Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The other day I needed something really nice to make for dessert.
I wanted something light-ish, but still really good... and it had to LOOK good too.
I usually write myself lists of possibilities depending on what pops into my head or what I might find while browsing- my books, from magazines, recipe cards, online archives of magazines,, or other blogs.

I found this beautiful tart (I really like to make tarts) at another blog called Tartlette. She's French, a former pastry chef, a food stylist and photographer. All of her photos are gorgeous.

Anyway, it looked really good, so I wanted to try it. The original recipe was for individual 3 inch tarts, but she gave a few tips for a larger tart. The one I made was in a 9 inch tart fluted tart pan with removable bottom (because that's the kind of tart I make folks). I adapted it a bit (things I didn't have: Meyer lemon, honey, etc.), and that is what's written on this blog. The original post is here if you care to check it out.

If you want to use lemon zest for garnish, I would recommend zesting the lemon onto a plate, with the zest well separated, and let it dry a while (1/2 hour) before sprinkling it onto the tarts. That way it won't be so sticky and you can control your sprinkling better.

FYI: pistachios are much cheaper at Trader Joe's (than the regular grocery store)! AND you can find them unsalted.

Raspberry Pistachio Frangipane Tarts With Lemon Chantilly
Serves 8

For the shortbread bottoms:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 T corn starch
pinch of salt

For the pistachio frangipane:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup (100g) ground pistachios
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the lemon chantilly:
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of one lemon

2 pints fresh raspberries
zest of one lemon for garnish (as desired)

Prepare the tart shells:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and mix until incorporated. Add the flours, corn starch and salt and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball, separate in two. Flatten each piece of dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. One may be saved for another tart (in fridge 5 days) or frozen (3 months) for later.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and position a rack in the middle.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic (it tears easily... just patch it up!). Carefully place the dough in the tart pan and fit it against the sides. Remove excess dough. Place tart shell in freezer 10 minutes. Remove shell from freezer, dock bottom and sides with a fork, and place on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. The tart shell should be set, but fairly pale. If bubbles appear in crust, prick them with a fork. Let cool completely.

Prepare the pistachio frangipane filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 F and position a rack in the middle.
Place the butter, sugar, ground pistachios, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir it in carefully by hand instead of whisking it (you do not want to emulsify it or it will rise while baking). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pour filling into tart shell, bake about 25 minutes, until set. A knife in the center should come out clean. Let cool completely, the tart will continue to set.

Prepare the Chantilly:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or hand held) whip the heavy cream together with the sugar and lemon zest to medium stiff peaks.

Assemble the tarts:
Pipe or spoon chantilly on the tart and place raspberries all around.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cardamom - Pistachio Cookies

I think cardamom is my favorite spice.
Lovely, lovely, lovely.

It has a very different flavor and scent, and because it's so pungent not much is necessary to impart its flavor (but, of course, that would depend on how strong you want it...).
I don't quite know how to describe cardamom because it's unlike anything else. Warm, spicy-sweet, and aromatic are words used in my food dictionary to describe it. Yep.

Cardamom is grown in tropical climates, is used in a variety of places for many different things- India (curries, sweets, chai), the Middle East (sweets, coffee), and Scandinavia (baked goods).
As for Scandinavia being thrown into the mix, it had something to do with the Vikings and spice trade a LONG time ago.

The magnificent flavor is in the seeds which are contained in white, black, or green pods. You can buy it ground, but as with any spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) the essential oils evaporate more quickly from spices that are already ground. The flavor definitely lasts longer in spices that are left fresh, whole and only ground as necessary.

Although we happen to be from none of the aforementioned cultures in my family, Mom has always put cardamom in white bread when she made it. She would get out the mortar and pestle and crush the seeds from one cardamom pod and add it with the dry ingredients. She said my grandfather (father's father) taught her to do this. His background parents were from Prague and Bavaria, so we're not really sure if he had always been taught to do this, or he learned it along the way somewhere.

I found this wonderful recipe somewhere, but I can't remember where I got it- SORRY! I'm pretty sure it was from a blog, and I know it was within the last several months (that's about it though). I've made a couple minor adaptations to the wording and techniques.

Buttery, crumbly cookies are a perfect place for the spicy sweetness of cardamom, and the pistachios add some great color and flavor. These cookies are perfect for tea...

Cardamom Pistachio Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle (or already ground cardamom)
1/4 cup sparkling decorative sugar (
1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for one minute. Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat an additional minute.

Sift together the flour and salt. Spoon the flour mixture into the butter mixture and add the cardamom. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium and mix until the batter is combined.

Roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for two hours before slicing into rounds (about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick) and arranging evenly onto the cookie sheets. In a small bowl, combine the sparkling sugar and the pistachio nuts, then sprinkle some on each cookie.

Bake just until the edges of the cookies start to turn a pale golden color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool a minute on the baking sheet, then remove carefully to a wire rack. If the cookies cool too long they will stick to the pan and crumble when you try to remove them. The cookies will firm up as they cool. When they are completely cool, store in an airtight container. They may be kept frozen up to two months

Saturday, February 20, 2010

French Onion Soup

Soups are great in the fall and winter, and very often they don't take much time or attention. This particular recipe has both instances where it doesn't take much attention and where attention is very necessary... but it's really worth it!

French onion soup can be soooo good.
This one is from the people at Cook's Illustrated... it's not exactly what was copied from the video, but more of an approximation. Notes were taken, and some of the recipe was incomplete. Blanks had to be filled in, but the soup still turned out very well.
The photo below shows the soup before it was broiled (I know, it kind of looks like chili, but I can assure you it's not).

This recipe doesn't include a million ingredients or things that might be slightly obscure- simple can be really great.

A few things to remember:

Don't be afraid of the onions getting too dark! That's carmelization and FLAVOR!

The onions will reduce down a lot, you may be amazed, and the flavor is very concentrated.

We always have Harvey's around here, and although it's not a dry sherry, we still use it whenever we need a little sherry for recipes. It is, of course, very good for drinking too!

You are free to use as much cheese as you like, but you really don't need too much to add good flavor. I love Gruyere, it's one of the best cheeses of all time, but French Onion Soup is not all about the cheese. Cheese is not even in the title...

Henri's French Onion Soup
serves 6-8

4 lb. yellow onions
3 T butter
1 t salt
1/2 c dry sherry
4 c low sodium chicken stock
2 c beef broth
2 c water
1/2 t salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme (1 scant t dried)
1 bay leaf

Toasted slices of baguette
Shredded Gruyere cheese (with some shredded Parmesan or Romano tossed in too if you like)

Cut onions in half (top to bottom) and slice 1/4 inch thick. Spray Dutch oven with cooking spray or olive oil. Add onions and butter to Dutch oven with 1 t salt. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven, stir, and bake 1 1/2 hours with lid slightly cocked. An hour into the second baking time, stir onions and return pot to oven.

Place pot on stove and cook and stir on medium-high 15-20 minutes. This will give you better control, and you want to get the onions to a nice dark brown. Add 1/4 water to deglaze the pan- scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Repeat this process of deglazing 3-4 times with 6-8 minutes of cooking time between. Finally, deglaze the pan with 1/2 c sherry and cook 5 minutes until the alcohol in the sherry evaporates.

Add chicken stock, beef broth, 2 c water, 1/2 t salt, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer on low heat 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and thyme stems (if fresh thyme was used). Ladle soup into oven proof bowls, top with slices of toasted baguette and a sprinkling of Gruyere. Place in oven and broil until cheese is melted and browned a bit.
Let cool slightly before digging in!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Potato - Leek Soup

Soups are always good, but today is actually a good day for this recipe as it's the beginning of Lent and it can easily be made vegetarian. Plus, it's really simple and really good.

With some crusty bread you've got an easy meal.

I guess it's a version of vichyssoise, but without being blended smooth (and it's best eaten hot).
The recipe comes from a book called The New Best Recipe and it's from the editors of Cook's Illustrated- a really neat little magazine with great recipes and tips. The cookbook is actually a GREAT all-around basic one to have (and it's more than 1000 pages in length total, so it's big too). So, if you don't have a basic cookbook, this one is highly recommended. It gives explanations for pretty much everything too. It can be pretty scientific and interesting- in fact, I can just sit down and read it. Sort of geeky, maybe, but that's ok.

Leeks are a great vegetable that not many Americans are familiar with. They can be pretty gritty/sandy and dirty between layers, so you want to make sure to wash them well! The photo above shows some extremely clean leeks....

After chopping them, place in a large bowl of water and agitate by hand to remove as much dirt as possible (a salad spinner also works for this job). Remove leeks to colander, dump out water, and repeat until you don't see any more dirt.

Rustic Potato-Leek Soup
serves 6-8

4-5 lbs leeks
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 T flour
5 1/4 c low sodium chicken broth (OR vegetable stock)
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 pounds red potatoes (about 5 medium) peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice

Cut off roots and tough dark green portion of the leeks, leaving the white and about 3 inches of the light green portion of the leeks. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise (yes, the LONG way) and chop into 1 inch pieces. (You should have about 11 cups).

Heat butter in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low until foaming. Stir in the leeks, increase the heat to medium, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender but not mushy, 15-20 minutes; do not brown the leeks. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat evenly. Cook until the flour dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high; whisking constantly, gradually add the broth. Add the bay leaf and potatoes, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, until the potatoes are tender and the flavors meld, 10- 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (with extra fresh ground pepper as desired).

Oatmeal Bread

So, I don't know where this recipe came from.
I wrote it down when I was in high school (and I actually haven't made it in years). I don't know if I made adaptations or if it's totally someone else's recipe. If so, I apologize to whoever you are that you get no real credit here.

I tend to have a lot of recipes like that. I don't know where they came from, but they're on a piece of paper in my handwriting. It's not just with recpies though. The other day I found a scrap of paper in a pocket that had a phone number and "Monday"...

I don't know whose number it is as I don't recognize it, I don't know when this Monday might have been or what was going to happen on said Monday. I thought about calling the number out of curiosity, but decided not to. What would I say, anyway?
"Um, sorry. I found your number and I wanted to know who you were?" No.
But I digress... on to bread.

First of all, we need to make sure that the yeast you use is not out of date- AND you have to be careful that the liquid you add your yeast to is not too hot since that will kill your yeast.
After a while you should see some bubbly, foamy yeast activity... and you know

After adding the hot oatmeal to the buttermilk it shouldn't take too long for it to cool down enough to add the yeast if the buttermilk is cold. This time around I didn't have enough buttermilk in the fridge (and I wasn't about to run out to the store)! So, I added enough 1% milk (which, I found, has the same fat content as buttermilk...) to the cup measure with my bit of buttermilk to make a little less than 1 c and then added a splash of white vinegar for acid.

(Before Rising)

(After rising)

Fresh bread is wonderful, and the smell of baking bread makes the house so homey.

This bread is excellent toasted- in fact, I think it's best that way! Toasty and crispy...

On a similar note, if you like oats, I recently tried a recipe for oatmeal pancakes I found on another blog I read sometimes called Orangette, which I loved (although I did add a pinch of cinnamon...).

Oatmeal Bread
makes 2 loaves (you can freeze one!)

1 pkg yeast
1/3 c tepid water
1 t sugar

1 1/2 c water
3/4 c oatmeal
1 c buttermilk
1/4 c honey
1 scant T salt

1 c whole wheat flour
4 c all purpose flour

Combine yeast, sugar, 1/3 c water and set aside. Boil 1 1/2 c water and add oatmeal. Cook about 5 minutes until thick. Add honey to oats and stir to combine. Place buttermilk in large bowl and add oat mixture and salt, mix well. When oatmeal mixture is lukewarm add yeast and mix thoroughly.

Add the cup of wheat flour and stir into oats and buttermilk. Add all purpose flour 1 c at a time and mix until thick, no longer sticky, and hard to stir (you may not end up using all the flour). Remove dough from bowl and knead on a floured surface about 5 minutes. Place in buttered bowl and let rise in a warm place, covered in plastic wrap, until doubled (at least an hour). Punch down dough and knead a little on floured surface. Divide dough in 1/2 and place in 2 buttered 9x5 loaf pans. Cover and let rise, covered in plastic wrap, until dough just reaches over the tops of the pans (30 minutes to an hour).

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pans and return to oven to bake 5 minutes more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Knives and Sharpening

Here's a little information on knives...
Good quality knives can last a long time if cared for properly!

  • After using your knives wash, dry, and put them away. You'll prevent damage to them as well as other people.
  • Never wash knives in the dishwasher, as this can also hurt knives (the force of water can dull the knife, the chemicals in the detergent can stain the steel) - they should be washed by hand.
  • Soaking knives in water can also damage knives by causing the blade to separate from the handle.
  • Hard cutting boards (marble, glass) will cause knives to dull faster than those made of plastic (polyethylene) or wood.
  • Keep knives sharp*! You'll prevent injuries with a sharper knife because you'll have decreased "drag" and the necessary force required to get the job done will be less. Sharp knives also decrease the amount of tears when chopping onions (the sharper your knife, the less you cry...). Onions have a compound in them that is released in the air more readily when crushed (which is what happens with a dull knife). I've heard that this compound is stronger in the root end of the onion, so cut it last. However, I read somewhere that if you find that you need to cut many onions you should burn a candle close by because the compound will be incinerated before it reaches you eyes. I've not yet tried this one, but I really should... I just never remember when I'm cutting onions.
*To sharpen knives use a stone or a steel. I had a video that stars Mr. Personality, Gordon Ramsay, but it's unable to be shared because whoever put the video on YouTube didn't want it shared so easily (here's the address if you want it).

So, here's another I can put on... not my favorite of all time, but it's something.

If you're not comfortable with sharpening knives either start slowly, or don't do it at all. Although it's definitely a useful skill to have! The only way I've ever sharpened is with a steel, so this works for me if I ever need a better edge. I should probably pull out the stone and practice it...

Knives should be professionally sharpened on occasion as steel and stones straighten the bits of blade that are a bit out of whack, but don't really give a totally new edge you would need. Serrated knives should be professionally sharpened!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

I wanted to tell you all how dangerous dating can be- especially if you happen to be a teenager who enjoys record hops. Apparently it can be lethal (most notably in Texas as can be seen from this live footage from last week). Think of this as my PSA for the day and let this be a warning to you...

So, instead of going out on Valentine's Day (on a "date"), you should stay in and have a bunch of people over as in- "Hey, it's Valentine's Day. Let's have a group dinner because it's a lot more fun anyway."

This dessert looks really fancy, but in my opinion it's actually pretty easy to make. It just takes a little time. Also, although it officially says it serves 8 it could very easily go for 12 in my opinion. And if you're concerned about your New Year's resolutions after this, go out for a run.

The recipe actually came from a while ago, but I just recently pulled it out to give it a try. I was browsing cookbooks and there were some "exclusive" recipes that went with Pastry: Savory & Sweet by Michel Roux. No, I did not end up buying the book. I've sort of stopped buying cookbooks- for now, anyway.

The recipe for pate sucree (crust) makes double what you need. And so, you'll have a second one in the fridge or freezer when you need it. It's like money in the bank.
The other thing is that my tart pan is actually 9 inches, and things have turned out fine each time I've made it.

If you are unaware of "blind baking" technique you need to have dried beans or pie weights as well as some foil or parchment paper. Place the foil in the unbaked crust, pour in the beans, and bake. Remove according to the recipe, etc. You can save the beans for future pie and tart shells. It is not recommended to try to eat them though- I think they're pretty much destroyed by the heat in the oven and would be awful to eat.

You definitely don't NEED the mint- you could just go with the raspberries OR save the mint for garnishing. I think I actually would prefer it sans mint... with mint reserved for garnish.

Oh, and I don't plan on just doing sweets on this blog! Maybe I'm on this kick because it's just the season for things like this?

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
Serves 8

9 oz pâte sucrée

2 cups (250g) raspberries
3/4oz (20g) mint leaves, finely snipped

chocolate ganache:
scant 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
7 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate, 60– 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped
1 oz (2T) light corn syrup
4 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Roll out the dough to a circle, 1/16 inch thick, and use to line a greased 8-inch diameter (1-inch/2.5-cm deep) tart ring. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Prick the base of the pastry shell. Bake the shell blind, for 20 minutes. Lower the oven setting to 350ºF/ 180ºC, remove the beans and paper, and bake the pastry shell for another 5 minutes. Place on a wire rack, lift off the ring, and leave the tart shell until cold. Set aside 24 of the best raspberries. Halve the rest, delicately mix with the snipped mint, and spread evenly in the pastry shell.

For the chocolate ganache, bring the cream to a boil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and corn syrup, and mix with a whisk to a very smooth cream. Still whisking, incorporate the butter, a piece at a time.

Pour the ganache over the halved raspberries to fill the pastry shell. Set aside until cold, then chill the tart for at least 2 hours before serving.

Use a very sharp knife dipped in very hot water and wiped dry to cut each slice. Place the tart slices on individual plates with the reserved raspberries. Serve cold, but not straight from the refrigerator.


Pate Sucree (makes about 1 lb, 3 oz)

1 3/4 c flour
8 T butter, cubed and slightly softened
1 c confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs, room temperature

Mix together and place flour, sugar, and salt on counter in a mound. Work butter in with fingers (drawing flour mixture in until grainy). Make a well in center and add eggs. Work eggs into flour using fingertips until it begins to hold together. Knead a few times with palm until smooth. Split dough into two pieces, roll into balls and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before using (roll out to 1/8-1/16 inch thickness on floured surface and use per recipe).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Salt... and Caramel!

We all know how important salt is, and that as humans it's something we need to stay alive.
It was very valuable back in the day, it's where we get the word "salary" because Roman soldiers were paid in salt. The beautiful city of Salzburg, Austria is named for salt- the river running through the city (the Salzach River) was important for transporting salt for a long time.
Salt was (and is) used for preservation and for flavor.
When baking, recipes usually call for a bit of salt which helps bring all the flavors together. Did you ever forget salt in a recipe and find when you tasted it something was missing? Not that you were missing salinity, but things just weren't quite right?
Salt is great- in the proper amounts, of course, but we all probably know at least one person who has to watch their salt intake because of hypertension.
Have you ever really tasted different kinds of salt? No, you don't have to eat whole spoons of it, but just a few grains. The difference in flavors can be amazing.

Clockwise from upper left: French Gray Salt, Cyprus Black, Murray River Pink Salt, Hiwa Kai Black and (center) kosher.

Regular iodized table salt is fairly harsh. If you compare it to a little kosher salt (with some water between!) you can really taste a difference. The kosher is much more delicate. Because of this I really prefer to use kosher salt when cooking.
Of course, we all need iodine- which is easier for people to get if they live near the coast because of the fresh fish. I remember reading something at some point (college or grad school? chemistry or some medical-type class? I don't know... my head is filled with random things that can sometimes be more appropriate for Trivial Pursuit) about people in the Appalachian Mountain region having iodine deficiency issues. Iodized salt was introduced in the early 20th century and there's now less of a problem with some of these things. But the topic isn't REALLY iodine here.
Yes- tasting salt! Not exactly a wine tasting, but many different and delicate flavors, which is why many salts are better used as "finishing" salts just prior to serving. As well as delicate flavors, they can also look very pretty and interesting.

Hiwa Kai Black Salt (with charcoal)

Cyprus Black Salt (also with charcoal- it actually has a delicate and flaky
pyramid shape)
... if you click on the picture you may be able to see more detail...

The Hawaiian Red Salt gets its color from clay.

On to caramels...

Recently many confectioners have been using salt to finish their candies- very often caramels.
The contrast is fantastic- smooth, chewy, milky, sweet caramel with a touch of crunchy saltiness.
I've recently been putting salt on caramels when I make them.
The caramel recipe is my grandmother's, but we don't know where it came from and it's (sadly) too late to ask her. I noticed there was no salt in the original recipe though.

Time to pull out the candy thermometer!
If you have a 1/2 sheet pan, I would recommend perhaps doubling the recipe. This way the caramel isn't too thin. However, you'll have more caramels to wrap. Also, it's best (in my opinion) to use the full-fat condensed milk. I don't know what went wrong (the milk? something wrong with the temperature? and I don't really have the time to check it out right now), but a while back I used fat free condensed milk and it didn't solidify too well. It did make some very nice caramel sauce though...
I want to experiment with using coffee and infusing the cream, but it's so hard to get past really good vanilla caramels.
Oh, I would also recommend NOT eating them all by yourself. Sharing is a good thing sometimes.


1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. light corn syrup
4 T sweetened condensed milk
4 T butter
1 T vanilla

Cook sugar, cream, and corn syrup in a medium pan over medium-low heat stirring constantly. When it reaches 230 degrees F, add condensed milk,  and continue stirring. Once the temperature reaches 240 degrees, add butter and vanilla (which will probably make the caramel sputter a bit) and remove from heat.

Pour caramel into a greased pan (with sides!) and let cool.
Cut into pieces, place on waxed paper squares and twist ends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chocolate Macarons with Raspberry Cream

I recently got a book called i *love* macarons by Hisako Ogita (with a heart instead of the word love) because I do, in fact, love macarons.
(I just looked at the book on Amazon and the price really went up! Maybe it's now out of print???)

I love to make macarons, but don't do it TOO often because of the time it takes...
There was a recipe in Gourmet Magazine a few years ago- you could probably still find it on their website even though the magazine is *sadly* now out of print (as of November 2009). Lucky for me I saved my issues and use them for reference all the time!

*Here's a link to one of the recipe variations from Gourmet- espresso-blackberry macarons

Macarons are perfect little cookies when you want something a little fancy. I'd tried them with lemon zest as well as plain with a little pink food dye. I'd tried them with lemon curd (which I LOVE, but not in these cookies) as well as with I decided to try one of the variations of macarons with cocoa powder. I had read somewhere (maybe Gourmet) that chocolate macarons were a tad finicky, and so I was a little apprehensive about giving them a whirl... long story short they turned out just fine.

I found the techniques a little different from the Gourmet recipe (which was more simple), but the results were good!

Here are the ingredients for macarons: ground almonds, powdered sugar, cocoa powder,
and egg whites.

First we whiz the almonds, cocoa, and sugar together in a food processor to mix things up and break them down. Then we whisk the egg whites in a mixer, adding a little granlulated sugar. Yay, meringue!

When we have stiff peaks we fold the almond mixture into the whites (which, of course, deflates a little).

After that we mix and fold with a spatula, pressing the mixture against the sides of the bowl.
The batter is scooped into a pastry bag and piped onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. You know, they always look so good when initially piped, but somehow they seem to always spread unevenly.

I think it's because the parchment paper is in rolls which usually ends up having hills and valleys when unrolled. One good tip is to put a tad of the batter on each corner of the parchment to help "glue" it to the baking sheet so is stays somewhat flat.

Now the batter has to sit for about half an hour so that it dries a little. When it's dry to the touch and doesn't stick to a finger when touched lightly it's ready to be baked.

When it's finished, it should have a "pied" or foot (the little ruffled part at the bottom). Apparently this is what a macaron MUST look like to legally be called a macaron.

When cool you can sandwich jam, lemon curd, ganache, or cream between two cookies.

I followed the recipe for the pastry cream in this book and added raspberry jam, however, I think it would be easier to go with a plain buttercream recipe from a standard cookbook and add some jam for flavor (or not).

I think they're better if they have a chance to sit (in a covered container) at least a couple of hours. The texture is a little crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside- and the chocolate/raspberry combination is one of my favorites!

I love vin de peche and have been making it the past few springs when the peach tree has new leaves- thus the name for my blog! I will go ahead and give my disclaimer- I'm not a photographer, but I LOVE to cook and love when I can make people happy by cooking for them.

I would also like to say that as I'm doing this I'll be playing with it and learning (computer-wise).
I'll take this opportunity and apologize to you, Dr. Koch. Although something tells me you'll probably never read this, I will have said my piece. It's not quite been 10 years since I had my computer class with you in college, but I've forgotten pretty much everything. Granted, neither of us was in the computer science department, but still...
In this case "use it or lose it" applies. I know we learned many of these things, they just didn't stick so well. Typing is no problem... formatting, web pages, etc. may be another story altogether.
I never was the most computer-savvy kind of gal.