Basic French Macaron with Buttercream Filling

photoYou will need:

-2/3 cup almond meal or ground almonds

-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

-3 large egg whites, room temperature and preferably aged up to 3 days

-5 tablespoons granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 -food coloring (if desired)

-parchment paper (included in March box)

-pastry bag and tip (included in March box)

-round cookie cutter (included in March box)

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 280ºF, and position 2 racks in the lower section of the oven. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using the small cookie cutter as a stencil, draw circles on the back of each sheet, spacing the circles at least 1/2-inch apart (draw the circles on the back side of your parchment to avoid ink or pencil stains on your macarons!).

-If your almond meal is very coarse, grind it with the powdered sugar in a food processor until fine. Sift the almond meal-powdered sugar mixture twice through a mesh sieve.

-Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), and begin to beat on medium-high. When the eggs are frothy, gradually add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Continue to beat the egg white mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form when you lift the beaters. Gently stir in the vanilla extract and food coloring. Be careful to not to over beat the meringue (e.g., the meringue takes on a clumpy texture).

-Add half of the sifted almond mixture, and gently fold it into the meringue using a flexible silicone spatula. Lift from the bottom, up around the sides, and toward the middle, being careful to not over agitate the meringue and lose too much air. Once the almond mixture is predominantly incorporated, add the second half and repeat.

-When the almond mixture is just incorporated, you will need to transform the batter into the appropriate texture. Using the flat of the spatula, “punch” down into the center of the batter, then scrape more batter from the sides to the center, and punch again. You will need to repeat this 10-15 times (or more, depending on your arm strength and the beginning texture of your batter) until the batter slowly and continuously drips back into the bowl when you scoop it up with the spatula. Think of the consistency of molten lava. For the best results, punch the batter a few times, check the consistency, then punch a few more times, etc. Do not make the batter too runny or the macarons won’t rise as they should, and you could end up with oil stains on the surface

-Pour batter into a pastry bag with tip. Twist and clip the top of the bag to avoid overflow. On your prepared baking sheets, pipe out 1-inch rounds in the circles you drew.

-Holding the baking sheet in both hands, rap each baking sheet firmly on the counter two or three times. This smooths out the tops and helps form the “pied” or frilly foot on the bottoms of the macarons. Allow the piped macarons to dry, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes. The macarons should form a very thin, smooth crust where, if you tap it lightly with your finger, the batter will not stick to your finger. If after 15 minutes, the batter is still sticky, let it dry longer. This may take up to an hour on humid days.

-Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. After the first 2 minutes, open the oven to allow any excess humidity to escape. Halfway through, swap oven racks and rotate the sheets for even baking. The macarons are done when they are baked all the way through and the shells are just hard. Take care to not underbake (insides will still be mushy) or overbake (tops will begin to brown). Remove them from the oven, and cool on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.

-When fully cooled, assemble the macarons with your choice of filling. The assembled macarons can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Basic Buttercream Filling

You will need:

-7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

-2 egg yolks

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-3 1/2 tablespoons milk

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-food coloring (if desired)

Directions:

-Cut butter into pieces, and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise.

-In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar, and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar. Add the milk, and whisk to combine.

-Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan, and heat over low heat, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding.

-Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl, and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the vanilla and food coloring, and stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. Pipe or spread onto one macaron half and sandwich between the other.

***Recipes courtesy of popsugar.com

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

photo

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

You will need:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Sprinkles (included in February box)
  • Rainbow Sugar decons (included in February box)
  • Cupcake liners (included in February box)
  • White frosting (we used store bought)

Directions:

  •  Heat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with cupcake liners.
  •  Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans or fill cups about 2/3 full with batter.
  •  Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.  Frost with Chocolate Buttercream and decorate with sprinkles.  We piped a little bit of the store bought frosting in a cloud shape to attach the rainbow sugar.  Makes approximately 24 cupcakes.

Recipe Courtesy of Hersheys.com

 Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

You will need:

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

  • Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, or an electric mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  •  Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.
  • You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

Recipe courtesy of browneyedbaker.com

 

Oreo Mint Bars

oreomint

You will need:

-1/4 cup butter

-1 bag mint flavored chocolate chips- we used the Andes Mint Chips

-2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (about 24 cookies)

-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

-1/4 cup softened butter

-1 tablespoon milk

-2 cups powdered sugar

-1/3 cup butter

-green food coloring (2-4 drops)

-chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

Grease a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray.  In a food processor, grind cookies until they are coarse crumbs.   Melt 1/4 cup of butter, in a bowl, combine crushed Oreos and butter.  Press mixture into pan and up sides till covered, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until firm.

In a small bow, beat 1/4 cup softened butter, milk, peppermint, vanilla and food coloring with an electric mixer until mixed.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low until smooth.

Spread peppermint filling evenly over Oreo crust.  In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips and 1/3 cup butter over low heat, stirring constantly.  Spread melted chocolate evenly over peppermint filling.  Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or pecans.  Refrigerate about 20 minutes.  Cut into bars and enjoy!!

Pot of Gold Cookies

Pot o Gold Cookies

Step 1:

Make the no fail sugar cookie recipe included in your February box. (Or use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.)

Step 2:

Roll dough into 1″ thickness and cut out Pot of Gold shapes using the cookie cutter from the February box.

Step 3:

Bake cookies, and let cool.

Step 4:

Roll out brown fondant into 1/4″ thickness.  Cut fondant into Pot of Gold shapes using the same cookie cutter.   Spread royal icing on the entire cookie and lay the fondant on top of the royal icing.

Step 5:

On the very top sprinkle gold crystals on the royal icing.

Step 6:

Use a dab of royal icing to attach the rainbow sugar dec on onto the cookie.