Archived entries for the chocolatey

Espresso macarons with dark
chocolate ganache

I’m so happy the French bakery in my neighbourhood is open again.

You know you really like a place when you return home from vacation, and the *very same day*, you hit up that bakery. Only to find that it’s closed.

Espresso macarons filled with dark chocolate ganache

For another two weeks.

Then you stand there for five whole minutes in disbelief.

After I collected myself and dragged myself home (the sky suddenly seemed a little darker, the wind a little colder), I continued working on macarons since I would have to be self-sufficient with French baked goods for the next two weeks.

I’ve struggled in the past with macarons, but eventually got “feet” with vanilla-flavored ones. I tried over and over with chocolate ones, but just could not make it happen, no matter how much I pleaded and cajoled the tiny puffs as they sat in the oven, taunting me. I still can’t get the chocolate ones to develop feet, the slippery little things. (If anyone has a magic trick I could try, or a spell I could recite, please message me.)

However, I have been able to make it happen with espresso macarons. This is especially nice because I can sandwich dark chocolate in between and you basically get a nice little mocha fix.

So until I get those chocolate ones worked out, these are my go-to recipe.

Espresso macarons with dark chocolate ganache
Makes about 16 filled cookies
I suggest reading my instructions in my previous post: I have detailed bullet points on what seemed to work well for me. Also, make sure to store the macarons in the fridge overnight before eating; the cookies need to ‘fuse’ with the filling to create that heavenly macaron texture.

For the cookies:
Ingredients

2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons fine granulated sugar
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 ounces (85 g) almond flour
5.25 ounces (150 g) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, espresso powder and powdered sugar through a strainer (you won’t want any big pieces of almond in the mixture.)
  2. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the 5 tablespoons granulated sugar with the 2 tablespoons water. Swirl — don’t stir — over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat just a bit until the sugar mixture comes to a boil. You will want to use a candy thermometer to make sure it comes to 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). At this point, you will need to take it off the heat and quickly start streaming it into the meringue, so it’s important to get the meringue started as the sugar syrup is boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites in a stand mixer with the wire whisk (level 6 on a KitchenAid). When you have reached soft peaks, add the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. When the sugar syrup is ready, very, very slowly and steadily trickle it into the meringue mixture as the mixer is running. As soon as all the sugar syrup is added, you will now add the almond flour mixture.
  4. Stir in a third of the meringue into the flour mixture with a spatula until it was well combined. Add the rest of the meringue and fold in until all the flour has been combined with the meringue.
  5. The macaronnage: Using a spatula or dough scraper, scoop the entire mixture from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Do this about 15 times, or until the batter “flows like lava,” or drips slowly from the spatula when lifted.
  6. Fill a piping bag with a 1-cm tip and pipe the cookies into 1-inch (or 2.5-cm) wide circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Rap the baking sheet against the counter a few times, set another baking sheet under it, and let the cookies rest while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
  8. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.
  9. Transfer the parchment to a cooling rack while you make the filling.

For the ganache:
Ingredients

1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
4 ounces (approx 100 g) dark chocolate
wee pinch of salt

  1. Chop the chocolate and set it aside in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and pinch salt to a simmer over low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Wait 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cream and chocolate until well combined. Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Preparing the cookies:
Spoon a bit of the ganache onto a macaron and sandwich with another. Store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight.

Link: Vanilla Macarons (crispywaffle.com)

Tartelette au chocolat

An advantage to living in a neighborhood with lots of French expats is that you have a patisserie suitable for French expats. If you’re ever in my neighborhood, stop by Philippe Galerne. You won’t be disappointed.

Tartelette au chocolat
A post-anniversary treat!

Seattle siren song

So our friend Carmen is visiting, and the good foodie that she is, she brought us a bounty of Seattle treats. (This always has the effect of amplifying Seattle’s siren song, and making me more homesick than ever. In a good way.) Some of the new things were most impressive: a baker’s dozen of Montreal-style bagels from Eltana Bagels (which we killed in about 30 minutes) and a bag of dark roast from Caffe Umbria. Cape Cleare salmon made me never want to see a slimy piece of cold-smoked salmon ever again. Sigh. I miss you, Seattle, but I’ll see you in a few months.

One annoyance: TSA actually confiscated Skillet Bacon Jam despite Carmen’s pleadings. Hmph. Kyle wondered if bacon jam may just be the perfectly ironic way for an Islamic terrorist to carry dangerous liquids.

Oh, and I hear the Eltana bagels Carmen brought us are the first to make the trip across the Atlantic and touch down in the Netherlands. So we gave them a proper welcome with some local cream cheese.

Bagels from Eltana in Seattle

Bagels from Eltana

Theo chocolate

Theo chocolates. Ballard’s own!

Eltana bagels with Cape Cleare smoked salmon

Eltana + Cape Cleare salmon + a chive cream cheese from around the corner.

Black gold

Beans from Caffe Umbria. Black gold.

I heart coffee and gelato

You know, even in the middle of winter, Milan is not a bad place to hang out if you love gelato. And coffee. Or gelato with coffee (otherwise known as affogato). Lucky for me I got to travel there twice in a month. Even with less than 48 hours for each trip, I got my fix.

Macchiato and gelato

Macchiato and gelato (hazelnut and chestnut) in the background. Does the pattern confirm that the dude was flirting with me? Eh, probably not. Bianco Latte, Milan.

Never too cold for ice cream
Yoghurt and Bacio. Bianco Latte, Milan.

3 scoops @ Chocolat, Milan, Italy
Bomby. Pistachio and fiordilatte from Chocolat, Milan.

6 (count 'em, SIX) types of chocolate gelato
Gotta love a place that has SIX kinds of chocolate gelato. Chocolat, Milan.

Nutella steamed pudding

crispywaffle_nutella2

Although my favorite way to eat Nutella is slathered on bread, I thought for World Nutella Day (four years old this year, I might add!) I would combine two of my favorite things: steamed pudding and Nutella.

Steamed pudding is basically a cake that is steamed rather than baked, then turned out onto a plate. What’s great is that it never gets really dry, so it’s moist and gooey, and often times light.

Usually a 4-5 quart heatproof bowl is the tool of choice for steaming the pudding in. This then needs to be set inside a larger pot that can accommodate water about halfway up the sides of the bowl.

Lucky for me, I have a steam oven (great for making siopao, by the way!), so I just set a large heatproof dish with a cover directly in the oven. For traditional steaming, the pudding bowl needs to be prepared properly. These instructions from the BBC are the best I’ve seen for preparing a steamed pudding.

This pudding is more like a souffle, and the Nutella taste is subtle in the light airy texture. To dress it up, you can prepare a little Nutella sauce, but I’m happy eating it with a spoonful of sweetened creme fraiche.

Nutella steamed pudding
serves 4-6
Recipe tip: Because Nutella actually doesn’t have a lot of chocolate (or hazelnut for that matter), the taste is really subtle when you bake with it. What I have found, however, is that if you make your own gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut mixture), you really boost the intensity of chocolatey-hazelnutty flavor. There’s a great recipe at the Cook and Eat blog. Give it a shot!

Ingredients
1 cup (240ml) Nutella
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
4 tablespoons (50g) butter (plus more for greasing the bowl)
pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated: yolks in one bowl, whites in another
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup (65g) sugar
1/4 cup (35g) flour

  1. Grease the bowl generously with butter.
  2. In a small heavy pan, heat the cream, butter and salt over medium low. Lower the heat to low and add the Nutella. Whisk together until totally combined. Set aside until just a bit warm.
  3. Add the egg yolks to a large bowl and whisk until a bit frothy. Pour the Nutella mixture into the eggs, whisking while you add it so the eggs don’t curdle.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white with an electric mixer. When the egg whites start looking foamy, add the cream of tartar and the sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form, but don’t let it dry out.
  5. Stir in about a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk and Nutella mixture. Gently fold the rest of the egg whites in with a spatula. Sprinkle on the flour and gently fold that in as well.
  6. Prepare the steamed pudding (as directed in the video link above). Set a tea towel in the bottom of a huge pot that will hold the pudding bowl. Add the bowl and pour boiling water until halfway up the sides of the bowl. Set over medium low heat (until the water is simmering) and cover the pot. (You may need to add water part of the way through)
  7. Steam the pudding for an hour. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. This is a good time to prepare the Nutella sauce, if you are making it.

Nutella sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) Nutella
3 tablespoons boiling water

Add the Nutella to a medium-sized bowl. While whisking, pour the boiling water over the Nutella. It may seize up at first, but as the water gets incorporated, it will become smooth again.

Sweetened creme fraiche
1/2 cup (120ml) creme fraiche
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the creme fraiche, sugar and vanilla. Stir together until smooth.

Links:
Cook and Eat: DIY Nutella
World Nutella Day
Ms. Adventures in Italy
Bleeding Espresso



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