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Monatsarchive: February 2008

Dulce De Leche Macarons

…Or how I got my macarons mojo back thanks to Gerard Mulot. For those who don’t know Gerard Mulot, let’s just say that he is one of the other Masters of French pastries and I fell in love with his pastries and macarons when I was knee high. Once a month we would take the train into Paris to visit my dad’s godmother. A tough and quirky maid living in a very old building with a giant (or so it seemed to me at the time) marbled staircase. The woman had never married, never had children and an afternoon in her appartment full of plastic covered furniture and untouchable curtains seemed more like torture than a fun times in the City. Except for the patisseries she served us around four o’clock….they were Mulot’s patisseries: canneliers, macarons, pains au chocolat, lemon tarts, coconut chocolate cakes, etc…I would quickly forget the covered the plastic covered chair I was sitting on and dive into the pink colored box full of goodies.

So why would I need to get my macaron mojo back? Well, I feared that I had lost it after talking every weekend with Veronica about macaron making method, nuts, flavors, buttercream, etc… Twice in the span of two weeks I ended up with sub par macarons. I tried the recipe in The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman and right from the start I had my doubts. The recipe used a lot of egg whites compared to the rest of the ingredients and as soon as I began folding I knew the mixture would be to dry and too dense to produce that lovely round shell that we all know. I ended up with lovely blood orange meringue shells, but not macarons. The second time I played around with my usual recipe and some chocolate and the same thing happened! In the meantime Veronica was keeping me informed of her macarons successes (check out her new business venture) and I finally emailed her "I think I gave you my macarons mojo!!" To which she replied "Have you tried Gerard Mulot’s recipe…I like it…not too sweet, nice soft shells" Ahah!! That was the only and perfect excuse I had to ask my mother to bring me his book.

His recipes are not very different from the ones I have used before and as it is often the case with macarons, the baker and the weather have often more to do with messing up the end product than the recipe itself (except in the case of Zuckerman, Veronica and I still have our doubt!). Remember how I keep saying that I like making them but don’t really enjoy eating them? You could then ask me why I spend my time making them?! Well, beside the orders I get for family and friends or private parties, their elusive and rebelious nature has me jumping up and down when I see their little feet forming in the oven. I like the way they look when filled, like they are sticking their tongue at you. Mastering a macaron batch and creating flavors and filling is a fun game to play for me…but remember that I am weird like that!! And now that Veronica has sent me a stash of matcha green tea, I am already thinking about adding some to the next macaron baking session I have!!

The recipe from Gerard Mulot is quite simple as it does not require an Italian meringue, so no messing around with hot sugar syrup. Last month I made a batch of Dulce de Leche or Confiture De Lait, using David Lebovitz’s foolproof method and I had a small jar tucked away in the fridge just for the next macarons I would bake. I topped the shells with crushed praline before they went into the oven and after they were all cooled, I filled them with the Dulce De Leche. Surprise, surprise….it is now the second time that I am devouring them!!

If you decide to make this recipe, it might take you some time if you make all the components the same day. What I usually do on quieter days is to make a batch of praline that I crush in the food processor so that I can sprinkle it on ice cream, mousses and cake layers on a moment’s notice. The Dulce De Leche keeps a long time in the fridge and I try to keep a jar to drizzle it on yogurts, ice cream or use as a dip for tart apples.

Dulce de Leche Macarons:

For the cushed praline:
1/3cup sugar
1 cup unblanched almonds

Combine the sugar and almonds in a heavy saucepan. Place over medium heat to begin melting the sugar. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so the sugar melts and caramelizes evenly. Cook to a light amber color.
Scrape the praline from the saucepan and spread it about 1/4-inch thick on an oiled baking sheet or a marble surface. Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Break the hard praline into 1-1/2 inch pieces and place them in a bowl of a food processor and quickly pulse until finely ground.

For the Dulce de Leche:
Please see David Lebovitz’s recipe. I did not change a thing and it worked perfectly.

For the Macarons:
3 egg whites
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar
110 gr. ground almonds

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glosy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work.
Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. It will break the powdered sugar lumps and cobine your almond with it evenly. Add them to the meringue and fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small round onto parchment paper baking sheets. Sprinkle the praline powder over the shells.
Preheat the oven to 315F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shell a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool completely. Once cooled, sandwich them with the Dulce de Leche and enjoy!

Once again, no chocolate post….But….if you want your fill and a good dose of Nutella to go with it, help me go to Napa and check out the Copia Center Chocolate Festival by voting for my Nutella Creams here:

Blueberry Heart Cheesecakes For My Valentine

Since I just asked you to vote for me in the Death By Chocolate contest so that you would be sending me and B. on the mini honeymoon we never had, I thought it would be fitting to share a tad more mushy sentiments with you all. If you are not a softie today….skip to the previous post…or the one before….February seems to be a love fest around here!!! Anyways…

You all know him as B. and sometimes "The Cookie Monster" but I usually call him "my better half" and I would be the first one to tell you how fitting the phrase is. When I am wild and crazy or childish as only a woman can be, he is the mature one keeping me grounded and putting things in perpective. When I am the nervous one or the mature one, he becomes the childish one and relieves tension by cracking up a joke or coming up with something fun to do. He never said a word to me along the lines of "grow up" "stop playing" or "relax"…all he has to do is to hold me. He has got my heart beating inside his.

Here is one of the many examples that makes it "why it’s working for us". One thing that used to get to me in our early years together was the fact that I would never get flowers, chocolate or trinkets…When I asked him why and that I was expecting at least some flowers for my birthday, he would always say "expectations will ruin your life". He would wait a day or two and give me the mot thoughtful and hip present. I would feel completely stupid of course and over the years I have known to set aside my expectations and apprehensions; he will take care of things, of people, with a lot of thought and care. I have learned not to have expectations because in the end things would work themselves out, and in the process he would allow me to grow and mature and never feel like I really was 19 years his junior.

At the same time, I let him be the 15 year old he is at heart. He is constantly fixing things he finds on the side of the road: we could probably give you a couple of chain saws, electric drills and vacuum cleaners that we found while walking the dog and that he fixed back up. While I get dinner ready, he goes down to the garage and unscrews, solders and plugs things in…and puts them in the "garage sale" box. We have never had a garage sale and I don’t foresee us having one soon either! I let him work through his piles and stuff because I know how giddy his little heart gets when something is plugged and actually works. Eh! I am all about free vaccum cleaners with a long haired dog!!

Allright, Tartelette…we get it…ya’ll luuuuurrrvvvve each other….but what is the link to the cheesecakes?!! This:
A heart for your Valentine

My dear friend Zorra is hosting a Valentine’s Day event and she got me thinking about what I wanted to make B. to tell him how thankful I was that he had said "I do" to the whole Tartelette package 10 years ago. We don’t really do anything special on Valentine’s Day, mostly because of the whole commercial aspect of it, but all the red and hearts seen everywhere lately can’t but make us a little softer. I usually make him a giant heart shaped chocolate chip cookie and when he saw I was cranking the mixer one evening he asked if I was going to make him a treat for Valentine’s Day. I replied "nothing that you migh expect!"…ahahaha! I learned that trick from the master himself!! Instead I made simple lemon scented cheesecakes (4 inches round) and cooked some blueberries that I placed in a heart shape on top. He loved it…Unexpected, light and refreshing….and not chocolate!!

Blueberry Heart Cheesecakes:

Makes 4 4 inch cheesecakes

16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tb lemon zest
2 Tb lemon juice
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Blueberry Topping

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter. Divide among 4 mini springform pans and pat with your fingers until evenly distributed. Bake 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 325. In a large bowl, with the electric mixer or by hand , mix the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the vanilla,lemon zest and juice. Divide between the springform pans. Wrap each pan with heavy duty foil. Set them in a roasting pan, fill with water and bake at 325 for about 40 minutes, or until they wiggle just a tiny bit in the middle. They will set more after an overnight trip in the fridge. Remove the foil, let cool, and refrigerate.When ready to serve, run a hot knife on the inside of the pan and release the cheesecakes.
To decorate, place a cokkie cutter on top of each cheesecake and fill with the cooled blueberry topping. Let set in the fridge for an hour and slowly remove the cookie cutter before eating.

Blueberry Topping:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb corntarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

In a heavy saucepan, heat the blueberries with the sugar and the lemon juice until the sugar melts and the berries strat to release their juices. Stir the cornstarch in the pan and cook until the liquid becomes clear again and starts to thicken. Let cool to room temperature.

We laughed that night while eating them with my mother as she exclaimed that we were indeed easy to satisfy "give him a broken drill and you a block of cheesecake and you guys are happy as pie" and to my huband The Professor to add "would not be bad if the drill was an antique?!"…and there you go…we are indeed happy with very little. It would however make our day if you voted for me in the Death By Chocolate contest so we could say all that from Napa! Don’t forget that they will also send a reader to the chocolate festival!!

Death By Chocolate Contest: Nutella Creams and Chocolate Macarons

I feel a little bit strange coming here and telling you that I, too, have entered the Death by Chocolate Contest held by the great folks from Culinate. I feel even stranger asking people to vote for me or give me their approval but posting about chocolate is an offer I can’t refuse! With time being a precious commodity while my mother is visiting I am really thankful that the rules allow bloggers to post past entries.

I was excited to enter just for the theme….and then they told us the prizes on hand if we won: one food blogger and one reader will be sent on a trip for two to Napa Valley and will attend the Copia Center’s annual Death by Chocolate Festival on Feburary 23, 2008. Talk about generosity! The winner among readers will be chosen at random from all entries. Readers will vote for their favorite blog posts, and the winning food blogger will be selected by a panel of judges from the top 10 reader favorites. The entries I have seen so far are absolutely mouth watering.

Will I make you drool with these Nutella Creams and Chocolate Macarons? I hope so….Nutella…whipped cream…hmmmhmmmhmmm

Why would I love to win? Well, the only thing that comes to my mind this close to Valentine’s Day is that my husband and I will celebrate our 10th anniverary this year and we have never gone on a honeymoon…No sunny beaches, no exotic trip…He was tied home badly sick and he still feels terrible about it. I keep telling him that I don’t need a honeymoon to make me love him more and I think that rewarding him with a nice trip to Napa would prove that come hail or high water, I am his girl.

So…..if you feel like this Nutella Cream and Chocolate Macarons post is deserving of your vote, you can do on by clicking on the picture below. Voting start today an ends February 8th. Many many many thanks!

Time To Make The Doughnuts Event

I am busy playing in the kitchen with my mother but I wanted to remind everybody out there that Peabody and I are hosting a doughnut fest on February 15th and invite you all to send us your entries by February 12th if you wish to participate. The ones we have received so far are fabulous, lip-smacking good looking! You will find all the info needed here: Time To Make The Doughnuts.

No long post from me tonight, no strange looking creation or mad scientist tip…just a recipe for beignets and a little plea (continue to read below the beignets) that my mom brought with her for Mardis Gras and that I have not made in years. You can make the round, shape them or fill them if you so desire. Excuse me while I go eat some more chocolate and give her a hug (she always smells like vanilla!).


1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup water,lukewarm
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tb orange blossom flower water

Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let stand for 10 minutes or until it foams. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement add the egg, salt, orange water and the flour. Beat until smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl coated with cooking pray and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board and cut out round, shapes,… Heat up 2 inches of oil in pan (I use a 9 inch cast iron) to 350F and fry the doughnuts in everal batches. When browned on one side, turn and brown on other side. Drain them on paper towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar.