* In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk until combined.
* In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. You can also use a hand mixer or mix with a whisk or wooden spoon.
* Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Blend well.
* Stir in the dry ingredients until well blended. It will feel quite stiff.
* Mix in the chocolate chips.
* Form into balls approximately 3.5 ounces [100 grams]. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Refrigerate for one hour.
* Preheat oven.
* Cookies should be at least 3 inches apart. Bake on center rack for about 15 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 15 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
This recipe made one dozen 3.5-ounce cookies. I added a few walnuts to 2 cookies. Store in an airtight container. If serving the next day, heat in microwave for about 15 seconds if you want a melty interior. I’ve added links to some of the ingredients. They are only suggestions, of course. Chilling the dough in the refrigerator before baking helps to keep the cookies higher so they won’t spread a lot.
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.
For lovers of chocolate and coconut! The virgin coconut oil and organic coconut palm sugar make these cupcakes healthier and more delicious. This recipe is from the book Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide by Lisa Maliga.
CHOCOLATE COCONUT CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS: 1/3 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped [3 oz.] 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder 3/4 cup hot water 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 6 tablespoons virgin coconut oil [3 oz] 2 eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons [fresh] lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract 1 teaspoon vanilla
Makes 12 cupcakes
Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celsius
Place the chopped chocolate and sifted cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot water over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.
Add hot water to chocolate chunks and cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. The rack should be in the center. Line a standard-size muffin pan with liners.
Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly.
Whisk the virgin coconut oil, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. DON’T OVERMIX!
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17 – 19 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely.
FROSTING INGREDIENTS: 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Shredded coconut for sprinkling [optional]
FROSTING DIRECTIONS: With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Add coconut extract, vanilla and cream.
Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
Pipe onto cupcakes and top with a sprinkling of shredded coconut.
Get ready for any holiday or happy event with these delectable blue cupcakes topped with yummy cream cheese frosting. This recipe is from the book Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide by Lisa Maliga.
This recipe has a slightly different color than the one featured in my book as I used another brand of gel food color. If using AmeriColor food gel, you’ll only need to add several drops rather than an entire bottle of conventional gel coloring. The color of these cupcakes turned out to be turquoise rather than sky blue.
BLUE VELVET CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS: 2 cups granulated sugar 8 ounces unsalted room temperature butter 2 Eggs [room temperature] 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder [sifted] 1.5 Tablespoons blue gel food coloring 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature 1 Tablespoon vanilla 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Makes 24 cupcakes
Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celsius
In a large bowl cream together the room temperature butter and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time.
in a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and blue food coloring. when thoroughly mixed add to the large bowl and mix well.
Add the flour, salt and buttermilk alternating between the two ingredients so you don’t get any lumps.
In the small bowl, add the baking soda and vinegar. They’ll react together by fizzing up. Add to the large bowl, mixing well.
Scoop into cupcake liners.
Bake on center rack. Rotate pan midway through baking.
Bake for about 25 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
FROSTING INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup butter at room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ or powdered sugar Dash of fresh lemon juice Sprinkles for decorating [optional]
FROSTING DIRECTIONS: Beat softened butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat until thick and creamy.
Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day with these delectable green cupcakes topped with yummy cream cheese frosting.
2 large eggs [room temperature] 1 cup sunflower oil OR vegetable oil 1 cup buttermilk 1 Tablespoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla 1.5 Tablespoons green gel food coloring 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 2 cups sugar 1 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda
Makes 24 cupcakes
Oven temperature: 350 Fahrenheit/177 Celsius
Preheat oven. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla. Then stir in food coloring. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture until completely combined. Pour batter evenly into cupcake liners. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After about 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
This cream cheese frosting is easy to make and tastes different from vanilla buttercream. As cream cheese is softer than butter, you might want to take it out of the refrigerator a few minutes before making the frosting – especially if the weather and/or your kitchen is quite warm.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar Dash of fresh lemon juice
Beat softened butter and cream cheese on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat until thick and creamy.
Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide
by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017=2019
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:
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.
My quest for baking the perfect chocolate macaron continued. They needed to have feet but also be smooth and shiny. By adding less cocoa powder, my second bath was easier to mix. The egg whites “aged” overnight, about 12 hours. But I slightly underwhipped them, which was a first. After the macaronnage, I added the batter to the piping bag and closed the top with a rubber band to avoid spillage. It worked, although by the time I piped the last shell, the remaining batter was threatening to ooze out of the top.
The macarons didn’t set up right away – I had to wait about 30 minutes. Later, I realized that both trays should have rested for at least 45 minutes.
This time, the oven temperature was lower, 300 degrees. I’e since learned that chocolate needs to bake around 350 degrees. Also, the baking time should’ve been longer. One tray was in the oven for 19 minutes and the other 20. Afterwards, I realized they could’ve baked another two minutes longer in both cases because I wasn’t able to easily remove them from the parchment paper. However, using 20/20 hindsight, chocolate macarons should bake for about 12 – 14 minutes at 350 degrees.
While both trays showed macarons with feet, they were in the small side and the shells were hollow. At first, the macs looked like they’d have smooth, glossy tops, but after they emerged from the oven they deflated a bit and had irregular shaped tops.
Unlike the first batch of chocolate macarons, the texture was lighter and airier – not like brownies or biscotti.
The chocolate ganache filling was easy to make. I chopped up a Valrhona bar [71% cacao content] trying not to eat any of it. Note: next time I’ll try the Valrhona 46% feves! For 50 seconds, the heavy cream went into the microwave and when poured over the chunks the melting began. I whisked it for a few strokes and then added the room temperature butter and vanilla extract. Soon it was successfully mixed and sampled. Way better than the first batch. Nothing like using a high quality chocolate bar, heavy cream and imported butter! Yes, I could taste the difference between this and the previous batch made with chocolate chips. The richness was so apparent.
Due to being underbaked, the shells stuck to the parchment and I used a spatula to remove them. Some of them were really cracked and messy looking but I managed to salvage them into sloppy and unphotographable macs. They tasted good when consumed that day. However, the next day and the day after that the macarons tasted much better.
NEXT WEEK: More adventures as I bake scrumptious French Vanilla Bean Macarons.
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Before baking the macarons, I sifted the almond flour three times and poured it into an airtight container. Now, every time I make macarons, I only have to sift the flour and powdered sugar together once, and whisk the two ingredients in a bowl and set it aside. So much sifting is done to ensure that your shells are smooth and shiny.
When I whipped the [room temperature] egg whites, I added the pinch of salt with the granulated sugar at the foamy midway point. Four minutes later, I had that satiny texture of egg whites that had reached their peak. Then I added two drops of pink gel for a baby pink color.
The flour/sugar mixture was added in two stages and this time I counted how many times it was folded: 63. The texture was just right and I was cautiously optimistic, as I poured the batter into the piping bag. My first few macarons were round and all was going well until I felt something wet on my hand. Ooops, I’d been holding the bag wrong and it was leaking out the top. But I kept at it and wound up with a grand total of 52 shells.
30 minutes later, the macarons went into a 300-degree oven. Instead of using the center rack, I opted to use the one just below it. This time I turned the tray eight minutes into the baking. There they were: FEET!
They baked for 19 minutes and when I pulled the tray out I saw 26 macarons shells with feet. I did a happy dance, and added the second tray. Meanwhile, I began making the “lemonade” buttercream filling. Actually, it was flavored with Trader Joe’s lemon curd. I used the strawberry buttercream recipe and substituted lemon curd for the strawberry jam.
All was going well until I added the powdered sugar. It flew out of the bowl, on the counter, stove, floor, me…the bowl was too small! Next time I’d mix the softened butter first until creamy and then very slowly add the powdered sugar. More time consuming but no cloudbursts of sugar that way.
Due to using naturally yellow butter and lemon curd, I didn’t need to add color, but I did: 5 drops which didn’t significantly change the color. The taste was a sweet and tart blend that I adored. If you adore lemon, try the following recipe. Let me know how it turns out and feel free to ask any questions or make any comments!
Pink Lemonade Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar [confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]
¾ cup almond flour [sift 3 times]
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 egg whites [room temperature]
2 drops pink gel colorant
Pinch of salt
Serving size: 52 shells or 26 macarons [approximately]
Stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment
2 – 4 large baking sheets
Parchment paper or silpat mat
Large sieve or flour sifter
Pastry/piping bag with large round tip
Measuring cups/spoons/stainless steel or glass bowls
Silicone or rubber spatula
Large cup or glass to hold piping bag
* 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. Stay inside the lines as the batter will spread and flatten a bit.
* 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 16 -18 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.
Lemon Curd Buttercream Filling
1/4 cup softened butter [use a high quality butter like President or Kerrygold]
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar [confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons lemon curd
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
5 or so drops yellow gel color [optional]
Whip butter for about 2 minutes before adding some of the powdered sugar. Add the cream, lemon curd and vanilla. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until the filling is the desired consistency. Add colorant last.
Pair the shells according to size. Spoon or pipe filling onto one side. Gently add the other side. If using a piping bag, start in the center by doing a swirl until you reach near the edges but not right at the edges. You don’t want to overfill them and make a mess with leaking buttercream filling. Gently add the top shell and give it a twist of about a quarter turn to make sure the shells are nicely lined up.
Store your macarons in an airtight container and put in the refrigerator. They should last about a week. Macarons taste best at room temperature, so remove from the fridge about an hour beforehand.
This is an easy cake to bake. As I wanted it to be as rich as what my mom made, I used imported GMO-free butter, pure cane sugar, and eggs that come from chickens that are free to roam around outdoors. Using the best available ingredients will make a difference in how this scrumptious pound cake smells when baking and when removed from the oven.
Naturally, the taste will be better than any frozen pound cake which has preservatives, water, skim milk, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and artificial coloring!
8 ounces salted butter Kerrygold or President [or other organic non-GMO butter] softened to room temperature
1 cup pure cane sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 large eggs free range or pasture-raised
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Oven Temperature: 300 Degrees Fahrenheit
Grease a loaf pan [9″ by 5″] lightly with butter.
Beat the butter for about a minute until you have a creamy texture.
Add the sugar. Beat the butter and sugar together for about 5 minutes. Make sure they’re combined and whip a lot of air into the mixture to make the batter fluffy.
Add eggs to the butter and sugar mixture and mix for about 5 minutes.
Add lemon and vanilla extract.
In a bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
Add flour mixture to your mixing bowl.
Mix until the flour is incorporated and forms a stiff batter. Don’t overmix.
Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan. With a spatula, smooth the dough down so that the surface is relatively flat and fills the pan.
Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.
You’ll know it’s done when: top is golden and edges are starting to brown. The crust will be fairly firm and the center may have a crack or two.
Let it rest in the pan for about 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and carefully turn it out of the pan. Place it right-side up on a rack to cool.