Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Macarons with Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ok, ok.  I know you're probably all getting tired of macarons, but I guess I've become pretty obsessed with them.  I'm finding that most of the people I know have never had or even heard of macarons, so I used up most of my last batch to convert people to the macaron cause.  Now usually I'm looking for ways to get rid of all the treats I've made so that I don't feel like I have to eat them all before they go bad, but I found myself actually staring at the container thinking "Should I really give the people at my son's preschool some of these?  Because if I do, I need to bring one for everybody and that only leaves a few for me to eat..."  But I passed the test.  I gave away most of the macarons.

So then my husband selflessly told me I should make some more macarons.  (It had nothing to do with the fact that I would have egg yolks laying around and that I might as well make some more of that caramel ice cream for him.  He's seriously obsessed with that ice cream.)  Anyway, I found a recipe for caramel Swiss meringue buttercream to use as a filling.  And of course it was delicious.  One more recipe to go into my ever-growing recipe collection.

Later this week I'll show you the cookies I have planned as a thank you for my orthodontist.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (AKA What To Do With Leftover Egg Yolks)

I really hate it when a recipe only calls for a half an egg, so I always try to find another recipe that calls for the other half.  Last time I made macarons, I made creme brulee, but that calls for 8 egg yolks and the macarons only need 5 whites, so I'm still left with 3 egg whites to waste.  However, last week I happened to find an ice cream recipe that calls for 5 egg yolks, which worked out perfectly.  Salted caramel ice cream.  I have to say that this was the best ice cream I have ever had...ever... including store-bought and homemade.  It was absolutely delicious, and it had the perfect ice cream texture.  Often times homemade ice cream is either too soft or it freezes hard and icy, but this ice cream was smooth and creamy without being melty.  Click here for the link to the original recipe.

I'm in trouble though because my husband now expects me to make this ice cream every week...but he also said that when I made homemade bagels and he hasn't held me to it.  Although he did convince me to make it again this weekend...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Macarons with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Sanity Sunday)

I have a confession to make.  I don't like buttercream frosting.  I know, blasphemous, right?  After all, for awhile I was pretty into cake decorating and while I'm now to the point where I'll eat it, especially if in the position where it would be awkward to reject it, I don't actually like it. 

But today that changed.  I've seen recipes for Swiss meringue buttercream all over the food blog world, but it just didn't sound good.  It's basically whipped egg whites, sugar, and butter, which doesn't really sound appetizing.  Add that to my old fear of overbeating egg whites (which I've conquered ever since I started making macarons), and I was going to pass on it. But I finally tried it today as a filling for some macarons, and not only was it really easy, but it was so much better than regular buttercream.  I thought it would be really heavy (because of the amount of butter) and eggy, but it was actually very light and not too sweet.  I added vanilla bean paste, so it tasted great and had those little vanilla bean flecks, so it was fancy too!  I can't wait to try this frosting on a cake!

Tomorrow I'll share with you what I did with those extra egg yolks! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Flower Cookies (Sanity Sunday)

I had a great plan for these cookies.  I found a really cute flowery design in some planner pages the other day and thought I'd give it a try on some cookies with my kopykake.  I also tried SugarBelle's chocolate chip rollout cookie recipe for the first time (hence the speckled look), and they spread like crazy.  Then when I tried to use the kopykake, I couldn't get it to focus in the right size, and I was way too lazy to do what I would normally do - take a picture of the image (which is easier than trying to get the scanner to work), resize it and print it out.  So I tried to freehand it.  Yeah...combine that with the fact that due to said laziness, I chose to use one consistency of icing, and it wasn't working so much.  (I know that a lot of people only ever use one consistency of icing, but I have finally decided that it is not for me!  Although it's quicker because I don't have to make two consistencies and bottle/bag each, I make way more mistakes and it's hard for me to get accurate, crisp lines.)  So I just went into play mode with these cookies and did a bunch of flowers. 

These tasted really great, but I wouldn't make theme again because they spread a lot and were much greasier than my usual sugar cookies.  And they were pretty difficult to cut because of the chocolate chips. 

I really loved the colors I made though.  I've been working on my ability to color match (which I had a hard time with at first) and I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.  I bought a little color wheel at the craft store that shows what happens when you add different colors, and that has helped me a lot in figuring out how to get certain colors.  Anyway, these were a great match for the colors I was going for.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Cookies

Last Monday I found out that it was teacher appreciation week, so I thought it would be fun to do something special for the people at my little guy's preschool.  After searching many craft blogs to figure out something to do for them, with such little time I thought I'd stick with a tried and true gift:  cookies.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I just did mini apple cookies, with just a little bit of variation.

I used a tiny fluted circle cutter to cut out the bites.  And I got to use my Cricut to make some cute little tags.  I had to take the pictures on a very gloomy morning, so it was impossible to get good coloring on the pictures.  One of these days I'll actually go so far as getting a little lightbox so that the colors look better, but I really know nothing about photography and I have way too many hobbies to take on another one right now. 

I hope everyone had a good Mother's Day!  Here's a picture of me and my little guy.  He was a bit too busy to stay still for some pictures, and this was actually as good as we could get.  Oh well.  There are so few pictures of me and my little guy (I'm usually the one behind the camera), so this will have to do.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Star Wars Cookies

My husband's birthday was last weekend, but it kind of got trumped by Easter, so we celebrated this weekend instead.  I got some new Star Wars vehicles cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma a little while ago, but had yet to play with them.  Man, were they a pain in the butt!  They're supposed to stamp the image onto the cookie, but it's pretty tricky to get a good image without the dough sticking into the stamp.  They needed quite a few colors mixed up, so I got lazy and decided to try only making one consistency of icing instead of using thicker icing to outline and detail and thinner icing to flood.  It was less time consuming, but the finer details didn't turn out so much.  But here are the ones that turned out.

Can you tell I liked the Death Stars?