Pi Day Pie: Chocolate Truffle Pie in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Since today is 3/14, of course I had to make a pie for pi day. I mulled over a few pies before I started on one. Lemon meringue? Chocolate custard tart? Does a tart count as a pie? Shepherd’s pie?

Well, I had leftover chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge… and realized that maybe I could use that as a pie crust! So next I needed an easy filling. There is a pie my sister-in-law makes that is yummy and chocolatey called chocolate truffle pie.

I won’t say much about actually making this pie since it is just to celebrate pi and math in general. If you’d like the recipes, they are at the following links.

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

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This is the cookie crust before I baked it. It looks just like a giant cookie.

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This crust looked so yummy after baking that I had a hard time resisting eating it! The dough puffed up a little in the middle so I tamped it down a little. It looks like I didn’t need to since the filling didn’t fill this pie pan up as much as I thought it would.

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This is how you try to do props for food photography (or the sad attempt) when you have kids, are homeschooling them, and just fed them lunch. Some day, I will learn to take decent pictures of my baking. Someday!

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a lovely pi day!

-Lynn

P.S. I have no idea if the cookie crust worked out. We won’t find out until after dinner!

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Maple Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Bundt Cake

It is not completely obvious within my blog posts about baking, but a lot of my posts are requests from my kids. Since they eat most of what I bake, I try to make sure it is something they will like. Unless it’s macarons… I don’t really want them to eat all the macarons.

This bundt cake flavor comes courtesy of my son Matthias. I think he was wanting a flavor similar to a maple frosted donut. I certainly did my best to fulfill his request!

I know that bundt cakes LOVE to stick to pans, so I thought I’d also mention my technique for greasing my Nordicware bundt pans. This particular pan is the 10 cup Heritage pan. I also have a smaller 6 cup Heritage pan, but I haven’t used that one yet.

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To grease your bundt cake pan and hopefully end up with a flawless bundt pan flip, here is what you need:

1 Tbsp of very soft butter, but not melted. If your butter is right out of the fridge, you can microwave it for about 15-20 seconds to soften it enough.

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1 pastry brush

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I apologize for my very ugly pastry brush in this pic. It needs to be retired. In fact, we were at a restaurant supply store a few weeks ago and I bought a new nylon pastry brush and a gorgeous stainless steel worktable! By the way, restaurant supply stores are awesome. I could have stayed there all day! I just didn’t have the new brush at this time so had to use the ugly old one. I have tried a silicone brush but it just couldn’t get into all the details of the pan. So I ended up with this.

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Lesson learned: use only a traditional pastry brush or a nylon brush for greasing bundt cake pans.

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Usually, I find greasing pans tedious, but somehow greasing my bundt pans is now fun! I guess it is because I feel like I’m painting. Which is basically what you’re doing! You paint the butter into the pan using the pastry brush, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. I think I may try this method with my plain round cake pans.

Then comes the flouring part. I usually just toss a random amount of flour into the pan. Probably close to a tablespoon or two. Shake the pan at an angle over a sink, turning the pan to get the flour all around the pan and onto the butter.

After tapping tapping tapping,  your pan will look like this.

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I think I might be weird because I don’t like it when my pan looks like this after flouring. So I turn it upside-down over my sink and tap the edge of the pan on the wall of the sink. All the excess flour falls right out into the sink and you end up with a clean finish.

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I know this seems like a lot of trouble to go to for greasing and flouring a bundt pan, but this method hasn’t failed me yet.

Now to the actual cake!

I decided on a cinnamon swirl coffee cake with a mascarpone maple frosting. I modified both recipes quite a bit so I will be posting them at the end. The original recipes are from Allrecipes.com and The Local Palate.

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

First, we begin as most cakes do, with beating the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Then, add the eggs. The texture of the batter might worry you a little at this point. (Why does it look curdled?) But it all smooths out at the end.

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Then, add the flour and raising agents.

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I like the look of this type of cake batter better than the very liquidy type. Maybe I’m just a big fan of pound cake. Spoon half the batter into the bundt pan.

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Sprinkle all the cinnamon mixture over this first layer.

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Spoon the other half of the batter over the cinnamon mixture and swirl a knife through it. I made the mistake of using a spatula. That didn’t work so well. I should have used a knife.

Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 more minutes.

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When a tester comes out clean, your cake is done.

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Now to the moment of truth! But not for another 10 minutes. I leave the pan on my stovetop or a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes before tipping out the cake. But… you don’t want to wait too long. It seems that bundt cakes come out better if the pan is still warm.

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This cake came out a little rough around the edges but I think that is because I didn’t spread the batter into the pan as well as I should have. I think it looks a lot like a cruller though this way!

I had a whole container of mascarpone cheese in the fridge so I went for a full mascarpone frosting instead of mixing it with cream cheese. My kids now have a name for this frosting: maple donut frosting. I piped the frosting onto the cake using the star tip  of my Wilton Dessert Decorator. Usually, I can’t use this for decorating because the tips are so huge, but it worked well for this cake.

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Note: Apparently, regular Wilton tips can be used with this decorator. I haven’t tried those yet. Will have to see how they work.

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As you can see, I didn’t have much of a swirl…. probably because of my attempt to use a spatula instead of a knife to swirl the batter. This cake was very, very yummy though and certainly didn’t last long! I think it was completely gone the next morning after breakfast!

I wasn’t completely happy with the frosting. It’s a little too shiny (or maybe the word is oily-looking?) for me, but my kids loved it. At least they were happy with it!

-Lynn

Here is the recipe!

Maple Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Not everyone will have the maple sugar for the cinnamon mixture, so it can be left out. Also, because of the mascarpone frosting, I would not feel comfortable keeping this cake on the counter for more than a day.

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract or flavoring
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Swirl Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple sugar (optional)

Maple Mascarpone Frosting Ingredients

  • 10 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp maple extract or flavoring
  • 9 ounces powdered sugar, about 2 cups

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. See post above for method if needed.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture will be very pale. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and maple extract or flavoring.

Combine the flour, baking soda,and  baking powder in a medium bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the cake batter alternatively with the 1 cup of sour cream. End with the dry ingredients. Spoon half the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar with the 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon maple sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the batter in the bundt pan. Spoon the remaining half of the cake batter over the cinnamon mixture in the pan. Swirl through the batter once or twice with a knife.

Bake in the 400 degree F (205 degree C) oven for 8 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 minutes more, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 – 15 minutes before tipping cake out of the pan. Allow to cool completely on the rack before frosting.

Mascarpone frosting directions:

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the 10 ounces mascarpone cheese and 2 ounces butter in a large bowl until blended. Add the 1 teaspoon maple extract or flavoring and beat until combined.

With the mixer speed on low, slowly add the 9 ounces powdered sugar (2 cups) to the mascarpone mixture. Beat until smooth. Store frosting in the fridge until needed.

Decorate the bundt cake with the frosting as desired.

 

Almond Biscotti with Ghirardelli Cocoa Nib Chocolate

Biscotti is something I have not made in years. I think they were okay the last time I made them (but I don’t really remember when that was!) but then I made these! I happened across a recipe for almond biscotti in Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. There was one ingredient in the recipe that caught my eye: cornmeal. I had never thought of cornmeal as something you would use in biscotti!

So I made one batch of Lenox Almond Biscotti and it disappeared so fast that my children were asking me to make it again!

Recipe: Lenox Almond Biscotti

This time, I decided to play around with the recipe a little bit and add in a chopped-up bar of Ghirardelli chocolate. But this bar was a little different. It had cocoa nibs in it. My kids are a little spoiled when it comes to chocolate, since I am always on the lookout for really good chocolate. My kids LOVE dark chocolate and they prefer that over milk chocolate. Once, I shelled raw cocoa nibs and had a hard time keeping my kids away from the bowl.

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I think this was a 3.5 ounce bar. I chopped the bar up into the smallest pieces I could.

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We buy a lot of our food at Costco, just because there are so many of us. Dried fruit, flour, milk, eggs, and nuts are usually on our shopping list. So biscotti was a good use for the huge bag of sliced almonds I had bought from there.

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The batter for the biscotti before adding flour is almost pretty. It becomes a soft yellow color and looks fluffy and light after beating.

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Here is the batter after adding the dry ingredients. Next, the chopped chocolate and sliced almonds go in.

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At this point, it was time to shape the dough into logs. I hate getting dough all over my hands (even when making bread… so I don’t work with sticky bread dough very often), so I cheated and just smoothed out the logs with a spatula and a bench knife.

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When I first made these, 1½ inch wide logs seemed awfully narrow, but the logs bake up much larger than that. So I now always keep them skinny. Also, shorter biscotti are easier and shorter to “second bake.”

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See how wide they are after the first bake? You want to bake these logs until they aren’t shiny in the centers. Once, I made the mistake of not baking them long enough for the first bake and then they didn’t bake long enough for the second bake. So the centers of some of my biscotti were soft instead of crispy. After they cooled for about half an hour, I sliced each log into 3/4-inch-thick pieces with a serrated knife and set them up for their second bake.

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In the oven for their second bake!

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These are the perfect size! Not too big and not too small. And a perfect combination of crunchy and chewy!

I’ve made this recipe about 3 times and here are just some quick notes about what I’ve discovered:

  1. Make sure you bake them long enough for that second bake to get them crunchy! I made the mistake of not baking long enough the second time and ended up with something more like mandelbrot (which I’ve never tasted but sounds like the texture I got) than biscotti. They still tasted good, but they just weren’t crunchy enough to be biscotti. 15 minutes won’t always be long enough. It depends on your oven or the rack position you are using.
  2. Sometimes the original is the best. If I make these again, I think I will go with no additions! The third time I made these I added mini milk chocolate chips… Honestly, they didn’t add much in the way of flavor. Maybe because they were milk chocolate?
  3. Don’t leave out the cornmeal. I think it’s what makes these so addicting!

-Lynn

Pumpkin Scones: Final Recipe

Last year around Thanksgiving, I had been trying to perfect a pumpkin scone. See the posts for Pumpkin Scones and Back to the Drawing Board: Pumpkin Scones.  I realized a few days ago that I never posted the final recipe that I thought was perfect. I ended up using a different scone recipe than I usually do. This new recipe also had the added bonus of making double what my usual recipe does. The original recipe is from Southern Living and is actually a recipe for sweet potato scones. I just modified it to work for pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice instead.

The dough was incredibly easy to work with! I don’t usually end up with such nice, neat circles like in the following picture.

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Even though it’s not the holidays anymore, here is the printable recipe in case anyone wants to make these!

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Icing

Ingredients

Pumpkin Scones

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp  ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 12 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup heavy cream + 2 Tbsp for brushing onto scones
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Maple Icing

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 – 5 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 – 5 tsp heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or a fork, until the butter pieces are the size of peas. Stir together pumpkin puree, heavy cream, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the pumpkin/cream mixture into the well. Stir with a silicon spatula just until the dough comes together.

Sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Place half of the dough onto the floured surface and shape it into a circle between 6 and 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Brush circle evenly with remaining heavy cream. Sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over dough circle. Using a bench knife, cut the circle evenly into 8 wedges. Place each wedge onto the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with other half of dough.

Bake on the middle rack in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before using maple glaze.

Directions for maple glaze:

Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add maple syrup and heavy cream until the glaze is desired consistency. You can either brush or drizzle the glaze onto the cooled pumpkin scones.

Just one more thing before I close this post. I do something with my scone dough that probably isn’t a normal thing. In the step where you stir the heavy cream mixture into the batter, I only stir until it is barely holding together. Most of the dough is still very crumbly. What I like to do at this point is pour the crumbly dough (and it does pour and sometimes makes a bit of a crumbly mess!) out onto the floured surface and use a technique similar to “frissage” to make it come together. I usually use this method for making sweet tart dough and pie dough, but it seems to work well for me for making scones also. I plan on making scones again soon so I will try to take pictures of the process the next time I do!

-Lynn

 

 

Crazy Baking Day #3: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Making the cookie dough yesterday was a huge help to me today! It only took me about 3 hours to bake the cookies since all I had to do was scoop dough.

I did learn quite a few things though, even though I’ve baked these many times! Just not in this quantity.

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This big bucket of cookie dough made 199 chocolate chip cookies. Before baking, each ball of dough weighed about 30 grams.

My first two trays of cookies did NOT turn out right at all. Usually, I bake one tray at a time but that just was not an option today with baking so many. So my first four trays were spent trying to figure out timing and when the cookies were baked through. I was also using the convection setting on my oven for the second time so I was figuring that out as well. I thought about trying two trays on the normal bake setting, but anytime I have tried that with these cookies, they definitely do not turn out right! Who knew chocolate chip cookies could be so complicated? Or maybe I am just overly picky…

Finally, I hit upon the magic number and method. Convection bake at 335 degrees F for 5 minutes. Then, switch the cookie sheets on their racks and bake for another 5 minutes. So the cookie sheet on the lower rack went on the top rack for the last 5 minutes and vice versa. I don’t think you’re supposed to have to do that with a convection oven but I was desperate to get these cookies baked without much more messing around. The cookies browned a little more than they usually do on a normal bake but at least they weren’t uncooked in the middle, which was the problem with the first two trays.

My second issue with these cookies: The chocolate chips! They seemed overly large for the size cookies I was baking. I know it seems impossible but it was almost like the cookies had too much chocolate in them. Yes, I know what you are thinking. You must be crazy, Lynn. How can a chocolate chip cookie have too much chocolate? And I completely agree. I’m probably just being picky again.

Right at the end of the bake, I had one of those “British Bake-off” mess-ups, when a baker pulls a cookie sheet out of the oven and some of the baked goods slide off the parchment paper and onto the floor or into the oven. Yep, that happened to me. Four of my half-baked cookies went splat. It was very sad. And messy. It wasn’t an end-of-the-world sacrifice though. I had the 150 cookies I needed for the fellowship tonight.

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I was not happy with the cookies in the picture above. They were way too gooey in the middle. So I guess those are for us to eat. I don’t think any of my family will be complaining about this.

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I set up a cooling rack and packaging station on our dining room table. I ended up needing 3 of the disposable pans for 150 cookies.

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My scooping area was in the kitchen on a gateleg IKEA table that we use as a counter/storage space.

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Here are all the cookies baked. And yes, my house still smells like chocolate chip cookies! Yum!

This concludes this portion of Crazy Baking Days. Thanks so much for reading! And if I end up doing something crazy like this again, there will definitely be a Crazy Baking Day #4!

-Lynn

 

Crazy Baking Day #2: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Crazy Baking Day #2 actually involved no baking at all! Today was basically prep for Crazy Baking Day #3, which happens tomorrow, when I get to bake 150 chocolate chip cookies.

Just as with my macarons, I have a favorite recipe that I can’t seem to stray away from. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is from Not Without Salt.  This recipe uses chopped-up chocolate bars (which I really suggest you try sometime! They really send these cookies to over-the-top delicious.) but for this bake, I just went with a 48 ounce bag of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Costco. When you bake these, don’t forget the salt sprinkle on top of the cookies. The salt also sends these cookies to over-the-top delicious. Here is a link:

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt from Not Without Salt

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I can guarantee that these chocolate chip cookies will still be awesome.

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My challenge: fill up this 6 quart bucket with chocolate chip cookie dough and somehow fit the bucket in my fridge until tomorrow.

 

My equipment: Two KitchenAid stand mixers. I am so glad my parents let me borrow their stand mixer for a few days.

If I had only had one stand mixer, well, this job would have taken me about 2 and a half hours instead of only 1 and a half hours.

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Bucket with one batch of cookie dough!

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I know you’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough but this dough tastes as good as it looks… so I did eat the dough off the mixer whisks. My oldest son is smarter than I am. He didn’t eat any of it.

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Batch two is in. Is it just me or is it starting to look like I’m filling up an ice cream bucket? Cookie dough ice cream… now there is an idea. A very good idea.

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Batch three and four are in! And my job for the day is done.

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If I calculated everything correctly, I should end up with 192 chocolate chip cookies (about 30 g of dough each). I can’t wait to bake this up tomorrow! Just look at that yumminess in a bucket!

-Lynn

Note: If you do try this recipe and bake the 48 yield (30 g or smaller cookies) rather than the 24 yield (60 g or cookies as in the recipe), the cookies should not bake in the oven as long as the 12 minutes in the recipe. You really don’t want these to be overbaked. You want them to still be slightly gooey in the middle… but not too much! I think I usually started the timer at 6 minutes and then would look in on them from there until they were the right color and looked almost baked through.

Crazy Baking Day #1: 160 Vanilla Latte Macarons

I think it’s been about two months since I’ve posted anything on the blog, but I think I’m back now that it’s after the holidays. November and December have always been crazy for me, since I love to bake and basically, Thanksgiving and Christmas are excuses to bake a lot and bake big!

So what’s been going on with me since my last post? Quite a bit has changed since then!

I am definitely a novice cake baker and decorator, but last month, I made 3 four-layer cakes for a Christmas party. They weren’t very pretty to look at, but they actually tasted decent. I wasn’t too happy with the appearance of them, but this bake did give me hope that maybe I can learn how to bake a good cake. I am hoping to take a cake decorating class sometime this year.

Josh made the mistake of buying me a Nordicware Bundt cake pan for Christmas. I am now addicted to them and want to collect all of them. I will try to post soon about my Bundt cakes… which are so much easier for me to make than a traditional layer cake.

I am slowly practicing as many new (and sometimes unusual) bakes as I can and trying to perfect them. I would eventually like to apply for a cottage food permit here in California and actually sell my baked goods. Where and how I would do this is still up in the air, but I would like to prepare for the possibility!

Last month, I was asked if I could make desserts for a fellowship at my church. I’ve been wanting to make macarons for an event like this for a while, so crazy me planned to make 80 macarons and 150 chocolate chip cookies for the fellowship.

Today was my planned day to bake and fill 80 coffee-flavored macarons with vanilla buttercream frosting. My wonderful MIL, who wasn’t feeling well, watched my kids for most of the day so that I could concentrate on baking the macarons. I wouldn’t have been able to do this bake without her help.

One mistake: For some reason, I thought my usual macaron recipe only made 24 macarons, but it actually makes closer to 40. Yesterday I had prepped my egg whites for 4 batches of the recipe. 40 times 4 equals yes 160 macarons. So I had been planning to make around 96 macarons (in case some of them weren’t pretty enough to go to the fellowship) but ended up making around 160 macarons instead because I couldn’t let those egg whites go to waste! Ok, in reality, I knew Josh would be ecstatic that there would be so many “extra” macarons.

Since I used an entire 18 count carton of extra-large eggs for this bake, I now have 18 egg yolks in the fridge. Lemon curd anyone?

In my previous macaron posts, I’ve mentioned trying to get the total prep, bake, and fill time to under 3 hours. And I’ve never been able to do it. Today was no exception! In fact, I started the bake at 9 AM this morning and didn’t finish until 5 PM. Admittedly, that whole time was not spent actually working on the macarons. I had to let the piped macarons crust for about an hour instead of only 30 minutes because it was raining outside and rain means humidity. Piped macarons don’t like humidity! I also had to stop around 1:30 PM so that I could go pick up my kids and did not get back until about 3 PM. I think that my second batch of macarons did need all that time though to develop their crust.

When I try a recipe and love it, I tend to use only that recipe and won’t usualy want to try another. This is the case with macarons. I love Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for macarons and can almost follow it from memory now!

Dorie Greenspan’s Parisian Macarons

I did discover on this bake that this recipe can be successfully doubled. You will probably wish you had more baking sheets like I did though!

The batter probably needed a few more stirs with the spatula though before piping. All the macarons kept their little “hats” through the bake in the oven.

I also found out that the macarons on the insulated baking sheet needed more than 12 minutes in the oven. A few of them ended up being soft instead of crispy after 12 minutes in the oven. That was okay though since I still had 120 others to choose from.

And another oddity, the macarons in the small cookie sheet had more of a macaron shape than the others. I wonder if the walls of the cookie sheet contributed to that.

For the coffee flavor in the shells, I used 4 teaspoons of coffee extract (homemade by Josh) in the heated sugar syrup then half a packet of Starbucks instant coffee in the almond/powdered sugar mixture.

For the filling, I made a simple vanilla butter cream frosting.

150 g of butter

450 g of powdered sugar

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1-3 Tbsp of milk

First, I beat the butter until creamy in my stand mixer. Then, I added the vanilla extract. The powdered sugar goes in next a little bit at a time. Lastly, drizzle in the milk until the frosting is the consistency you are looking for. Even a little bit at a time, my mixer still ended up looking this

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after I was finished making two batches of frosting. It seems that it is just inevitable that when you work with powdered sugar, you will make a mess.

Two batches of frosting was enough to fill the 160 macarons and some leftover to eat out of the bowl.

This is an interesting pic and video of the heated sugar syrup portion of the recipe. It is so funny how the temperature of the sugar syrup just shoots up to about 210 degrees F and then creeps up to that 235 degrees to 245 degrees F so slowly! In the video, you can see the steam from the boiling sugar syrup. So so glad for a stand mixer! During this part, I stay away from it for about 10 minutes and let the mixer do its job. Side note: coffee-flavored Italian meringue is yummy!

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Also, Josh bought me a new oven for Christmas! I love it so much.

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Tomorrow is Crazy Baking Day #2, where I try to fill a 6 quart bucket full of chocolate chip cookie dough. Come back soon and thank you for reading!

-Lynn