Easy Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownie Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

Here it is, a scrumptious fudgy brownie recipe that’s loaded with minty flavor and LOADS of walnuts. It’s easy to make, you don’t need a mixer, and it’s a wonderful dessert.

fudgymintwalnutbrownies3CU
Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup [113 grams] unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces [120 grams] mint chocolate, coarsely chopped

11/4 cups [250 grams] granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup cocoa powder [sift into flour]

1/2 cup [65 grams] all purpose flour [sift]

1/2 cup [65 grams] chopped raw walnuts

1 teaspoon peppermint extract OR approx. 20 drops of peppermint Essential Oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit [165 degrees Celsius] and place the rack in the center of the oven. The 8 or 9 inch square baking pan can be buttered [use the butter wrapper] or sprayed with a non stick cooking spray.

In a glass or stainless steel  bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and whisk in the bowl containing the sugar. Pour in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter will be smooth. Stir in the premixed and sifted cocoa powder and flour. Add the peppermint extract or essential oil. Lastly, add half the chopped walnuts. Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Add the rest of the walnuts on top.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Rotate pan midway through baking. The brownies will be done when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out with a few wet crumbs. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

TIPS:

I suggest sifting the flour and cocoa powder together first. Presifted flour also makes your brownies a bit smoother and easier to mix.

If using pure peppermint essential oil, make sure it only contains mentha piperita. That’s the Latin name for the plant. Genuine peppermint essential oil is very concentrated that’s why you measure by drops, not grams or teaspoons. The brand I used in this video is the real deal and I bought it on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V5C97LK

To watch my video, just go here:

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.

chocolatemintganache
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.

chocolateganacheespesso2

Adding instant espresso to chocolate chunks

chocolateganachecream2

Pour in your cream and vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

chocolateganache
Whisk ingredients together until you have a shiny chocolate ganache!
orangegreenmacarons
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.

 

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 15: Lemon Butter Curd Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

lemonbuttercurddickenson

You’ve heard of lemon curd and lemon butter, right? In fact, there are two types of lemon butter, one edible, the other that can be spread on your skin as it’s made with lemon peel and lemon oil, sweet almond oil, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. How do I know this? I’ve spent 10+ years in the kitchen formulating the perfect whipped shea body butter and I’ve tried all kinds of butters and oils. But I digress, this is about real dairy butter that goes inside those lovely macaron shells.

This time when I made my lemon buttercream filling, I didn’t use any cream. I blended room temperature butter with the powdered sugar [a/k/a confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]. I looked in the fridge and saw that the heavy whipping cream was a day away from expiring. Not wanting to take a chance, I decided to add the lemon curd. I added just the right amount to make it much tarter than in the past. Before, it was a sweet lemon. Now, it was a sweet and tart lemon and the vanilla bean paste helped perk up the flavor even more. So it was still a curd and there was that lovely fresh Plugra butter so why not call it butter curd? I also enhanced the color with yellow gel colorant.

lemonbuttercurd
Lemon Butter Curd Filling

Admittedly, I have problems with hollow macaron shells. While some people might not like to bite into a big air pocket, others aren’t as fussy. I’m a perfectionist and didn’t like them, although I’d rather they were hollow than footless! But this time I had fewer hollows. Here’s the proof:

lemonbuttercurdinside
Fewer hollows inside the macaron. Yes, the bright yellow lemon curd is almost the color of mustard. 

Since July, there have been a couple of baking changes. The first is that the oven maintains an even temperature. Secondly,  I’m using powdered colorants which means I mix the batter well, but not too well.

I’m also adding the powdered colorant to the triple-sifted almond flour/sugar mixture just before it goes into the meringue. For this lemony batch, I went au naturel and used turmeric. The resulting color wasn’t a bright yellow and the photos make it look tanner than it actually was. The truest color is that seen with the almost hollow-free macaron just above.

I’m working on a new eBook that will contain macaron recipes along with LOTS of helpful tips for making your own French macarons. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to baking another batch of minty macarons this week.

Want to make this recipe and many others? Check out my new book, BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE.

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 8: Lemon Macaron Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

lemonmacarons1
Lovely Lemon Macarons — 3rd attempt

I didn’t think it would take 3 tries to bake lemon macarons but it did, thanks to some brain blips! If you’re trying to make lemon, orange, lime or any other type of citrus macaron which calls for zest, please carefully read this blog and avoid my mistakes!

 

The first try had nothing to do with the flavor and everything to do with thinking I could add more confectioners’ sugar for a higher yield. Nope, I just ended up tossing the batter in the compost heap.

Attempt #2 failed because I added a heaping tablespoon of lemon zest to the mixture. I’d grated a couple of lemons the day before and put the zest in a glass bowl to dry. The problem was twofold: too much lemon zest and it wasn’t 100% dry. It should have gone in the oven for a few minutes. The zest was pulverized in a food processor but I neglected to sift it as I thought it wasn’t fine enough. Another brain blip!

I added a lot of gel food coloring [in dropper bottle] and still only got a pale yellow color rather than the daffodil yellow I was hoping to achieve. The macaronage went well and I was able to pipe 68 shells on 3 different trays. At 12:40 I’d piped the first two parchment-lined trays. I wasn’t able to put one in the oven until 2:28—and the day was warm and sunny with average humidity. 90 minutes of drying time was highly unusual. The problem became apparent when the first tray emerged from the oven with yellow-brown macarons with NO feet. Ugh! I shouldn’t have used the center rack, either.

lemonmacsbadflat
Flat & footless macarons 

While I managed to put together 34 macarons, none of them looked good, especially the last tray with the freehand piped macs on the silpat. They were as flat as Oreo cookies and the next day when I bit into one, the filling spewed out onto the plate. Compost heap for those macs.

 

lemonmacsgood1
Freehand piping’s not perfect but is improving

My third batch of lemon macarons behaved nicely! Drying time took 30 minutes, I didn’t add any lemon zest and when I peeked into the oven after 9 minutes I saw pretty yellow shells with feet!

lemonmacsgood2
Lovely Lemon Macarons just out of the oven

78 shells, none cracked, all with feet, and even the silpat freehanded macs had smooth undersides—no visible hollows. Easily plucking them off the mat was the highlight to a successful macaron baking afternoon.

TIME SAVING TIP! Mix the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar together the night before. This should be the fourth time you sift the almond flour but only the first time for the powdered sugar. They should be sifted into a large bowl so that it’s easy to combine them with either a whisk or a fork. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and when you make the macarons the next day, that step is already taken care of. I discovered this time saving method when I was separating the egg whites. I tend to age the eggs overnight rather than for several days. My theory is that as long as the eggs are at room temperature the meringue will turn out fine.

The following recipe is in grams as weighing ingredients is more precise. While similar to my pink lemonade macarons, the main differences are weighing the amounts and using 3 egg whites. For the filling, weighing isn’t necessary, but an increased amount of lemon curd gives it a tangy taste. I also recommend vanilla bean paste in the filling for its rich flavor.

Lemon Macaron Shells

100 grams almond flour

200 grams powdered sugar

3 large egg whites [room temperature]

50 grams granulated sugar

Yellow gel food coloring

Pinch of salt

Oven Temperature: 300 degrees

Time: Approximately 16 minutes

* Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. If the sheets are thin, double them up. You’ll also need a pastry/piping bag with a large round tip ready before you begin.

* Sift powdered sugar with the almond flour. Large grains that don’t make it through can be thrown away or used as a skin exfoliator.

* Whisk the sugar and flour to make sure it’s fully blended.

* In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy like a bubble bath before adding the salt. Then add granulated sugar in 3 batches. Start at a low speed and gradually increase the speed. When finished, the mixture should have stiff peaks. Add color last, but only whip for the briefest amount of time to mix in the color.

* Add dry ingredients to the meringue in 2 batches using a spatula. Fold until the mixture comes together, scraping the sides and flip batter over. When the sugar/flour mixture is blended, the batter will be easier to mix and will look shiny. Lift the spatula and see how quickly batter falls in “ribbons” from the spatula. A ribbon of batter dropped into the bowl should merge with the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. Another test is to “write” the number 8 with the batter.

* Add tip to piping bag and then twist near the bottom to prevent any mixture from escaping. The tip should face upwards and that also helps keep the mixture in the piping bag as you place it in a cup and form a cuff over the rim so it’s easy to add the batter.

* Pour batter into piping bag. Twist the top of the bag and untwist the bottom, gently pushing the just-poured batter toward the bottom. You’ll remove any excess air that way.

* Pipe the batter onto the parchment or silicone mat. With parchment, you can use a template.  

* Pipe batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1.5-inch circles. Keep the batter inside circles if using a template.

* Rap baking sheet several times on the counter. This will further flatten the macarons, and remove air bubbles. Place a towel on the counter to lessen the noise!

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Allow macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes until a film forms. Lightly touch a macaron and if no batter clings to your finger then it’s dry and ready to be baked.

* Bake for approximately 16 minutes. Use either the center rack or the one just below it. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. The risen macarons should be firm with the slightest amount of give. When done, the cookies can easily be removed from the parchment or silpat.

* Remove from oven, place cookie sheet on a wire rack or flat surface and let cool completely.

Lemon Curd Buttercream Filling

1/4 cup butter, softened [President, Plugra and Kerrygold are all excellent brands]

1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons heavy cream

4 tablespoons lemon curd

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions:

Blend the softened butter with half of the powdered sugar. Add the cream, lemon curd and vanilla. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until the filling is the desired consistency. The filling should be stiff enough to remain on the cookie but not so hard as to crush the shells. Spoon or pipe the filling onto the row of macaron bottoms and cover with a top.

lemonmacsgroup
Lovely Lemon Macarons — 3rd attempt

New! Get this recipe and many more in my new book, BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE. Available in eBook and paperback formats!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
 Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 6: Vanilla Bean Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

frenchvanillamacs8
French Vanilla Bean Macarons

Time to try the metric system! I used my trusty little digital scale that I bought for soap crafting. It only measures up to six pounds but does grams and ounces.

I’m a fan of vanilla as I don’t think it’s plain. Vanilla’s a spice, it comes from an orchid and grows in the tropics. It’s not white, it’s black. And I finally tried vanilla bean paste. I highly recommend it. I used Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste because I wanted the tiny seeds and didn’t have to scrape them out of a vanilla pod. I was also curious to try the paste, as I’d read several online reviews from bakers of all levels of expertise citing it was very flavorful. According to the Neilsen-Massey website: “Due to its thick consistency, similar to molasses, this culinary paste enables you to add more delicious vanilla flavor without thinning out your batters or sauces. It’s also ideal for recipes, such as crème brûlée and ice cream, in which you want to add the enticing visual flair of vanilla seeds.” As macaron batter can be finicky, I didn’t want to take a chance in adding vanilla extract and I wanted the vanilla seeds. Win win!

Now, I was supposed to precisely weigh the ingredients but the three eggs didn’t weigh 110 grams but 88 grams. I figured I’d take a chance and I’m glad I did because this batch turned out fine. In fact, by using three rather than two eggs, I ended up with 53 shells. Since I had so much batter, I used a silicone mat on top of two warped cookie sheets. I’d read not to use warped cookie sheets but it didn’t make a difference—the shells came out just fine. So fine that they were effortlessly removed from both parchment and silicone surfaces! That was another first. What’s as good as a macaron with feet? Shells that don’t have to be scraped off with a spatula!

frenchvanillamacs2
The mint color is seen in the back

When I added the vanilla bean paste right after the blue gel colorant, the black seeds were apparent and the blue changed to mint green. After sitting in the fridge overnight, the shells returned to robin’s egg blue again!

I used up the rest of the strawberry buttercream filling and also used more of the lemon curd buttercream which had been double bagged and stored in the freezer. NOTE: Click links for recipes!

frenchvanillamacs4
Vanilla bean macaron with strawberry buttercream filling

TIPS: Sift the almond flour three [3] times before you make the macarons. The fourth time is when you blend it with the confectioners’ sugar. This is why macarons average $2.00 each – they are labor intensive. Patience is needed for crafting these fancy French cookies. 

Sifting almond flour isn’t tons of fun but the more you sift, the smoother and shinier your finished macarons will be. [Check out the one to your left].

French Vanilla Bean Macarons

110 grams ground almond flour

frenchvanillamacs6
Front to back: almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, blue gel & vanilla bean paste

200 grams confectioners’ sugar

100 grams egg whites (3 eggs)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract]

50 grams granulated sugar

3 drops blue gel colorant

Pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 300

Instructions:

* Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. If the sheets are thin, double them up. Macarons are sensitive to heat so they need to be baked on a durable tray that has lots of insulation. You’ll also need a pastry/piping bag with a large round tip ready before you begin.

* Sift powdered sugar with the almond flour. Large grains that don’t make it through can be thrown away or used as a skin exfoliator. I discovered this when I washed the equipment by hand the first time!

* Whisk the sugar and flour to make sure it’s fully blended.

* In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy like a bubble bath before adding the salt. Then add granulated sugar in 3 batches. Start at a low speed and gradually increase the speed. When finished, the mixture should have stiff peaks. Add color last, but only whip for the briefest amount of time to mix in the color.

* Add dry ingredients to the meringue in 2 batches using a spatula. Fold until the mixture comes together, scraping the sides and flip batter over. When the sugar/flour mixture is blended, the batter will be easier to mix and will look shiny. Lift the spatula and see how quickly batter falls in “ribbons” from the spatula. A ribbon of batter dropped into the bowl should merge with the rest of the batter in 20-30 seconds. Another test is to “write” the number 8 with the batter.

* Add tip to piping bag and then twist near the bottom to prevent any mixture from escaping. The tip should face upwards and that also helps keep the mixture in the piping bag as you place it in a cup and form a cuff over the rim so it’s easy to add the batter.

* Spoon batter into piping bag. Twist the top of the bag and untwist the bottom, gently pushing the just-poured batter toward the bottom. You’ll remove any excess air that way.

* Pipe the batter onto the parchment or silicone mat. With parchment, you can use a template.  

* Pipe batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1.5-inch circles. Keep the batter inside circles if using a template.

* Rap baking sheet several times on the counter. This will further flatten the macarons, and remove air bubbles.

* Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Allow macarons to sit for 30-60 minutes until a film forms. Lightly touch a macaron and if no batter clings to your finger then it’s dry and ready to be baked.

* Bake for 12 minutes. The tops should be firm and glossy and the bottoms of the shells should have formed “feet” or frills at the bottom. The risen macarons should be firm with the slightest amount of give. If it wobbles, they require another minute or so. When done, the cookies can easily be removed from the parchment.

* Remove from oven, place cookie sheet on a wire rack or flat surface and let cool completely.

frenchvanillamacs3
Shells on silpat minutes out of the oven

Learn to bake macarons! Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide is available in eBook and paperback editions!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
 Win free books and a book about baking macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9