French Chocolate Macarons

For the past few months, this is the recipe that I'm trying to perfect - French macarons.

The first time I tried a French macaron was from Bizu Patisserie from the Philippines. Then we went to Paris and tried some macarons from Ladurée and Fauchon... oooh they were melt-in-your-mouth heaven!


Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the ones from  Ladurée.

Anyway, after that yummy vacay, I wanted to try and make some. I hesitated at first because had this feeling that this is not an easy recipe. Luckily, I found a very easy to follow recipe for chocolate macarons from David Lebovitz.

Other than the fillings in the recipe, I followed the recipe to the T. I just had a hard time knowing when to stop folding the macaron batter... when do I stop folding?!

When I felt that enough folding has been done (even though from recent experiences, the folding was not enough on my first try), I piped them on my baking pans. Based on my research, some recommends using parchment paper instead of silicone mats, and some otherwise. So I decided to pipe them in both parchment paper and silicone mat.

As you can see from the photos below, they have pointed tops. Even when I rapped then to death, they won't go away. So it only means I didn't fold the batter enough. And the ones piped on the parchment paper were too crowded. C'est la vie! 



Here they are, all baked and ready to be eaten. Seriously, I ate a few pieces already even before I made and put the filling! :D You'll notice from the photos that they're cracked. C'est la vie!


Here's a comparison of the bottom of the macarons - parchment paper vs. silicone mat. The only difference I noticed was the shiny bottom when baked on silicone mat.


Now that the macarons are done, let's talk about filling. You can use any filling you like - buttercream, ganache, or even Nutella!

I didn't make the chocolate filling from David's recipe because I didn't have (and can't find!) corn syrup. So I decided to make chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, something that I've got the hang of making. I used the recipe from My Butter Fingers, which she adapted from Smitten Kitchen (proud to say I'm a big fan of Smitten Kitchen) and Use Real Butter.

In my opinion, Swiss meringue buttercream needs a little getting used to. Actually, anything meringue or anything that involves beating egg whites still scares me. Overbeating/underbeating destroys the food you're making, which is totally annoying.

Anyway, here are the finished product complete with fillings.


I made these the 2nd, 3rd, (nth!) time and it never fails to disappoint me. Here are other photos of the nth (don't know when I made them!) time I made macarons. See the less pointed, shiny tops? And no cracks! perfect!



Do try this out. It's worth the stress hihi! Here are the links to the recipes I used:
David Lebovitz's Chocolate Macarons
My Butter Fingers' Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

By the way, I finally got a bottle of light corn syrup and made the chocolate filling from David's recipe. Fudgy yummy!

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Flourless Brownies

I was in search of a chewy brownies recipe for two days. I love my usual brownies recipe because it's soft and dense and perfectly rich. But I find it too sweet sometimes.

Yesterday I checked some of my usual sources of recipes, and found the perfect one from David Lebovitz, his gluten-free brownies. The recipe has no flour in it, instead it uses a bit (as in super-bit) of cornstarch. So instead of using the title gluten-free brownies, I decided to use the word "flourless", because the brownies are flourless.

So what's gluten? Here is the definition from Wikipedia.com

Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often gives the final product a chewy texture.
Apparently, some people are allergic (or their body reacts badly) to gluten. From Wikipedia.com:
Gluten sensitivity (also gluten intolerance) is a spectrum of disorders, including celiac disease and wheat allergy, in which gluten has an adverse effect on the body. It can be defined as a non-allergic and non-autoimmune condition in which the consumption of gluten can lead to symptoms similar to those observed in celiac disease or wheat allergy (other conditions which fall under the gluten-related disorders spectrum).
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include bloating, abdominal discomfort, pain, or diarrhea; or it may present with a variety of extraintestinal symptoms including headaches and migraines, lethargy and tiredness, attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity, muscular disturbances as well as bone and joint pain.
I don't think I react badly to gluten, so it really doesn't matter if I cook gluten-full or gluten-free food. :) But the brownies recipe from David Lebovitz seemed so rich and dark and everything nice! So I gave it a go, and here's the finish product


Seriously, the picture's not doing justice to how good these brownies are! It's as dark, rich, soft and dense as I want them to be... in other words perfect! And it's gluten-free!

I followed the instructions to the T. The mixing/beating part was torture! I decided not to use the mixer and just use my handy-dandy whisk. I beat the batter for more than a minute (I think it was even more than two minutes) until the batter was smooth. My arm felt like it was about to fell off! But better safe than sorry for not beating it too well. :) 


I didn't add nuts to the brownies... my husband and I do not like nuts in brownies. Instead I added a few drops of chocolate chips on top before baking. 

If you want to try out this recipe, visit David Lebovitz's site and check out his Gluten-Free Brownies.

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Chewy Choc Chunk Brownies

Ahhh...

The cheater's way to heaven. :)

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Insalata Caprese (Tomato Mozzarella Salad)

I've been seeing the tomato mozzarella salad on TV and online and I had been curious on how it tastes. So I tried making some.


Tomato mozzarella salad, or Insalata Caprese, is a very simple Italian salad. All you need are slices of tomatoes, slices of mozzarella cheese and some basil leaves.

In the salad I made, I decided to use cherry tomatoes and bocconcini (mini mozzarella cheese). I bought these lovely Piccolo cherry tomatoes (still with stems) and a tub of bocconcini.

I usually am not a fan of tomatoes in salads, I always pass them to hubby. But these tomatoes are so sweet and delicious and juicy, I love them!
I sliced them in half instead of putting them whole

My tub of mini mozzarella

cute!

The salad should also have basil leaves, but I forgot to buy some. :D

After slicing the tomatoes in half and adding the bocconcini, I seasoned it with freshly ground sea salt and some pepper, plus a drizzle of olive oil. Presto! Insalata Caprese!


Try making them with large tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and slice them. This would also be perfect on toast! :)


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