Matcha Cream Puff Filling

If you like matcha, you can make matcha cream puffs using this filling and the puffs from the profiterole recipe!

Baking note:

  • Normally I skip sifting and straining steps, but in this case you should actually do them.  Matcha green tea powder tends to clump, and the white chocolate won’t all dissolve completely.  You want your mixture to be nice and smooth before you beat it.

 

Matcha Cream Puff Filling
From Joanne Chang’s Pastry Love

Yield: 4 1/4 cups

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sifted matcha powder (sift it before measuring if you feel motivated)
  • 4 oz (about 2/3 cup) white chocolate, chopped
  • Pinch of salt

 

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium-high heat until just before it comes to a boil, when little bubbles form along the side of the pan.
  2. Sift the matcha powder into a small, heatproof bowl to remove any lumps.  Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream and whisk into a slurry.
  3. Add white chocolate to the matcha slurry.
  4. Pour the rest of the hot cream over the white chocolate and let it stand for a minute or so to melt the chocolate.
  5. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a small storage container to remove any unmelted lumps of chocolate.
  7. Stir in the salt.
  8. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.
  9. When you’re ready to use the matcha cream, beat it in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, until it is soft and fluffy and holds a stiff peak.
  10. The whipped matcha cream can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 hours before using.

No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

P1090268

As the weather gets warmer and warmer, it’s time for ice cream!  Here is an easily customizable coffee ice cream that you can make at home without an ice cream maker.  You can decide for yourself how strong of a coffee flavor you want, whether you want any mix-ins, etc.

 

No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream
Adapted from Food Network

Yield: 6 cups ice cream

  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons espresso powder (depending on how strong of a coffee flavor you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 12 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (optional)

 

  1. Chill a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together the condensed milk, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Whip the cream with a mixer on medium-high speed until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  4. Fold about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture with a rubber spatula until combined, then fold the lightened mixture into the whipped cream until well blended.
  5. Pour into metal loaf pan and freeze, covered, until thick and creamy, like soft-serve, about 2 hours.
  6. Swirl in crushed chocolate cookies (if using) with a spoon.
  7. Continue to freeze, covered, until solid and scoopable, about 3 hours more.

Cafe Volcano Cookies

P1090520

These cookies are light and crispy in the way of meringue, with crunchiness from the nuts.  The almonds and walnuts erupt upwards as the cookies bake, giving each one a unique appearance.  (Translation: They’re not pretty, but they’re really good.)

 

Cafe Volcano Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 36 cookies

  • 1 cup blanched almonds (whole, sliced or slivered), coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts OR pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper, or silicone mats.
  2. Spread the chopped almonds and walnuts out on one of the baking sheets and toast the nuts in the oven. They will need 10 minutes or less to turn golden brown, so keep a close eye on them and stir them at least twice. When the nuts are toasted, remove them — with the liner — from the baking sheet and cool the sheet. Transfer the nuts to a plate, then reline the sheet and use it to bake the cookies.  (Alternatively, you can toast the nuts in your toaster oven and preheat the big oven later.)
  3. Put all the ingredients, including the nuts, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set it over medium heat and stir constantly with a silicone or wooden spatula until the ingredients are just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat.
  4. Drop the batter by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between the mounds.
  5. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be puffed, cratered, shiny, and dry.
  6. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them remain on the sheets for 5 minutes before gently prying them from the liners and transferring them to racks to cool to room temperature.
  7. To store: Kept in a cool, dry place at room temperature (they should never be refrigerated), the cookies will hold up for about 3 days. As with all meringues, humidity will make them go soggy and sticky.

Cinnamon Creme Brulee

IMG_8153

Here is a variant on our lemon creme brulee for cinnamon lovers.

Baking note:

  • You can bake the custards in a pan of hot water, which will make the surface come out smoother.  However, since you’re going to cover it with a layer of melted sugar anyway, this step seems unnecessarily complicated.

Original basic creme brulee recipe

 

Cinnamon Creme Brulee
Adapted from All Recipes and Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 6 servings

For the custard:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon (or 1 big stick)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 4 tablespoons sugar

 

  1. Put cream and cinnamon stick(s) in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Place 6 shallow heat-proof dishes on a baking sheet.
  3. Beat egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
  4. Discard the cinnamon and rewarm cream over low heat until it almost comes to a boil.
  5. Remove the cream from heat immediately and stir into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.
  6. Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into dishes.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  10. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons sugar evenly over the 6 dishes of custard.
  11. Oven method:
    Preheat oven to broil. 
    Place dishes under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.Blowtorch method:
    Hold a blowtorch so the tip of the flame touches and melts the sugar.  Keep the flame moving over the surface so the sugar doesn’t burn.
  12. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  You can refrigerate the dishes to set the custard, but I usually eat it as soon as the sugar crust has hardened.  You can check this by tapping it lightly with a spoon.

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream

As some parts of the world edge into spring, here is a recipe for no-churn strawberry ice cream.  If you have extra fresh strawberries, you can freeze them, or you can buy a bag  at the grocery store.

Original recipe

 

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream
From the Food Network

  • 1 lb frozen strawberries, thawed at room temperature for 10 minutes
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold

 

  1. Pulse the strawberries in a food processor until you achieve pea-size chunks.
  2. Add the condensed milk, vanilla, and salt, and pulse to combine.  Remove to a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Whip the cream with a mixer on medium-high speed until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes.
  4. Fold about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture with a rubber spatula until combined, then fold the lightened mixture into the whipped cream until well blended.
  5. Pour into a chilled 9-by-5-by-3-inch metal loaf pan or two Rubbermaid boxes, and freeze, covered, until solid and scoopable, about 5 hours.

Mchekek (Algerian Almond Cake)

P1090417

Mchekek, or “cracked,” is a small Algerian cake made from almond paste and flavored with an extract of your choice.  While baking, the surface cracks, giving it its name.  The taste makes me think of baked marzipan.

Baking notes:

  • If you don’t have whole almonds, you can substitute sliced almonds.
  • You can bake these in a mini muffin tin.
  • If you forget to add any kind of extract, as I did, you can eat them with a little lemon curd and they will be delicious.

Original recipe

 

Mchekek (Algerian Cake)
(a.k.a. M’chekek, Mechkek, Mechkouk)
From Mes Inspirations Culinaires

Yield: 24 mini cakes

For the cakes:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites (from 2 large eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR other extract of your choice (e.g. orange blossom, strawberry, raspberry, pistachio, lemon, etc.)
  • Food coloring to match the extract flavor (optional)

For the topping:

  • About ¼ cup powdered sugar, for coating
  • 24 whole almonds, for decoration

 

  1. Preheat oven to 320°F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, powdered sugar, and vanilla OR other flavor extract.
  3. Lightly beat the egg whites and mix into the almond flour mixture, along with the food coloring (if desired). I found it easiest to stir with a sturdy spatula, then switch to mixing with my hands.  The final dough should be pliable but not extremely sticky.  (It reminds me of a wet marzipan.)  You can add the egg whites gradually until you obtain this consistency.
  4. Shape the dough into balls about 1 ¼ inches in diameter.
  5. Roll the balls in powdered sugar to coat.
  6. Place each ball on a baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart, and flatten slightly.
  7. Press an almond into the top of each ball.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, watching closely to make sure the dough doesn’t color. The outside of the cakes will crack.

Macarons (French meringue method)

P1090325

Even if macarons are not forgiving when you want to get them perfect, they’re delicious even when they look kind of wonky.  The last time I attempted them, I used the Italian meringue method.  This time, I used the French meringue method, which I’m more familiar with from baking lemon meringue pie.

Baking notes:

  • I used the ingredient amounts from Sally’s Baking Addiction because I wanted to measure them by weight for greater accuracy, but I used the batter-making process from Tasty.co because it has a great video tutorial.
  • I really liked Dorie Greenspan’s cream-cheese macaron filling, so I made that.
  • Don’t forget to age your egg whites!  You should separate the eggs a few days before you make the macarons and let the egg whites sit in the fridge.  I recommend making lemon creme brulee, crystallized ginger creme brulee, or cinnamon creme brulee with the yolks and eating that while the egg whites age.
  • This is a finicky recipe.  I am normally someone who likes to change ingredient amounts and skip steps, but that really isn’t something you can do with macarons.
  • If you have cream cheese filling left, you can use it to frost chocolate cake or cupcakes.

Tasty.co recipe
Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe

 

Macarons
Adapted from Tasty.co, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and Dorie Greenspan’s Dorie’s Cookies

Yield: 30 macarons

For the cookies:

  • 200 g (close to 2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 100 g (close to 1 cup) almond flour (ideally Bob’s Red Mill almond flour)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 120 g (around 3 large egg whites) aged egg whites, at room temperature (you should separate the eggs a few days before you use them and let them sit in the fridge)
  • 40 g (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract OR other extract of your choice
  • 2 drops food coloring

For the filling:

  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar, sifted if you have the patience (it’s fine if you don’t)
  • 2 tablespoons thick preserves OR jam (without chunky fruit)

 

Make the cookies:

  1. Take out 2 baking sheets.  If you plan to line them with parchment paper, it’s best to make a template.  Using a cookie cutter as your guide, trace circles about 1 1/2 inches in diameter on each sheet of paper, leaving about 2 inches between them, then flip the papers over on the baking sheets so pencil marks face down.  You should also trim the paper to fit in the bottom of the baking sheet so it will lie flat. If you’re using silicone mats, just line the baking sheets with them.
  2. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch tip. (Alternatively, you can use a zipper-lock bag: Fill the bag, seal it, and snip off a corner.)
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and salt.  Process on low speed, until extra fine.
  4. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  5. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  6. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated.
  7. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  8. Add the vanilla OR other flavoring and beat until incorporated.
  9. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  10. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites.  Use a spatula to gently fold until combined.
  11. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up.
  12. Transfer the macaron batter into the piping bag.
  13. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  14. Holding the piping bag vertically with the tip close to the baking sheet, pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch circles, spacing at least 1 inch apart, because the batter will spread.
  15. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles.
  16. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the surface is dry to the touch.
  17. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚F.
  18. Bake the macarons for 10 minutes, one baking sheet at a time.  Rotate the pan at the 5 minute mark.  If the tops of your first batch crack, the oven temperature is too high.  Lower it a little before you bake your next batch.  When the macarons are done, the tops should be crisp and the macarons should have formed their signature crinkly “feet.”  They should not stick to the parchment paper.
  19. Allow the macarons to cool for several minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Either in the clean bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until it is incorporated and the filling is smooth.
  3. Mix in preserves, jam, OR curd.  (The filling will keep for up to 5 days tightly covered in the refrigerator.  Stir before using to bring it back to its creamy consistency.)

Sandwich the macarons:

  1. When macarons are cool, peel them off the silicone or parchment and match them up for sandwiching.
  2. Work on a baking sheet lined with fresh parchment paper, or on the sheet of parchment paper on which you baked macarons.  You can use a teaspoon or a piping bag to fill the macarons; it’s up to you to decide how much filling you want to use.  (You can save the leftover filling to frost anything that goes well with cream cheese frosting.)  Spoon or pipe some filling onto the flat side of a macaron and sandwich it with its mate, gently twisting the top macaron to spread filling to the edges.  Don’t press down on the top of the cookie, because it might crack.  Piping leads to cleaner edges.
  3. Place sandwiched macaron on parchment paper and repeat with remaining macarons and filling.  Cover with plastic film or pack them into a container.  Be careful not to squish the tops.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.  While chilling, moisture from the filling will soften the macaron cookies and allow them to develop their characteristic texture.
  5. Macarons can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.  They can also be frozen, packed airtight, for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.