Posts from May, 2011

Raspberry Macarons – a Beautiful Spring Treat

For some reason, the French Macaron has developed a bit of a reputation as a tough cookie… to make, that is. This is due to the fact that they can be a little finicky, requiring more attention to detail than a regular cookie. They need to sit out before baking (long enough to form the perfect skin), the batter should flow like lava and don’t forget the coveted ‘feet’ that have to form in the oven.  Like anything, though, practice makes perfect and once you’ve mastered them, the doors are wide open! The great thing about these divine treats is that they are infinitely customizable; you can flavor them to your heart’s content and fill them with just about anything you can think of. While there are some traditional flavors like pistachio, vanilla and chocolate, the macaron is the perfect vehicle to try new and unexpected combinations.

Personally, I love raspberries, so I can’t think of anything tastier than some super-fun Raspberry Macarons with Pink Champagne Buttercream filling! This recipe was created by my Food Studio associate Jessica Duncan – an avid baker!  These are a sweet, pretty little treats that practically beg to be set out for anything from a birthday party, a bridal shower or an afternoon tea party. Even better, surprise mom on Mother’s day with this beautiful sweet treat! The tartness of the raspberry plays wonderfully against the smooth sweetness of the buttercream. Pink sanding sugar sprinkled on top gives them a little extra bling – fabulous!

So forget what you’ve heard about troublesome macarons and give Jessica’s recipe a try – your go-to dessert list will gain a sweet addition you won’t regret!  -Kathy

Raspberry Macarons with Pink Champagne Buttercream
Food Studio culinary associate Jessica Duncan loves to bake sweet treats – her passion for macrons is almost rivaled by her love of cupcakes. She shares her recipe with us today. Thank you Jessica!

Makes about 35 macarons

4 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup almond flour
1 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/8 cup super-fine sugar
1 Tbsp. strained raspberry puree
3-4 drops pink gel food coloring
1/8 cup pink sanding sugar (available at cookie and cake decorating stores)
Pink Champagne Buttercream (recipe follows)

Separate your egg whites and, in a covered bowl, let them come up to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour and powdered sugar until fine powdered, then sift thoroughly. Set aside.

In an electric mixer on medium speed, mix whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whip whites to soft peaks. Be sure not to over-mix at this point to avoid macarons being too dry.

Reduce mixer to low speed and incorporate super-fine sugar, increase to high speed and whip mix to stiff, glossy peaks, about 8 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and sift dry ingredients in 1/3 at a time, very gently folding in with the egg whites until just incorporated. Add pureed raspberry and food coloring and fold in. Test a teaspoon of your batter on a plate – if it smoothes out immediately, your batter is ready. If there are still peaks, whisk on low for another 30-45 seconds.

Transfer batter carefully to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch, round tip. Avoid over-handling the batter as it can begin to deflate. On a sheet tray lined with parchment, pipe out 3/4″ rounds, (at least 1 inch apart) being sure to pull the tip to the side rather than leaving a small peak in the center. Tap the baking sheet firmly to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle generously with pink sanding sugar. Let sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes, or until a skin forms on the rounds.

Bake about 10 – 12 minutes or until macarons are just firm, but not browning. Baking time may vary depending on your oven, so watch them closely. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool completely – at least 30 minutes. Remove carefully and sort macarons into same-sized pairs.

Transfer buttercream frosting to a piping bag with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe a 1/2″ round of filling on to a macaron and sandwich together with its mate. Serve immediately or store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to three months between sheets of parchment.

Pink Champagne Buttercream
Makes about 3 cups

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 Tbsp. champagne or sparkling wine
8 oz butter (two sticks), room temperature
1-2 drops pink gel food coloring

Bring a medium pot (one that your bowl will set on) of water to a simmer.

Meanwhile; in a heat-safe bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), whisk the eggs by hand until light and foamy. Add the sugar, salt and champagne. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture registers 160 F degrees on a candy thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Test the texture between your fingers – it should be smooth, not grainy.

Remove bowl from heat and place on the counter –or attach to stand mixer. With an electric mixer use the whisk/beater attachment, mix on medium speed until the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5-6 minutes.

Increase to medium-high speed and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce to medium speed and one piece at a time, incorporate butter until mixture has come together to a thick frosting consistency. Mix in food coloring to desired intensity. Use immediately. (You can refrigerate covered for up to 3 days – just bring to room temperature before using and give it a few turns with a mixer to fluff it up).
Recipe by Jessica Duncan

Posted by Kathy Casey on May 4th, 2011  |  Comments Off on Raspberry Macarons – a Beautiful Spring Treat |  Posted in Uncategorized

Foster Farms 2nd Annual Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest

Attention all home, amateur and professional chefs!

Foster Farms is encouraging residents of California, Oregon and Washington to stir up some cooking creativity and enter the second annual Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest. Recipes must feature Foster Farms fresh chicken and should be inspired by ingredients grown on the West Coast as a testament to Foster Farms’ commitment to foods that are fresh, locally-grown and always natural. The deadline to enter is May 31, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m. PDT and the contest will culminate with finals held on September 30 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., during National Chicken Month.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 plus a one-year supply of Foster Farms fresh chicken as well as a trip to the Napa Valley!

The Washington Regional Finals will be held again at my Food Studios! Make sure you enter and stay tuned for more info!

Posted by Kathy Casey on May 2nd, 2011  |  Comments Off on Foster Farms 2nd Annual Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest |  Posted in Uncategorized