Raspberry Rose Macarons- A Thank You for Breast Cancer Supporters

October is National Breast Cancer month and it seems like everyone wants to join in on the crusade, from the NFL, Social Media Sites, and shopping proceeds to research.  As well as into our work places and own homes with things like Pink Shirt Day, Pink Ribbons and into the privacy of a woman’s bathroom with self-exams.   With both mine and my Mom’s fight with #BreastCancer, I like to take the time to do what I can and bring awareness to women, in particular young women each year at this time.

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I remember the amount of roses that got delivered to me after surgeries and how that support and love felt.  I know that support is what gets many cancer patients thru, even though it seems like so little to those friends and family.  The medicines, treatments and developments in surgery are the technical parts that heal but it is the personal part, the support from loved ones that lasts a life time.

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Last week I thought about my experience and where I am now with it.  What it means to me, and how I wanted to honor it.  The friends and families support is what I held on to and I wanted to honor that.  Macarons seemed like the best way to do that.  Making macarons truly is a dedication of time and patience for me, not giving up and although the process may not be easy for me, in the end the learning’s and results are very fulfilling.  Rose flavor for the love I received during my experience. XOXO

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Rose Macaron Shells, slightly modified from Martha Stewart

  • 1 ¼ cups almond meal
  • 1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon rose extract
  • Red Food Coloring Drops

Raspberry Rose Ganache, slight modified from Les Petits Macarons by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. Martin

  • 11 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, pureed and strained
  • 2 teaspoon rose extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very soft

To make rose macaron shells:

  • With a fork blend together almond meal and confectioner’s sugar and sift into a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat egg whites until frothy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add granulated sugar and rose extract, and beat until barley stiff, shiny peaks, another 3 to 5 minutes, adding red food coloring drops until the desired color is achieved.
  • Add egg whites into almond mixture and fold until combined. Continue to mix vigorously with spatula until the batter sinks easily into a smooth mass and has the consistency of honey. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag, cut off 1/2 inch off tip. Pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined sheets.
  • Let dry 30 minutes to an hour and a half until tops are firm and dry.
  • Preheat oven to 350. Bake one sheet at a time for about 14 minutes, rotating once. Let cool completely on wire racks before piping ganache and sandwiching cookies together.

To make the ganache filling:

  • Put the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until it is chopped into small pieces.  Leave the chocolate in the processor.
  • Bring the corn syrup, sour cream and raspberry puree to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Immediately pour it over the chocolate in the food processor.  Wait one minute for the chocolate to melt completely, then pulse until the mixture is completely smooth.  With the food processor running, add the butter, then the rose extract, and pulse until all is incorporated and the ganache is homogeneous and shiny.
  • Pour the ganache into a shallow pan, and let it cool at room temperature until it becomes pipeable, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.   This ganache can be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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These French macarons came out perfect, I was so happy with the lightness of the cookie and the subtle rose flavor.  They have perfect balance and are a perfect tribute to all of those that support breast cancer patients.

All you ladies, take care of yourself, do your exams, and remember to show your supporters how much their efforts matter.

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Tomato Basil Macarons #BrunchWeek

Today is the start of #BrunchWeek, which leads straight up to Mother’s Day.  There are bloggers across the country participating, so there is bound to be some great ideas for the coming Sunday’s feast.  Check out the end of the post for a list of recipes and posts to be inspired by as well as list of incredible sponsors.  Click on the Rafflecopter link to get a chance to win amazing prizes from the sponsors!!! Super easy!

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I have to admit- I’ve been gotten.  A little monster snuck into my head, and flipped a switch to make me believe that all the hype about macarons being “difficult” would not be true for me.   I was convinced that I, an amateur, yet successful baker would not have any issues with this simple cookie.  So when I was thinking about creative brunch ideas, savory macarons popped into my head and I signed on the dotted line- #BrunchWeek Day 1, Savory Macarons.

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Of course there was plenty of time to get started, just needed to get past that busy work week, and then Sir Wes’ birthday celebration #WEStival, my brother’s family visit, a catching up at work week, a weekend to relax, and then a crazy town week at work.  Soon I was left with just two weeks to tackle these “simple” cookies.  It turns out that the hype was real- macarons are as temperamental as they get, they are not simple at all, more like a monster in fact.  Touch them wrong and its over for you.

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It was helpful having to try and retry baking macarons nightly due to deadline, as I am certain I have actually learned about the anatomy of the French monsters.

With the help of Les Petits Macarons written by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride, I spotted my troubles and made plans for the next batch.  I strayed a few times over to good old Martha, but became sold on Kathryn and Anne’s methods and advice.

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My problems laid mostly with the feet, they had all types of problems- flat feet, no feet, wide-load feet, and most commonly,  “why don’t I have model feet”.  The monsters also had some intestinal problems, not much of a fan of this topic, but I’ll just say that there were runs and explosions.

With enough nights to work on them and the help of some friends at work, along with this monster bible, I managed to be satisfied with the macarons.  All had not been lost, I won the war against the savory macaron monster- as I would say at work- “Kiss it B*^@ches….”

This recipe and method came from Les Petits Macarons with some very slight modifications to adding the savory-

  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill is in my pantry)
  • ¾ cup confectioner sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered egg whites
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup aged egg whites (from 4 eggs, aged covered in the fridge for 1-2 days) – Room Temperature
  • 2 drops red gel food color (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon crystalized basil
  • 10 tablespoons garlic herb cream, goat, brie or preferred cheese spread

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Makes about 40 macaron sandwiches

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Pulse almond flour, confectioners’ sugar salt and tomato powder in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time. Sift dry ingredients over a piece of parchment paper.

2. Hand whip the powdered egg whites and the granulated sugar in an electric mixer bowl, add in the egg whites and cream of tartar until the mixture is homogenous.  Whisk on medium-high speed, when the egg whites reach soft peaks add the food coloring if you choose to use.  Continue whipping until glossy stiff peaks form (about 8-11 minutes).  The meringue should look like marshmallow fluff when ready or when you are able to hold the bowl upside-down without it falling out.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the meringue and J-fold until you reach the, almost impossible to know, macaronner stage. It is important to fold the different components just enough,(sadly I think this only comes after you’ve learned what doesn’t work), but not too much or the macarons will crack. To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula. If it retains a three dimensional shape, fold it again. When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in one continuous drip.   Fill your piping bag halfway, allowing the maximum piping control.

4. Pipe the macarons 1 ½ inches apart on silicon baking sheet lined sheetpan. (again, more of the practice makes perfect saying).  Slam the baking sheet down to remove excess air (slam 6 times, from 6 inches above the table). Sprinkle the crystalized basil on top of each macaron.  Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the oven to 350 and cook for another 6-9 minutes depending on size.

5.  Fill with your preferred garlic herb spread, creamed brie, goat cheese, ect.  Refrigerate until an hour prior to serving.

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***With any failures there are learning’s.  Pay attention to what didn’t work so you know what to try or avoid in the future.

I have to admit, there is no way I am done with these monsters.  I feel like they might have won this round, but now that I’ve cut my teeth, I am ready for round 2.

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I secretly love getting stumped in the kitchen, as it makes successes so much sweeter.

Take a look below to see this great list of #BrunchWeek  Posts!!

Today’s Brunch Recipes From Participating BrunchWeekers Beverages

Blood Orange Mimosas by Love and Confections

Strawberry Mimosa by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner

Margarita for Mama by poet in the pantry

Candied Bacon Bloody Mary by Sarcastic Cooking

Eggs

Breakfast Won Ton Cups by Small Wallet Big Appetite

Meat Lover’s Quiche by Savory Sweet Eats

Chorizo and Garlic Frittata by {i love} my disorganized life

Cherry Tomato and Chorizo Omelet by Katie’s Cucina

Meat, Poultry and Fish

Candied Bacon by Cravings of a Lunatic

Shrimp-Grapefruit Orchid Stirfry by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Savory Treats

Hollandaise Sauce by Kokocooks

Breads, Grains, Cereals and Pancake-type Yums

Apple Cinnamon Crepes by Sweet Remedy

Grain-free Apple Walnut Pancakes by Seasonal and Savory

Desserts

Biscoff Coffee Cake Muffins by White Lights on Wednesday

Bob’s Scottish Oat n’ Walnut Sticky Scones by The Vintage Cook

A big thanks to all the sponsors, California WalnutsLodge Cast Iron, Vidalia Onions-The Flavors of Summer, Black Gold Farms, the Food and Wine Conference and Sunday Supper, Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods Market -Orlando, and Stonyfield Organic,

Click below on the link and see all the generous and incredible prizes the #BrunchWeek sponsors have donated!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Port Wine Cherry Cordial Cookies- #FBCookieSwap

Coffee and/ or cereal for breakfast, on your own for lunch and cookies for dinner.  This was our household meal plan for the last few weeks.  What outstanding timing for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap to happen, it was the same time Sir Wes and I were both barreling thru our busiest weeks of the year.  Three deliveries of cookies landed on our doorstep, perfectly synched to provide our nourishment thru Crazytown.

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Cookies for dinner, for two weeks, and I am not even embarrassed.  These gems were fantastic.  Rachel from Kvell in the Kitchen made us Iced Whiskey Ginger Cookies (great week for whiskey), we got a batch of Chai Snickerdoodles that I loved (a couple made it into my morning coffee) and Traci from Burnt Apple’s cookies landed last- melt in your mouth butterscotch delights.

I recruited a few chefs that I work with to help me brainstorm what kind of cookie to make, the idea list got pretty long and I have a few of them planned in the future- but we finally landed on the perfect cookie to sip a glass of wine with.  Chocolate Cherry Cordial Cookies, made with port wine, 70% dark chocolate chunks and sun dried cherries. 

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Inspired by a couple of great chefs and slightly modified from the Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries

 Directions

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

 Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl. In a bowl of an electric mixer, or with a handheld mixer, combine butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and wine and combine. Slowly in batches add the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate and cherries. On a nonstick cookie sheet, place a heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops are still soft looking but edges look firm. 

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The cookie swap this year was a ton of fun- I can’t wait to see all the posts and get my cookie baking on!!  Thanks to Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen for organizing such an enormous event.  And a huge shout out to the participants that all supported a great cause- Cookies for Cancer.  I can’t wait to see how much The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap collected for such an important cause! 

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Cheers to all the cookie monsters out there- and though it isn’t a diet I would recommend for any length of time- remember, cookies for dinner are OK.  (sometimes)

Pink and White Cookies to Kick Off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month- Pinktober

By the time October starts the fall season is in full stride, leaves are turning, pumpkins are everywhere, costumes are being dreamt up and football is underway.  The big deal about October that sets it apart from the other autumn months is the focus on boobs.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of year when the Pink Ribbon becomes as iconic as the Halloween Pumpkin.  The sweet little pink ribbon reaches millions, and unfortunately most people have their own story to share. 

I shared my story last year publicly for the first time.  It was a big deal for me to write about, and to open up about it.  I hate being in the spotlight, getting unwanted attention, especially considering my experience with breast cancer was so minimal compared to others. 

Since I told my story I have had several friends and strangers come to me with their experiences, or come and tell me that they always felt Breast Cancer was one of those, “can’t happen to me” things- and that reading my story taught them it can happen to them.  There is even been a sense of humor about it; High Fives to the Pink Ribbon Warriors, as if we were a club!  In the end of the day, I am glad that I was able to affect even just a handful of people. 

The last year I was blessed to avoid another occurrence, as I have had Phyllodes Tumors, which have the habit of regenerating, rather than spreading.  There was a long month that the doctors had found what might have been a reoccurrence, luckily it was discovered as benign.  The worst part of Phyllodes Tumors is that we are always waiting for a reoccurrence, but my family is getting pretty good at handling the stress of waiting.   

And while I am on my soapbox, here is a new twist on a New York favorite cookie-

Slightly modified recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients 

  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  •  2/3 cup cake flour, not self-rising
  •  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  2 large eggs
  •  3/4 cup granulated sugar
  •  1/2 cup milk
  •  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  •  1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  •  2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  •  2 tablespoons light corn syrup, plus more if needed
  •  1 individual Raspberry Ice Crystal Light On The Go or Raspberry extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add milk, and whisk to combine. Whisk in melted butter and extracts. Add flour mixture, and stir to form a smooth dough. Cover, and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Line baking pans with Silpat nonstick baking mats. Using a 2-ounce scoop, drop five cookies per pan, 3 inches apart. Bake until edges are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack set over parchment paper to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons hot water, and corn syrup. Whisk until smooth. Using a small offset spatula, ice half of each cookie. Return cookies to rack to drip, if necessary.
  4. Sprinkle Crystal Light Powder/Raspberry extract to remaining icing. Stir until smooth adding more until you reach desired shade of pink.  Add additional corn syrup to thin to desired consistency, if necessary. Spread pink icing over second half of each cookie. Allow cookies to set, about 10 minutes.

Check your breasts, don’t believe you’re invincible.  In the meantime, support Breast Cancer Awareness, take part in this important cause- raise money, talk to friends, volunteer, make cookies, feel boobs, wear pink!

Pimento Cheese and Strawberry Filled Cookies

I saw the cookies first, and knew I had to make pimiento cheese so I could make the cookies.   I’m a sucker for crackers, crisps, biscuits, ect- especially when Sweet meets Savory!  These cookies are delicious- if you prefer substitute the strawberry preserve for another- raspberry or lingonberry would be great!  You could even use your basic grape jelly- who doesn’t love cheese and grapes!

Southern Treats

 

Pimento Cheese and Strawberry Jam Cookies Mise En Place

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup refrigerated pimento cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons strawberry preserves

Preparation

1. Beat together flour and pimento cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 1 minute. Add pecans and butter; beat until blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours.

"Off the Hook" Dough Ball

 

Roll the dough thin for a crisper cookie

 
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. Place dough on a well-floured surface, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 48 rounds with a 2-inch round cutter, rerolling scraps once. Arrange half of rounds 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets; spoon 1/2 tsp. strawberry preserves onto center of each round, and top with remaining rounds, pressing edges to seal.

Just a Dollop of Jam

 

 3. Bake at 400° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Cheese, Spice and Jam- Great Combination!

 

 This recipe is from Pawley’s Island Specialty Foods, Palmetto Cheese, Pawley’s Island, SC.  Found in Southern Living.

Whenever a rolling pin is involved, good things follow!
Sweet Southern Beauties………………….
 

Oatmeal Cream Pies- Move over Little Debbie!

And on the 12th Day of Christmas Cookies I discovered good things were worth waiting for.  Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies are by far the favorite new cookie that I made this year.  They are just plain awesome.  Taste just like Little Debbie’s version, except they are so much better.  Chewy and delicious; kind of ridiculous. 

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

I discovered the recipe at the Beantown Baker.   

Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water

Filling

  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp unflavored gelatin (about 1 1/2 packets)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup water (divided)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces vegetable shortening

These will take you back to Elementary School!

Make the cookies

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside (or use parchment).

Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, flour, and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture. Add the cinnamon and oats. Mix well.

In a small dish, add the baking soda to the boiling water, and then stir the mixture into the rest of the batter. Mix well.

Drop by the tablespoon onto the baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake until the cookies are firm and just starting to turn golden around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack or a plate.

 

Make the filling

In a small measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Let stand, stirring once or twice until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup hot water until well blended. Continuing to stir, raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Continue boiling for 30 seconds. Immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the gelatin mixture until it completely.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the vanilla.

With a mixer on medium speed, beat for 20 seconds. Gradually raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is stiffened, white, very fluffy, and cooled to barely warm, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar.

Add the shortening and beat until completely smooth.

The filling will set up as it sits, so wait until it is thick enough to spread or pipe before filling the cookies.

 

Little Debbie Who?

Hope you enjoy the last Day of Christmas Cookies, in my opinion- I saved the best for last!

Happy Baking!

Buckeyes

On the 11th Day of Christmas Cookies I made the cookie that started it all- The Buckeye, a true crowd pleaser.   Years ago a friend included me in her yearly Cookie Extravaganza and I was in charge of the Buckeyes.  It was a full day of baking, from early in the morning to late at night, I might have complained a bit, a lot actually, but there is always a smile on my face when I think about these days.   The Annual Cookie Extravaganza was the inspiration for the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies for sure, and how could I not deliver on my responsibility of the Buckeyes!

Ohio's Treasure, the Buckeye!

Is Peanut Butter and Chocolate ever wrong?     

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening

Buckeyes

Directions

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar blending until the dough is smooth.  Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate.

3. Melt chocolate and shortening together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.

4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

Makes about 5 dozen pieces of deliciousness

Forget the Reece's Cups!

My yearly tribute to The Cookie Extravaganza and all the Cookie Girls out there!