Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Macarons with Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache

Macarons, often mispronounced “macaroons” and not to be confused with the conical coconut cookies, are all the rage. There are many bakeries and confectionary shops in Southern California that sell these, sweet, beautiful, and pricey French confections. Back in 2006, I applied for a job at Boule Bakery (now permanently closed). Boule was one of the few bakeries in Los Angeles that sold macarons. I remember speaking with the head pastry chef and he explained that the success rate of their macarons was 50%. They were only able to sell half of the macarons they baked due to many factors that effected their outcome. Under-beating macarons will produce thin runny batter causing, a flat rise. Over-beating the macaron will cause them to crack. Also, using cold egg whites can cause the shell to crack as well. Baking 2 pans at a time can also cause them to crack. Not letting the macaron batter to develop a shell can effect the development of their signature feet (the little textured edges). Also using cold almond flour (Almond flour is usually stored in the refrigerator for longer shelf life) or old almond can cause little oily spots on the macarons.

After many trials and errors,I developed a fool-proof method of making the perfect macarons, but you must follow the instructions closely and not take any shortcuts. Make sure your egg whites and almond flour are at room temperature to prevent potential cracks. Let the macaron batter sit out for at least 1 hour once they are piped. This will create a nice macaron shell and produce the feet around the base. Finally, bake only one tray at a time. This will also prevent cracks on the macaron shells. My recipe uses salted, dark chocolate ganache filling to balance out the sweetness of a macaron shell. I’ve been told by several people, including French people, that my macarons is one of the best they have ever tasted. Happy Baking.

Chocolate Macarons with Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache

Make about 2 dozens

Filling

3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 Tablespoon of organic corn syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped preferable 60% cacao
1 1/2 Tablespoons of butter, chopped into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon of Fleur de Sel or other flaky sea salt

Macaroon Cookies

1 cup of almond flour, at room temperature*
1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar
1/3 cup or Dutch-processed chocolate, preferably Valrhona
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Special Equipment

Parchment paper
Stand mixer
Piping Tip – 1 cm
2 Large piping bag or 2 gallon-sized plastic baggie
Half sheet pans, preferably aluminum

 

  1. To make the filling, add heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract into an medium saucepan. Give it a quick stir. Set over the stove over medium heat. Once the cream mixture comes to boil turn off immediately.Add the dark chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute. Stir and until the mixture comes together.IMG_6115
  2. Add the butter pieces and stir until the ganache is shiny and smooth. Set aside to cool. When the ganache is has cooled, stir in the Fleur de sel. You can make the can make the ganache up to 3 days in advance. Make sure you cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp before piping into the macarons.IMG_6114IMG_6116
  3. With a pencil draw 1 1/2″ circles on a parchment paper, using the large side of the icing tip as a stencil. Make 20 circles. Draw additional 20 circles on another 2 parchment sheets. Place the pencil drawn side down on each of the half sheet pans. Set aside.IMG_6133
  4. With scissors cut the tip of the piping bag, insert the icing tip until tight and secure. Set aside.IMG_6136.JPG
  5. Add the almond flour, confectioners sugar and cocoa powder in a a food processor and a pulse a few times until the mixture is combined. Sift the mixture over a large bowl. Set aside.IMG_6120IMG_6122
  6. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Add the four egg whites. Whisk until starts to get foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow stream.IMG_6124
  7. After all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high. Beat 2 to 3 minutes until meringue has reached stiff peak and is shiny.IMG_6129
  8. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the vanilla extract and fold with rubber spatula. Add 1/2 of the almond flour cocoa powder mixture and fold in pressing down along the side of the bowl, until their are no lumps. Add the remaining 1/2 of the almond flour mixture until completely incorporated without any lumps.IMG_6130IMG_6131IMG_6132
  9. Add the macaron mixture into the piping bag and pipe over the pre-drawn circles in a circular motion. Tap the sheet pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles in the macarons batter. Let the macarons sit out on the counter for 1 hour. This process will help create the signature “feet” of the macarons.IMG_6135
  10. While the macarons are forming its shell, clean the icing tip. You will be using it again for the filling. Cut another piping bag and insert the tip and set aside.
  11. Heat the oven to 350°. Place tray of the macaron on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not get tempted to add two trays in the oven as this will affect the outcome of the macarons.IMG_6138
  12. Place the baked macarons on a cooling rack. Bake the remaining macarons.IMG_6146
  13. Once the macarons are cooled, add the ganache in the prepared piping bag. Pipe on one side of the macaron cookie and sandwich it together with another cookie.IMG_6141
  14. Pipe the remaining cookies and serve. Store any remaining macarons in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. Enjoy!IMG_6147

Chocolate Almond Madeleines

When I was in culinary school, the baking course was my least favorite class. My instructor was a wonderful teacher and incredibly talented, but the pace was very slow and I wasn’t much of dessert fan then. That quickly changed after I had my first child. I developed an insatiable sweet tooth and was craving pastries all the time. Not just any pastries, mind you, but the expensive kind from French Patisseries: macarons, croissant aux amandes, and financiers. The common ingredient in all these pastries is almond flour. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I love almond-flavored desserts. Today, I share a madeleine recipe with all the flavors of a financier – brown butter almond cakes.

These little mini cakes in madeleine molds are light and airy with crispy edges from the egg whites. They are also nutty from the ground almonds and the brown butter, and the cocoa powder takes it up another notch. Essentially, these are financiers in fancy molds. These little cakes will not have the traditional Madeleine hump so they will be done when the top is no longer shiny. If you don’t have madeleine pans, you can bake these in mini muffin tins. The texture will be a little denser, but still just as delicious. Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Madeleines

Yield: 36 little cakes​

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of Super-Fine Almond Flour, like Bob’s Red Mill
2 tablespoons of Dutch processed cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of flaky sea salt
2/3 cup of egg whites at room temperature, (about 4 large egg whites)
¾ cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting, optional
Baking spray
Madeleine molds or mini muffin tins

1. Add butter to a small sauce pan and cook at medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to keep a watchful eye until you see small brown specks on the bottom of the pan. It will have a nice nutty aroma. Once you hit this point, you want to remove the pan off the burner and transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

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2. Sift the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, and baking soda  in a seive over a medium bowl to remove any lumps from the ground almonds and cocoa powder. Whisk and set  aside.

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3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy.

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4. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.

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5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined.

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6. Take the brown butter and pour it in the batter, folding gently until just combined.

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7. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

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8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the madeleine molds with the baking spray.

9. Taking a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop, measure out each portion. You can also use a piping bag if you prefer.

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10. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until the individual cakes are cooked through.

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11. Cool for 5 minutes. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with coffee or tea. These are best eaten the same day, but you can store any leftovers in a air tight container for up to 3 days.

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Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

During most of my work conferences, the cookie tray rolls around mid-afternoon. Classic cookies like chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate, snickerdoodle, and oatmeal raisin are displayed. The chocolate chip cookies are the most popular and first to go, but that never bothered me because I seek out the oatmeal raisin cookies – my all-time favorite cookie. There many reasons I love this cookie: the wholesome texture, chewy raisins and the earthy flavor. Also, I feel better about eating them because of the whole grains and nuts. For me, the perfect oatmeal cookie is chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside, so that’s what I go for in my recipe. My cookie also has ingredients that add layers of textures: raisins, toasted walnuts, dark chocolate chunks and coconut flakes. As with all my cookie recipes, there is 1/3 less sugar than most traditional recipes, which makes me feel less guilty about eating them! Finally, for this recipe, I let the cookie dough refrigerate overnight. This helps soften the oats and meld all the flavors. Happy baking!

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Yield: about 32 cookies

2 cups of quick oats

1 3/4 cup of Sonora wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, cold and cut into 16 pieces

1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2/3 cup of toasted and chopped walnuts*

2/3 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate (60% cacao)

1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes

1. In a large bowl add the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk and set aside.

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2. In a stand mixer, add the butter and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

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3. Add the brown and granulated sugars. Beat for 3 more minutes until light and fluffy. Scrap the sides of the bowl.

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4. Reduce the speed to low. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl in between.

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5. Add the vanilla extract and beat just until incorporated. Stop the mixer.

6. To the flour and oat mixture, add the walnuts, raisins, dark chocolates and coconut flakes. Stir to combine.

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7. Turn the the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, stop mixer.

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8. Transfer the cookie dough into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator overnight for up to 3 days.

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9. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the cookie dough out of the refrigerator.

10. Using a 2 tablespoon size scooper, portion out the cookies on the cookie sheets, two inches apart.

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11. Using the palm of your hand, press down each portion to flatten slightly.

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12. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the sides are golden brown and top is no longer shiny.

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13. Cool the baked cookies on rack. Serve with cold milk or coffee.  Place any remaining cookies in a airtight container for up to 3 days.

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*For toasted walnuts, place the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350°. Cool completely before adding them into the recipe.

Almond Easter Egg Cookies

For this Easter, instead of making traditional vanilla iced sugar cookies, I created a cookie recipe based on one of my favorite flavors: almond. These cute iced almond cookies are moist, not too sweet and have a lovely almond flavor. In addition to almond extract, I added almond flour for more texture, and I also added natrural-dye sprinkles so the cookies will appeal to kids. Finally, this recipe only uses egg whites, which lightens the cookie dough. The recipe is very easy to follow and doesn’t even require a cookie-cutter!

If you love almond flavor, you’ll love these cookies. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Almond Easter Egg Cookies

Yield: 1 dozen

3/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of almond flour

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

1 egg white

1 teaspoon of almond extract

3/4 cup of organic confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon of whole milk

1 teaspoon of almond extract

India Tree natural dye sprinkles

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, almond flour and salt. Set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until frothy.

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5. Add the beaten egg white and the almond extract to the butter and sugar. Beat until just combined.

6. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined.

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7. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoons scoop, portion out 12 balls on the cookie sheet.

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8. Roll each ball and shape to resemble a small egg.

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9. Using the palm of your hand, press down to flatten. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

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10. Remove from the oven. Cool for about 10 minutes.

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11. Meanwhile, whisk the confectioners sugar, milk, and almond extract to make the icing. Have your sprinkles ready.

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12. Spoon some icing on each cookie and top with some sprinkles (You will want to add the sprinkles before the icing sets.)

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13. Let the icing harden. Serve the cookies with cold milk, coffee, or tea.

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Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

There is a reason why Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is the best selling candy bar in the United States. The candy bar is the perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter and it’s one of my favorite candy bars. I never buy them, but every Halloween I find myself scavenging through my kids’ trick-or-treat bags, looking for that distinct orange wrapper. I wanted to capture that flavor in a cookie, and I chose to create a chocolate cookie with peanut butter flavor rather than a peanut butter cookie with chocolate flavor. At first glance, you wouldn’t know there was peanut butter in these cookies. They look like chocolate cookies with chocolate chunks, but once you take a bite, both the chocolate and peanut butter flavors are pronounced. It’s rich, soft, and slightly chewy. If you are allergic to peanut butter, you can substitute the peanut butter with an equal amount of almond butter. Either way, the cookies will be delicious. A tall glass of milk is a must for these cookies. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield: about 18 large cookies

1 1/4 cups of Sonora wheat flour* or unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup Valhrona cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature, preferably organic
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of organic creamy peanut butter (w/o sugar or salt)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
6 oz of good quality dark chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer, add the butter and the sugars. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

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4. Scrape the sides and add the peanut butter. Beat for 1 more minute.

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5. Scrape the sides again and add the egg and the vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.

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6. Set the mixer to the lowest speed. Slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined.

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7. Finally, add the chopped chocolates and mix on low for about 15 seconds.

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8. Using a 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop the cookie dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

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9. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten.

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10. Bake in the the oven for 8-10 minutes. Don’t overbake because you want the cookie to be slightly chewy and soft.

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11. Transfer to a baking sheet and cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm with a tall glass of milk.

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*I like to use the Sonora wheat flour from Grist and Toll.

Walnut Thumbprint Cookies

I absolutely love ground nuts in cookies and one of my favorite nuts to bake with are walnuts. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are earthy and slightly bitter, so they add a little more complexity to cookie recipes. They are also full vitamins and minerals and high in polyunsaturated fats, which are good for the heart. Adding ground walnuts to cookies is a good way to make them more healthy and this is a great and delicious recipe that is popular with both kids and adults. I took a traditional thumbprint cookie and gave it a nutty make-over by adding ground walnuts to the cookie dough and using homemade strawberry jam for the filling. It is a beautiful marriage of nuttiness and tartness.

As with most of my sweet recipes, this one has 1/3 less sugar than traditional cookie recipes. My kids can’t tell the difference, not to mention they make me feel less guilty when I eat them! If you like, you can substitute the the ground walnuts with ground hazelnuts when hazelnuts are in season. Happy baking!

Walnut Thumbprint cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of ground toasted walnuts or toasted hazelnuts*
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Strawberry, raspberry, or apricot jam

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the two flours, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

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2. In a stand mixer, add the ground nuts, butter, and sugars and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute until fluffy.

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3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended.

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4. Lower the speed to the lowest setting. Slowly add the flour mixture. Blend until just combined.

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5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours (can be refrigerated up to 2 days).

 

6. Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

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7. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop, portion out the dough so that all 24 scoops are even. Roll them into balls.

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8. Place the dough balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your thumb, press in the center of each ball to create an indentation.

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9. Add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite jam in the center of each cookie dough.

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10. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is the quintessential American cookie. You can find chocolate chip cookies in most bakeries and every pastry chef has his or her own version. As simple as the chocolate chip cookie may seem, you’ll notice how every cookie is different. Some chocolate chip cookies are soft and cakey, while others are crispy and chewy. They also vary in size as well: thick or thin or big or small. Like many bakers, I have been in the search for what I consider to be the perfect chocolate cookie recipe. I’ve tested several dozen in my lifetime. After tweaking a couple of my favorites, I came up with this one.

This recipe will produce a soft and chewy cookie with a crispy edge. The secret to the chewy texture is the sugar ratio and the addition of cornstarch to the dough. The baking soda gives the cookie a nice crispy edge. Also, I use chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips, so you get oozy chocolate with every bite. You won’t find any butter in this recipe, but trust me, you won’t notice the difference. And the best part about this recipe — you don’t need a mixer. Make a batch of these cookies and I guarantee you’ll make somebody happy. Enjoy!
Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yield: about 20 cookies

Ingredients

7 ounces of good quality dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups of Sonora wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 cup of organic cornstarch*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

1. Chop the chocolate on parchment paper into 1/4 inch pieces. Place a sieve over a bowl. Using the parchment, transfer the chopped chocolate into the sieve. Set the chopped chocolate aside and save the collected chocolate powder for another use (like hot chocolate).

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2. Place the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and kosher salt into a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.

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3. In a large bowl, add the sugar and brown sugar. Whisk together to break up any lumps. Add the coconut oil and whisk until incorporated.

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4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.

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5. Add the flour mixture and chopped chocolate into the wet mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until dough forms. Don’t over mix. Let it sit for 10 minutes at room temp.

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6. While the dough is resting, set oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

7. Using an ice cream scoop (2 tablespoon size), form cookie dough and place the scoops 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

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8. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown, but don’t over bake them.

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9. Cool on a wired rack for 15 minutes. They are best eaten when slightly warm with a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

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10. Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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* If at all possible, try to use organic corn-based products. Most of the corn syrup and cornstarch sold in the stores are GMO.