I’m not going to sugarcoat this: macarons are finicky little beasts.
Out of the various times (read: 5 or more) I’ve tried to make them, all batches have failed to some degree.
Sorry to say, the batch pictured was somewhat of a failure too. I admit I’m sort of deceiving you with these pictures.
This batch wasn’t a disaster by any means and the macarons tasted delicious, formed adorable ‘feet’ and had a perfectly soft/chewy texture combo, but the other 3/4 of the batch had cracks.
I’m pretty sure it’s because I didn’t let the macarons rest long enough before baking them, given the last ones in the oven had the fewest cracks. Lesson learned.
From my many attempts at macaron making, I can give the following tips with confidence:
- Let the macarons rest!
- Weigh the ingredients. For a while I didn’t have a scale and thought measuring in cups would work just as well. It doesn’t.
- Let the macarons cool before filling. The last thing you want is to ruin a perfectly good beautiful batch of macarons with runny filling — I know from personal experience.
- If the macarons stick, wipe a damp cloth on the bottom side of the parchment. (Works best if they are still warm.)
- Don’t over or under fold the batter. Over folding can cause excessive spreading, and under folding can lead to bumpy macarons. (I wasn’t lying when I said macarons are finicky.)
- If you succeed on your first try, gold star for you (and please, send some of your skills to me!). If you don’t, try again.
- 150 grams powdered sugar
- 110 grams almond meal
- 10 grams dutch processed cocoa powder (~2 tbs)
- 100 grams egg whites
- 50 grams sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Sift together the powdered sugar, almond meal, and cocoa.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually adding the sugar. Stir in the vanilla,
- Fold the dry ingredients into the whipped egg whites until no streaks remain.
- Pipe or scoop the batter onto 3 parchment paper lined baking trays. Allow to rest for at least an hour and a half.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 16 minutes. If the macarons stick to the parchment, wipe the bottom side of the parchment (below the macarons) with a damp cloth. This should loosen them and make them easier to remove.
- Fill with ganache.
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- In a saucepan, heat the chocolate and heavy whipping cream until a smooth chocolate mixture forms.
- Cool until spreadable.
On a side note, I’m interested in posting more dinner recipes! For some reason, I’m feeling quite sugared out. Lately I’ve been cooking my own meals (or having my mom order takeout), so there’s a bunch I can potentially share!
Originally, my family’s Christmas eve plans included lasagna. My mom commissioned me to make it, and per my request went grocery shopping, buying noodles, tomatoes, and tubs of ricotta cheese among other ingredients.
The problem was, no one really wanted lasagna, and I didn’t especially want to make it either. I made a sample batch, and with homemade tomato sauce, it took me nearly three hours. I couldn’t really imagine repeating that process, especially in the midst of our Christmas dinner chaos.
So, instead we had fish tacos, shrimp, beans, rice, turkey, and mashed potatoes…a strange (but delicious) combination. Seeing this left me with two and a half tubs of ricotta cheese, I decided to make ricotta cake for dessert. I’m not a fan of cheese in dessert (though I’m learning to appreciate cream cheese frosting — cheesecake is still a nope), but the ricotta simply made this cake deliciously tender and moist.
Everyone loved it, so much so that I’ve made two batches to use up all the ricotta. I brought it to a gathering with friends, and every last crumb was devoured. My friends and family all loved it, so hopefully you’ll try it and love it just as much.
Lemon & Almond Ricotta Cake with Berries
NOTE: The first time I made the recipe, I used a loaf pan. The second time (pictured) I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 13x18 in jelly roll pan.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cups oil
- 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- lemon zest from 1 lemon (save the juice for a glaze - recipe below)
- 1 carton (~1 1/2 cups) blackberries/raspberries
- ~1/2 cup sliced almonds (i used the extra crushed almonds from a batch a macarons i made)
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk together the oil, ricotta, and sugar in large bowl for several minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the extracts and lemon zest.
- Add the dry ingredients, and stir until most of the flour is incorporated.
- Fold in the berries, continuing to stir until no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour in a 9 inch loaf pan, sprinkle with almonds, and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool on rack completely.
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how much lemon juice))
- There are two ways to use the lemon: for a glaze or for an ‘infuser’.
- To make a lemon glaze topping, combine the juice from the lemon and enough powdered sugar to form a thin glaze. Pour or spread over cooled cake.
- To make a lemon ‘infuser,’ add enough powdered sugar to temper the sourness of the lemon juice. Poke the cake with a fork when still warm, then pour the sweetened lemon juice over it. The sauce will add additional moistness and flavor.
- I can vouch that both work well for this cake! It’s a great way to use up the part of the lemon the cake doesn’t use.
These cupcakes are like eating a cloud of fluffy chocolate brownie cake frosted with the inside of Lindor truffles.
My dad has been sneaking into the kitchen and taking two at a time, and he usually only nibbles at the desserts I make. I can’t blame him though; I’ve lost count of how many I’ve eaten.
These cupcakes are super chocolatey, and not too sweet (though a extra quarter cup of sugar or a few drops of stevia can fix that if sweeter desserts float your boat) and the frosting tastes like the inside of lindor truffles. Really, it does!
The cake is more creamy and dense than traditional chocolate cake and it reminds me somewhat of brownies, but that’s the only distinction I can make. There’s no bean taste whatsoever.
If you’re feeling particularly healthy, you could replace the eggs with egg whites and sugar with erythritol, but these aren’t bad as is. So relax, and eat a couple (or ten).
Black Bean Chocolate Cupcakes
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup sugar (increase to 3/4 cup if you like sweeter desserts)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, blender, or with a hand emersion blender until smooth. The batter should be very creamy and thick — like chocolate pudding.
- Divide into 30 mini cupcake liners.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Frost, or eat plain!
Inside of Lindor Chocolate Truffles Frosting
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- Combine and microwave until melted.
- Let sit at room temperature until spreadable, or speed up the process using an ice bath.
- Frost the cupcakes!
Five minutes from now you could have seven gluten free pancakes. Seven soft, fluffy pancakes that taste just as delicious as their wheat-filled counterparts. I’m so head over heels for these pancakes that I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to make regular ones again.
I’ve made this recipe six times in the past week — three times plain, once with chocolate chips, and twice with cocoa — and all versions received raving reviews from my parents and peers alike. Make this recipe, fall in love, and never spend more than five minutes making pancakes again.
EDIT: From an attempt to cook these pancakes on a regular frying pan, I’ve realized how important a nonstick surface is. So unless you want to make scrambled pancake, use nonstick!
Five Minute Pancakes
(1 minute for gathering ingredients, 1 minute for blending, and 3 minutes to cook; it’s really that easy!)
- 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar (I use 1 pitted date!)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine all ingredients in a blender.
- Blend for about a minute, or until the mixture is smooth.
- Cook at medium-high heat on a non stick pan until golden brown.
- Serve plain, or with syrup, jam, ice cream, or chocolate sauce.
Because I’m still pancake-crazy, come back soon for:
Gluten free chocolate pancakes!
(Pumpkin pancakes, banana pancakes, cinnamon bun pancakes are in the making too — I have grand dreams for this recipe.)
I’ve been to Costa Rica twice.
The first time was in 2009, when a past Spanish teacher invited some of his other former students to join a group of his current students on a trip there. Most of former students (the people I knew) couldn’t go, which left just my friend Sonia and me.
By that point, even though I had taken Spanish for three years, I would still fumble during simple conversations. My parents allowed me to go on the conditions that I would speak solely in Spanish, but considering I was there with 20 other teens and a close friend, none of whom could speak much better than I, that didn’t happen.
Instead I spent close to a week making new friends (in English) and having fun, not a total waste I think! (Though, if you ask my mom and dad, they grumble and say, “Yeah, yeah.”)
Me and Sonia in Costa Rica!
This summer, I lived with a Costa Rican family for three weeks. My days were divided between community service and Spanish lessons, with the occasional excursion on the weekends.
Since I visited with my friend and her sister, I wasn’t completely immersed and did speak some English, but with twenty hours of Spanish classes a week, I definitely improved my conversational skills and learned a lot.
When I’m at home, I tend to cook most of my meals myself, mostly because I’m impatient and can’t bear the lag between asking for food and actually receiving it.
In Costa Rica, my host mother generously set out plates of food for me three times a day, and for three weeks I happily ate black beans, flavored rice, cabbage salad, and vegetables, with the occasional caramel candy or slice of cake.
During one of the excursions, I bought a Costa Rican cookbook from a giftshop, already dreading a life without homemade rice and beans at every meal. It’s filled with recipes for savory and sweet dishes, and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been successes.
I’ll post recipes for rice and beans soon, but they were both devoured before I could take pictures. Luckily, I snapped some shots of this banana cake in time.
This cake is denser than most banana cakes I’ve had, and the recipe called for cloves and nutmeg rather than cinnamon, but it was still delicious.
Costa Rican Banana Cake [Queque de banano]
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground gloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 8 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup butter, melted & cooled
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (The cake was pretty sweet so next time I would reduce the sugar to 1 cup or 3/4 cup!)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices.
- In another bowl mash the bananas.
- Add the butter, sugar, eggs milk, and vanilla.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Bake in a greased 9x13 pan for about 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.