Laduree Paris

The Laduree boutique in the Paris – Charles de Gaulle airport was a welcome sight since I didn’t visit the store at  75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées.

aren’t they beautiful, adorned in colors of the rainbow and flavored by nature:

The packaging is exquisite, colors and designs reminiscent of a victorian tea room.

DELICIOUS!!!!  At first bite, the macaron shell cracked on the outside and the inside of the macaron was soft and chewy.  Perfect!!!!

Do not pass by Laduree in the CDG airport in fear of old or stale or out of date macarons; the macarons are supurb!

The packaging containers are beautiful!  I purchased macarons in a round cylinder that opens like a lipstick case.  The inside of the container is gold foil lined, reflecting the beauty of the macarons.  Paris……………

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Memories of Mexican Wedding Cookies begin with my Mother baking these small, round balls of butter and flour (I’m sure Mom used margarine).  Hot out of the oven, Mom would toss the cookies in a small brown paper sack filled with powdered sugar.  I don’t remember her tossing the cookies in powdered sugar after they cooled.  I do remember eating her cookies and dribbling powdered sugar over my hands and clothes and the floor.  In a family of five, perhaps the cookies were eaten before Mom had the opportunity to toss the cooled cookies a second time in white dusty sugar.

Mexican Wedding Cookie recipes are somewhat standard, incorporating butter, sugar, and flour.  However, these are the BEST Mexican Wedding Cookies I have ever tasted.
This recipe contains an extra ingredient that elevates the melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cookie to greatness.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
(recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour blog and website)
  • 8 ounces Lurpak slightly salted (very soft room temperature) butter
  • 2 ounces powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (yes, I used this much) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 ounces almond flour/meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 9 1/2 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour
  • 6 ounces powdered sugar for coating cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In stand mixer, combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt; mix well
  3. Add the almond flour/meal to the butter mixture
  4. Stir in the all purpose flour
  5. I used a #50 scoop to evenly portion the cookies onto a parchment lined half sheet tray (32 cookies)
  6. Hand shape the cookie dough rounds into smooth balls
  7. Bake for 18 minutes (your oven may vary)
  8. Cool MexicanWedding Cookies 2 minutes on baking tray and then coat with powdered sugar (I swirled cookies and powdered sugar in a small bowl)
  9. Place on wire rack to cool completely
  10. After cooled, toss in powdered sugar again.
Follow Mixing instructions through step #6.  Place sheet tray in freezer.  After cookies are frozen, place in freezer safe container.  I thawed cookies prior to baking, though I don’t know that it was necessary.

Perfect in taste, texture, and eye appeal, Mexican Wedding Cookies are simple yet delicious.

French Macaron smooth tops

Inspired by this Viking class, I will continue to try until I get it right!

My goal was to achieve smooth tops on the macarons, and that I did achieve.  However, I made a mistake at some point in the process.

I stirred together the powdered sugar and almond meal, and then processed into a fine powder in the food processor.
fluffy mountain of powdered sugar/almond meal

 smooth and white, double sifted

 egg yolks were aged about 52 hours on the counter in a shallow bowl covered with a paper towel; whipping at medium speed until bubbles begin to form (mistake #1: recipe required 1t lemon juice added at this point – I added the entire small container of juice which was about 2t [this is why mise en place is so important!]

 adding granulated sugar after a whirl through the food processor; I wanted to be sure the sugar would properly dissolve in the egg whites

 soft peak – not ready yet

 stiff peak – ready

 holding mixer bowl over my head; Rachel Allen says this can be done with properly whipped egg whites; it worked!

dry ingredients added to egg whites/sugar; 50 strokes (probably over-mixed at this point)

 batter is too thin

 rounds of batter are too large and too thin, but the TOPS ARE SMOOTH; they dried smooth, and baked to a beautiful smooth top

And, here the pictures cease.  The macarons did form feet in the oven at about 6 minutes.  (mistake #2:  after rereading the recipe, the oven should have been at 320 degrees – mine was at 350 degrees) However, they did not properly bake, as they stuck to the Silpat when removed from the oven, and the shiny smooth top separated from the undercooked bottom.
They had a wonderful flavor as I scraped bits and pieces from the pan to sample.
Though this was not a success, I am encouraged.  Hopefully, post #3 will show beautiful, home baked French Macarons!
I somewhat followed this recipe.

feet! feet! feet on French Macarons at Viking Class

We used a small cookie cutter dipped in flour to create circle guidelines on the Silpat mat. How creative! Sure was better than drawing all those circles on parchment paper!

It’s almost Halloween – purple macarons!  Notice the stiff peak in the lower third of the picture – very important.

Color in the lines, students – or pipe within the flour circles.

Oops – a few tails tapped flat with a little water on the pinkie

air drying (with the help of a large fan just out of photo range)

Just baked.  Now, ignore the rough tops and LOOK AT THE FEET!  We will try for smooth tops in lesson two, but for now we celebrate the feet.

Another angle

The Viking class was French Macarons (yes, only one ‘o’) and Whoopie pies.

Our instructor is seriously stuffing this pumpkin whoopie pie

Healthy hand size whoopie pie

A final look at my first ever attempt to make French Macarons.

Our instructor suggested we refrigerate the macarons for 24 hours.  I followed the suggestion and enjoyed the slight change in texture.
The most important lesson of the night taught us to lose our fear of mixing and baking macarons. Books have been written and blogs have been posted detailing all the scary aspects of making macarons.  
I have egg whites aging on the counter as I type…
(all photos are from my iPhone – use the camera you have at hand)
updated 10.24.10
Trying to achieve a smooth top on the macaron.  See blog post here.

my clementines – not the song

The recipe uses the entire clementine, including the peel. I had never tasted a clementine, and baking with the entire fruit sounded interesting.

As I read in one of the foodie blogs, “the clementine is this cake.” It’s true. From the aroma to the texture to the taste – it’s all clementine.
The cake is made with almond meal. This meal has a course texture, much unlike our wheat flour. I like the added texture the almond meal provides in this cake.
As the recipe states, let this cake sit for a couple of days. I have tasted the cake directly from the oven and also a couple of days later. It is much better after it rests for a couple of days.
Nigella’s receipe can be found here.