Strawberry French Macarons

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MACARONS MACARONS MACARONS MACARONS!! Not macaroons. Macarons. One “o,” please! I know I said I’d do a macaron tutorial post, but I’m not ready for that yet. I have pictures from two instances, but I’m not completely satisfied with them. I keep looking at all these other macaron tutorial posts, and I don’t think mine are up to par yet. Perhaps in the near future! So for now, I’ll direct you to some of my favorite macaron posts where I learned it all, and I’ll show one of my favorite flavors: strawberry macarons with strawberry buttercream. This is one of my more popular flavors, because the strawberry flavor in the filling is so strong! It’s soooo good. There’s one extra hassle from making macarons–you get all these egg yolks sitting around. I mean, there are plenty of recipes out there that use up leftover yolks, but sometimes I’m just kinda meh about them. Luckily I have a friend who makes amazing ice cream that I give all my yolks to (shoutout to Nick! Thanks for taking all my leftover egg yolks!).

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The recipe I use is from this blog called Not So Humble Pie. She has this pretty great macaron tutorial that you can find here where she goes into detail about the entire macaron process–ingredients, equipment, mixing, baking, and fillings. The recipe I use is from her. And then there’s also BraveTart, a blog which has an intensive post as well, and I’ve definitely learned a lot from it. You can find her recipe here, along with a couple other macaron reads that she links to in the post. Both are really informative, and I think a lot of what I’ve learned is credited to these two blogs. Check them out, please!

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A couple of side notes (just things off the top of my head):
1) Macarons take a lot of precision, practice, and patience. Precision because baking is a science, and practice because as you keep making them, you begin to learn techniques. It’s not as hard as everyone makes it out to be, but you have to be really willing to put in the time and effort. It’s definitely not something you can whip out in an hour–you must be patient.

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2) Measure all your ingredients and sift all the dry ingredients! As for aging the egg whites, I usually do it the night before. If you don’t have time, don’t worry–just make sure they’re at room temperature. I like separating them in separate bowls and pouring the egg whites to my mixing bowl. I do this so in case I get a speck of yolk in my egg whites, I don’t have to throw out everything, just that one tainted white. Remember it’s important that there are no specks of oil/yolks in your whites, otherwise they won’t whip up properly.

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3) For piping, if you don’t have a pastry bag you can use a ziploc bag or a plastic pastry bag. I buy plastic pastry bags at Daiso Japan if you have one in your area; if not, you can find them online. If you are using a large ziploc bag, I would recommend cutting the hole on a curve (not straight, a sort of curved line) just so the batter doesn’t get piped out flat. As for piping circles, it’s hard. Some recipes tell you to draw circles one by one onto the back side of the parchment paper with a pencil, but…aintnobodygottimefordat. I print out two macaron templates (which you can just google image search), tape them together, then slip them under my Silpat/parchment paper. Then I pull them out after I’m done piping, and voila! Time saver and you can reuse the templates.

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4) After you finish piping, don’t forget to rap the sheets against the counter. This helps create a solid “base” or “foot” for the macaron shells. It also helps flatten out some of ugly shells into prettier shapes. Just slam the pans against the counter once or twice, then rotate 90 degrees and rap again until you rap all the sides.

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5) Know your oven! Your oven can be a liar. Seriously! It might say 350 when in reality it’s 325. You can buy oven thermometers if you want to be sure; I just played around with my oven until I found a temperature that worked. I only bake one tray at a time; you might not have to. It’s up to you and your oven.

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6) I know it’s tempting, but let your macarons sit for a little to let the flavors meld together. I usually let them sit overnight, but some people let them sit for at least 24 hours. Up to you! But they still taste great. Be sure you store your macarons in the fridge or a cool area, or the filling might melt and get messy.

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7) Process–don’t deflate the egg whites. Fold gently, and make sure you fold it thoroughly. That was a mistake I made–undermixing. This led to hollow (but yummy!) macaron shells that didn’t look as pretty as I would have liked them to. If you pick up your spatula, the batter that flows off should incorporate into the batter in 20 seconds. Don’t overmix though!

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8) I think this is the most important–HAVE FUN! If they don’t come out right, it’s okay–try again! At the end of the day, they’re just macarons. They’re not a big deal. Have fun and find joy in it. Don’t get discouraged! Here are some from one of my first few batches of macarons: IMG_3133 I don’t even know what happened. They tasted good, but they looked hideous. I guess what I’m trying to say is that macarons aren’t a big deal. They’re a fad. They’re hard, but remember to have fun while doing it. Don’t lose your passion for baking because of these puny cookies. Whether or not you are successful with these doesn’t determine whether or not you’re a baker. HAVE FUN. I still have a lot to learn. I still have fillings to work on and try, shells to tweak, and a lot of precision to master. I still get a few bad batches here and there, but I think the main point is that I enjoy it. I love baking, and it’s definitely a passion. But like I said, macarons take a lot of precision, practice, and patience. You have to be willing to put in the effort! And enjoy it. I find it fun, and I hope you do too. Don’t get discouraged–they’re just macarons! Try and try again. And on the bright side, even though they don’t look perfect, they still taste good =). Good luck!!

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Strawberry French Macarons
Makes about 70 1.5 inch shells (35 sandwiches)
Macaron recipe From Not So Humble Pie

Ingredients:

For the macarons:
120g almond meal
200g powdered sugar
100g egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
30-35g granulated sugar
2-4 drops pink gel food coloring

For the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1.5 tablespoons strawberry puree (from 1-2 strawberries)

Note: For almond meal, you can grind up your old almonds, or you can buy the almond flour/meal itself. I usually buy slivered almonds in bulk at Winco and grind them myself, but sometimes I use the almond meal from Trader Joes–$3.99/lb bag.

1. For the macarons: Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Prep a piping bag with a round tip. Place the bag into a tall drinking glass and cuff the bags opening over the top (this makes it easier to fill the bag).

2. In a large bowl, sift the almond meal to remove any clumps, then weigh out 120g. Some people like to weigh then sift, but I always end up with so many extra lumps/chunky nuts that won’t go through the sieve that I don’t want to be inaccurate in my weights. Sift then weigh.

3. In another bowl, sift the powdered sugar to remove any clumps, then weigh out 200g.

4. Mix together the powdered sugar and almond meal. You can sift both of them again, but I usually don’t, and my macarons turn out fine. Sifting it together makes sure that they’re evenly incorporated with each other, but I just stir with a spoon.

5. Pour the 100g of egg whites into a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Add the cream of tartar. Begin beating the eggs on low speed. Once they are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. Read here if you’re confused about what this means.

6. If you’re using food coloring, make sure you are using gel food coloring. Add it in at this point, and whip for a few seconds.

7. Add about 1/4 of the almond and sugar mixture; fold with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain (make sure you fold! Don’t stir. It’ll deflate the whites). Continue to add the almond and sugar mixture in quarters, and fold until you reach the proper batter. It is finished when you pick up your spatula and the batter flows steadily.  People describe this as lava-like or molten, but I never really understood what this meant… SO it needs to be thick enough that it will mound up on itself, but also fluid enough that it will melt back down after 20 seconds.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared piping bag, and pipe rows of batter onto the baking sheets. Make sure you don’t pipe them too close to each other, because they may spread.

9. Rap the baking pan on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. If you want, you can pop the air bubbles that come up with a toothpick,

10. Let the macarons rest or “dry” on the counter until they are no longer tacky to a light touch. I know they are ready when I touch it and nothing gets on my finger. It usually takes at least 30 minutes for me, but it depends on the humidity and weather. Try to let them dry in a cool place.

11. When your macarons are almost dry, preheat the oven to 290°F. Bake the macarons on the middle rack of your oven (this depends on your oven). I usually bake one tray at a time.

12. Bake the macarons for 16-20 minutes. When they are done, let them cool completely on the sheets. Once the macarons are completely cool, peel them off by pulling back the parchment paper/silicone mat). The shells should come off easily. If not, put them back in the oven for 2 minutes.

13. For the filling: Place butter in a mixing bowl; cream until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and strawberry puree (which is just strawberries blended in a food processor/blender/coffee grinder); beat until combined.

14. For Assembly: Match up each shell. Fill a pastry bag filled with the strawberry buttercream. Pipe a small mound of the buttercream into the center of the shell, then sandwich each shell with its other half. Do this for all the shells.

15. You have two options now: a) Eat them all. b) Put them in the fridge, and let the flavors develop overtime. I usually just leave them overnight, since I’m always baking at night. Leave the macarons in the fridge when you’re not eating them, then when you’re ready to serve/consume them, let them warm up a bit so the macaron can soften. Or eat them straight from the fridge, like me. Your choice =).

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I hope that wasn’t too confusing! Like I’ve said before, the two tutorials I linked to early are really great and much more informative, so refer back to those! But feel free to ask me any questions, and I’ll be happy to (try to) help. =) BUENA SUERTE!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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Six-Banana Banana Bread

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I am super picky when it comes to bananas. I only eat bananas when they’re still slightly green. If there are brown spots, then nope. Sorry. For some reason, ripe bananas make me want to sneeze. And I hate the smell! My parents like buying bananas, but I think we go through phases. They either go out really quickly, or they just sit there and rot. So oftentimes we always have a whole bunch of bananas that are starting to brown that no one will eat, and I always feel so wasteful when they get so bad that we have to throw them out. I know the bananas are getting old when my mom starts asking when I’ll be making “banana cake.”

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Now don’t get me wrong, I love my banana crumb muffins recipe. It was the first post that got me onto foodgawker! But that recipe only uses three bananas. Then I stumbled across this recipe, which uses SIX (!!!!!!!) bananas in the banana bread. Amazing. This bread is so easy to make (you don’t need a mixer or anything! No creaming involved), and I think I’m still amazed at the fact that it uses so many bananas. That’s all the rotting bananas in my house! It’s super easy to put together, and the flavor is great. I like how it uses vanilla pudding mix in the batter; I think that’s what makes it so moist. Lots of banana flavor, super dense and soft, and it stays moist for days. It does take a little long to bake (mine took a little over an hour, I think), but it’s totally worth it. If the top starts to brown before the bread is done, just put a piece of foil over the top and it’ll be A-OK. This is my new go-to banana bread recipe; hope y’all enjoy =).

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Six-Banana Banana Bread
Makes one loaf
From Averie Cooks

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek Yogurt (I used Trader Joe’s Honey Greek Yogurt)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 medium/large very ripe bananas, mashed (2 1/2 cups)
one 3.4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix (make sure it’s not cook ‘n serve)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare the loaf pan by spraying with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan. Depending on the size of your loaf pan, you may need a muffin pan or mini loaf for leftover batter.

2. Whisk together the melted and cooled slightly butter, eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, greek yogurt (or sour cream), and vanilla.

3. Add the mashed bananas; stir to incorporate. Add the pudding mix (don’t actually make the pudding, just add it like a dry ingredient), flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold with a spatula, being careful to not over mix.

4. Bake the loaf for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). If your bread is browning before it’s done, tent it with a piece of foil. Like the creator of this recipe, Averie, says, “watch your bread, not the clock.” I like that phrase!

5. Let the bread cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. Bread will keep airtight at room temperature for up to one week, but hopefully they’ll be gone before then =)! Enjoy!!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Blueberry Doughnut Muffins with a Lemon Glaze

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Happy Tuesday!

There’s only a little over a month of summer break left. I think I’ve done my share of baking this past summer already, but I still have a long to-do list before school starts again. I have about 9 macaron orders on hold and two birthday cakes to do in September. I’m tired…but I still like it. I will admit that I get really lazy at times (hence the 9 backed-up orders) and get tired of making the same thing, but at the same time knowing that someone wants my baked goodies makes everything so much better. I’m getting there!

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Summer’s not over yet, so I won’t make a post on that just yet. But what is almost over is blueberry season. It’s sad because blueberries are my favorite berries! I’m trying to take advantage of blueberry season, so I keep buying blueberries…then as I result I have to keep finding new recipes to use up these pints and pints of blueberries. I’m not complaining, though =).

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After gawking (hehe) through foodgawker, I found these doughnut blueberry muffins with a lemon glaze. I’ve made regular doughnut muffins, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Doughnut muffins are kind of like cake doughnuts in muffin form and not fried. It’s definitely less greasy. I loved these muffins (even though I did sort of overbake them a little bit). I loved the flavors and the combination of the lemon zest and blueberries, and the glaze was perfect with the rest of the muffin. I think I’ll probably try using lemon juice instead of water for the glaze, just because I love the extra tartness =). Yummy, and totally perfect for this summer season!

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Blueberry Doughnut Muffins with a Lemon Glaze
Makes 12 muffins (I had enough for an extra mini loaf)
From My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

For the muffins:
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cup fresh blueberries

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 cup powdered sugar; sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon warm water

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, or line with 12 paper muffin cups.

2. For the muffins: In a bowl, mix together the lemon zest and sugars (granulated and brown). Use your fingertips or a fork to incorporate the zest and sugars together. (It smells great huh!!)

3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and lemon sugar (from step two) until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat to combine.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Make sure everything is throughly combined, being careful to not over mix. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans, filling the cups until they are 3/4 full. Bake them for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown , or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

6. Meanwhile, for the glaze: mix together the melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and water. Whisk until smooth.

7. When the muffins are slightly, dip the top of the muffin into the glaze, and set on a wire rack (make sure you put something under the rack because it will drip!) and allow the glaze to harden. If you have extra, double dip and glaze your muffins twice!

8. Serve warm, or let them cool completely on a rack. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day. Enjoy!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and happy reading, eating, and baking!

Gospel Pizza

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As usual…sorry for the hiatus! I’ve been swamped with church things, but I have to say, it is a JOY to serve our God with our church.

I’m going to go backwards, because the recipe I’m posting about today is from the first event. So the event before the event this past week. Am I confusing? Womp.

1)

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Summer Retreat! The theme was “Hating our sin, and loving our Savior,” and I had the pleasure of counseling the 10th (to-be 11th!) and 9th (to-be 10th, though there was only one) grade girls. To be honest, I was pretty nervous because it was my first time counseling–it’s a little sad that I didn’t think much of the theme while going up. I was more focused on how to serve these girls that I had forgotten that everything is ultimately in God’s hands! He is good. For me, retreat was a good reminder of how unworthy, and how gracious and Holy our God is! Our sin sucks. Period. But by God’s grace, we have our salvation! During retreat, Aaron (who has new music up on his site by the way!) led worship with some of the other students, and they sang Grace Alone 6 out of the 7 sessions. It was hard to follow at first, but by the end of the retreat I was able to follow. Even though it was hard, the lyrics are really descriptive about how it truly is by grace alone that we are saved. I love this part of the song:

So I stand in faith by grace and grace alone

I will run the race by grace and grace alone

I will slay my sin by grace and grace alone

I will reach the end by grace and grace alone

A blessed week indeed! And to my girls: if you’re reading this, thanks for letting me be your counselor this past retreat! Thanks for being open and for helping me understand how to better serve you all. Thank you for being patient with me, and I genuinely hope you were able to learn a lot from this retreat. Thanks for being blessings to me =).

2) Kids’ Arts Academy. (picture credits to Uncle Gaylan). This was basically a different outreach approach for the children’s ministry. Long story short, our church wanted to do something other than VBS, because every church down the street had a VBS program and VBS became more of a day care for many kids. We wanted to reach out to the unchurched through something different. Our children’s director came up with this idea, and I thought it was great! It was new, it was different than VBS that all the other churches were doing, and it was a new way to bring people to Christ. The Arts Academy was a day-long event for kids to learn different forms of arts. What was really great was that we also had a parenting workshop at the same time at church! So the parents could drop their kids off at the academy while they attended the parenting workshop.

Anyways, there were four stations: 3-D Arts, Rhythm & Movement, Fine Arts, and Culinary Arts, and the gospel was tied somehow into each station. I was in charge of administration and the culinary arts. On the Sunday after the arts academy, we displayed the artwork in the courtyard for the congregation to see. It was pretty neat!

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For my culinary station, we made butterfly snack bags. It’s easy–you take a wooden clothespin, glue on pipe cleaner antennas, decorate the clothespins, fill up a snack sized ziploc bag with snacks, then clip it right in the middle. This is supposed to represent how we are a new creation in Christ.

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In addition to the butterfly bags, we made pizza. Or as I like to call it, Gospel Pizza! I am so thankful for my team, because I don’t think we would have been able to pull through without us bouncing ideas off each other. I wanted something that the kids would enjoy making, but at the same time teach them some basics about the culinary arts and tie in the gospel somehow. After our meeting, we ended up deciding to make the pizza dough, divide them into individual portions, and let the kids roll them out and top them off on their own. Then we would freeze the pizzas (as they moved through all the other stations throughout the day), then let the kids finish the pizzas off by baking them at home.

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We came up with five toppings–pineapples, olives, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and spinach–and each topping represented a different section of the gospel. The pineapples are gold, which represents Heaven. The olives are black, representing sin. Actually, it was funny–we figured that some kids wouldn’t like olives, so we just said “It’s okay, you’re not supposed to like sin!” The pepperoni is red, representing Jesus’ Blood. The mozzarella cheese is white, which represents purity. And lastly, spinach is green, representing growth. I put it all on a laminated half-sheet recipe card–recipe on the front, gospel on the back–because I also wanted the kids to be able to take something home that wouldn’t eventually rot/be eaten. Thanks Samantha Ho for designing! =)

All in all, the arts academy was a blessing! Super tiring, but totally worth it. For my group, we used over 35 pounds of bread flour and 12 pounds of mozzarella cheese–enough to make almost 200 9-inch pizzas. We had a total of 111 kids come out, and many of them were unchurched, so PRAISE GOD! May His will be done. Ya know, about two weeks before the arts academy, we only had about 50 kids signed up, and it was a little discouraging. But seriously, answered prayers! God is good.

We made a video to show the kids how to make the dough. Thanks Pamela for video-ing and editing!

I’m also attaching the picture of the recipe cards we made. If you do use them for your ministry, please let me know! I would love to hear how you are using this for your ministries =)

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria,

and Happy reading, eating, and baking!