Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide–An Excerpt

Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

My second cookbook has just been released after months of testing various chocolate cupcake and brownie recipes. It was so much fun baking these sweet treats and learning more cupcake decorating techniques. For example, I tried the swirl method and was able to come up with this:

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Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes

I’ve also learned how to make my own sparkling sugar and the various ways to core cupcakes. So, if you love chocolate goodness, keep on reading!

Chapter 1 ~ About the Ingredients

Your cupcakes and brownies can look and taste better than any found in a bakery. What you put into your batch of cupcakes is up to you and your budget. Are fresh eggs and butter available to you? I’ve been able to use farm fresh eggs in many of my batches of cupcakes and brownies. Those hens are free ranging and while kept in a coop at night, during the day they amble around several acres of pasture and eat natural food from the ground as well as organic chicken feed.

Use whatever ingredients you have in your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator for your first batches of brownies and/or cupcakes. Don’t invest a lot of money in ingredients or equipment if you only plan to make the occasional dessert. But once you make brownies and cupcakes from scratch, get creative and try new brands of chocolate, butter, or any of the other ingredients to learn if you can taste a difference. Oftentimes you’ll find some sweet [I couldn’t resist that pun] deals on the ingredients at your grocery store so you’ll spend less money on finding out what you like to add to your chocolaty desserts. Baking isn’t just science–it’s also art.

As the recipes in this book are all about using the most natural ingredients, as well as the best tasting, virgin coconut oil is recommended. This tropical oil is easier to use in oil form rather than solid. Coconut oil is coconut butter at temperatures below 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the weather, I can let it sit in the sun to melt or if it’s hot enough then measuring it is always easier. Virgin coconut oil gives cupcakes natural moisture and you won’t taste the extra coconut.

Amazon Kindle: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon Kindle UK: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Paperback edition: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

3DBakingcupcakes book&Phone

Results for the Guess the Mystery Berry Contest!

Copyright 2017 by Lisa Maliga

mysterymacswhitebackgroundThanks to everyone who entered the first ever Mystery Berry Contest. It was a fun contest to run and I enjoyed reading the responses and guesses. 

Here’s the page where the contest and comments can be seen:

https://lisamaliga.wordpress.com/contest-guess-the-mystery-berry/

 

The two people who correctly guessed the answer were entered in the  Random Name Picker.

1st prize ~ $25 Amazon gift card plus the mystery berry recipe.

WINNER: robeader

2nd prize ~ eBook edition of BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE plus the mystery berry recipe.

WINNER: Mary Rieves

To the winners: please contact me with your email address so you can receive your prizes. You can either leave it in the comments section, or contact me directly at: lisa_maliga@msn.com

Have a berry good week & Happy Baking!

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Mystery Berry = Boysenberry

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chocolate raspberry macarons SILPAT mat

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 16: Chocolate & Raspberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

chocolate raspberry macarons by the author of BAKING FRENCH MACARONS A BEGINNER'S GUIDE

I’m happy to post a new blog for another successful batch of macarons that taste as good as they look. It’s also the first time I’ve used the AmeriColor brand of gel food coloring, and to get the bright pink color I only used 3 drops of Super Red. So, color me a fan of this brand!

I decided to combine chocolate with a dollop of homemade raspberry jam in the center of each macaron. All I had to do in advance was make the jam and the chocolate ganache. Instead of taking pictures, I attempted to film all the steps to preparing French macarons. Even with a tripod, the results weren’t very good. Learning how to operate a camera and keep the lens from auto focusing every time I added a new ingredient was a challenge. Trying to keep my hands away from the lens wasn’t always successful. The first tripod I bought was so flimsy, the camera tipped over. I had to invest in an aluminum one. Then came the video editing which may look easy but when it comes to removing yawn-inducing stretches of watching the whisk attachment going round and round, or seeing someone pipe three trays’ worth of macarons – well that’s not highly entertaining.

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Ingredients for making chocolate raspberry macarons

Anyway, this batch of macarons turned out fine. I used my new Silpat mat for the third and smallest batch of shells. I was so proud of it that I took extra photos of the bright pink shells.

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Bright pink raspberry macaron shells baked on the new Silpat mat

This was the first time I made ganache with Scharffen Berger 62% cacao semisweet chocolate. I REALLY recommend this for a delicious ganache. Yes, I adore Valrhona, but I found this to be just as good. The ganache was so smooth. Even the video I took of it didn’t seem to be too difficult to film. Once it’s edited, I’ll post it on my YouTube channel and link back to this blog post. Below is a screenshot of filling the macarons.

As I made my own raspberry jam and didn’t strain the seeds, the result is natural and changes the texture. If you prefer to make this with a fruit spread, you can choose a seedless raspberry.

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Adding raspberry filling to the macarons
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Chocolate ganache filling surrounding homemade raspberry jam in the center.
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Chocolate raspberry French macarons

I’m going to be making another batch of macarons next week. They’re the perfect summer flavor. Watch for the blog and maybe even a video!

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baking french macarons a beginner's guide by lisa maligaWant to bake macarons? Read my book Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide. Available in eBook [free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription] and paperback formats.

Chocolate Espresso Ganache Filling Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

I used to think that a ganache was something fancy that went on top of a cake or some type of fancy pastry. I knew it was made from chocolate, but that’s about all. If you’ve never made this lovely and decadent macaron filling, don’t worry, it’s very easy to make. You only need a few ingredients but you should get the best type of chocolate that you find appealing. For practice, use standard dark chocolate morsels that you may have in your pantry, but if you’re a chocoholic, add a 70% cacao content dark chocolate.

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Chocolate ganache just before going into a pastry bag

Chocolate Espresso Ganache Filling

Ingredients:

4 ounces heavy cream [120 grams]
4 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate [120 grams]
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
½ teaspoon instant espresso

Put cream in microwave for about one minute until hot — NOT boiling. Pour over chocolate chunks. When melted add instant coffee and vanilla and whisk well until smooth. Let sit at room temperature for at least four hours or overnight. Cover with plastic wrap. Just before getting ready to use a spatula to scoop the ganache into a piping bag with large round tip.

This is a simple recipe to make and it will really perk up your macaron shells. The touch of espresso gives the chocolate more zing! I used my favorite brand of chocolate: Valrhona.

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Adding instant espresso to chocolate chunks

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Pour in your cream and vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

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Whisk ingredients together until you have a shiny chocolate ganache!
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Orange & chocolate mint macarons

Baking French Macarons A Beginner’s Guide

This recipe can be found in my book Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide. Available in eBook [free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription] and paperback formats.

 

 

“Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide” Now Available in Paperback

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

acaimacaronsmed

I’ve owned and read many cookbooks over the years. Some have been leather-bound tomes dating back almost two centuries. Others have been spiral bound and contained gorgeous color photos. As a teenager, I used to look at the cake decorating books, admiring the artistry behind each unique design.

Until this year, I never thought I’d write a cookbook. Sure, I’ve shared recipes before, as soap is made in a kitchen. But soap is easier to make than macarons and even a small bar lasts a lot longer than these delicate desserts.

Before the November 1, 2016, release of Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide, I was trying to get the paperback edition properly formatted. Being on a tight budget, I went to Fiverr and found a formatter who would do a 155-page cookbook with 54 color photographs for $6, including the $1 processing fee. What a bargain! I was skeptical that the newly listed formatter could do the work in less than one day as he promised. A day after the promised delivery time, I received a message. “Hi Lisa, I am high sorry for the delay. I had delay of my new PC yesterday and I cannot continue using the old one. I was highly disappointed the time the agent came in. So, I am greatly sorry for this late delivery of your work.”

A few hours after sending the email, he sent me the .DOC and PDF files. He even changed the name of the file to end with the word GOOD.

The title now read Baking French Macaron: A Beginner’s Guide.

Continuing the singular theme, there was a Table of Content.

The headings were out of bounds and didn’t pass CreateSpace’s interior reviewer. Some of them began on the chapter page. Photos were less than the required 300 dpi. The “good” ones were stretched like in the following example.

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An example of bad formatting

I politely thanked him for his trouble and contacted someone else.

Jackie [not her real name] gave me a rate of $30. That still seemed reasonable. A few hours later, she had finished the project. I was very surprised in the amount of time it took and was naturally suspicious. It was formatted without headings but everything else looked nice; certainly no stretched photos. Before thanking her for a job well done, I uploaded it to the interior reviewer. All the images were less than 300 dpi. I contacted her and she said she’d fix it. A few hours later, I was sent another version. The same thing happened.

For the next four days, it went on. Some of the photos eventually were 300 dpi, others were under that ‘magic’ number. Finally, when all but 7 of the photos were considered good enough, I thanked her and decided to forego a paperback edition. Even if I had a less costly version with black and white photos, it wasn’t worth all the time and aggravation I’d gone through. I couldn’t compromise and publish a photo-less book. I’d spent way too much time and money into making my book the best it could look.

I’d noticed another scam cookbook that was doing well, even though it had no photos and the back cover was completely blank. Some of the recipes had ingredients only—no measurements. That book was selling several copies a day. I was motivated to figure out my photo problems, and eventually I did.

The eBook cover I’d designed was nice, but I knew a professional could do a much better job. Print covers needed strong typography so titles would show up well.

Using my own photos for the cover, I didn’t have to be concerned about copyright issues. I’d been checking out numerous cover designers and I went through their portfolios. I found a very talented artist. The book cover was far better than the one I made on Canva.

Here it is!

Baking French Macarons A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon UK paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

Barnes & Noble paperback link: Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide

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