Tag Archives: sandwich cookies

Chocolate Orange Macarons

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Orange MacaronsThese chewy Chocolate Orange Macarons were inspired by candied orange rinds dipped in chocolate. Stiffly whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, almonds, and cocoa form perfect circles of chewy chocolate cookies that are naturally gluten-free. Then, sandwich two of these macarons with a chocolate-orange ganache that literally melts in your mouth. It is impossible to eat just one of these.

Despite their reputation of being difficult to master, macarons couldn’t be easier. The following two pointers will help you achieve success: The first is to buy finely ground almond flour or almond meal for this recipe. Processing almonds cannot achieve the powdery texture needed. The second tip is to make these on a dry day. Humidity is the enemy of any meringue-based cookie. As with all macarons, the measurements are crucial, so only weights have been provided.

Chocolate Macarons

100 grams almond flour (3 1/2 ounces)170 grams powdered sugar (6 ounces)
15 grams cocoa, natural or Dutch (1/2 ounce)
100 grams large egg whites, room temperature* (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
35 grams superfine granulated sugar** (1 1/4 ounces)

*The egg white measurement is a bit tricky. The weight of whites and yolks can vary slightly within each egg. I use 3 eggs, plus a bit more, to obtain the amount needed. The easiest way to measure the “bit more,” is to whip an extra white with a fork until it is broken up and foamy.

It can then be added a bit at a time until the correct weight is reached.

**Superfine sugar can be made by processing granulated sugar for about 45 seconds. However, it is difficult to process the small amount this recipe calls for. To obtain the 35 grams, process 1 cup of granulated sugar and weigh the amount needed. The rest can be kept in a jar for later use or used in place of regular granulated sugar in another recipe.

Make a template by drawing 1 3/4” circles about 2″ apart on parchment paper

In the bowl of a processor combine the almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa. Process to mix completely. Sift the mixture to remove any lumps. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer. Whip the whites until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar slowly and whip just until stiff peaks form. They are ready when the egg whites hold a peak without drooping. Do not overwhip.Egg whites whipped

 Fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites in 3 batches, making sure to cut through to the bottom of the meringue and fold it up and over, scraping the sides as needed.Folding ingredients for Chocolate Orange Macarons

Folding ingredients

 The meringue is ready to pipe when it falls from a rubber spatula back into the bowl in ribbons.Chocolate Orange Macarons mixed

 Place the template on a baking sheet and cover it with another piece of parchment paper. Template

 Fit a piping bag with a 1/2” plain tip. Fill the bag with about half of the meringue. Holding the bag 1/2” above the template circle, pipe the meringue to within 1/8” of the edges. It will flow out to fill the circle.  Remove the template when done.Batter flowing to fill templalte

 As soon as the baking sheet is piped, hold it several inches above the counter and drop it several times to remove any air bubbles. If any remain, prick them with a cake tester.

Allow the cookies to dry at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until they are dry to the touch.Piped on a tray In the meantime, preheat the oven to 325°F / 163°C, and place the oven rack in the middle. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes until done. To test for doneness, move the top of a macaron. If it wiggles, it isn’t done.

Let the macarons cool for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the paper.

These can be made a week or more ahead. Just keep in an airtight container until needed.

 ChocolateOrange Ganache

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 1/2 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (100 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Place the cream, coffee, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, but do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla. Let sit for several minutes, then whisk gently to smooth out. Be sure to scrape the corners and edges with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the chocolate is incorporated. Chill to firm so it can be piped.

Assembly 

Pair the macarons by matching size and shape. Paired MacaronsFit a piping bag with a 3/8” plain tip. Pipe the ganache on the underside of the bottom cookie to within 1/8” of the edge.Filling Piped on

Place the top cookie and gently press down to bring the ganache to the edges.Sandwiched Chocolate Orange Macaron

Refrigerate overnight.

Yield: 24 Chocolate Orange Macarons

Storage: These may be held at room temperature in an airtight container for several days.  They can also be frozen for longer storage.

Part 1: Mincemeat Tarts and a Cookie

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Mincemeat TartletsThese Mincemeat tarts concentrates on finishes for minature tarts as well as a delightful cookie filled with mincemeat.

This Mincemeat is nothing like the original combination of minced meat, dried fruits, suet and tons of spices born out of the necessity to preserve meat, without salting, curing, smoking or drying it in days long gone by.

A Brief History of Mince Pies

According to Walker’s Shortbread History of Mince Pies, As with many traditional recipes, especially the ones we make and enjoy around big holidays or life events, mince pies are steeped with tradition and customs. Mincemeat would often be made on stir-up Sunday along with the Christmas pudding, the last Sunday before Advent. Stirring the mincemeat was quite an event, and English tradition dictates that it should only be stirred clockwise. Stirring the mincemeat anti-clockwise would lead to bad luck and poor fortune in the coming 12 months.

To spread the joy, it was tradition in England that each member of the family gave the mixture a stir, while making a wish. And if you wanted to be ensure good health and happiness in the upcoming year, you should eat one mince pie every day for the Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until the 5th of January.” 

Modern Mincemeat

Today’s modern Mincemeat is a boozy, sweet, fruit filling for tarts and pies as well as a variety of other desserts.  While mincemeat often plays a supporting role in an American apple pie, the English mincemeat pie is a two bite pie and in keeping with that tradition, I have made small tarts with different finishes including one topped with chocolate ganache and one finished with a cookie.

I found a small tartlet tin that is perfect for the size of Mincemeat tarts I wanted to make.  They worked  beautifully as you can see.  I have no idea why they are called egg tart pans.  However, these have to be washed by hand or they turn a funny brownish color.  I use an easy press in dough for the shells.  This same dough will make perfect shrink proof crusts when baked empty.Small pastry shell

Because I made my mincemeat in February, I added brandy or rum from time to time to keep it moist. Well, by the time I was ready to use it, it was a pretty heady mixture for sure.  So to tame it, I combined it with apple juice and brown sugar and cooked it until the liquid left was syrupy. I particularly like the mixture because it doesn’t boil up over the top of the tarts when baked.

If you’re new to mincemeat or a seasoned pro, there’s plenty here to pick from.  So make one or make all and start your own Christmas tradition.

Be sure to watch for Part 2 this week which is  a Cheese and Mincemeat Danish. If making this Danish, reserve 1/2 cup mincemeat.  

Mincemeat Tart Filling

1 batch mincemeat
1/2 cup apple juice
Brown sugar to taste, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine the mincemeat and apple juice.  Add brown sugar to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is syrupy.  Cool completely before using.

This can be done days ahead and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature to use.

Pastry for Mincemeat Tarts

For how-to photos, please go here.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (175 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water

In a processor fitted with the steel blade, place the flours, sugar, and baking powder.  Pulse several times to mix.

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and place in a circle over the dry ingredients.  Process for 20 to 30 seconds until the butter in indistinguishable in the mixture.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, vanilla. and water together with a fork.  Pour this over the ingredients in the processor.  Process for 15 to 20 seconds until the pastry forms a ball.

Spray 25 – 2 1/2” tart shells lightly with a non-stick baking release.  Drop a #70 disher/scooper or 1 slightly rounded tablespoons of pastry into three or four shells at a time. Scoop of pastry for Mincemeat Tarts Flatten them evenly to cover the bottom of the shell.  Flattened in bottom of tinPress the pastry up the sides of the tins Pressing side in

slightly over the top edge.

Slightly over the top edge
Flatten the pastry with the heel of your hand even with the top of the tin.Finished shell

Last, square off the bottom edge of the pastry by pressing it evenly against the tin.

Preventing bowling of shell for Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat Tartlets

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the shells on a half sheet pan. 24 will fit on a pan if they are staggered.

Using a #40 disher/scooper or a scant 2 tablespoons, fill each pastry shell, spreading the filling evenly just below the top of the shell.Filled tart shells for Mincemeat Tarts

Top with crumbs or pipe a Viennese Whirl on top or leave plain.  If you are finishing these several ways, reduce the amount of crumbs or dark satin ganache.

To Top with Crumbs

Go here for the recipe.  Cover lavishly with crumbs, pressing them into the filling lightly.

Viennese Whirl Topped Mincemeat Tarts

Fill the tartlet shells with the mincemeat filling.

Make the Viennese Whirls below.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2” open star tip.  Fill the pastry bag and pipe a whirl of batter directly onto the tartlet to within 1/4” of the edge.  See piping instructions below with the recipe.

If Finishing with Ganache or Whipped Cream

Fill the shells as directed.  Do not finish the tops i any way.Pastry shells filled and topped for Mincemeat Tarts

Baking the Tartlets

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until the pastry shells, crumbs or Whirls are a medium brown.Baked tarts

Cool in their tins and release by turning upside down.  I turned them out in my hand.  Make sure you press the crumb side down firmly in the palm of your hand to keep them in place.

Viennese Whirl CookiesViennese Whirls

These are a perfect butter cookie.  Just a few ingredients and so very easy to make. The flavoring can be changed by substituting others for the vanilla.  Additionally, a grated lemon or orange zest can be added to the dough.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened* (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (65 grams or 2 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup cake flour (225 grams or 8 ounces)

*The butter shoud be very soft for this recipe.  More so than usual.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy.  If using citrus zest, add it with the butter and sugar. Butter and sugar creamed for Viennese Swirls Mix in the vanilla or alternate flavoring.

Add the flour, beating on low to mix.Viennese Cookie Dough

To Shape and Bake Cookies

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Draw a template on parchment paper using a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter spacing them about 1″ apart. Place a second piece of parchment on top.  Fit a piping bag with a 3/8″ open star.

If the batter is too stiff to pipe, place only as much as you can pipe at once in a microwave bowl.  Microwave very briefly, 5 to 8 seconds max.  Pipe the cookies to within about 1/8″ of the circles.

Remove the template and chill or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes.

Double pan and bake the cookies for about 13 to 15 minutes, turning them half way through if browning unevenly. They should be a light medium brown. Cool completely.

Mincemeat filled Viennese Whirls Sandwiches

Pair the cookies up as to size.  Puree 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the mincemeat filling in a food processor.  Fill the sandwiches as desired. Top with a second cookie. 

Dark Satin Ganache

For how to pictures, go here

1/2 cup heavy cream
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)

Heat the cream, butter, and corn syrup until very hot, but do not boil.  Submerge he chocolate under the cream for several minutes.  Whisk very gently until smooth.  Do not be too enthusiastic or air bubbles  will form.

Spoon a scant tablespoon of ganache over each of the plain baked mincemeat tartlets.  Rotate the tarts to fill the top or use an offset spatula to spread the ganache. Refrigerate to set.  Serve at room temperature.

Whipped Cream Topping

This is not pictured above.

1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/3 cup powdered sugar (40 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium until it thickens and then beat on high until stiff.

Pipe onto tartlets with a 1/2” B tip several hours before serving.  Refrigerate but serve at room temperature.

If you haven’t made mincemeat tarts this is the perfect time to start a new Christmas tradition in your house. And there’s no better way than to start with your very own mincemeat.

To Store and Serve:

The Crumb Topped Mincemeat Tarts should be lightly dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

These tarts can sit at room temperature for several days.

To Make in Advance:  Bake the tarts as called for.  Finish them with crumbs the Viennese Cookie or glaze them with the ganache after they are baked.  Freeze them.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature.