Skip to main content


Snickers Macarons

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 If some well established passion fruit-chocolate or cassis-violet pairing French macarons masters were reading this, they would probably take out their whisk and come after me. On a side note, as my mate Zen Chef pointed it out, since Pierre Herme looks more melon than lemon, I’ll take pretty boy Michalak in a heartbeat…forgive me this aparté, it’s got to be the heat.

Yep, the heat…As I was reaching for a gallon of water in the pantry I discovered Mr.Tartelette’s secret Snickers stash. He pretended they had fallen behind the picnic totes and I pretended not to have a sudden craving for some peanut, marshmallow caramel and chocolate. I stood up and knocked my head on one of the shelves. It had been a long hot day, with many little work things nipping at me, like a last minute macaron order and the last thing I needed was a bump, a bruise or a headache. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and calmly said "That’s it. Snickers Macarons."

"Isn’t it like French macarons gone white trash? Mac on crack,maybe?" he asked. Yeah, well…maybe…but if either Pierre or Christophe tried one, I know they would react the same way we did after I assembled them: "More! Where are those darn KitKat bars now?!" I love the Snickers combination of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat but like for most people, one bar is too much and too little at the same time. I admire my friend S. who cuts it in four pieces and eat them throughout the day. For me it’s more like throughout the next three minutes!

I still have a good bit of the dulce de leche that Marcela brought me and given the heat wave lately (seems that way in most states), I used it instead of standing over the stove and make a caramel filling. Coming out of a double shift, I hope you will forgive me if the nougat was a bit of a shortcut too….but a sweet one as I melted marshmallows with peanut butter. The rest of the parts were a simple milk chocolate ganache and a whole peanut in the center of each macarons. As far as the shells, I used half almonds and half peanuts to keep most of the oily mass out and add to the peanut flavor. Chocolate macaron shells have always been my dreaded part, they are never chocolaty enough for me and more finicky than other shells, so this time, instead of simply adding 2 Tb of cocoa powder like I would normally do, I also subtracted 2 Tb of the powdered sugar before mixing it in with the nuts and the meringue. Worked like a charm!

Warning from Mr. Tartelette: do not eat these straight out of the refrigerator or you will need new dentures and new jaws. The marshmallow cream does get hard but if you let the macarons sit out for 10-15 minutes prior to eating (or devouring) the shells and the fillings become as soft as a Snickers bar. I hope that Minko likes this candy bar gone wild in macarons because I am virtually sending them to the "Mad For Macarons" event she organised. Sorry for being last minute…

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Snickers Macarons:

Makes about 16

For The Shells:
3 egg whites (I like to use 1-2 day old egg whites)
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar (minus 2 Tb)
55gr. almonds
55 gr. peanuts
2 Tb cocoa powder

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds, peanuts, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. 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 (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Pipe or spoon some ganache on one shell and sandwich with another one.
If you use fresh whites, zap them up in the microwave on medium high for 20 seconds to mimic the aging process.

Milk Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat, drop in the milk chocolate and let stand a couple of minutes. Gently stir the chocolate into the cream until smooth. Set aside until it cools down and thickens a bit (a trip to the fridge is ok)

Marshmallow Cream:
2 cups marshmallows
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, melt the marshmallows and peanut butter until smooth. Let cool. Once cooled you will be able to pull the "nougat" and from the saucepan and cut pieces to flatten in the palm of your hands and sandwich with the rest of the ingredients.

Remaining Ingredients:
– caramel sauce or dulce de leche or my favorite : Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
– a few peanut halves

To assemble:
Fill the shells with a couple of teaspoons of ganache, add a teaspoon of caramel sauce, top with a peanut, a piece of marshmallow nougat, and the top shell.

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

Chocolate Caramel Mousse – Date Night

I was trying my best to pretend Christophe was not around the house….avoiding his mischievous glance on my way to the kitchen, grazing my hand on the shiny cover and yet preventing myself from leafing through the pages filled with gorgeous photographs and fun recipes. One night though, I found myself alone in the house and tempted by the promises of silky chocolate mousse, I gave in. I have always been pretty forward with my beaus (ask B. and he will tell you that the first thing I told you was "You’re sexy" instead of "You’re sweet" when we met – he’d tell the truth), and when there is chocolate, well I guess you don’t need a visual…except Christophe was not going to get the best of me this time and leave me wondering again if he was the man for me. After making his Chocolate-Caramel Mousse, I think we might go steady for a while.

I was really intrigued by Christophe’s mousse, particularly the ingredients and since there was just the two of us in the kitchen that evening, it was all quiet and calm and I thought we would get along better….no distraction meant that we could dance to the sound of bubbling caramel and not have a care in the world for a short while. The mousse I usually make is rich and yet nothing extravagant: melt chocolate, add butter, add egg yolks, whip egg whites with sugar, add whipped cream, fold and eat. But this is Christophe and we are on a date…His mousse is lighter due to his use of 2% milk, less egg, milk chocolate to add a touch of sweetness and very little butter. It is almost liquid when you pour it into a cup, dish or other but sets up to a beautiful silky cloud of paradise. I see some of you ready to come tell me about the danger of eating raw eggs. Stop right there. I will continue to eat the way and foods I was raised upon, including vats of egg filled mousse if I can (if it works for 97 year-old Grandpa Rene, I’ll take my chance) I respect your opinion, really I do, but do you really know what tomorrow holds? Yeah…neither do I….except maybe "more mousse!" 🙂

The caramel part of the recipe? Well, that was Christophe little secret move…You have to earn your right to the mousse as you wait to let it set but oh my! that little bit of creamy caramel layer is just a great contrast in texture and flavor to the bittersweet chocolate layer. B, jealous of my little evening with Christophe, made the (bad) joke that we had invited Pierre Herme as the chaperon. Indeed, I layered the mousse and caramel cream on the diagonal, like I did with my adaptation of his Sensation Satine. I made enough caramel cream for only two servings but mousse for four people so I used empty and washed egg shells to pour it into and topped all with some crushed toffee. I ended up polishing both little jars which left B. with the eggs without caramel…sorry, bad pastry jokes are against the company’s policies(!).

Chocolate-Caramel Mousse: Serves 4

For the Caramel Cream Layer:

40 gr sugar
100 ml water
150 ml heavy cream at room temperature
1 tsp powdered gelatin
1 Tb water
pinch of salt

In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and water to 180C (358F) or to a dark amber caramel if you do not have a thermometer, over medium high heat. Be careful, if it turns too dark it will be bitter. Lower the heat and add the cream and stir until fully incorporated. Do not worry if it hisses at you and starts bubbling like crazy, it calms down after a few seconds. Remove from the heat. Pour the gelatin over the tablespoon of water and let it bloom for a couple of minutes. Stir it into the caramel and stir to dissolve. Pour into your selected dishes in the manner described here if you wish, or just let it be your bottom layer. Let set for 2 hours.

For the Dark Chocolate Mousse Layer:

1/2 cup (125ml) 2% milk
100 gr bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
25 gr milk chocolate (same)
1 egg yolk
15 gr butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Bring the milk to a boil in heavy saucepan. Add the chocolate, let stand a couple of minutes. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated. The mixture should be at 45C (128F) when you add the egg yolk, if it is colder it might seize. Whisk in the butter. Add the whipped cream and fold delicately. Pour into your dishes and tilt them in the manner described here if you wish, or just let it be your top layer. Let set for 2 hours.
Top with crushed toffee if desired before serving.

Pain d’Epices Creme Brulee

Macarons are great, no doubt about it, the only caveat when you make them on a regular basis is that you are left with quite a lot of egg yolks. B. will tell you that this is never a real problem and when you consider the endless possibilities if egg yolks based desserts, I’d say he is right. Custards, creme anglaise, pots de cremes, zabaglione, chocolate mousse, etc…and of course cremes brulees!

I have had the same relationship with cremes brulees as I have had with macarons. I love to make macarons, but did not start really liking eatng them until a couple of years ago when I let my imagination free and started to play with fillings, toppings, centers, etc…It was kind of the same with creme brulees. The owner of the restaurant I worked for hated two things: cinnamon and flavored creme brulees. The custards had to remain as plain as possible and since I had to make close to 100 a day I quickly started to hate making them, but still loved eating some whenever we went to diner somewhere. As soon as the owners would go on vacation or took a night out, you can be sure that I was playing with the liquor cabinet and the fruit purees!!

When my mother came to visit she brought with her a couple of syrups I had been eyeing for some time and while I have not completely figured out what to do with some of them, I knew this "Liqueur de Pain d’Epices" would end up in a custard of some sort. Pain d’epices is one of those traditional French cakes that as a child you either love or hate. I happen to love it with a passion.
According to The French Food and Cook, "Pain d’épices originally comes from China and was imported in France in the Middle Ages, in particular in East France, with the cities of Dijon and Reims as leading producers. Today, pain d’épices remains a specialty of Eastern France (Dijon, Alsace…). Pain d’épices that usually contents 30% of honey is very energetic and was considered as a very good medicine." The common spice blend found in the cake loaf is usually a combination of orange peel, anise seeds, cinnamon, coves and sometimes juniper berries. I like that I was already self-medicating at a young age with cakes…

The liqueur itself had definite notes of cloves and anise and was somewhat reminiscent of Bailey’s with a note of orange peel in color and texture. Pretty darn good! The recipe for the creme brulee is my usual standard one; you can add pretty much anything you like to flavor and it turns out smooth and creamy everytime. There is nothing better than the crackling sound your spoon makes when you hit that burnt sugar crust..hmmhmmhmm. I strongly recommend you invest in a blow torch which you can find at any hardware store. Not only will you get great crusts everytime, but you can also use it for meringue pies for example. I find that a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar helps achieve a tasty crust that is easy to "burn" heavenly.

For the Creme Brulee: serves 4

1 cup egg yolks (between 6 and 8 depending on the size of your eggs)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup liqueur de pain d’epices, or any other liqueur of your liking
1/4 cup brown sugar mixed with 1/4 cup white sugar for brulee topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 4 ramequins inside a roasting pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow. Heat the cream until scalding hot. Slowly whisk it into the egg yolk mixture, mix well, but not too vigorously or you will add too much air. Pour into a container and let cool to room temperature. Pass the mixture through a sieve in a container with a spout (the spout is not necessary but it makes pouring easier), and divide among the 4 ramequins. Pour water to about halfway up the sides of the ramequins and put the pan in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the mixture appear almost set, it should still wiggle a bit in the middle. It is ok to remove the pan from the oven at that point as the custard will continue to bake and set. Let cool to room, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Right before serving: divide sugar on top of each custard and use a blow torch to caramelise the top or put the pan under the broiler.
In my family we say that a good creme brulee is hot on top, room temp in the middle and cold at the bottom.

Last thing: the dishes are minis that my mother sent me the other day so I ended up with 8 minis but they were the perfect 2 bite treats with coffee.

Happy Easter!