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Friday, November 25, 2011

French Chocolate Macaroons

After spending some time in Paris, France this past April, I've been dying to make french macaroons. They are so light and delicious and I love a new challenge! I always have to work some chocolate into my baking one way or another, so my best bet was chocolate macaroons. For a first timer, I must say that I think I did pretty well in my macaroon making. It took a bit of time, considering I wasn't a pro at it, but overall, I will definitely make these again.

1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Filling:1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the macaroons: Pulse the almonds with 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pulse until well blended.
Beat the egg whites with the salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl just until the whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond mixture.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe out 1-inch-diameter mounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops are cracked and appear dry but the macaroons are still slightly soft to the touch.
Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to barely dampened kitchen towels and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel the paper off the macaroons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the filling: Bring the cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when spread.
If desired, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the filling, or spread it with a knife, generously on the flat side of half of the macaroons. Top with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing together gently to form sandwiches.

Chocolate Pumkpin Pie.

Happy Black Friday everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving as much as I did! Of course, the best part was the dessert, which is why I wanted to post the recipe for my delicious Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. I must admit, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but I thought a chocolate pumpkin pie just might do the trick. I found this great recipe which added semi sweet chocolate bits to the spiced pie filling. Made with a fillo dough crust, this pie is a healthier version of your typical pumpkin pie. Yet still so tastey, you won't feel as guilty going for that second slice. I also topped the pie with light whipped cream for extra flavor and decoration.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Butter flavored cooking spray
6 sheets fillo dough
½ cup light cream
½ cup fat free cream
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate bits
15- ounce can pumpkin puree
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
3 egg whites

Unroll fillo dough, then cover with plastic wrap while you work. Lay one sheet of fillo dough on the counter. Lightly mist the fillo with cooking spray. Set a second sheet of fillo over the first, rotating it slightly. Mist the second sheet of fillo, then repeating this process with the remaining fillo sheets, rotating each time a sheet is added. Mist the final sheet of fillo. Use a knife to carefully trim the stack of fillo into a 12- inch circle. Discard the scraps. Carefully lift the stack and set into the prepared pie pan, gently pressing the fillo against the bottom and sides of the pan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat the cream until just bubbling. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate bits. Stir until completely melted and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and the chocolate cream mixture. Add the egg whites, whisking until everything is thoroughly combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is set and no longer jiggles.

Nutritional Info:
Calories- 290
Fat- 14
Carbohydrates- 40

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve Baking.

Carrot cupcakes have been on my list of new things to bake for quite some time now. Never making a carrot cake before, I searched and searched for the perfect recipe and finally constructed something that was moist and delicious and, not to mention, extremely light on the calories and fat! Thanksgiving seemed to be the appropriate time to try out these little beauties, and I must say, they were a success! Usually carrot cake is paired with cream cheese frosting, which I find to be amazing, but I thought it would be interesting to put a little spin on the typical cream cheese frosting and spice it up with some cinnamon. After sampling my precious treats, I've decided that carrot cupcakes were going to be on the menu for years to come. Enjoy!

2 1/2 cup or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together the first 5 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutritional Info:
Calories- 160
Fat- 5
Carbohydrates- 25

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8 oz.) Pkgs. Cream Cheese; softened.
¾ cup butter; softened.
3 cups confectioners’ sugar.
2 tsp. vanilla.
1/4 cup cinnamon.*
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in vanilla. Gradually stir in sugar and cinnamon.

* Yes, this seems like alot of cinnamon, but because the recipes makes quite a bit of frosting, I wanted the cinnamon flavor to be strong.

I also divided up some frosting and added green and orange food coloring to it to pipe on the carrot decorations.

Happy Thanksgiving Bakers!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies

On my recent visit to London, England, I discovered a new breakfast cereal called Muesli. Very similar to oatmeal, Muesli, is packed with a blend of fruit and nuts, along with oats. At first, I thought Muesli was only sold in the U.K., but when I returned home to the states, I found some in my local grocery store. I became a fan immediately, and knew that I had to try to incorporate Muesli into some kind of cookie. So, once again, I started creating a cookie like no other. I decided to use my basic, yet delicious, oatmeal cookie recipe, and replace the oatmeal for Muesli. The result was out of this world! The cookies were soft and chewy, so this recipe is definitely a keeper! I added some chocolate chips for a bit more flavor which was an absolute plus! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup Muesli
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir until combined. Add Muesli and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 1 dozen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Toffee Almond Meringue Cookies

For years I have been seeing recipes for meringue cookies and always wanted to give them a try. This year I came across the perfect recipe and decided that it was time to make these delicious little treats. Filled with two of my favorite things in the world: toffee bits and almonds, I knew this was going to be the perfect recipe. The cookies didn't just taste wonderful, but also looked wonderful. The toffee bits gave the cookies a chewy texture which balanced perfectly with the crunch of the almonds. If you like meringue cookies, be sure to give these a try.

Toffee Almond Meringue Cookies:

  • 4 egg whites

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup milk chocolate English toffee bits

  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds

  • In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablesponn at a time, beating on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6-8 minutes. Fold in toffee bits and almonds.
    Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set and dry. Turn oven off; leave cookies in oven for 1 hour.
    Cool completely on pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.