Hello beautiful people of the interwebs! If you're coming here from Cupcakes and Showtunes, welcome back, and if you're meandering about my virtual kitchen for the very first time, it is truly wonderful to meet you. This space is a food blog and thought board and adventure diary, and very dear to me. It will take me through an exciting, scary, and eye-opening part of my post-grad life, and to be able to share the sweet side of that with you is such a joy. Comment, make suggestions, ask questions, experiment. Do it all. I'll be over here with a cup of coffee and a macaron.
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Have you ever had coffee and fruit? It's kind of brilliant. A friend of mine at school tipped me off to this sweet secret a couple years ago. There is something really magical about the first time you get raspberry syrup in your iced coffee, and the whole cup turns pink. A coffee shop around the corner served up blackberry syrup and a bunch of other fancy things and gave the drinks fun names. So two weeks after graduation, when I was missing Ithaca, coffee and fruit seemed like a great place to start.
Originally, I was going to make a cake and save the recipe for the inevitable moment when I will realize that I'm never going back to school and every choice I make now takes me one step closer to the big dreams, or sends me backward. It's a stressful and invigorating juxtaposition of emotions--there's the opportunity to be free and creative and determined, but also the terror of realizing that you are the singular master of your own destiny. I'm pretty sure it will call for cake at some point. But yesterday I woke up and thought of Paris and one beautiful memory of having an early breakfast on the Eiffel Tower, and it had to be macarons. It just had to be.
The trouble is, I'd never made macarons, and I'd heard they are really difficult to make. But with my GIGANTIC Bouchon Bakery cookbook by my side (I'm in love with this book but I swear I could weight-lift with it), I took on the challenge, and by some stroke of luck or magic they came out beautifully! Here they are before baking.
There was a lot of obnoxious hopping up and down and squealing when they didn't turn into a cracked flat mass of disks in the oven. Like, a lot a lot. It was a big moment. And in honor of my first foray into macaron-making I had to take a picture inspired by one you'll find in the cookbook. And then I squealed some more. There were just lots of high-pitched noises in my house for about two hours.
By the afternoon I was munching on these raspberry-mascarpone-filled bites of heaven, sipping iced coffee, joking with friends, and all was right with the world. I think that's the key to enjoying the real world--pursuing your dreams, doing what you love, and knowing how to embrace the difficult times and transform them into something delicious.
So this is the beginning. With a new barista job, an intern interview at a professional theatre this week, opportunities popping up like wildflowers, life is going well. It's stressful but the wonder of it all is pure magic. So let's do this, people. Let's do what we love and get paid for it, one coffee raspberry macaron at a time.
The following macaron shell recipe is adapted slightly from the Bouchon recipe by Sebastien Rouxel and Thomas Keller. Get this book. Seriously. Definitely read through all of the instructions and have your ingredients ready and at room temperature before beginning this recipe. Also try to make these on days that are not too humid, as this could affect the recipe significantly.
Coffee Raspberry Macarons
Almond flour | 1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons
Powdered sugar | 1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons
Egg whites, separated | 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons | 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
Granulated sugar, plus a pinch for the egg whites | 1 cup + 3 tablespoons
Water | 2/3 cup
Instand Coffee Granules | 4-5 teaspoons
You will need a candy thermometer and a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip.
1. For the macarons: Because the cookies will be sandwiched, it is important that they be as close in size as possible. Use a compass or a cookie cutter as a guide and dark marking pen, such as fine-tip Sharpie, to make even circles on parchment paper, one inch apart. Flip the parchment over and line 2-3 baking sheets.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. Place the almond flour in a food processor and pulse to grind it as fine as possible. Add powdered sugar and grind together.
4. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Mound the almond flour mixture, then make a well in the center. Pour in the 82 grams | 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites and combine with a spatula, stirring until evenly distributed. Fold in 2 tsp instant coffee. Set aside.
5. Place the remaining 90 grams/1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams | 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and the water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.
6. As the syrup cooks, add the pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248°F, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.
7. When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk; the meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5-10 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm to the touch, the meringue should have cooled; if not, continue to whip until it is cool.
8. Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (I did not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the “ribbon” slowly moves. The mixture shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be slightly stiff than too loose.
9. Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag with the 1/2-inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to the spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag. Sprinkle the tops with more instant coffee grounds. Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat to 400°F again.
10. Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles on the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely. Repeat process again if necessary.
Raspberry Mascarpone Cream
Mascarpone Cheese | 4 ounces
Heavy Cream | 4 ounces
Powdered Sugar | 1/2 cup
Vanilla | 1 teaspoon
Raspberries | 1/2 cup
1. Using hand mixer, beat mascarpone cheese and half of raspberries together. Beat in heavy cream, whipping until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in remaining raspberries, allowing some bits of raspberry to remain intact. Pipe onto half of the macaron shells and sandwich with remaining shells.