Includes 3 full-length dessert cookbooks and more than 50 recipes.
Learn how to make many different desserts, no matter what your level of baking experience.
It’s easier than ever to bake decadent chocolate cupcakes and brownies. Get helpful tips about decorating and coloring cupcakes, recommended equipment, and loads of resources. Original and tested step-by-step recipes include Blueberry Brownies, Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes, Blue Velvet Cupcakes, Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes, and many more tantalizing treats.
The book was written by someone who went from baking box mix brownies and cupcakes to discovering the joy of baking from scratch. With a photograph of each finished treat, the reader will be inspired to try baking these delicious recipes.
Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide contains 50+ color photos.
Bake beautiful and delicious French macarons in your own kitchen. This collection of tried-and-tested recipes allows bakers to create these tasty and colorful confections.
The author details what equipment and ingredients you need, offers numerous helpful tips, resources, and shares more than 30 recipes for you to whip up an array of elegant French delicacies.
Full of inspiring color photos, Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide, offers everything you need to bake stunning macarons that will impress anyone who tastes them.
Some of the flavors include Cinnamon Caramel, Tangy Orange, Key Lime, and Acai macarons.
Ruby Chocolate: A Beginner’s Guide includes ten original and tested recipes using authentic ruby chocolate. From healthy granola bars to tasty ruby chocolate chip cookies to decadent fudge, chocolate lovers will be inspired to create their own desserts. The reader also receives gift packaging ideas, and many resources.
Almond is a classic flavor and the filling also contains almond flour. Using a high quality almond extract will make the flavor even richer. These lovely almond macarons will brighten any occasion!
This recipe is from my book Baking Macarons: The Swiss Meringue Method.
160 grams powdered sugar, sift with almond flour 160 grams almond flour, sift with powdered sugar 150 grams egg whites 180 grams confectioners’ sugar, sieved 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder Blue food color gel
Preheat oven to 300°F. Sift the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Stir in the arrowroot powder and set aside. Put a template on a baking sheet and place a silicone mat or parchment paper over it. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until well combined. Place bowl over steaming pot with just enough water, as you don’t want the water touching the bowl. Heat on medium heat until it steams. Test to make sure it’s hot enough by sticking your clean finger in the meringue near the center of the bowl. If using a candy thermometer the temperature should be about 130 F. Remove from heat and place bowl back onto stand mixer. Add the cream of tartar. Whisk on medium to high speed until firm peaks form. Egg whites should be glossy and if you flip the bowl upside down, nothing will come out. Add food coloring and whisk until the color is incorporated. Remove the whisk and add the paddle attachment [if using one]. Add the presifted almond flour and confectioners’ sugar mixture and food coloring. Turn mixer to low or medium speed and mix for up to 10 seconds. If that doesn’t mix the batter thoroughly, mix for another 10 seconds. Turn off mixer and with your spatula, run it around the sides and bottom of bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Test for the ribbon stage. When you lift your spatula above the bowl, the batter should fall back to the bowl as one continuous stream and create a ribbon pattern. Pour batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe onto the silicone or parchment covered baking sheets. When finished with each sheet, bang baking sheet on counter to remove air bubbles. If you see any air bubbles, pop them with a toothpick. Let shells rest on a flat surface in a cool, dry area for about 30 minutes. The surface will change from glossy to matte. To make sure they’re done, gently touch the edge of one with your finger. There should be no trace of batter on your finger. Bake for 15-20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. Carefully monitor the baking process and check your oven thermometer. After 8 minutes, rotate the tray to ensure even baking. Macarons are done when you peel back the mat or parchment paper and the shells don’t stick. Remove from oven and slide the parchment or silicone mat onto a cooling rack. Place macaron shells on a wax paper covered baking sheet or tray for filling. Using an edible brown food color gel pen, carefully draw spirals on each shell. When the shells are dry, match similar sized shells together. Pipe the filling on the flat side of one shell and gently place the second shell on top.
Almond Macaron Filling
This is a European type of filling as it contains almond flour for a thickener and for the taste and texture. For more texture, you can use unblanched almond flour.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, starting at low speed and gradually changing to medium speed. When thoroughly mixed add the almond flour and whisk until the filling is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and almond extract. Scoop into a piping bag, the use of a tip is optional.
Preheat oven to 300. Sift almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together into a bowl. Stir in the arrowroot powder and cinnamon, and set aside. Put a template on a baking sheet and place a silicone mat or parchment paper over it. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until well combined. Place bowl over steaming pot with just enough water, as you don’t want the water touching the bowl. Heat on medium heat until it steams. Test to make sure it’s hot enough by sticking your clean finger in the meringue near the center of the bowl. If using a candy thermometer the temperature should be about 130 F. Remove from heat and place bowl back onto stand mixer. Add the cream of tartar. Whisk on medium to high speed until firm peaks form. Egg whites should be glossy and if you flip the bowl upside down, nothing will come out. Add vanilla bean paste and whisk for a few seconds. Remove the whisk and add the paddle attachment [if using one]. Add the presifted almond flour and confectioners’ sugar mixture. Turn mixer to low or medium speed and mix for up to 10 seconds. If that doesn’t mix the batter thoroughly, mix for another 10 seconds. Turn off mixer and with your spatula, run it around the sides and bottom of bowl to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Test for the ribbon stage. The batter should fall back to the bowl as one continuous stream and create a ribbon pattern. Pour batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe onto the silicone or parchment covered baking sheets. When finished with each sheet, bang baking sheet on counter to remove air bubbles. Let shells rest in a cool, dry area for about 30 minutes. To make sure they’re done, gently touch the edge of one with your finger. There should be no trace of batter on your finger. Bake for 15-20 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. Carefully monitor the baking process and check your oven thermometer. After 8 minutes, rotate the tray to ensure even baking. Macarons are done when you peel back the mat or parchment paper and the shells don’t stick. Remove from oven and slide the parchment or silicone mat onto a cooling rack. Place macaron shells on a wax paper covered baking sheet or tray for filling. Using an edible brown food color gel pen, carefully draw spirals on each shell. When the shells are dry, match similar sized shells together. Pipe the filling on the flat side of one shell and gently place the second shell on top.
CINNAMON ROLL FILLING
125 grams [4 ounces] unsalted butter, room temperature 125 grams [4 ounces] cream cheese, room temperature 220 grams [2 cups] confectioners’ sugar, sifted 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 30 ml [2 Tablespoons] heavy [double] cream 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a mixer/stand mixer, mix butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add the vanilla, heavy cream, and cinnamon. Continue to blend until well incorporated. Add the sugar and mix on high speed for a few minutes. Spoon into a piping bag and fill your macarons.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Chocolate Espresso Ganache Filling
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.
Adding instant espresso to chocolate chunks
Pour in your cream and vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.