pour into a large pastry bag with #807 tip (I just used the largest tip I had). It will ooze out the end, so keep the bag folded or crimp the bottom until you are ready to pipe.
Make small piped circles on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
Once the tray is filled, let it sit for an hour to harden the outer shell before baking.
Bake at 300F for 18-20 minutes and then let cool.

Mocha Ganache
from Food Network Kitchens
4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
Put Chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream, with espresso powder mixed in, to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate and shake bowl gently so cream settles around the chocolate. Set mixture aside until the chocolate is soft, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too many air bubbles. Cool at room temperature until set up.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

February 6, 2010

Mmm Bananas

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I love baking. I love to mix ingredients that aren't always appealing on their own, but when combined with others, they create something delicious. Magic and science working together in an oven.

I baked Banana Bread yesterday. I bought bananas a while bac
k and, like a lot of people, they ripened before I could eat them all - so I put them in the freezer. The answer to all your banana problems: stick it in the freezer. And I forgot about them. Well, sort of. It isn't that hard to forget about a few, frozen solid, beyond-brown bananas, because they're staring at you every time you open the freezer door. I just kept putting it off, saying, "I'll make them soon".

I finally got tired of looking at them and decided to make Banana Bread, and I'm so glad I did. I love the smell of Banana Bread baking. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother's house. She introduced me to Banana Bread years ago. She showed me how she liked eating it - making it warm in the toaster oven and spreading cream cheese on it - simply divine. I'll eat it without cream cheese, of course, but it isn't the same. Every time I make or eat Banana Bread, I think of her. I'll have to make an extra loaf soon and send it to her.
Anyway… the picture is bad, but the Banana Bread was delicious!
Until next time,
Love & Confections

Banana Bread

from Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michael Suas
Makes 1 - 8 inch x 4 inch loaf

Ingredients:5 1/8 ounces Bananas
1/2 ounce Buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract3 1/4 ounces Sugar
1 5/8 ounces Brown Sugar
2 ounces Eggs
2 ounces Canola Oil
4 7/8 ounces Bread Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 ounces Walnuts (optional)
  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, premix the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla extract until broken up. Reserve.
  2. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and canola oil int he bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients and mix until 50% incorporation.
  4. Add the banana buttermilk mixture and then add the walnuts and mix to incorporate.
  5. Deposit into sprayed pan three-fourths up the pan.
  6. Score along the length of the loaf, 1/4 inch deep with a scraper dipped in vegetable oil.
  7. Bake at 335F for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and the surface bounces back to the touch.

Do What You Love & Love What You Do...

My name is Terri and I'm studying to become a Pastry Chef.

Professional chefs don't run in the family. I didn't grow up knowing I would make a career out of it. I just have a love of food. My family is Italian. We all love to cook and the kitchen really is the center of activity in the house - it might even be the biggest room, too. The kitchen is home. It is honestly where most of my favorite memories originate.

"When someone shares something of value with you, and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others."

I honestly believe in this quote. I've learned so much from being in my family's kitchen, the kitchen at school, and various other kitchens I've visited, that I want to be able to share what I have benefited from.

I like making people happy, and if I can make at least one person happy from something I've created as a chef, then it's all worth it.

Until next time,
Love & Confections