Tag: baking

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

First, before I get to the review, let me apologize. This blog was never intended to be silent for so long, but I teach high school and for whatever reason, when I went back to school this year, things have just been SUPER busy from the moment the students came back! I haven’t had much time to cook and work on recipes, but I swear, more is coming! Keep an eye out in the next week for a review of ‘Ohana – which was a delicious meal!!!

These cupcakes are great if you are in a hurry and just need to take something to school, the office, or if you don’t like pumpkin pie. (There are those of us who don’t!)

Its super easy – you’re starting with a box mix.

Now, there are lots of ways to doctor a box mix and make it taste more homemade. replacing the oil with butter is one. But in this case, I was really strapped for time, and I forgot to soften the butter, so I just opted to use the other way – adding a tablespoon of mayonaisse. I know that sounds weird, but it really makes a difference. It will keep the cake moist and really helps the texture. You won’t taste it in the end. I promise!

Now add in your spices. I add a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of nutmeg and allspice, and then a fourth teaspoon (or less) of cloves. I don’t care for cloves, and I love nutmeg, so you can adjust these to your own tastes. Add ginger if you want, leave out the allspice. Whatever you like! You could also use prepared pumpkin pie spice and just put 2 to 2.5 teaspoons in there and leave it at that. I also like to add a little extra vanilla, because I think it helps. You don’t have to.

Then just spoon your mixture into muffin tins lined with baking cups. I do about 2/3 full. Don’t go more than that, or you’ll have serious oozing. Which leads to burning on the pan. Which leads to scrubbing. And no one likes that.

Bake them off according to the  mix directions, and then let them cool completelly before frosting them.

The frosting recipe is my basic buttercream recipe from an old Wilton cookbook my mother has. The only change I’ve made is that I replaced all the shortening with butter. If you’re piping frosting and its really hot, this can be a problem because the butter will melt quicker and get soft. In that case, just pop the piping bag in the freezer or fridge for a few minutes to help it firm up again.

You could easily add food coloring to the frosting to make it more festive, but I had a lot of orange sugar sprinkles left, and figured those would work just as well.

Pumpkin Pie Spice cupcakes

 

snack rating

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Cupcakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A quick, almost homemade cupcake recipe that guests will love - and it won't take you forever to make!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Mayo
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven according to the box mix directions. 

  2. Mix the box mix, using the directions provided on the package. 

  3. Add in one tablespoon of mayo and your spices. If you want to add the extra vanilla, here's where you do it. I like the little extra, but it is optional.

  4. Fill muffin tins lined with baking cups about 2/3 full.

  5. Bake according to the package directions, then removed and let cool. 

  6. Frost when cupcakes have completely cooled!

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Basic Buttercream Frosting


Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 lb confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup butter, margarine, or a mixture of both
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy.

  2. Add in your confectioner's sugar and vanilla, beating for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture is getting lighter and well combined. 

  3. Add in the milk, a tablespoon at a time and whip the frosting for a minute between additions. Continue adding until it reaches the consistency you like. Be aware - adding too much liquid will make your frosting too runny, so go slow!

Pumpkin Pie Spice cupcakes

Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet

Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet

France EpcotWhile we were in Disney World at the beginning of August, we took some time to stop at the Boulangerie Patisserie in France. While I was there, I got a Hazelnut Chocolate Beignet. I’d show you a picture… but I ate it too fast. If I hadn’t been so hot, I might have gone back and gotten a second one! It was more like a filled donut than what I picture as a beignet, but it was still delicious.

When I came home, I kept thinking about it. And I kept thinking that my grandmother’s donut recipe would probably work really well with a hazelnut chocolate filling.

Really, really well.

So the other day I broke out all the ingredients and made donuts. And you know what? They’re pretty darn close to what we ate there!

How to Make The Beignets

I will fully admit that I did cheat for part of this. My breadmaker has a “dough” setting, and it will mix, knead, and let the dough rise, knead again, and do a second rise. This is great when you’re short and its hard to get enough leverage to knead bread easily on the counters.

Because I also had lots of things to do in the meantime, I scalded the milk and mixed everything into it until it was dissolved and let it cool for a bit. Once it was room temperature, I put my ingredients into the breadmaker, following the methods for my machine (For mine, you have to put all the liquid ingredients in first), and let it run on the bread setting. I did not let it go through both kneading and rising cycles. I stopped it after the first one, because I wanted to cut the donuts out.

Once the dough was ready, I pulled it out and floured the counter and my rolling pin. I will warn you, this makes A LOT of donuts. Like, around 4 dozen regular donuts. I forgot this.

In any case, its easier to divide the dough up into thirds or fourths and roll it out in smaller chunks. Unless you have a really big counter to spread out on, in which case, have at it!

Anyway, roll out the dough to about a quarter inch thick, and then cut it with a 2-3″ cutter (size is your preference). If you want regular donuts, you’ll have to cut out the inside with a smaller cutter. If you want to make these beignets, just leave it in a circle.

I move mine to a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, and cover them with a tea towel. Let them rise for about 45 minutes.

While you’re waiting for them to rise, you’re going to heat up about 3-4″ of oil in a pan, or pull out your fryer. You want the oil to heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I used a clip on thermometer to monitor the temperature. Make sure you’re using canola, peanut, or vegetable oil.

You’re going to gently slide the donuts into the pan, cooking for a couple minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. drain them on racks placed in cookie sheets lined with paper towels, newspaper, or kitchen towels. If you run out of space, you can always just put the towels on the counter and the racks on top, but it means a lot of counter cleaning later. Trust me on that.

Filling the Beignets

Once the donuts are cool enough to handle, you will need to get your jar of Nutella and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until it is a little more liquid and easier to pour. Make sure you get all the metallic seal off before you put this in the microwave!!!!!

Now, you can just use a round cake decorating tip to fill these, but a cannoli filling tip would be better. It is longer and will get farther into the middle of the donut. You are going to prep a piping bag just like you would for frosting, and pour your Nutella in.

Filling the donuts is easy. You just pop the piping tip into the side of the donut (don’t do the bottom – it will leak out!) and squeeze some Nutella inside. How much is up to you, but at some point it will ooze out around the tip. I recommend squeezing lightly for a count of 1-2-3 and then moving on. You can judge as you go if you’re getting the same amount inside by weight. As you squeeze the Nutella in, the donut will get heavier in your hand. Nutella is rich stuff, and while I love it, sometimes less is more, you know?

Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet

Once you’ve got your donuts made, they’re pretty much ready to go. The one I ate at Epcot was dusted with powdered sugar, and I do think it needs that little extra bit. BUT – these donuts are moist, so I don’t recommend dusting them until you are ready to serve. If you do it earlier and put them in a baggie or container, it will turn to liquid. (which is still tasty, just really sticky and messy)

I recommend using a shaker filled with powdered sugar to sprinkle the beignets once they are on the plate. The hardest part is not eating all of them your self! They’re best when still warm, but they’ll last in an airtight container for a few days. If you and your family can keep from eating them all!

Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet

What do you think? Have you tried the beignets at the Boulangerie Patisserie?

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Chocolate Hazelnut Beignets
Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins
 

My grandmother's donut recipe tweaked to try and recreate the amazing beignets from the Boulangerie Patisserie at Epcot!

Servings: 4 dozen
Ingredients
  • 2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 6-8 cup flour
Instructions
  1. Scald the milk, then add the sugar, butter, salt, and water. Let the mixture cool, and add the eggs, yeast, and flour.

  2. Knead or put in a bread maker on the dough setting and remove after the first knead and rise cycle has finished. If kneading by hand, knead and let rise for 2 hours.

  3. Punch down the dough and roll out to around 1/4" thick. Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter. Let rounds rise for 45 minutes.

  4. Heat oil in a skillet to 375 degrees. Fry donuts until golden brown on each side. Usually 1-3 minutes per side. Remove and let drain on a baking rack.

  5. Fill a piping bag with a cannoli tip or round tip with Nutella. Fill doughnuts with 1-2 tablespoons of filling.

  6. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping, and a few more steps and ingredients. It’s worth the extra effort!

Chocolate Hazelnut Beignet

Chocolate Almond Cookies

Chocolate Almond Cookies

These cookies are not really super Disney oriented, I admit it. But they are delicious, and that’s probably even more important! I bought a container of Cocoa Almond Butter from Trader Joe’s, hoping I could use it in some recipes, including a recipe trying to recreate the AMAZING hazelnut-chocolate filled beignets I had at the Boulangerie Patisserie in France at Epcot. But when I opened the container and tried it, I realized it wasn’t going to work. Its delicious – don’t get me wrong – but its all wrong for the beignet.

Instead, I decided to make cookies. I modified an old peanut butter blossom recipe from my grandmother, and it worked out beautifully. Really, you could substitute any nut butter here and get an awesome cookie!

I also have to admit that I have no pictures of the process of baking them. I wanted cookies. It was the night before I had to go back to work at the high school. I was distracted by the thought of cookies.

Sorry.

But this is what they look like. They look yummy, right?

Chocolate Almond Cookie

The actual process is easy. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I cream the butter until it’s fluffy, about a minute or so, and then I add in the sugars. Beat it until everything is fluffy and combined. Add your egg and mix that in until it’s incorporated. Then add the cocoa almond butter. Beat it in until it’s mixed through.

This recipe is really simple. You could just do all the wet ingredients at once if you were in a hurry, but I like making sure it’s all well mixed in stages. Add in the milk and flavorings, and make sure to start the mixer on low so you don’t end up slopping liquid all over your kitchen.

Add in all the dry ingredients and start your mixer on low. Don’t accidentally bump the speed up like I did. I’m going to be cleaning flour off the Keurig for the next five months, I swear.

Once it’s all well mixed, scoop out a tablespoon at a time and roll into a ball. If it’s soft, you may need to refrigerate it for an hour or so. (Or you can cheat and use a small cookie scoop and scoop them straight into the sugar. I then rolled them around and got them on the pan. As long as they hold together in a ball-ish shape, they’ll work.)

You’re going to roll the ball in white sugar, and then place about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, and then remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.

These are excellent with coffee or milk!

quick rating

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Chocolate Almond Cookies
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
27 mins
 
Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar vanilla sugar is excellent
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa almond butter
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar for rolling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then cream until well incorporated.

  3. Add the cocoa almond butter and mix until incorporated. Add the milk, and mix in on a low speed.

  4. Add in the remaining ingredients, beating until well mixed.

  5. Scoop into tablespoons and roll into balls, then roll in granulated sugar and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool on the pan.

Chocolate Almond Cookie

Margarita Cupcakes inspired by EPCOT

Margarita Cupcakes inspired by EPCOT

I have a confession to make before I begin – I don’t actually like Margaritas. I know, I know. Sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. I was hoping that if I made it into a baked good, I’d like it better. And I’d rather eat these than drink a margarita, so I suppose I achieved the goal! I think these cupcakes are good, but I haven’t had the same reaction that my margarita loving friends have. They say they are FANTASTIC. I even tested it out on my coworkers, and they loved them. So you should definitely try them!

The cupcakes

This recipe is actually pretty simple. You’re going to need basic cake baking items, and then you’ll need tequila, triple sec, and limes. That’s the only “unique” ingredients that this recipe requires. If you like margaritas, you may already have those things on hand.

You do need to complete one step about an hour before you plan to make your cake. You’re going to take two limes, and you’re going to zest them into a bowl, where you’ve measured out the 1 and 1/2 cups of granulated sugar you need. I use vanilla sugar because I like it. You don’t have to. (All vanilla sugar is, is a container of granulated sugar with a vanilla bean dropped in it. You can leave that bean in there for AGES and it will continue to scent any sugar you put in the container with vanilla. Try it. It’s awesome in baked goods!)

I use a microplane to zest my lime, but you could use a vegetable peeler in a pinch. Once you have your limes zested, stir the zest into the sugar and leave it to sit for one hour. This will help the lime flavor infuse into the sugar. It makes a difference. Really.

Lime Sugar

While you’re waiting, go ahead and put cupcake liners in two cupcake pans. Or grease and flour them. But the liners are way easier. You’ll want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as well.

Once your hour is up, you need to get out your mixer. A stand mixer is a lot easier for this, but it doesn’t matter as long as you have a mixer of some kind. The beauty of this recipe is that you dump everything together, except the egg whites, and beat. There’s no creaming (though I do it when my butter is still a little hard) or anything like that.

So dump in your lime sugar, butter, baking powder, a teeny bit of vanilla, salt, and flour. Then beat it together on high for 2 minutes. If you’re using a stand mixer, I’d suggest draping a dish towel over it, so the splatter stays contained.

Great. Now is the time to dip your finger in and eat the batter. Cause there’s no eggs yet, so that thing your mom always told you about how you’d get the collywobbles if you ate raw batter? This is totally safe.

Tell me my mom isn’t the only one who said that.

Now you need to separate your eggs. You can save the yolks and make something, like lime curd or lemon curd, or you can throw them out. Whatever floats your boat.

After the egg whites are in, beat it again on high for 5 minutes. I’d suggest beating it for about 30 seconds on low first to get things started. Sometimes egg whites fly all over if you don’t.

Have I mentioned I am a messy cook?

It should be a pretty smooth batter at this point. Take it to your prepared cupcake pans and then fill the liners about 2/3 of the way full. We will not discuss how long it took me to fill these while trying to be neat. And by the time I got to the end, I flipped batter on the pan anyway. It was a good try though, right?

Margarita Cupcake Pan

You should be able to get two dozen cupcakes out of this, give or take a few. If you overfill you’ll get less cupcakes, but it isn’t a big deal.

Put these in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. I would recommend putting these on a cooling rack when they come out, because you need to pop them out of the cupcake pans before they cool completely.

The Syrup

The key to making these cupcakes taste like a margarita is in the syrup. While the cupcakes are in the oven, you need to squeeze your two limes into a measuring cup. If you’ve made a margarita before, you’ll know how this works. My recipe for a Margarita is 1 part lime, 1 part triple sec, 2 parts tequila. For me, my two limes made just about 1/4 cup of juice. So I added 1/4 c triple sec, and 1/2 cup tequila. depending on the size and juiciness of your limes, your amounts may be different. But you want to measure how much liquid you have total. Don’t drink any. 🙂

You’ve just basically made yourself a margarita. Great. Now you’re going to add the same amount of sugar as liquid and pour both into a saucepan. Put it over medium high heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then take it off the heat and leave it to cool off just a little.

It will probably be more syrup than you need. You can always save it and use it on something else. I imagine whipped cream for pancakes made with this would be good. Or pouring a little over ice cream or pound cake?

Putting It Together (almost)

By now, hopefully your cupcakes are still warm, but not so hot that you can’t pop them out of the tin and put them on the baking rack. Put a sheet of aluminum foil underneath it to catch any drips. While everything is still warm, you will take your margarita syrup and brush a generous amount of the syrup onto the cupcakes. You can do this while they are in the pan, but they get sticky and it gets hard to get them out sometimes after. I discovered this the first time I made them.

I brushed mine with syrup twice, because I wanted to make sure the flavor really got in the cake. I also made sure I brushed a very generous amount on there. You can brush it with more or less, as you like.

The Icing

Let the cupcakes completely cool, and while they are doing that, you can make your icing. Its really easy. I use a stick of butter and a stick of margarine, at room temperature. Beat them in a mixer until they are fluffy. Add in 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Turn your mixer on low and start to beat the sugar in. Add 2 tablespoons of milk, and then slowly pour in about 1-2 tablespoons of the margarita syrup. You could also add about 1/2 tsp of vanilla, but since these are margarita cupcakes, I really wanted the frosting to taste like the drink. You can add more syrup if you want, but be careful you don’t add too much and change the consistency of the icing.

Once the cupcakes are cool, transfer your icing to a piping bag. You can use a tip, or you can just snip off the end and do it that way. How you choose to get the icing on is up to you. Use a knife if you’d rather!

After you frost them, get out a little bit of salt. I happened to have a sample pack of Hawaiian salts a friend sent me, so I used the red Hawaiian salt to finish mine. I think it really helps cut through the sugar, and help amplify the margarita taste. And, you know, it looks pretty.

Margarita Cupcakes Inspired by EPCOT's Mexico Pavilion

If you decide to give these a try, I’d love to know what you think! Tell me in the comments below!

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping, and a few more steps and ingredients. It’s worth the extra effort!
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Margarita Cupcakes
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These cupcakes are inspired by EPCOT's Mexico Pavilion!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cup flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large egg whites
Syrup
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from zested limes)
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Zest the limes and mix with the sugar. Let this sit to infuse for one hour. In the meantime, line 2 cupcake pans with 24 liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. After the sugar has sat for one hour, combine all ingredients but the egg whites in a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on high.

  3. Add the egg whites and beat again for 5 minutes on high.

  4. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full, and then bake the cupcakes for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

  5. Move to a rack to cool until you can pop out the cupcakes, then place these on a baking rack with aluminum foil underneath.

  6. Juice the two limes, measuring the amount of liquid produced. Generally, you should get around 1/4 c of lime juice. Add the triple sec, tequila, and sugar to a saucepan and heat over medium high heat. 

  7. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and remove from heat. Brush over the top of warm cupcakes, being generous.

  8. Allow cupcakes to finish cooling, then frost as desired.

 

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Margarita Cupcake Frosting
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 


Ingredients
  • 1 lb confectioner's sugar
  • 1-3 tbsp margarita syrup from the cupcake recipe
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup margarine room temperature
  • salt for decoration - optional
Instructions
  1. Beat butter and margarine until fluffy. 

  2. Add the confectioner's sugar, and turn your mixer on low. Gradually add in the milk and syrup. 

  3. Once combined, turn mixer to high and beat for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

  4. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes, and garnish with salt, if desired.

Margarita Cupcakes Inspired by EPCOT's Mexico Pavilion

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache Filling

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache Filling

This recipe can be a little involved, but these cookies are worth it. I’ve seen them at many places – one of which is the France pavilion at EPCOT. Since I’m not going to be there for awhile, I decided I couldn’t wait, and wanted to make them at home. They’re light, delicate, and packed full of flavor – an excellent dessert for a special occasion or any day of the week! As a bonus, they are also gluten free, so if you are GF, then these are a fabulous dessert option.

These cookies are not as hard as you’d think. However, if you did it like I did, you can make it more difficult than it needs to be.

The recipe has no flour – it uses almond flour instead. The best place I’ve found for this has been Trader Joe’s – they sell a bag (I think its a pound or half pound package) for the cheapest price I’ve found. That being said, I apparently used my bag of almond flour, because when I went to retrieve it from the pantry, all I found was the BJ’s bag of almonds.

You can see where this is going, right?

Almond flour, if you didn’t know, is just ground almonds. So, if I have a bag of almonds, I can make my own almond flour. Easy, right? Yeah. Except for the part where I decided to use the food processor to grind them, rather than my spice grinder. Don’t do that. If you have the spice grinder, even if it takes you longer, use it. I used the food processor, and after sifting in what I could, had to put it through the processor twice more before I broke down and used the spice grinder. And I made a ton of difference. I will say that no matter which one you use, pulse it, and don’t process it too long, or you’ll end up with almond butter. While tasty, you’ll have to scrape it out and start over with new almonds. And you don’t want that.

These were the chunks leftover after grinding the first time in the food processor!

Once you have your dry ingredients sifted together, use a whisk to combine them. You don’t have to do that, but because you’re folding this into egg whites later, I like to have it thoroughly mixed before I start folding it in.

You’re going to need to prep your pan now that you’ve got this part going. Use parchment paper and line a cookie sheet. You can free form your macarons, or you can draw 1″ circles on the back of the parchment (that way you don’t get ink or pencil on your cookies) to use as a guide.

Once your pan is ready, you need to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. You’ll want to use room temperature eggs – if you use cold ones they’ll be harder to separate and they’ll be WAY harder to whip. I also always use a metal mixing bowl for eggs, and I usually dampen a paper towel with a little vinegar and wipe out the inside of the bowl before I put the eggs in. It is supposed to wipe away any leftover residue that might be clinging to a bowl (even a clean one). I don’t remember where I heard that tip, but it does seem to help.

I beat the eggs on a lower speed until they get a little frothy, then I crank it up and pour in the granulated sugar, slowly. Then beat the eggs until they form stiff, glossy peaks. The best way to tell if they are done? When you pull out the beater and the peak stands straight up without falling at all, OR you can hold the bowl upside down and nothing moves. I then cut my vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds into the egg whites, and add the vanilla extract. You do not have to use vanilla beans! Just extract will still make a delicious macaron! Give it a couple more quick beats, and then get out a spatula and your dry ingredients.

You’re going to dump all the dry in there, and then fold them in. If it makes you feel better, you can do it in three parts. But I like just getting it over with. For this recipe, it worked. You don’t want to over mix, but you want to make sure its all incorporated. It takes about 20-30 strokes, and I usually end up doing a figure eight motion through the batter. When its all mixed, it will have the consistency of a very thick but still pourable milkshake. Other people often say it has the consistency of lava. I’ve never actually seen lava, so I’ll take their word for it.

macaron batter

Now we’re onto the fun part!

Pour your mixture into a large resealable bag or disposable piping bag. Snip off the corner (or end) and then use your parchment circles as a guide to pipe the macarons onto the pan. If you end up with a little “peak” on top of your cookie, don’t worry – it will even out. If you’re afraid it won’t, just wet your finger in a little water and tap them down. The water will keep the meringue mixture from sticking to you. Once  you’ve got the pan finished, give it a good tap on the counter. It will help get any air bubbles out.

piped macarons

Now, you need to let these sit for 30-60 minutes to dry out a bit. I leave mine for an hour. While they sit, you can get the filling made!

You can use any filling you like – jam would work just fine! For these, I’m making a dark chocolate amaretto ganache. Its harder to say and write than it is to make. Seriously.

You need to get 4 ounces of dark chocolate – whatever you have on hand will work. I used the remains of a Ghiradelli bar. Chop it up and put it in a heat safe bowl.

dark chocolate

Then pour your cream (you can also use half and half) into a sauce pan and heat until its simmering. Take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for one minute, and then stir it together with a whisk.

making ganache
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The heat from the cream will melt the chocolate. Add in the tablespoon and a half of butter, and your amaretto and mix again. It will still be pretty warm. I poured mine into a disposable piping bag (you can use a resealable baggie) that was propped up in a cup. Then put it in the fridge to firm up.

Now go sit and have a drink and surf the internet while you finishing waiting for the macarons to dry out.

When the hour is nearly up, you want to move the oven rack to the bottom third of your oven and preheat it to 350. Be sure to only put one pan at a time in the oven, and rotate the pan halfway through baking so they’re all even. You’re going to bake the macarons for 11-13 minutes, until they have risen and set. They’re going to dry out, but you don’t want them to get any color.  After they’ve baked, take them out and let them cool on the baking sheet.

baked macarons

Once they’ve cooled, you can pull out your filling, snip off the corner of the bag, and pipe your ganache onto the flat side of a macaron. Top it with another cookie and viola – you’ve made a dessert that everyone will be drooling over! Next time, I may save back some cookies and try to fill them with ice cream like the ones I’ve seen people posting about from Les Artisans des Glaces in the France pavilion. 🙂

vanilla bean macarons

Signature rating
This recipe will take some serious time, and does require some more advanced kitchen knowledge. I still think its well worth the effort though! Give it a try – but make sure you leave lots of time for yourself!
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Vanilla Bean Macarons with Dark Chocolate Amaretto Ganache
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
32 mins
 

These are a little time consuming, but totally worth it!

Course: Dessert
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
Macarons
  • 108 grams almond flour
  • 176 grams confectioner's sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 80 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
Filling
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp amaretto liqueur
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
Instructions
For the Macarons
  1. Move your oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, on the back of which you can draw one inch circles to help guide your piping.

  2. Sift the almond flour and confectioner's sugar together into a bowl through a fine sieve. You can put any large pieces of almond flour left behind through a spice grinder and sift again into the bowl.

  3. In a metal mixer bowl, beat 3 large egg whites with the granulated sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form.

  4. Add the vanilla extract, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the beaten egg whites. beat for 5 seconds to incorporate.

  5. Dump all the dry ingredients into the bowl. Using a spatula, fold the mixture in, using 20-30 strokes. The mixture will be thick, with a consistency similar to a thick milkshake.

  6. Pour the macaron mixture into a piping bag with a large round tip, or snip off the end of a disposable piping bag. You could also use a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off.

  7. Pipe the meringue mixture onto your baking sheet, filling int he circles. Let these sit for 20-60 minutes until a skin forms on top. How long this takes depends on the heat and humidity of your kitchen.

  8. Put one pan in the oven at a time. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through, until the cookies have risen and set, but not browned. 

  9. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan.

For the Filling
  1. Chop your dark chocolate fine and place in a heat-safe bowl. 

  2. Heat the cream to a simmer on the stove. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for one minute.

  3. Stir the chocolate and cream, until it has melted together. Add the butter and amaretto and whisk together until all is incorporated. 

  4. Let the mixture cool until it is thick, but still pourable. Pour into a resealable bag or piping bag and continue to let it cool until it reaches a frosting consistency.

  5. Pipe onto the bottom of a macaron cookie, and then cover with a second cookie to make a sandwich.

  6. Wrap any leftover cookies tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Vanilla Bean Macarons

Bananas Foster Cookies

Bananas Foster Cookies

Remember how I told you we had a Moana dinner and movie party, and the food was themed around Polynesia? These cookies were our dessert. I came up with the recipe from the ground up, and I’ve been tweaking them for awhile. This recipe is easy, delicious, and you’ll never make enough! They are also great if you have someone who has an egg allergy, because there are no eggs in the cookies! I prefer these without nuts, because I’m weird and I have texture issues with food. I mean, I like nuts, and I like cookies, but they aren’t friends as far as I’m concerned. I feel the same way about chocolate and nuts, mostly, which makes some of my friends think I’m weird. If you don’t have such qualms, feel free to add nuts to these!

They taste like a sweeter version of banana bread, really. I made about three dozen, and when I came back after the party for clean up, there was only about 10 cookies left! I think they tasted okay!

They’re super simple to make. You don’t need to refrigerate them (though you could make the dough in advance and put it in the fridge overnight), and they make a ton. The biggest suggestion I can make is to make sure you set your butter out about 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to make them. You want it a little soft, or it will take forever to beat smooth. In the summer, it only takes about 30 minutes to accomplish that in my kitchen. You know how warm yours will get (or doesn’t.) so you can judge accordingly.

The cookies come together pretty quickly. First thing, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and then lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or use parchment paper to line it. I’m all about not having to wash any more dishes than is necessary, so I opt for the parchment paper. Plus, you can use it multiple times. I use mine through a whole batch of cookies – sometimes more if I’m making several batches at a time (like at holidays).

Dump your butter and sugar into the mixer and beat it until light and fluffy. You can use all butter or all margarine if you like, but I prefer a stick of each. A bonus tip – if you have the ability, it is totally worth it to get a special container and fill it with sugar, and then drop in a whole vanilla bean or two. It doesn’t take long for the sugar to pick up the vanilla flavor, and it really adds something to baked goods. Honest! Try it! Plus, you can cut the beans open, scrape out the seeds and use them in a recipe, and put the scraped pods back in the sugar. It will taste just as good.

Anyway, once your sugar and butter are beaten, add the bananas, which you can puree or mash. I only bananas when they are super ripe (like they’re pretty much on their way to overripe. They’re good. Don’t judge.), so mashing them pretty much turns them mushy enough. If you use greener bananas, I recommend blending them. Mix themin with the rum and spices. Once that is all incorporated, add the salt, flour, and baking powder. Mix this until everything is combined and well blended. Don’t overbeat it. If you want to add nuts, just mix them in here with a wooden spoon.

Then scoop out the dough with a small cookie scoop, or a teaspoon. I can’t tell you how handy the cookie scoop is, especially if you make cookies often. Its so much easier. Of course, I am also REALLY messy when trying to use a couple teaspoons to scoop the dough.

You’re going to bake them for 10 – 12 minutes until they are set and the bottoms are golden brown. Transfer them to a linen towel and let them cool. If you can wait that long.

They are very tender, moist cookies, so if you store them together, I’d recommend a tin with a layer of wax paper or parchment between each layer. Otherwise, they’ll stick to each other. Of course, if you want a good reason why you HAVE to eat three or four cookies at a time, sticking together is a bonus.

Either way, this will make about two or three dozen cookies, and they’ll get eaten fast!

If you try them, I’d love to know what you think!

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Bananas Foster Cookies - Cooking With Character
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c margarine
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper).

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together until fluffy. 

  3. Add the vanilla, banana, rum, salt, and spices and mix until just combined.
  4. With the mixer on low at first, add flour and baking powder. Mix until combined.
  5. Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet, and bake 10-12 minutes until set and slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack or linen towel.