GINGERBREAD MACARONS

Is anyone else having a really hard time believing that Christmas is two weeks away? Holiday baking is in full force around here, as there are a plethora of work, friend and family events on the horizon. I've been making a lot of molten chocolate cakes and savoury aolis that ask me to use only the egg yolks, therefore I have a ton of egg-whites leftover. What better to make with leftover egg-whites than macarons? These are the first of a few flavours I hope to play around with over the coming weeks.

I would have liked to do a gingerbread buttercream as a filling for these babies. I had a large container of chocolate ganache leftover from a cake that I made a while back that needed using up instead. While the gingerbread flavours did come across (I think the ginger cookie sprinkled on top helped), the chocolate is quite prominent. I don't think that it would hurt to be a little heavy handed on the spices.
Gingerbread Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

GINGERBREAD MACARONS

For the shells
135g egg whites
45g granulated sugar
215g powdered sugar
125g almond flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground ginger
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

Ginger cookie recipe from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set out your piping bag and twist off the bottom so that no batter leaks out when transferring.Add powdered sugar, almond flour and spices to a large bowl. Combine and sift the mixture.

In another bowl, add egg whites. Beat on low speed until frothy, about a minute. Gradually add sugar. Increase speed to medium, and continue to beat until the egg whites are foamy, about two minutes. Increase speed to high, and beat until the egg whites stiff-peaks are formed and resemble thick shaving cream. Do not over-beat.

Add the flour mixture to the egg ones in one batch and gently combine. Continue to fold the mixture until if forms a ribbon-like consistency. To test, drop batter onto a plate. If the mixture collapses back onto itself within ten seconds, you’re good to go. If it beaks, give it a few more folds, continuing to test.

Once the batter is ready, transfer to the piping bag. Pipe small rounds. Give the baking sheets a rough tap on its side, rotate 90 degrees, and tap again. This helps to eliminate any air in the piped cookies. Sprinkle crumbled ginger cookie on top of the shells. Allow the piped cookies to sit out and develop a crust, thirty minutes to an hour.

Heat oven to 200F. Bake macarons for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven, and remove from baking sheet to cool. Once cooled (30 minutes or so), remove from parchment.

For the ganache
1 cup heavy cream
5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 TBSP light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Put chocolate into a large bowl. Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for roughly a minute, then stir until smooth. Sit in corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Allow to cool until thick.

To assemble, spred or pipe chocolate ganache into cooled macaron shells. These are really great if allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight to develop the flavours.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

APARTMENT TOUR

I’ve been meaning to write about our apartment since we moved in nearly two years ago, and now the time has come that we’re packing up our lives to move to another space. When we moved in, we were so excited about it. A space of our own to with as we saw fit. We were finally living in the heart of downtown Calgary – something that I had dreamed about for years and years (I grew up in the suburbs). Writing about the space got delayed mainly because there was always something else that I wanted to add to the space before photographing and sharing it. I don’t think that it ever felt quite done, though does a space really ever?

I think there were a few problems going into it that made my vision not anywhere near reality. First is that I have these grandiose design ideas on a student (read: IKEA) budget. Second, Zach and I do not share the same ideas about design aesthetics. Third, a lot of our furniture is hand-me-down, so we didn’t really have a choice when it came to whether or not it fit our tastes. No complaints really, mainly because of Point 1. One of these days I’ll have a home of my very own to have my way with.

Nevertheless, I thought that I would share some photos of the space from early last year.


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VERMICELLI WITH VIETNAMESE GRILLED PORK AND SPRING ROLLS

Growing up, the extent of the 'cultural' food that my family ate was take-out Chinese. I didn't have my first lick of Vietnamese food until the end of elementary school and even now, in my mid-twenties, my knowledge of cultural foods is lacking. Zach likes asian food. A lot. On one of our first dates, he had me over and cooked a dish that he'd learned on a trip to Thailand. He's cooked me many more of those dishes since then, and I'm hooked.

Vietnamese take-out is one of favorites in a pinch, mainly because there is a great little restaurant right around the corner from our apartment. For some reason, I got it in my mind that making my own vermicelli dish would be a good idea—it's my favorite off the menu, while Zach prefers a Bahn Mi. This recipe is an amalgamation of numerous recipes I scouted on the web. I wanted to sweeten up the meat, making sure to use an alternative sweetener. I neglected cilantro, which is a personal choice. Feel free to add it if it's something you enjoy.
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Vermicelli with Vietnamese Grilled Pork and Spring Rolls
Serves 4

Ingredients
650 grams pork shoulder
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP fish sauce
2 TBSP sesame oil
2 stalks lemongrass, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP sriracha
1 package vermicelli
1 cucumber, julienned
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
3 TBSP peanuts, roasted
Store-bought spring rolls
Hoisin, if desired

Slice pork into very thin strips. Combine honey, fish sauce, sesame oil, minced lemongrass, minced garlic, and sriracha to make a marinade. Combine with pork and let marinade for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Pan-fry pork until cooked through. Cook vermicelli and spring rolls according to package instructions. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, beginning with vermicelli and finishing with cucumber, carrots, pork, spring rolls, and peanuts. Serve with hoisin and more sriracha, if desired.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: HOT CROSS BUNS

Hot Cross Buns
Easter is right around the corner, which means hot cross buns and challah french toast. Okay, perhaps those two bread-y indulgences are only slightly related, but when I think of the holiday I think of those... And mini eggs... And peeps. Hot cross buns were one of the first baked goods I ever made, and were the first type of bread that I made without the help of a bread-machine. For that, they have a bit of a soft spot in my heart.

For these, I used a Martha Stewart recipe slightly adapted. I think that hot cross buns are not compete without the raisins, but I know that some (ahem, my brother) would disagree. What does not find itself in here are those candied fruits that supermarket versions like to put in because, blegh. To please the masses, I split the dough in two and made half with and half without the raisins. I also swapped the all-purpose flour out for whole wheat in equal ratios and had no problems. The crosses are made with a cream cheese icing as opposed to just confectioners sugar because, well, it's just better.

Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns

HOT CROSS BUNS // Makes 24 buns
Recipe from Martha Stewart.

1 1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
4 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups raisins
1 large egg white

1/2 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Heat milk until warm, but not boiling. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, milk, yeast, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and eggs. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour one cup at a time. Continue to knead until smooth, approximately 5 minutes.

If making buns with and without raisins, separate dough into two rounds. Add raisins to one bowl and knead until distributed. Butter, spray, or coat both bowls with oil. Coat dough in the oil, and cover the bowls. Allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours. Roll out dough into a log and cut into sections to make 24 rounds. Roll into a bun shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. With a sharp knife or scissors, slice a cross into the top of the buns. Wash buns with a mixture of egg white and water. Allow to rise for another hour.

Heat one to 375F. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To make the cream cheese icing, combine cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. When the buns have cooled slightly, pipe crosses into their tops.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.

ADVENTURES IN BREAD MAKING: MAST BROTHERS CHOCOLATE BREAD

Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
Lately, I've been doing a fair share of baking. Three cakes in the span of two weeks, two successful batches of macarons, cookies... I find myself doing a lot of sampling as I go along, but once I reach the finished product I am never quite satisfied. In the past, I would have considered myself to be a big fan of desserts, but these days it's all a bit much. I enjoy sampling obscure flavours, but overall I get little satisfaction from them. What I do come back to time and time again is, of course, chocolate. With the richest chocolate you only need the teeny tiniest bit for total satisfaction. It really is blissful.

I thought we'd change pace a bit around here and try a recipe that's a little more user friendly. Anyone who is a fan of chocolate knows the Mast Brothers reign supreme. Late last year, they released a cookbook that I have flipped through numerous times at the bookstore, but still have yet to purchase. I have managed to scribble down a few recipes though, and this chocolate bread is one of them. Chocolate? Bread? What's not to love.
Mast Bros Chocolate Bread
The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which I'm sure would have been nice as well. In congruence with the chocolate and hazelnuts, I thought that the bread called for something a bit more robust. I opted for a 50/50 blend of whole wheat and rye flours. The result is really quite lovely.

CHOCOLATE BREAD // Makes two loaves
Adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

1 TBSP + 3/4 tsp quick rise yeast
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water, 30-35 degrees Celsius
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rye flour
1 TBSP cacao powder
1 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cream

In a large bowl, mix yeast and brown sugar with water and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbling. Add flour, cacao powder, salt, 1 egg yolk and butter. Using a stand mixer, knead dough for 10 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, and then knead again for 10 minutes more. Add dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and raisins. Separate dough into two balls, cover, and allow to rise for two hours. Turn out onto a floured surface and punch down once. Place dough in two, lightly floured 9-inch loaf pans. Whisk the remaining two egg yolks with the cream, and brush each shaped dough with the wash. Leave to proof for 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425F. Bake for 12 minutes. Lower oven to 350F and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

This post first appeared on with wanderlust.
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