Pistachio Macarons

SONY DSCThis little green container has been staring me in the face for several weeks. Silently judging me for not adhering to my (secret) New Years goal of trying to post more timely content. (Just in case you don’t want to read about Christmas cookies three weeks after Christmas.)

This small green jar inspired me to make pistachio macarons for St. Patrick’s Day and then sat there in judgement when I didn’t do it quickly enough. Who does it think it is? Sigh.

I bought this crema pistacchi at the new Eataly downtown. I love the Eataly in New York, and treat it as a can’t-miss tourist destination every time I visit. So, when I heard about the one that was being built in Chicago, I was thrilled (involving all the chills that word implies), and it didn’t disappoint. I was very excited to walk away with this fun pistachio cream. Or is it créme? (P.S. I just figured out why you italicize foreign words! It’s so people don’t assume you’re trying to make up new words, or that you can’t spell, both of which are very true for me. Tangent over.)

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Macarons have a pretty rotten reputation for being hard to make, so I was surprised at how easily these came together. I read that you should age the egg whites … although how long they should be aged was not specific, so I separated the eggs in the morning and let them sit for a few hours. They whipped up quite nicely.

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Macarons seem to be typically made with almond flour or almond meal, which I could not find, but I read that the importance of almonds is that nuts don’t absorb the egg whites as easily as regular flour, so I used ground walnuts. They definitely tasted walnutty, but it worked.

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I used a pastry bag to pipe out the meringue-like concoction onto parchment paper, and let them sit about an hour. Heads up, they spread pretty thin. I pipped out way to much and made some pretty large cookies.  

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Assemble! And, ta-da! No, wait. I didn’t realize how wonky the cookie on the right looked until just now. Makes me love it more.

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Pistachio Macarons
Prep Time: 1 hr 15 min; Bake Time: 17 minutes

Ingredients for Macarons:
90 grams of egg whites (about three eggs), aged
2 tbsp granulated sugar
110 grams of ground walnuts (about 1 cup)
200 grams of powdered sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients for Filling:
Jar of Crema Pistacchi
Powdered Sugar
Milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then, continuing to whip the egg whites, gradually add 2 tbsp granulated sugar. 

In a separate bowl, mix the ground nuts and powdered sugar. Fold the whipped egg whites into the nut/powdered sugar mixture. *If you want to color your macarons, add a couple of drops of food coloring about half way between adding the egg whites.

Put the mixture into a pastry bag with a large pastry tip. (Or, as I used, a Ziplock freezer bag with a hole cut out of the corner.) Pipe mixture onto lined baking sheet and let sit for an hour. This creates a hard shell. Bake for about 17-19 minutes. Let them cool on a wire rack.

Directions for the filling:

This is where I get really specific. The Crema Pistacchi was really liquidy, so I added a little powdered sugar to stiffen it up. But then it was too hard, so I added a little milk to make it more liquidy. That’s right. Go to town :). 

This macaron recipe was inspired by:

MarthaStewart.com
Taste.com
BraveTart.com

Baking Music: Flogging Molly (Not true, but it should have been! This was St. Patrick’s Day darn it!)

Shamrock Butter Cookies

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY (weekend)!!! I got the best St. Paddy’s Day gift when I got home from work.

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Isn’t she beautiful? Of course, I had to use her right away.

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Fortunately, I was already going to make butter cookies for my sister’s (Kori) annual St. Paddy’s Day party. So I didn’t have to think too hard about what to make. It was so nice to be able to throw butter and sugar in a bowl, start the mixer and walk away. I did a little kitchen dance to celebrate.

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Kori’s St. Paddy’s Day party is legend. She is a wiz at throwing a great party. I know she works her butt off decorating, cleaning, prepping food and alcohol, but she always makes it look effortless.

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Friends of friends are always welcome. It just a fun, comfortable place to hang out. Green beer? Of course. Corned beef sandwiches? Naturally. Also poker, sometimes jello shots, and lots of friends to round it out. Kids can stay until 9pm.

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She didn’t ask for cookies. But who can resist butter cookies? Nothing goes better with green beer. The worst part about making these cookies is that they are impossible to transport once they are frosted. Also, this recipe makes a million (exaggeration? pshaw!) cookies, so I figured I’d bring them home sans frosting and hope my nieces and nephew want to help decorate them.

SONY DSCI just frosted a couple to make the pictures look good. (Also, they’ll go well with coffee tomorrow.)

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Thanks for the mixer, mom and dad! She works beautifully! I love her. I promise to take care of her. Look! She has her own little home already.

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Butter Cookies

SONY DSCIngredients:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
5 cups flour, divided
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in …
2 tbsp milk

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda/milk mixture and 3 cups flour. Add another cup of flour until dough is workable. You’ll use the rest of the flour to roll out the dough.

Roll out and cut. Bake at 350° for 8 – 12 minutes.

Frosting Option #1
Mix powdered sugar and milk until you get the consistency you want, add food coloring and frost.

Frosting Option #2
Mix equal parts butter and powdered sugar. Add milk (and more powdered sugar) until you get the consistency you want. Add a little bit of vanilla and salt to flavor your frosting. Color, frost and decorate!

Baking Music: Happy Mix (includes Golden by Jill Scott, See the World by Gomez, Low Rider by War and so many more happy songs!)

Invalid Breakfast

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This was a weekend of big, heavy breakfasts. Jill had minor surgery this week which means that we were both home all weekend. That’s pretty unusual. We were both home, and we were faced with a refrigerator full of good intentions. Good intentions are ingredients that never put themselves together to form dinner. (Where is Remy when you need him?) Ground pork and mustard greens that we were totally going to turn into soup. Brussel sprouts that were clearly getting roasted. Duh.

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The pork was a lost cause. It was definitely the source of that weird smell we woke up to on Saturday. But the brussel sprouts were salvageable, so they became breakfast. Both days.

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Fry up some bacon. Quarter some brussel sprouts and cook them in the bacon fat. Which turns them from this:

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SONY DSCI burnt some garlic (woops) and scrambled some eggs. I topped the eggs with cheese (to hide the unattractive burnt garlic), topped the brussel sprouts with salt and topped the breakfast with bacon. Brussel sprouts and bacon became, what I’m calling, our invalid breakfast. Cause Jill’s an invalid.

Oh, and when I ask Jill for feedback, (what kind? what did you like, not like?) she said she liked everything and didn’t like everything. No, wait, didn’t not like anything. Double negatives. Too much work to bother. 🙂

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Oh, and, Jill’s doing well! Bon appetit!

Cooking Music: Herbie Hancock