Quatrième

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create.
If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad.
If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it.
And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?
Just smile sweetly and suggest—as politely as you possibly can—that they go make their own fucking art.
Then stubbornly continue making yours.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy birthday to this little blog!
La Pêche Fraîche is four years old.
Which means I’ve been running this blog for 20% of my time on this earth. Don’t ask me how…

The blogiversary rundown:
3 years
2 years
1 year (Oy vey.)

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

My blog has grown along with me, starting at the tender age of 16 and sticking with me as I graduated high school and left home for the first time to come to UChicago, got my first (and second) real job, moved to NYC all on my own, snagged a wonderful boyfriend etc, etc.
The coming year will see me turn 21, will see me finish up college (yipes), and more. If all goes as planned, there will be many, many sweet treats to share along the way.

You’d think that by now, I’d have gotten the hang of things, but every new post is a learning experience.

Take this post, for example.
Another blogiversary means another pink cake. It’s become tradition for me, although I do suspect that I will, at some point, run out of pink cake ideas. I didn’t have much time to make the cake so I tried to prep ahead; I didn’t have enough egg whites to make an Italian meringue buttercream so I went with American; my macarons were far from perfect (surprise, surprise). My chocolate ganache drip looked a bit wonky and I ended up disliking the minimal frosting look, although the entire cake together had a sort of eclectic charm.
All things to learn from, and not terrible goof-ups.
But then! I managed to leave my camera at 1600 ISO throughout the entire. stupid. shoot. And what’s more, I didn’t notice until the next time I pulled out my camera, meaning half a week later, when the cake was long, long gone. Damn.

And now, the majority of this post is going to be me complaining about this post. Hahahaha.
All in all, I actually prefer last year’s and the year before. Both the aesthetics of the cakes and the words contained within the post. So maybe go read those.

That being said, this cake was a runaway hit with everyone who tasted it, so I’ll count it in the successes, rather than the flops.

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This cake is a mix of inspiration from Andy Bowdy, Don’t Tell Charles, and Cordy’s Cakes, all of whom you can find on Instagram, and all of whom make jaw-dropping cakes.

It’s a moist chocolate cake filled and frosted with raspberry buttercream, with layers of almond macaron shells, decorated with a river of toasted Italian meringue, dark chocolate ganache drips, coconut rafaellos, cocoa crumble, more macarons, and strawberries.

There are many components, but most can be made ahead, and it is really a delicious combination.

The macaron shells between the cakes are a magical touch. I had a few people come up to me after eating the cake who asked what in the world was between the layers that made the cake sooo damn good. I had forgotten to tell everyone that there were cookies inside the cake.
Surprise cookies are almost always magical.

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Thank you all for your continued support, love, and readership.
I appreciate everyone who visits this page, even when nothing exciting or new is happening.

La Pêche Fraîche may be my own folly, but in the end, it is for you.

Here’s to another year of love, happiness, and lots of cake.

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

An Eclectic Chocolate Cake
makes 1 3-layer 6-inch cake
cake portion from Liv for Cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
90 grams (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
56 grams (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
180 grams (3/4 cup) buttermilk
180 grams (3/4 cup) hot coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

for the raspberry buttercream:
225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
600 gram (5 cups) confectioner’s sugar, as needed
30-90 grams (2-6 tablespoons) half-and-half or whole milk, as needed
1/3 cup freeze-dried raspberries, crushed into powder
drop pink food coloring, if desired

for the meringue:
2 large egg whites
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
pinch salt
30 grams (2 tablespoons) water

for the cocoa crumb:
30 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, melted
30 grams (1/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar
20 grams (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) flour
15 grams (2 tablespoons) cocoa powder

to decorate:
60 grams (2 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped
60 grams (1/4 cup) heavy cream
sliced strawberries
rafaellos
1 batch macaron shells
crushed freeze-dried raspberries

directions:
Make a batch of macaron shells (I use Annie’s recipe and follow her directions to a T) ahead of time and store in a air-tight container.
To make the cocoa crumb: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Stir together the melted butter with the sugar, then add the flour and cocoa powder at the same time. Carefully incorporate until the mixture is sandy and crumb-like.
Shake the crumbs onto the prepared pan and separate a little; bake for 5-6 minutes, until dry to the touch; allow to cool.
Crumb can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an air-tight container.
Make the cake: grease and flour 3 6-inch round pans.
Place cocoa powder and granulated sugar in a big bowl; whisk together.
Add the oil, buttermilk, hot coffee, and salt and whisk vigorously until combined.
Add the eggs, whisking after each addition.
Stir in the vanilla.
Add the flour on top of the batter and the baking powder and baking soda on top of that.
Whisk the batter together until it is homogenous; it will be liquidy.
Portion out evenly into the 3 prepared pans and bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting: place butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until very light colored and doubled in volume.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in 4 cups of the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on high speed after each addition.
Add in 2 tablespoons of half-and-half and beat on high speed to incorporate.
Scrape the bowl and taste the frosting; if it is too thin, add the next cup of powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add another tablespoon of half-and-half at a time.
If it is too buttery, add the extra cup of powdered sugar plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half and beat on high speed for another minute.
Add the crushed freeze-dried raspberries and food coloring, if desired, and beat to combine.
To assemble the cake, place 1 layer on serving platter and top with 1/2 cup of frosting; top with a few macaron shells and the next cake layer.
Repeat until last cake layer is used; frost with the remaining icing, leaving it semi-naked if desired.
Place in fridge while you prepare the toppings.
Melt chocolate 2/3 of the way in the microwave; microwave the cream until hot but not boiling.
Pour cream over chocolate and set aside for 1 minute.
Fill a few of the macaron shells with extra frosting; set aside or put in fridge to set.
Whisk the ganache together until very shiny, smooth, and uniform; set aside while you make the meringue.
Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Place sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat; begin whipping the egg whites.
When syrup reaches 240 degrees F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks.
Carefully pour hot syrup into whipping egg whites and whip on high speed until cooled, fluffy, and shiny, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove cake from fridge and decorate with a mound of meringue.
Arrange cocoa crumbs around the bottom, pour a little ganache down the sides to create a drip, and arrange sliced strawberries, more cocoa crumbs, macarons, and rafaellos around the meringue.
Torch meringue and sprinkle a little freeze-dried raspberry powder over the cake.
Serve within the day.

Forêt Noire

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Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

–Pablo Neruda, Lost in the Forest

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I can’t write the introduction to this post.
I have tried, deleted, tried again.  And again.

It was my dad’s birthday that prompted this cake.
So, I guess I’ll start with that: happy birthday, again, Daddy.

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I was going to begin by talking about how all news seems like bad news these days;
how this blog is not meant to discuss politics but rather butter and sugar;
and yet how stiflingly hard it is to read the paper,
to come to the realization of just how many things are going so very wrong on our planet;
how such current events leave me, as far as writing goes, speechless—wordless—frozen.

This opening, as you can probably intuit from the summary, was wholly incongruous with the happy, cheery, pink cake I’m currently shoving in your face.

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It’s like the New York Times—and Bill Hayes—read my mind.
If you’re a usual reader, you know that I’ve been struggling of late to put the pen to the page.
So much white space between photographs.

I’m practicing non-writing, I suppose, but I’m still in the stages of denial.
I want to write, I can and should write, but I feel I have little to say.
My life is just so goddamn monotonous these days (which, if I’m being truthful, I love. That’s what summer is for) and I mostly spend my time, apart from baking, which you already hear about, reading Game of Thrones or working out or or pining after N, and life around the world, as I have just mentioned, is terrifyingly depressing—death and doom seem inescapable.

These things do not a lively blog post make, friends.

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This space begs to be filled and yet frustratingly sucks up the feeble, meager lines that I proffer up.
It demands real writing, real words, and even when I concede to “non-writing”, a few snippets here and there, nothing serious, it whispers in my ear, sending shivers and doubt up my spine… don’t you think they’ll get bored without words?

For what is this blog without words?
Confessions of Confection.

It’s an empty shell of what I envision it to be; La Pêche Fraîche started because I had so much to complain about say, and because people generally only respond favorably to such whining when it is accompanied by dessert.
(I’m kidding, of course—in reality, the whining came after the desserts.)

Most of the posts of which I am proudest (oh, say, here, here, here, or here, if you want to hear me toot my horn tout my writing. Toot toot) came pouring out with a tumble of emotions and little in the way of the forceful tugging I now must do.

Fo now, each paragraph is another stubborn tooth to be pulled from the bleeding gums of my mind, and rather than satisfying as it is laid on the page, it leaves a gaping hole of limp disappointment.
(My recent experience with wisdom teeth has given me an exquisitely clear understanding of such pain.)

Ugh stop looking at me like that.
I knew I shouldn’t have used that analogy.

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And look here, now, somehow I have managed to produce more volume of self-indulgent grousing than literally everything else I have written lately combined.
How very me.

But there is cake, people!
Not just cake, there is a great feat of sugar that demands to be spoken about, a great big fat pink elephant in the room post.

This is a cake for crazy people.

I’m serious.  But let me explain.

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Before I even try to explain the ridiculousness of this cake, scroll way, way, way down to the recipe/ingredient list.
That should give you a head start on shaking your head.

I think I have carpal tunnel just from typing that monstrosity.

7 main components, here:
mocha mayonnaise cake
quark whipped cream filling
cherries marinated in kirsch
chocolate cherry macarons, filled with
whipped ganache
cherry italian meringue buttercream
ganache glaze

Yaaaaaagh.

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If you’re anything like my brothers, hearing the word mayonnaise in the same sentence as cake will cause you to wrinkle your nose, put your fork down, and push your plate away à la Calvin and Hobbes.

But!
Mayo is just emulsified eggs, oil, salt, and vinegar (I should know, I just made a huge batch with my immersion blender for my dad’s birthday dinner.  I added black truffle oil.  Divine!), which are already in a cake.
The addition of mayo makes this cake super tender and soft, with a light, tight crumb.  Perfect for sky-high layers.
Adding strong coffee makes the cake deeply chocolaty, with a bitterness that offsets the rest of the sugar marvelously.

The quark whipped cream filling tastes like a lightened up cheesecake, slightly tangy and quite fluffy.
It’s far more interesting than the classic whipped cream, which is a bit one note.
(Quark is like a cross between a farmer’s cheese and crème fraiche, and you could sub half as much cream cheese without the need to press the moisture out.)

In Germany, it’s illegal to call a cake Black Forest (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) if it doesn’t contain kirsch (kirschwasser).
With that in mind, fat, fresh cherries, pitted and halved and seeping sweet red juice are gently cooked in kirsch and sugar, until they have soaked up all the flavor and released their juice.
The resultant boozy cherries are drained of their juice and nestled in the whipped cream along with chocolate macaron shells; the juice is gently brushed over the cakes to add extra moisture.

Then, the juice is reduced to a sticky, bright red kirsch syrup, which is poured into a whipped, glossy Italian meringue buttercream, adding a blush of color and delicate kirsch/cherry flavor.

Chocolate macarons, crisp on the outside, yield to reveal fudgy whipped bittersweet chocolate ganache and a rubied center of tart cherry jam, which is a fruity suprise.

Fresh cherries, bittersweet chocolate glaze, more whipped quark, and the macs top this cake; the decoration reminds me of a banana split or an ice cream cake—cute and whimsical!

You can make it in steps: up to a week before assembling, make the cake layers.  Wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze them; take them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge the day before you assemble the cake.
Make the cherries in kirsch up to 3 days before; just store them in the juice, then drain them the day you assemble the cake to brush the layers and reduce to syrup.
Make the macaron shells up to a week before; store them in an airtight container and assemble a few cookie sandwiches for decorating the day before you put the cake before, so they can age and mingle with the fillings.
Make the ganache the day before you assemble the cake; to whip it for the macaron filling, simply let it come completely to room temperature before beating; for the glaze, gently warm it in 5 second bursts in the microwave until it is melted and shiny again.
The day of, drain the cherries and brush the cake layers with the unreduced juice.  Reduce it to syrup and make the cherry Italian meringue buttercream.
Whip up your super quick quark filling (say that 10 times fast), and build your cake.

If you plan ahead, you can do it.
Or, pick and choose which components you want to use!
For a simpler cake, use the chocolate layers, the filling, and the cherries: dust the top layer with powdered sugar and you still have quite an impressive cake.

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I expect there are a fair amount of people who have closed the tab and are now wondering whether it is ethical to continue reading, thereby encouraging the continuation of, a blog run by a mentally unstable individual.

This cake is an undertaking.  But dare I say it’s worth it?
My family—especially my dad, who made a quiet, simple request for black forest or German chocolate and received this enormous pink confection in answer—loved it.

It’s a project, and it will leave your kitchen dusted with a fine layer of cocoa powder and flour and splattered with enough cherry juice to look like a murder scene.
But it also leaves you with a boozy, chocolaty, pink cake, surrounded by happy, contented people, and that, my friends, is reason enough alone.

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Gâteau de Forêt Noire
cake portion adapted from Sweetapolita
macaron portion adapted from Annie’s Eats
cherries in kirsch adapted from Call me Cupcake
makes 1 8-inch 3-layer cake

ingredients:
for the chocolate cherry macarons:
100 grams confectioner’s sugar
100 grams almond flour
12 grams cocoa powder
170 grams egg whites, divided into two 85 gram portions
120 grams sugar
80 grams water
pinch salt
whipped ganache, recipe below
good quality cherry jam

for the chocolate ganache (whipped and glaze portions):
100 grams (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped
100 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup (optional)
pinch salt

for the mocha mayonnaise cake:
170 grams (3/4 cup, 1 1/2 sticks) butter, soft
460 grams (2 cups packed) brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
220 grams (1 3/4 cups) flour
90 grams (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
180 mL (3/4 cup) milk
180 mL (3/4 cup) coffee
60 mL (1/4 cup) mayonnaise

for the cherries in kirsch:
275 grams cherries, weighed pits and all
1/4 cup kirsch
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

for the cherry Italian meringue buttercream:
reserved (reduced) cherry kirsch juice, recipe above
2 egg whites
115 grams (a smidge more than 1/2 cup) sugar
big pinch kosher salt
30 grams (2 tablespoons) water
220 grams (2 sticks, 1 cup) butter, diced and cool
1 drop red food coloring, optional

for the whipped quark filling:
227 grams (8 ounces) quark
360 mL (1 1/2) cups heavy cream
100 grams (3/4 cup) powdered sugar

to assemble:
fresh cherries

directions:
First, make the macarons (can/should be done 1 day ahead): sift confectioner’s sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder together.
Discard the large pieces of almond flour that don’t fit through the sieve.
Add one 85 gram portion of egg whites to the sifted ingredients and stir very well until a thick, uniform paste forms; set aside.
Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment and a pastry bag with a large round tip; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the other 85 gram portion of egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment with a pinch of cream of tartar or a drop of vinegar.
Place the sugar, water, and a pinch of salt into a small pot; fit the mixture with a candy thermometer.
Begin to heat the syrup on medium heat; when the temperature reaches 180 degrees, begin to whip the egg whites; when it reaches 220, the egg whites should be approaching soft peaks; at 240, they should be at soft peaks.
Remove the syrup from the heat when it reaches 245 degrees F; pour it, carefully, into the whipping egg whites, being careful not to splatter the whisk attachment with hot syrup (aim for the side of the bowl).
Allow the meringue to whip until it is glossy and stiff-peaked, about 3 minutes.
Take 1/4 of the meringue and stir it vigorously into the almond paste, to lighten the stiff paste somewhat.
Add the rest of the meringue and carefully begin to fold the mixture together.
Stop the macaronage when the mixture flows like lava/makes a ribbon/reabsorbs a blob after 10 seconds.
Fill the prepared pastry bag and pipe out small macarons on both of the sheets.
Place the first sheet in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake until a cookie lifts off of the sheet cleanly, about 12-15 minutes.
Raise the oven temperature once more and place the second sheet in the oven; reduce the oven temp and bake as before.
Allow the cookies to cool completely.
Make the ganache: place the chocolate, corn syrup, and salt in a bowl and heat the cream to just before boiling, either in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Once the cream is hot, pour it over the chopped chocolate and leave it to sit for 2 minutes.
Gently begin to whisk; continue until the mixture comes together in a glossy, shiny glaze.
Place half of the ganache aside for glazing the finished cake and the other half in the fridge to cool.
Once the chilled portion is significantly thickened and cool to touch (but not solid!), whip it with a hand or stand mixer until it is fluffy and lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
Set aside 1/2 of the shells to layer inside the cake; pair up all the other shells.
To fill the cookies, place a heaping teaspoon of ganache on one shell; gently scoop out a tiny divot in the center and fill it with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cherry jam.
Sandwich the cookies and refrigerate overnight before eating or using in the cake.
Make the mocha mayonnaise cake: grease and flour 3 8-inch round pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place soft butter, kosher salt, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 5 minutes, until very light and shiny.
Add in the egg yolks and eggs and beat for another 3 minutes; scrape the sides of the bowl.
Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder together.
Whisk coffee, milk, and apple cider vinegar together.
With the mixer running on medium, add in the wet and dry ingredients, alternating and beginning with dry.
Beat for 30 seconds after everything is added to ensure homogeneity.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the mayonnaise; mix on low speed for 30 seconds until the mixture is homogeneous once more.
Portion out the batter into the pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, until a tester comes out with only a few crumbs and the tops are springy.
Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out of the pans and cool completely.
Make the cherries in kirsch: halve and pit cherries and place in a sauce pot with kirsch, vinegar, and sugar.
Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes until the cherries have released their juice and are soft but not mushy.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Once cool, drain the cherries from the juice (save the juice!!).
Poke holes all over the bottoms of the cakes (these will become the tops) with a toothpick, then gently brush with a little of the cherry juice—you want to flavor the cake, but not soak it.
Place the remaining cherry juice back into the pot and heat over low heat until simmering; allow to reduce to 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 2/3 of the original volume; reserve this syrup.
Make the cherry Italian meringue buttercream: place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place water, salt, and sugar in a small pot over medium heat fitted with a candy thermometer.
When the temperature reaches 180 degrees, begin to whip the egg whites; when it reaches 220, the egg whites should be approaching soft peaks; at 240, they should be at soft peaks.
Remove the syrup from the heat when it reaches 245 degrees F; pour it, carefully, into the whipping egg whites, being careful not to splatter the whisk attachment with hot syrup (aim for the side of the bowl).
Allow the meringue to whip until it is glossy and stiff-peaked and cooler, about 4 minutes.
Add in the cool butter a tablespoon at a time, whipping on high speed the entire time.
Whip until the mixture becomes fluffy and shiny and homogeneous (keep whipping if it appears to curdle—you simply haven’t beaten it long enough, don’t worry!), about 4 minutes.
Drizzle in the reduced cherry syrup and (optionally) add 1 drop of red food coloring if you want the frosting more pink than purple.
Make the quark whipped cream filling: On a bed of paper towels (use 3 on the bottom and two on top) scrape 3/4 of the quark and press down lightly; the towels will absorb the excess moisture.
Meanwhile, begin to whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar, with a whisk attachment or an immersion blender.
Once the whipped cream reaches stiff peaks, gently mix in the thickened quark.
Place in the fridge to cool and thicken before assembling the cake; reserve 1/3 cup for piping on top of the cake.
To assemble, place the first cake layer (juice soaked side up) on a cake stand.
Add half of the remaining quark filling , spreading so that the center is depressed; arrange half of the drained cherries in a single layer on the cake.
Top with the next layer; spread the rest of the whipped cream but reserve 1/4 cup.
Top with the rest of the cherries and a layer of the reserved macaron shells.
Spread the reserved 1/4 cup of whipped cream over the macaron shells and top with the last cake layer.
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before crumb coating.
Spread on a thin crumb coat of the cherry frosting, being careful to seal in the whipped cream between the layers.
Refrigerate for at least 20 more minutes.
Frost the cake with the rest of the cherry frosting, then place back in the fridge.
Gently heat the reserved ganache, either in a double boiler or in the microwave in 5 second bursts.
Heat until it has loosened up again, whisk until it is shiny and glossy.
Remove the cake from the fridge and carefully drizzle the ganache around the edges.
Place the reserved quark whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe 8 stars evenly around the cake.
Place 4 fresh cherries on 4 of the stars and 4 assembled macarons on the others.
Enjoy your hard earned cake!

Doubtful

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“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

–Karim Seddiki

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You know what kills macarons?
No, you don’t.
No one does, because these stupid fucking cookies have minds of their own.

For me, macs go hand and hand with failure.
Do I doubt them? Perhaps—just a touch—as I slide each fated sheet into the oven.

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Ah, I know there are explanations and even better explanations, there are complete lists of problems and solutions.

But sometimes, y’all, the problem cannot be explained by even the most exhaustive list of troubleshooting suggestions.

Take these macs.  I’ve never turned out a sheet as perfect as the first that was pulled from the oven.
Great feet, solid insides (beware the hollows!), crack-free.
Hallelujer.

The second and third sheets, however, looked like the San Andreas fault personified in a cookie.
Feet, yes.  Gigantic, canyon-like crevasses?  Yep.

Why?!?!?! I don’t know.
Same batter.  Same oven temp and technique… It’s a mystery.

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So this round of macaron mania resulted in 1) the single most perfect sheet of macs to come out of my oven and 2) the most delicious macs to come out of my kitchen.
The super chocolaty shells (thank you extra dark brown cocoa!) are filled with rich bittersweet chocolate ganache and a spoonful of tart, bright red currant, blackberry, and raspberry jam.

This jam is something of note, guys.  Like seriously.  It’s bursting with the flavors of summer and it is outrageously fruity.

The end result of the cookie sandwich is something that tastes like a rich brownie with a crackling shell, with a dab of jam right in the fudgiest part.

Hello, heaven.  Come to mama.

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For the macaron shells, I’m directing you to Annie.  To make them chocolate, sub 24 grams of extra dark cocoa powder for 12 grams of the almond flour and the confectioner’s sugar.

Pipeable Chocolate Ganache
ingredients:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

directions:
Melt and briskly whisk the chocolate, half-and-half, butter, corn syrup, and salt together.
Whisk until the mixture is shiny and viscous.
Allow to cool until solid but still scoopable.
Whip with the confectioner’s sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Whip until fluffy and lightened in color.
If it starts to melt while piping, stick it in the fridge and rewhip as needed.

Red Currant and Berry (Fridge) Jam
makes approximately 2 cups
ingredients:
1 heaping cup red currants, destemmed
heaping 1/3 cup blackberries
1 heaping cup raspberries
generous 2/3 cup sugar

directions:
Press the currants and blackberries through a fine sieve with the back of a spoon; process them for a long time so that you get the most puree possible and leave behind relatively dry seeds.
Place into a deep pot with the sugar and raspberries and place over medium heat.
Smash the raspberries with a spatula or spoon as you stir the jam.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until the jam is thick (use the freezer test: place a small amount of jam on a plate and put it in the freezer until it cools to room temp: it should be thick and spreadable).
Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a clean jar and then to the fridge.

Minted

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“Oh you fancy, huh?”

-Drake

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I am a food blogger.
(And I just quoted Drake.  Lest I be smote from this weblog by the fiery foodie gods for doing so, I leave you with these fancy cookies.)
I eat up seasonal themes like they’re small batch chocolates, y’all.

If you thought you were going to escape winter unscathed and untouched by pepperminty desserts, hoo boy were you wrong.  Won’t you ever learn what a terrible blogger I am?
Remember what happened in the autumn?  How I denied and denied and procrastinated and then DUMPED all the punkin on you at once?
In fact, right after you had thought it safe to dispose of the sad leftover pumpkin in the can sitting in the back of your fridge. (Is that only my family?  My mom liked the can, thus we have 1/2 cup of  month old pumpkin.  Yumbo.)

And you were fed up and almost wrote my blog off.  But you forgave me and we had fika and all was well.

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Well, here we go!  I’m coming in hot with peppermint, the cliched classic winter flavor.
Luckily, I got my shit together and this post is still somewhat appropriate, because it’s not yet xmas and therefore we all still have candy canes lying around.

Funny thing is, I only intended on having one minty post.  However, these cookies used up a lot fewer candy canes than I anticipated, so I have an entire tupperware full of peppermint bits that must be put to good use.

I told you I was irritating.  Stock up now!  You can take your anger out by smashing them to little bits while you wait for the next inevitably untimely peppermint post.

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We get our tree from the same farm every year, and have done so since the family moved to Ithaca (prior to my being).

When we were little, we’d always get candy canes after picking out our tree, from a basket a little shed.

Candy canes were always passed out by teachers and kids alike when the holidays neared in school, a sweet little gift that lifted spirits.

Sometimes we’d get candy canes in our stockings.

Candy canes will forever bring about memories of the holidays, of winter, of my favorite time of year.

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Macs with candy canes?

Yes.  Yes.  Yes yes yes yes.

Chocolate hazelnut shells + chocolate mint buttercream + crushed candy canes.

Need I say more?

But actually.  These were delicious little guys, crisp and filled to the brim with silky buttercream.
The peppermint accents were delightful, a perfect foil to rich hazelnuts and toasty chocolate.

But actually.  So many cookies to share with you.  My head is spinning.  My fingers grow weary of typing.  My oven, well… my oven is always on anyways.

This is part III of our upgraded holiday cookie list.
part I: nutmeg, maple, and rye sugar cookies
part II: Linzer cookies, done right
part III: peppermint chocolate macarons
part IV: ????!?!

You’ll have to check back for part IV, you greedy little things.

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A few quick tips, before I leave you with this addition to your cookie platter.

Bake your macs on a well-insulated baking sheet.  Or, double or triple up.

Make Italian meringue macarons!  Just try it once.  For me.  Because I am a very firm believer in Italian meringue.

Test your batter well and often with the ribbon test: a spatula lifted out of the batter should drip in ribbons, which should disappear back into the rest of the batter within 10 seconds.

Read all of Stella of Bravetart’s posts on macarons.
All. of. them.  Definitely worth your time!  She knows what she’s doing!

If you try them out, let me know!  I’m always curious about macaron success!
Back soon… With the fourth and final (?) part of this cookie marathon!

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Minted Macarons

ingredients:
for the shells:
adapted from Jo the Tart Queen
130 grams hazelnuts or almonds
25 grams cocoa powder
150 grams powdered sugar
70 grams egg whites (approximately 2 egg whites)

150 grams granulated sugar
30 grams water
70 grams egg whites
pinch cream of tartar (optional)

for the buttercream:
180 grams butter
60 grams dark chocolate, melted
splash vanilla extract
2 drops peppermint extract
70 grams powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon heavy cream, as needed to thin

to assemble:
chopped candy canes or peppermint candies

directions:
Make the shells:
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper, being sure it lies flat.
Prepare a large piping bag with a large, plain piping tip.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Place nuts, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder in a food processor and process until finely ground.
Sift into a bowl and add the first measure of egg whites.
Stir until a smooth paste forms.
Combine the water and granulated sugar in a small sauce pot fitted with a candy thermometer.
Place the second measure of egg whites along with the cream of tartar in a stand mixer and start to whip them on low speed.
Meanwhile, begin to heat up your sugar and water.
When the sugar syrup reaches 242 degrees F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks.
Drizzle the syrup into the whites with the mixer on low speed, then increase speed and whip on high until slightly cooled and meringue is glossy and stiff.
Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the nut paste until the nut paste is lightened up.
Fold in the rest of the meringue and continue to make folding, stirring motions until the batter flows like lava and a spatula lifted out of the batter drips in ribbons.
Place the batter in the piping bag and pipe out small circles, flicking with your wrist to sever the stream of batter.
Allow to dry for a few minutes, then place in the oven and bake until a cookie lifts cleanly off the parchment.
Allow to cool completely, then fill and decorate.
Make the buttercream:
Melt the chocolate and stir until smooth; set aside to cool slightly.
Beat the butter on high speed until very smooth and fluffy; add in the extracts and beat until combined.
Scrape the sides of the bowl very well, then add in all of the chocolate at once and beat on high speed until combined.
Sift the confectioners sugar over top and then beat it in.
If frosting is too thick, add heavy cream one teaspoon at a time to thin.
To assemble, spread a thick layer of buttercream onto one macaron shell; place another one on top and squeeze slightly so that the buttercream slightly protrudes from the sides.
Roll in chopped candy canes.
Allow to age for at least 1 day before eating. (Ahem.)

Subpar

 
It was my dad’s birthday today!
 
My dad is not your average father… So, obviously, I made him a not so average birthday cake.
It’s birthday cake… with a twist.
Actually, a few twists.
Or a few kicks.  However you want to say it.
 
I’m very tired while writing this post (on Sundays, the credits of Breaking Bad pretty much signal bedtime to me), so I’ll keep it short and hopefully sweet.
 
My dad is a wonderful human being.  Just superb.  I mean, really.
I could not ask for a more supportive, caring, and understanding father.
He is truly the rock to which I am tethered.
I could not have weathered any storms without him keeping me from blowing away.
 
He’s watching golf, now that we’ve finished Breaking Bad, which is maybe his only bad habit.
Watching golf.  Or maybe playing golf.
He just loves golf so much… I guess I forgive him for it.  Depending on my mood, that is.
BUT I should clarify the title of this post: I mean subpar in a golf way, not in a real world way.
Even though it’s not a term they use, I don’t think.
What I mean is that he’s better than average.
Or something like that.
I don’t know.  Stop looking at me like that.
So this cake… It’s spicy.
Spicy, sweet, and over-the-top.
It’s a rich chocolate cake with a silky cheesecake in the center, sandwiched with spicy strawberry-cayenne jam, frosted with a super smooth Italian meringue buttercream, and topped with cayenne-gianduja macarons.
 
Everything balances out very nicely:
deep, smoky chocolate
slightly sour, rich, thick cheesecake
spicy and tart strawberry
silkier than silky IMBC, which is super buttery and offsets the intense flavors well
slightly crispy, chewy macs with a hint of spice and gianduja (AKA nutella).
This is truly a celebration cake.  You can expect to see more macaron-topped cakes from me in the future.
Once I get my macs down perfectly, that is.
Happy birthday, Daddy!  I love you!
Kickin’ Chocolate Birthday Cake
 
Cayenne Gianduja Macarons
adapted from Jo the Tart Queen
ingredients:
for the first mixture:
70 grams egg whites
130 grams hazelnut flour
25 grams cocoa powder
150 grams powdered sugar
A few pinches cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want the cookies
for the second mixture:
60 grams egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
150 grams granulated sugar
30 grams water
directions:
Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Process hazelnut flour, confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and cayenne together in a food processor until all lumps are gone.
Place in a bowl and fold in the first measure of egg whites until the mixture is mostly combined; it will look crumbly and dry.
Make the second mixture.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream of tartar.
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan.
Heat the sugar and water over medium heat while the egg whites are whipping.
When the sugar syrup reaches 320 degrees F, the egg whites should be at soft peaks.
Heat the syrup until it reaches 340 degrees F.
With the mixer running, slowly pour the syrup over the meringue.
Allow to whip until the meringue has cooled and is stiff.
Fold the first and second mixtures together until the batter is like lava.
Pipe out circles and leave to dry for 15 minutes.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies lift cleanly off the parchment.

Miniature Cheesecake
adapted from Miette

ingredients:
1/2 pound (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and put a large kettle on to boil.
Wrap a 6-inch springform pan tightly in aluminum foil and lightly grease the inside; place inside a roasting pan.
Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy; stream in sugar and beat until well incorporated.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg, half and half, and vanilla.
Pour into prepared pan.
Carefully pour boiling water around the springform into the roasting pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until set and the center jiggles only slightly.
Allow to cool completely, then freeze prior to placing in the cake.

Strawberry Cayenne Jam
ingredients:
1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pectin (low or no sugar)
Few pinches cayenne pepper
directions:
Chop strawberries finely and place in a wide saucepan with the sugar, pectin, and cayenne.
Cook until thickened and jammy, about 10 minutes.
Purée if desired.


6-inch Chocolate cake
adapted from the back of a Hershey’s cocoa powder
ingredients:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 2 6-inch pans.
Whisk dry ingredients together.
Whisk wet ingredients (except coffee) together, then whisk into the dry ingredients.
Whisk in the hot coffee and pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Italian Meringue Buttercream
Same as here. 1/2 the recipe.

To assemble:
Place one cake on a cake plate.  
Spread with 3 tablespoons jam, then top with the frozen cheesecake.
Spread 3 tablespoons jam on the underside of the second cake, then place it jam side down onto the cheesecake.
Crumb coat with the buttercream.
Pipe 6 swirls on top of the cake, nestle in macarons that have been sandwiched with a little jam (3/4 teaspoon-1 teaspoon per cookie) or extra buttercream.
Serve at room temperature.

Mac Attack

Because it’s impossible not to smile while eating a pink cookie with sprinkles.
Because why not trash up a classic French pastry with America’s favorite flavor? (Birthday cake, duh.)
AKA funfetti.
AKA sprinkles.
Just look at these cute little macs.  
They’re pink.  And sprinkled.  And yes, they taste like birthday cake.
I think I’m finally getting the hang of making macarons!
 
I thought I would share a few of my personal tips and tricks for macaron success, although I won’t lie and say that making these cookies isn’t still stressful or difficult or volatile… I have shells that crack too, it’s just that now I better understand/can better explain these fatalities.
1.  I no longer make macarons the French way, which involves heating egg whites with sugar over a double boiler and then making a meringue.
This process is identical to making a Swiss meringue, which I no longer do either. (more on this in an upcoming post!)
Rather, I use the Italian (sucre cuit, cooked sugar) method to make my macarons (and buttercream, but like I said… hold your horses for an in-depth tutorial).
This involves mixing half of your egg whites with almond meal and confectioner’s sugar, and making a cooked meringue with a hot sugar syrup and the other half of the egg whites.
You then marry the two mixtures by performing macaronage, or folding and gently mixing, and finally, you pipe out your shells.
 
2.  I don’t worry about the age or temperature of my egg whites (thanks, Stella!).  To be honest, however, I almost always have aged egg whites stored in my fridge from recipes needing only or mostly yolks, and these are the whites I use most often for making meringue buttercreams or macarons.  
However, if I don’t have the full weight of whites needed, I’ll simply crack open a fresh egg.  
It theoretically shouldn’t matter, and I don’t find that it does.
P.S. If you haven’t been saving your unused, unloved egg whites, shame on you!
That’s money down the drain!
Save them and use them in buttercream or macarons or angel food cake, or feed your dog a nice egg white omelet to make their coat super shiny and soft.
Waste not want not!
 
3. I mix my (gel) food coloring in with my almond flour- not my meringue.  
I find that this better distributes the color and ensures that there are no pockets of food coloring that can lead to streaks and holes in your macarons.
When I am partially mixing my almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, and half of the egg whites, I also add in a dab of food coloring (Wilton Rose, for these shells) and gently mix until the mixture is dusty and dry but streaked and there are no globs of food coloring.
 
4.  I let my shells dry before baking.  
This is something a lot of people don’t buy into, but I’ve found that the extra 30 minute drying period really helps ensure that my shells have feet and don’t crack.  
Regardless of others’ experiences, this is what has consistently worked for me.
Different strokes for different folks.
 
5.  I never use silpats.  
Seriously, people, parchment is best for macarons.  
I find that silpats stick and tend to pull the bottom right off my macs.  They’re impossible to pry off, and I end up gouging giant holes in the bottom or cracking the shells right in half when I try to wrench them off of a silpat with a paring knife.
Not a pretty scene, take it from me.
 
6. I use heavy-duty sheet pans, or double up on flimsier ones.  
This is a big help with cracking, which generally occurs when the inside/bottom of the shell is cooking too fast, causing the interior to expand and the top to rupture.  
Using thick (or double) sheet pans also prevents the bottoms of the macs from browning, which is not quite so pretty but still tasty.
If you have trouble with cracking, try using two sheet pans for your macarons.  
It just might help. 

These aren’t the easiest baking project in the world, and are somewhat fussy little cookies.
But once you find a set of guidelines that work for you, you may just be swept away by the macaron mania. 
There are endless possibilities for these little French cuties, and you can mix and match shells and fillings to your hearts delight.  
The filling recipe that I’ve created for these is scary in that it tastes exactly like the frosting out of a can- in a good way.  
 
I will admit that it is slightly less sweet and a bit more creamy, but it is nearly an exact copy-cat.
How did I make this up?  I threw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, tasted, adjusted, tasted, adjusted, and, once satisfied, licked the rest of the bowl (after all those tastings, there wasn’t much left anyways!).
Who needs fillings for macarons anyways?!
 
Pulling a successful batch of macarons out of your oven is reason for celebration unto itself, so why not celebrate with cake?

 

Birthday Cake Macarons
for the shells:
adapted from DessertFirst Girl
ingredients:
100 grams almond flour
100 grams confectioner’s sugar
200 grams sugar
50 grams water
pinch of cream of tartar
150 grams egg whites, divided into 2 75-gram portions
approximately 1/4 teaspoon pink gel food coloring
directions:
Line 2 or 3 heavy duty baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a food processor, process the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar.
Dump into a bowl with 75 grams of the egg whites and the pink food coloring.
Mix partially with a spatula until mostly combined but still streaked with dry ingredients.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar and the water in a saucepan.
Cook the syrup to 245 degrees F.
While the syrup is cooking, whip the second 75 gram portion of egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar.
The egg whites should be just a tiny bit shy of stiff peaks when the syrup comes to temperature.  
The peaks should be stiff, just not dry.
Once the whites have whipped and the syrup is up to temp, slowly and carefully drizzle the syrup over the meringue with the mixer on low, until all of the syrup is used up.
Beat on high until cooled slightly.
The meringue should be smooth, thick, and glossy, and hold a “beak” on the end of your whisk.
Scoop all of the meringue on top of the almond meal mixture and begin to fold and turn your batter.
Continue to turn and scrape the bowl while folding the mixture until it falls in a ribbon and flows like magma.  
The ribbon that cascades off of your spatula should disappear into the mixture after 10 seconds.  (Please see Anita or Heather’s picture tutorials for a clearer idea.)
Place batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe 1 inch circles onto your baking sheets.
Preheat oven to 320-325 degrees F while shells dry.
Bake for 15 minutes, changing the top rack to the bottom and vice versa halfway through the baking. 
Shells are done when one can be lifted cleanly and easily off of the parchment, with no browning on the bottom.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
for the faux canned frosting:
ingredients:
115 grams (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1+ cup confectioner’s sugar (this is to taste; I always add less confectioner’s sugar and build my way up, tasting as I go.  I prefer things much less sweet, so I advise you to taste as you go with any recipe, as they often call for a lot of sugar.  What I have listed here is my preference and is not too sweet.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk powder
pinch salt
splash vanilla extract
splash butter extract (trust me!)
directions:
Beat butter and cream cheese on high until very creamy and smooth.  
Scrape sides and beat in confectioner’s sugar.
Mixture should be fluffy and light.
Add in the heavy cream and beat to combine- mixture may look curdled.
Add in the milk powder and beat on low to combine.

Add in the salt and extracts and beat on high.
If mixture is too runny, add a bit more confectioner’s sugar and/or milk powder.
If it is too thick, add in heavy cream or half and half a teaspoon at a time- it can go from too thick to runny very quickly, so beat well between additions.
to assemble the macarons:
ingredients:
shells
frosting
sprinkles
directions:
Spread half of the shells with about a teaspoon and a half of the filling, then sandwich with another shell.
Fill a small bowl with sprinkles, then roll the edges of each macaron in the sprinkles.
There should be enough filling exposed on the edges to pick up sprinkles around the middle of the mac.
Allow to “mature” overnight if possible, but definitely allow the flavors and textures at least 2 hours to mingle and get comfortable before eating.
Enjoy!

All that Glitters

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2013 will soon be upon us, as out of the ashes of the last dying day of December rises the new  year.
2012 went by in a flash (don’t they all?).  It’s hard for me to believe that the year is almost over.
We got eight-ish inches of snow from the storm, and our entire town is blanketed in thick, fluffy white piles.  
It is such a wintry wonderland: picture perfect and well-suited for the holidays.
 
 
As we ring in the new year, I hope all of you are surrounded by friends, family, and champagne love.  It’s the only way to begin 2013!
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These are vanilla bean Italian macarons, filled with rose French buttercream, swiped with a bit of tempered white chocolate, and dusted with a whisper of gold luster dust and silver stars.  Luxuriously delicious, and perfect for NYE celebrations!
 Well, scratch that.  I just finished the last one.  New Year’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve celebrations.  Close enough.
 
I’m feeling supremely lazy, so I’m gonna link some recipes with adaptation instructions rather than rewriting them here.  Sorry Larry.
I used this fabulous recipe, halved, for the macarons.  I prefer to use the sucre cuit style, as it has previously given me better results than the traditional French method.  And I’m lazy and  Anita has absolutely foolproof instructions and pictures, so, by all means, go take a look around her blog.  Gorgeous!  I swiped each shell with some melted, tempered white chocolate, and dusted them with gold luster dust and silver sprinkle stars.
 
For the rose buttercream, I used BraveTart’s recipe, scaled down for the weight of 1.5 ish egg yolks (I used about 2.3 ounces of butter, to give you an idea), then added a teeny tiny touch of red food coloring, about a tablespoon of mascarpone, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and a few drops of rose water (which gets stronger as it ages! so beware!).  It made the perfect amount for the macarons.
See you next year!  Have a wonderful holiday! xo

Pants on Fire

Remember how I said I hate baking cookies? Ha, um well…


I have four different cookies to show you.  Er… Tell you about.

Don’t look at me.

I wasn’t lying, but sometimes it’s necessary to bake cookies.  What a drag, I know.


For instance, if your best friend is going back to school and leaving you, cold and alone, you might need to bake some spiced-up chocolate chip cookies, as a parting memento so she won’t forget about you too quickly, while having a private pity party. Just you and half of the cookie dough.

Or!  What if, on the off chance that you needed egg yolks for curd, you put aside the whites to age (For the record, this is pointless.  Regardless, it’s paying homage to the voodoo macaron gods.), then pulled them out of the fridge a few weeks later, weighed them and they were exactly 5 ounces (Okay. 4.9. Forgive me.)?!!  Macarons round two.  Duh.  I shall vanquish thee and thine splitting shells, thou conniving cookies.
 
Ou, qu’est-ce qu’il faut faire lorsqu’on attend l’entré de ton ami (ouais, c’est le français!), qui t’a demandée de faire des biscuits il y a longtemps?  Il faut qu’on fasse les biscuits; quel gentil cadeau, non?
(Or, what do you have to do when you’re waiting for your friend to arrive (yes, the Frenchman), who asked you to make cookies a long time ago?  You have to make cookies; a nice present, no?)
And?  When you have 3/4 of a cup of buttercream left over from those pesky macarons and you need something to send in a care package to your pesky brother, why, it’s obvious!  You simply must make cookies!  Leftover cookies. Waste not want not people!  (No pictures.  Oops.)
Now, I would like to point out that 3 out of 4 of these recipes took me under 30 minutes to prep and bake.  Macarons, not so much.  Even so, it’s safe to say that I’m cookied out.  Cake soon.  Very soon.  Glory hallelujah… I love cakes.
Spiced-Up Chocolate Chip Cookies
ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
splash vanilla
1 tablespoon nutella
1 tablespoon peanut butter
big pinch salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
big handful chocolate chunks/shavings/chips: as many as you want, you minx
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the butter and sugars together with the salt extremely well until fluffy and light.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat until combined, then add the nutella and the peanut butter.  Beat until homogeneous.  Add in the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Use an ice cream scoop to portion out cookies, and bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on how chewy/crispy you like your cookies.  
 
Melting Moments
ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
splash vanilla
big pinch sea salt
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream butter and sugar together, then beat in vanilla.  Add in the salt, flour, and cornstarch all at once and mix slowly until it all comes together.  Refrigerate briefly (if your dough is still cool, you don’t have to), and up to a day.  Roll out tablespoon sized balls and bake for 10-14 minutes, until cookies just start to turn golden.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar.  
 
Green Tea Ganache
ingredients:
2/3 cup melted white chocolate
2 teaspoons matcha powder
healthy pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup mascarpone
directions:
Mix chocolate, matcha, and 1/3 cup heavy cream and allow to sit and come together.  Beat with an immersion blender until smooth.  Set aside and allow to cool.  Once cool, beat with an immersion blender, then add in butter.  Next, beat 2/3 cup heavy cream (in another container) until soft peaks form.  Blend that with the matcha mixture, then beat in the mascarpone.  Put in fridge to firm up before using.
 
For the macarons, I followed BraveTart exactly (she is a master!) but added no coloring or flavoring except for a big honking vanilla bean.  I also used slivered almonds for my nuts.  I then filled them with the matcha ganache.  You will have 3/4- 1 cup of ganache left, but never fear…
 
Leftover Cookies
ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
big pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttercream (any flavor, really)
1 egg
splash vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat the egg and sugar and vanilla together.  Add in buttercream, stir just to combine.  Add in all of the flour, salt, and baking soda, and stir just until it comes together.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Bake for 10-14 minutes, again depending on how chewy you like your cookies.  *These will not spread at all.*