Macaron Topped Cookies

Macaron Topped Cookies - The Rowdy BakerThis crunchy chocolate cookie with a delicate, crispy/chewy topping baked right on is a unique way to enjoy a macaron without overwhelming your sweet tooth! The chocolate cookie is rich and dark – a perfect choice for complementing sugary meringue.

And…those crispy macaron shells are perfect for decorating. Sprinkle lightly with chocolate shavings or sprinkles just before baking, or paint them with food coloring or petal dust after they are baked and cooled! I used an old fashioned paintbrush, but I’ll bet food color markers would be a good choice if you want to add names. Just don’t press too hard!

Even when baked on a cookie, macarons have a little ruffle at the bottom (called feet), so I piped the macaron batter a bit inside of the cookie edge (the macaron may shrink slightly, too) and then decorated around the baked cookie with tiny royal icing dots, using a small round tip.

Pipe the meringue on thin cookie dough, just inside the edge.

Pipe the meringue on thin cookie dough, just inside the edge.

No, my cookie sheet isn’t dirty – it’s SEASONED! That’s my story. Seriously, folks – a seasoned cookie sheet is great; I rarely have to grease it. I love these DoughMaker sheets, but the third one I ordered refuses to season. It’s all shiny, and things do stick sometimes. So it’s mostly for photos!

The cookie dough is a snap to make, and once you get the hang of it, the macarons really don’t take that long either. You can make the cookie dough ahead of time – up to 3 days – but let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so before you try to roll it out.

I got all crazy and split one batch of macarons into three different colors. It worked, but only because I had everything ready before I started mixing the egg whites. Three bowls with food coloring (GEL OR POWDER ONLY) in them, piping bags with large round tips in a row. Yes, for once I was organized. Don’t expect to see that again any time soon.

Now for the recipe, and…a disclaimer: In a perfect world, the recipe will make 48 cookies and 48 macaron tops, but so many things can mess up this plan! The thickness of your cookie dough, size of your cookie cutter, or your exuberance with the macaron topping can leave you with a little extra of one thing or the other. They are both stand alone treats, so I’m sure you can live with a few strays.

I may have gotten a little carried away on this one. Whoops!

I may have gotten a little carried away on this one. Whoops! Um. Don’t do this.

Macaron Topped Cookies
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Author:
Makes approximately 48 cookies.
Ingredients
  • CHOCOLATE COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • MACARON TOPPING:
  • 210 grams (2½ cups) almond flour (use the lightest, finest flour you can find)
  • 380 grams (3½ cups) powdered sugar
  • 200 grams (6 whites) egg whites, room temperature or - better yet - aged *
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 90 grams (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
  • food coloring - gel or powdered only
  • Shaved chocolate, sprinkles, food colors or petal dust, royal icing (if desired for decorating.)
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla, milk, and egg, and beat well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (slow down there, Tiger...the cocoa will fly everywhere! Beat it on low until it's incorporated) and mix together well.
  4. If you're making this ahead, wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and chill for up to 3 days. Allow dough to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before rolling.
  5. Roll dough out (preferably between lightly floured pieces of parchment) very thin - between ⅛" and ¼". Cut with 3" egg-shaped cookie cutter.
  6. Place approximately 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Set aside while making macaron topping. (If you don't have enough sheets, arrange cookies on parchment and then slide the parchment onto a cooled sheet.)
  7. MACARON TOPPING:
  8. Weigh or measure the almond flour and powdered sugar. Sift together twice, discarding any large bits that won't go through your sifter, and set aside.
  9. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle a pinch of cream of tartar over the top and beat until soft peaks form.
  10. While beating, slowly add the superfine sugar. Continue to beat until meringue forms stiff peaks. If you are making just one color, add it now.
  11. Add the dry ingredients and carefully fold in, just until incorporated.
  12. (If you are dividing the topping to make several colors, do so now, before it is "lava" like or it will be over mixed by the time you blend in the coloring. Fold each color until thin enough to flow from your spoon slowly.)
  13. If you are making just one color, continue to fold until mixture will flow slowly from your spoon or spatula. It won't look smooth - it has almonds in it - but shouldn't be "gloppy". Drop a spoonful on a plate and tap the plate against the counter. The batter should smooth out. If there is still a peak on the top, stir a few more times.
  14. This is important: *The more you stir, the thinner it will get (not good), so don't over-stir!*
  15. Spoon into a large pastry bag equipped with a large round tip.
  16. Squeeze bag to pipe around each cookie shape, staying a little inside of the edge. Fill in the middle. If you get too close to the edge, run your finger along it to even it out.
  17. Drop the pan several times onto the counter to flatten out any tip left from piping and remove air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles that come to the surface with a toothpick right away.
  18. Let the pans of cookies sit and dry for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F.
  19. If you are using shaved chocolate or sprinkles to decorate your cookies, do so just before they go in the oven.
  20. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, or until macarons are firm but not turning dark. Touch the edge of one - if it moves, give it another minute and check again.
  21. Cool cookies on wire racks.
  22. To paint cookies, thin gel or powdered coloring with a little vodka and let your artistic side take over!
Roll out dough nice and thin

Roll out dough nice and thin

Meringue is ready - either add coloring or separate for several colors.

Meringue is ready – either add coloring or separate for several colors.

Folding dry ingredients into beaten egg whites

Folding dry ingredients into beaten egg whites

If you are making several colors, separate topping into bowls and fold in colors until mixture flows slowly from spoon.

If you are making several colors, separate topping into bowls and fold in colors until mixture flows slowly from spoon.

Use your finger to create a clean edge around the cookie.

Use your finger to create a clean edge around the cookie.

Macaron Topped Cookies - The Rowdy BakerI think I may be through with all things macaron – at least until Christmas.

Wishing you the joy of spring –
Lorinda

Please, Bees…Bring Spring! Honey Lemon Cheesecake

Honey Lemon Cheesecake from The Rowdy BakerSweet little jelly bean bees usher in Spring with this honey and lemon cheesecake. Honey adds a mellow sweetness, and sour cream gives it a light tang – a perfect combination!

The cheesecake is easy; making the bees takes a bit of patience and fine motor skills. If you’re not up for that, they sell cute little pre-made bees and flowers too, and no one will judge you!

Bee factory!

Bee factory!

I’ve made gum paste bees before, and the wings stuck on them easily. With jelly beans? Not so much. I tried royal icing and candy melts, and those pesky wings just kept sliding off. Finally I found that the slices of jelly beans I used for wings would stick to the bean body as long as there was a sticky surface exposed. (So, cut a thin slice of jelly bean and then trim a little bit off one end so it STICKS!)

I made small bees using a yellow jelly bean, two slices for wings, and a small piece cut off one end of a jelly bean for the head. A black food color pen works really well for the stripes and eyes. I tried making a stinger out of dark chocolate, but frankly…it looked like the bee was pooping. Had a good laugh over that one. Tiny slices of black jelly beans kind of worked, but I wasn’t very happy with them. Next time I’ll buy some black licorice.

Just for grins, I also made some larger bees, using yellow peanut M&Ms. They looked more like big fat bumblebees…very cute. Those are around the base of the cake.

I found that toothpicks really helped hold the bees in place while I fussed with them and while they dried. (This obviously doesn’t work for the M&M bees – they just have to chill on the plate.) A piece of styrofoam is nice to stick the toothpicks into, but use your imagination. A small box or even a potato would work well, too!

I made the little violet flowers and the bee hive out of royal icing. (Make sure the icing is very stiff when you pipe the bee hive. or maybe you could make one out of half of a lemon?) I forgot to add leaves. Grrrr.  The green icing was sitting on the counter in a pastry bag with a leaf tip, and I forgot to use it! I think it would have looked a lot prettier with that touch of green.Honey Lemon Cheesecake the rowdy baker

The honey comb was made from melted white chocolate, with a little milk chocolate and a tiny bit of yellow candy coloring (a yellow candy melt would work too) to achieve a honey color. Spread it over bubble wrap and place in the freezer until hard, then just peel off and break into pieces.

And….here’s the recipe for the cheesecake!

Honey Lemon Cheesecake
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Author:
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • CHEESECAKE:
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • Juice and zest from one large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • drop of yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Prepare 9-inch springform pan by lightly buttering sides of ring. Place a 10-inch round of parchment over the bottom of the pan and set the ring over it. Hold the ring down firmly and close the clasp, trapping the parchment. You should be able to see a small "ruffle" from the outside. This gives your crust a smooth appearance all the way to the plate. It will ooze butter in the oven, so make sure you have a baking sheet or foil under it.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  4. Using a straight sided measuring cup, press crust firmly and evenly in pan. Using one hand to support the side of the pan, press firmly all the way around. Mixture doesn't have to go all the way to the top.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and white sugar until smooth. Add the honey, lemon juice and zest, flour, vanilla, and food coloring. Beat on medium until combined.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low just until incorporated. Do not over beat!
  7. Fold in sour cream and pour over crust, smoothing with a knife.
  8. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 70 minutes. Without opening oven door, turn oven off and let the cheesecake remain in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Test by shaking pan gently. The inside should jiggle a bit. This is exactly what you want. If the whole thing wobbles, close the door and leave it in there for another 30 minutes before removing.
  10. If your cheesecake extends over the top of the crust, run a knife gently around the edge, right down to the crust, to avoid cracks as it cools.
  11. Once completely cool, refrigerate until ready to decorate and serve.

Honey gives this cheesecake a lovely, mellow sweetness.

Honey gives this cheesecake a lovely, mellow sweetness.

Trap the parchment with the ring.

Trap the parchment with the ring.

There should be a cute little ruffle sticking out.

There should be a cute little ruffle sticking out.

I like the clean look I get when I do this with parchment. But…it will ooze butter, so make sure the cheesecake is setting on a baking pan – preferably lined with foil!

Really press to make sure the crust stays in place since it isn't pre-baked.

Really press to make sure the crust stays in place since it isn’t pre-baked.

Pour batter into crust and smooth with a knife.

Pour batter into crust and smooth with a knife.

 

Cooling on the counter

Cooling on the counter

Once your cheesecake is chilled, pipe whipped cream around the edge and decorate to suit your tastes. You might even want to drizzle a little honey on the top.Honey Lemon Cake Sliced

Dig in!

And here’s another version, using colored whipped topping for the pastel flowers.Easter Cheesecake

As much as I love winter, I’m so happy Spring is officially here! More Easter recipes to come.

Lorinda

Irish Coffee Macarons

Irish Coffee Macarons from The Rowdy BakerNothing says “Irish” like macarons, right?

Yes, yes…of course they’re French (or Italian, depending on who you believe). Whatever. They sure aren’t Irish, but the idea of green macarons with an Irish coffee filling was just irresistible.

Dark chocolate, cream, butter, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream, and coffee combine to make a silky truffle-like filling. If you have any left over, you may want to try this; it was amazing!

ganache on ice cream

Heat leftover filling gently and use as a sauce for ice cream

 

A month ago I’d never even eaten a macaron, so baking them has been a real challenge for me. After scouring the Internet, I was determined that Italian macarons were the way to go. A little more work, since you have to boil the syrup to a certain temperature before pouring over the stiff egg whites, but more predictable.

Huh.

Five batches and five different results later (and that almond flour isn’t cheap) I caved in and tried the French method…which is my favorite by far. I measured everything to the gram, and tried several recipes, tweaking measurements to find one that works well. I’m still searching for perfect, but…this is good.

I even tried adding some grated chocolate to the batter just before piping, which made a cool chocolate chip mint shell. They seemed a tiny bit flatter though, so I omitted that step in the next few batches. They’re great with a chocolate mint filling – maybe worth sacrificing loft?choc chip mint macarons

I reduced the sugar a little in the recipe I’m posting, but they’re still sweet – very, very sweet., and any less sugar would compromise the structure of the meringue. The coffee filling helps balance the sweetness out, but if you don’t care for sugary desserts, macarons may not be for you.

As usual, I immerse myself in new projects, refusing to move along until I’m satisfied, so you’ll probably be seeing macarons in many different forms for a while. I’m sure we’ll all survive this current obsession – and that 3 pound bag of almond flour can’t last forever!

I painted a few macarons, using gel color or petal dust thinned with vodka. I used a gold petal dust too, just for fun. I’m no artist, and I’m sure you can do better than I, so please shoot me a picture if you attempt this!Irish Coffee Macarons from The Rowdy Baker

I resisted one step in making macarons, simply because many bakers said it wasn’t necessary, and I wanted to take the path of least resistance. But…after many, many attempts, I have to admit that it’s better if you age your egg whites. I don’t do it for days, because the thought of leaving egg out at room temperature gives me the willies, but even 18-24 hours seems to help stabilize the mixture. This is just my opinion; you might not notice a difference.

Tips:

  • Start with squeaky clean utensils. Egg whites do not like grease!
  • If you don’t want to age your egg whites, at least make sure they’re at room temperature.
  • For best results, weigh your ingredients, but if you don’t have a scale, my measurements work pretty well.
  • The almond flour really makes a difference. Make sure it says “flour”, and look for blanched almond flour; it makes a prettier macaron. I used Bob’s Red Mill until I found the 3 pound bag of Honeyville brand at Costco. It’s a super fine grind at a great price. (And no, I don’t get kickbacks from any companies!)
  • To avoid having your batter drip out of the tip as you fill your pastry bag, place the tip in the bag firmly and give the bag a little twist right above the tip – then tuck the twist right into the tip. Once the bag is filled, just pull the tip down before piping. I use a pitcher to hold my pastry bag while I’m filling it.
  • Silpat – especially the kind for macarons, with circles – works great for macarons, I think the bottoms are prettier and they release better, but parchment is preferred by some bakers, so it’s your choice.
  • Circles are your friend. If you’re not using macaron silpats, draw 2-inch circles on parchment (flip it over before using, of course) or make one good, dark, cardboard template that you can see through the parchment and just slide it out from under each sheet to use on the next. Pipe in the center of each circle to about 1/4″ from the edge. When you tap the pan the macarons will spread out a bit to fill the circle.

    I don't pipe all the way to the circle edge. If you want to do that, you may want to make your circles 1-1/2" instead of 2"

    I don’t pipe all the way to the circle edge. If you want to do that, you may want to make your circles 1-1/2″ instead of 2″

  • Unless you happen to have 4 sturdy baking sheets, pipe directly on a piece of parchment on the counter (put a little batter under each corner or weigh each corner down to hold it steady) and slide a cooled cookie sheet underneath when it’s time for that batch to go in the oven.
  • To avoid pointy tops, test a spoonful of batter on a plate to make sure it’s thin enough. If you tap the plate on the counter a few times and the batter doesn’t smooth out, give it a few more stirs.
  • Don’t be shy about dropping each pan of piped macarons on the counter. Do it several times. Air in the batter = hollow shells, and you don’t want that!
  • Only use gel or powdered colors.
Irish Coffee Macarons
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Author:
Makes 24 2-inch macarons (48 shells)
Ingredients
  • MACARONS:
  • 210 grams (2½ cups) almond flour (use the lightest, finest flour you can find)
  • 380 grams (3½ cups) powdered sugar
  • 200 grams (6 whites) egg whites, room temperature or - better yet - aged *
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 90 grams (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
  • green food coloring (gel or powdered)
  • *******
  • FILLING:
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup (divided) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, or dark instant coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • * To age egg whites, cover lightly with a towel and leave on the counter for 24 hours before using.
Instructions
  1. Prepare heavy baking sheets by covering with parchment or using silpat sheets. (Before piping macarons on parchment, put a little batter under each corner to hold it down.) If you don't have 4 baking sheets, you can cool and slide sheets under each batch before putting in the oven.
  2. Weigh or measure the almond flour and powdered sugar. Sift together twice, discarding any large bits that won't go through your sifter, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle a pinch of cream of tartar over the top and beat until soft peaks form.
  4. While beating, slowly add the superfine sugar. Continue to beat until meringue forms stiff peaks.
  5. Add food coloring and stir just until it is incorporated.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and carefully fold in, just until it is thick but will pour slowly from your spoon or spatula. It won't look smooth - it has almonds in it - but shouldn't be "gloppy". Drop a spoonful on a plate and tap the plate against the counter. The batter should smooth out. If there is still a peak on the top, stir a few more times.
  7. This is important: *The more you stir, the thinner it will get (not good), so don't over-stir!*
  8. Spoon into a large pastry bag equipped with a large round tip.
  9. Squeeze bag to pipe uniform "patties" (about 1½") on prepared pans, about an inch apart. Drop the pan several times onto the counter to flatten out any tip left from piping and remove air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles that come to the surface with a toothpick right away.
  10. Let the pans of macarons sit and dry for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 F.
  11. Place one sheet of macarons in the oven at a time, on the middle rack. Bake for 13 minutes. Check to see if they are done by touching one gently on the side. If it moves at all, give the macarons another minute or two.
  12. Slide parchment or silpat onto a cooling rack. Let them cool completely before removing.
  13. Repeat with remaining baking sheets.
  14. If your macarons aren't all uniform, match up pairs of equal sizes before piping on the filling.
  15. FILLING:
  16. In a large pan on low heat, combine chocolate, butter, ½ cup of the whipping cream, and coffee powder, Stir frequently until mixture is melted and smooth.
  17. Remove from heat and add whiskey and liqueur. Stir until blended and let pan cool 15-20 minutes, or until cool to the touch. If you have a thermometer, wait until the mixture drops under 80 degrees. (You can put the pan in a bowl of cold tap water, stirring frequently, to hurry it up.)
  18. With a hand mixer, beat until mixture lightens in color and begins to thicken.
  19. Add powdered sugar and beat well.
  20. Slowly trickle in the remaining ¼ cup cream, beating continuously until the filling is fluffy and mousse-like, When you scrape a rubber spatula down the middle of the pan, the filling should not fill the space back in. MIXTURE WILL BE SOFT, but firms up quickly as you work with it.
  21. Using a pastry bag and large round tip, pipe onto one macaron shell. Gently cover with second shell. It's best to pipe filling close to the edge to avoid having to press down too hard. Don't be tempted to pipe them all at once, or the filling may be too firm to set the top macaron.
  22. Refrigerate macarons for 24 hours before serving (or up to 3 days) to give the filling time to blend into the shells a bit.
Macaron shell ingredients

Macaron shell ingredients

Here's the colored meringue. See the peak? It's ready to go!

Here’s the colored meringue. See the peak? It’s ready to go!

Fold in the dry ingredients carefully. Don't stir! It's hard to believe that this will turn into......

Fold in the dry ingredients carefully. Don’t stir! It’s hard to believe that this will turn into……

This! It needs to flow, but not be runny.

This! It needs to flow, but not be runny.

There are different methods of piping – from the top (my method), from the side, and from the top, pulling off to the side. Though I forgot to take a picture of myself piping this batch, here’s a photo showing the chocolate chip macarons being piped onto a silpat. I dropped the pan on the counter a few times and got rid of those pesky peaks.

Piping mint chocolate chip macarons

Piping mint chocolate chip macarons

Drop the pan several times to release air bubbles. You can use a toothpick to pop any stubborn ones.

Drop the pan on the counter several times, then use a toothpick to pop any stubborn air bubbles.

Baked. Yeah, I got a little generous with the size on this batch. Smaller is better; they're SWEET!

Baked. Yeah, I got a little generous with the size on this batch. Smaller is better; they’re SWEET!

Slowly melt chocolate, cream, butter, and coffee powder

Slowly melt chocolate, cream, butter, and coffee powder

Beat in the powdered sugar - right there in the pan.

Beat in the powdered sugar – right there in the pan.

Trickle in remaining cream and beat until mousse-like

Trickle in remaining cream and beat until mousse-like

Filling will be soft, but shouldn't flow back into a track made with a spatula.

Filling will be soft, but shouldn’t flow back into a track made with a spatula.

.Irish Coffee Macarons and rainbows

…but wait, that’s not all!

BONUS! This recipe is part of a group post.

To welcome Spring, I joined three of my favorite blogger/bakers to bring you some new recipes to usher in the season. The photos and links to their creations are below. Hope you’ll take a moment to visit them and check out their posts! – Lorinda

Amy, of Crumbs in My Mustachio, has paired juicy strawberries with chocolate in this mouth-watering Chocolate Strawberry Tart

Amys spring recipeCydnee, of Tampa Cake Girl, takes meringue to the limit with her luscious Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie
Cydnees mile high lemon meringue pie

Lysska, of Cooking from a Stay at Home Mom, made a giant peanut butter cup, inspired by Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. (Be still, my heart.) Here’s her recipe for Easy Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Pie

lysskas spring dessert