Chocolate Almond Croissants

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Croissants are good. Homemade croissants are great. Homemade chocolate croissants are delicious. But homemade chocolate almond croissants? Now that’s heavenly.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it with homemade croissants OR store bought, and it’ll be super yummy either way. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with almond cream and chocolate.

I’m gonna keep this post pretty short and sweet, partly because I already wrote a much more detailed croissant post a few months back, and partly because as I’m writing this (on June 22nd) it’s the night before I leave to be a counselor in training at my camp for 8 weeks and I’m sitting next to an enormous pile of stuff waiting to be packed with a mile-long to-do list on my phone. But if you’re looking for any more explanations, or just want to check out how to make your very own croissant dough, head on over to that other post! Think of it as a “part 1” to this post.

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Chocolate Almond Croissants

from crumbsandnibbles.com, adapted from Food52

Makes 14 croissants

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe this croissant dough + 1 bar of chocolate (I prefer dark) + 1 egg whisked + 1 egg,  OR 14 chocolate croissants
  • 125 grams room temperature butter
  • 250 grams almond paste, crumbled
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • 7 1/2 grams corn starch
  • Slivered almonds (optional)

Directions:

If using homemade croissant dough:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat.
  2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside, then roll half of the dough out on a floured surface to a 18″ by 5″ rectangle. Cut into 6 3″ by 5″ rectangles.
  3. Take one rectangle and place it in front of you so that the long side is facing you. Arrange some of the chopped chocolate in a vertical line about 1/2 inch away from the left edge. Brush the left edge with some of the egg wash, then fold it over the chocolate. Now arrange another line of chocolate, this time 1/2 inch from the right edge. Brush the right edge with egg and fold it over the chocolate to complete the shaping of the croissant. Place the croissant sealed side down on one of the prepared trays and repeat with the rest of the rectangles and other half of the dough.
  4. Cover the trays of croissants loosely with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set the trays in a warm place for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can let these rise in the fridge overnight for fresh croissants the next morning.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 F. Beat the egg.
  6. Brush the tops of the croissants with the beaten egg and place in the oven. Immediately lower the temperature to 400 F. Bake 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F. Bake for another 8-13 minutes, or until the croissants are deep golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack, then move on with the rest of the recipe.

For the chocolate almond croissants:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or Silpats
  2. Make the almond cream: Place all of the remaining ingredients except for the slivered almonds in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on high speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Slice each croissant in half horizontally. On each croissant, spread 1-2 tablespoons of the almond cream on the bottom half. Place the top half back on and spread another tablespoon of cream on the top of the croissant. Sprinkle with slivered almonds if desired, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the almond cream is cooked through. Cool and devour warm!

Chocolate, PB & Banana Macarons

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GUYS. I did it. I finally conquered the mighty macaron.

I first made chocolate macarons two summers ago, and I thought I’d done a pretty great job. Sure, my cookies had giant cracks all over them… But I decided to focus on the fact that they tasted yummy and pretty darn macaron-like. So, with that history of (semi) success behind me, I decided to try my hand at making some regular macarons, sans cocoa. I’d heard these could be more finicky, but I dove in with confidence. I used the French method of making meringue, and added a bit of coffee powder in the hopes of creating some coffee macs with chocolate ganache.

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What I wound up with were literal hockey pucks. Okay, so they weren’t quite big enough to be literal hockey pucks… But I can assure you they were practically the same in terms of texture. Hard, bland, and utterly hopeless.

After a couple months, I convinced myself into giving it another go. This time I stuck with simple vanilla bean and used the Italian method, which is said to be less prone to disaster because the meringue is made more stabile with the addition of a hot sugar syrup.

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And this time, the results were near perfect. The majority of my macarons were crack-free, and every single one had those signature little “feet” at the base. Hooray!

Following this momentous occasion, I found myself wanting to delve deeper into the macaron world. I thought of flavor combo after flavor combo, and finally settled on these chocolate macarons with peanut butter banana buttercream. Because we all know chocolate, peanut butter and banana are a match made in heaven.

The process of making these cookies isn’t painstakingly difficult, but you will want to make sure to use a kitchen scale and take care while measuring ingredients and completing each step.

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To make the macarons, start by preheating the oven to 350 F for convection, or 400 F for a standard oven. On a piece of parchment paper, fill the page with evenly spaced 2-inch circles (they should be about 1 inch apart). Place the circle-filled parchment on a baking sheet, ink/graphite-side down so you don’t get any on the cookies. Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the mixture, then add in some egg whites and stir with a spatula until combined. Set aside.

DSC_0005In a small saucepan, stir together some water and granulated sugar and place over medium-high heat.

DSC_0006When the sugar syrup reaches 203 F/110 C, place some more egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add in a pinch of sugar, and whip on medium speed until they form soft peaks. If this happens before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, turn the mixer speed to its lowest setting.

DSC_0007When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, take the pan off the heat and, with the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly drizzle in the syrup.

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Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy white peaks. The meringue itself should be cooled down by now; if not, continue to whip until it does.

DSC_0010Fold one third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then add the rest of the meringue a bit at a time until the mixture isn’t so stiff that it won’t budge when you fold it over onto itself, but isn’t so loose that it does not hold its shape at all. The “ribbon” created by folding the batter onto itself should slowly move.

DSC_0014Load the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe onto the traced circles. Tap the pan against the counter to release any air bubbles and smooth the tops and set the pan aside to dry for a few minutes, or until you can gently touch the tops of the macrons without getting batter on your finger.

DSC_0020Now just pop these in the oven for 8-10 minutes if you’re using convection. If you’re using a standard oven, place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 F. Bake 9-12 minutes, or until the tops are crisp and the macarons aren’t overly wobbly when touched. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely while you make the buttercream!

DSC_0021Puree a half of a banana until smooth, then put it through a sieve, pressing as much through as you can.  Set aside both the pulp and the sieved liquid. Whisk together some granulated sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.

DSC_0022In a medium saucepan, stir together some milk and more sugar and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is just below a simmer. Take the pan off the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg and sugar mixture. Pour this mixture back into the pan and place it back over medium heat. Continuing to whisk constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer for 1 minute, or until it is very thick and pudding-like.

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Like this!DSC_0027Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 8 minutes, or until the mixture is cooled. With the mixer still on, add the butter a few pieces at a time. If the mixture looks broken at any time, increase the speed until it re-emulsifies.

DSC_0028Add in some creamy peanut butter and the sieved banana, adding some of the banana pulp if a stronger flavor is desired.

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Now it’s time to assemble! Just load the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip and pipe dollops onto half of the macarons, topping with the other halves.

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Store these in the fridge and bring them to room temperature before enjoying! These are even better the second day, because by then they’re nice and soft and chewy.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Macarons

recipe from crumbsandnibbles.com, adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Makes 24 filled sandwich cookies (48 halves)

Ingredients:

For the chocolate macaron cookies:

  • 212g almond flour/meal
  • 212g powdered sugar
  • 25g high quality cocoa powder
  • 82g egg whites
  • 90g egg whites
  • 236g granulated sugar, plus more for the egg whites
  • 158g water

For the peanut butter banana French buttercream:

  • 38g granulated sugar
  • 38g granulated sugar
  • 63g egg yolks
  • 75g whole milk
  • 250g unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
  • Half of a very ripe banana
  • 2 heaping tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Directions:

  1. For the macarons: Preheat the oven to 350 F for convection, or 400 F for a standard oven. On a piece of parchment paper, fill the page with evenly spaced 2-inch circles (they should be about 1 inch apart). Place the circle-filled parchment on a baking sheet, ink/graphite-side down so as not to get any on the cookies.
  2. Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the mixture, then add in the 82g of egg whites and stir with a spatula until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together the water and 236g granulated sugar and place over medium-high heat.
  4. When the sugar syrup reaches 203 F/110 C, place the remaining 90g egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add in a pinch of sugar, and whip on medium speed until they form soft peaks. If this happens before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, turn the mixer speed to its lowest setting.
  5. When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, take the pan off the heat and, with the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly drizzle in the syrup. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy white peaks. The meringue itself should be cooled down by now; if not, continue to whip until it does.
  6. Fold one third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then add the rest of the meringue a bit at a time until the mixture isn’t so stiff that it won’t budge when you fold it over onto itself, but isn’t so loose that it does not hold its shape at all. The “ribbon” created by folding the batter onto itself should slowly move.
  7. Load the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe onto the traced circles. Tap the pan against the counter to release any air bubbles and smooth the tops. Set the pan aside to dry for a few minutes, or until you can gently touch the tops of the macrons without getting batter on your finger.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a convection oven. If you’re using a standard oven, place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 F. Bake 9-12 minutes, or until the tops are crisp and the macarons aren’t overly wobbly when touched. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter.
  10. For the buttercream: Puree the banana until smooth, then put it through a sieve, pressing as much through as you can.  Set aside both the pulp and the sieved liquid.
  11. Whisk together 38g granulated sugar and the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.
  12. In a medium saucepan, stir together the milk and the remaining 38g of sugar and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is just below a simmer. Take the pan off the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg and sugar mixture. Pour this mixture back into the pan and place it back over medium heat. Continuing to whisk constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer for 1 minute, or until it is very thick and pudding-like.
  13. Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 8 minutes, or until the mixture is cooled.
  14. With the mixer still on, add the butter a few pieces at a time. If the mixture looks broken at any time, increase the speed until it re-emulsifies.
  15. Add in the peanut butter and the sieved banana, adding some of the banana pulp if a stronger flavor is desired.
  16. Load the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip and pipe dollops onto half of the macarons, topping with the other halves. Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before enjoying! These are even better the second day, as they have time to soften.

Happy nibbling!

 

Simple Blueberry Pie

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Happy (almost) Fourth of July!

Today I’m sharing with you an easy recipe for blueberry pie. It’s a holiday weekend, so rather than putting all of your energy into a complex dessert, I say throw together something simple and delicious like this pie and call it a day! This weekend should be all about spending time with friends and family, not toiling away in the kitchen. Continue reading

Lavender Layer Cake with Blueberry Honey Buttercream

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Well… I’m officially 16!

I started this blog when I was 13 years old and I have to say, it’s been a super cool way of documenting my progress and growth as a blogger, baker, photographer, writer, and person. It’s also been so much fun getting to interact with people through comments, fun food bloggy things like the cookie swap I participated in earlier this year, and through social media. Thanks for making this such a pleasure and for sticking with me!

For my birthday this year, I took inspiration from Megan at Hint of Vanilla and decided to make, or attempt to make, a three-tiered drippy masterpiece. I actually got the idea for this flavor combo from an ice cream I had at SoCo Creamery while I was in Massachusetts a few months back. A layer cake seemed like a nice vehicle for those flavors, so I went with a lavender cake and a blueberry honey Italian buttercream. Continue reading

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes

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Let’s face it–strawberry and rhubarb are a match made in heaven. There’s something about the sweetness of the fresh berries and the tart flavor of the rhubarb that makes for a fantastic combo, whether in the form of a drink, a sauce, a crumble, a pie or some cute lil galettes! Given that it’s Memorial day weekend and temperatures in the northeast are suuper high (we’re talking 90s!), I thought these might be the perfect easy treat to whip up. The process is simple: start with your favorite pie dough recipe, roll it out into three or four circle-ish shapes, top with your fruit mixture and fold the edges of the dough over, then just brush with egg wash and bake. Continue reading

Homemade Croissants

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So a few weeks ago I teased those of you who follow me on Instagram with a photo of Chocolate Almond Croissants. What I didn’t tell you is that I also whipped up a batch of plain croissants, so I thought today I’d show you how I made them. Don’t worry–I’ll reveal how I made that other variety in a later post. But to make chocolate almond croissants you need chocolate croissants and to make chocolate croissants you need some good old fashioned plain croissant dough… So here we are! Continue reading

Mixed Berry Pavlova

DSC_0048DSC_0083Hi! I’m writing to you from a world of homework and school and stress but it’s OKAY because I’m off from school this Friday for Passover, which means in just a few days I’ll be eating yummy food like matzoh ball soup and brisket and desserts like this gorgeous pavlova. Actually, I’ll probably be eating a chocolate torte because my brother is a chocolate fiend with a strong aversion to berries, fruit and anything that even loosely resembles healthy food. But the point is that I could be eating this pavlova because it just so happens to be flour-free (which is a must on Passover!) Continue reading

Blackberry Cornmeal Scones

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Guysguysguys. LOOK at these beautiful scones. I’m a sucker for a good basic cream scone with butter and jam, but I’d have to say that this version right here is my new fave. I was feeling extra inspired and, well, bored a few days back and realized that it’s been a WHILE since I last whipped up a batch of scones, so I decided to jazz up my favorite recipe by adding in some blackberries and subbing out a few of the ingredients for cornmeal, brown butter and honey. All super yummy things that proved to be even yummier when combined. Continue reading

Frosted Red Velvet Cakies

DSC_0037DSC_0087So I just realized that exactly 2 years, 3 days and several hours ago I published my first blog posts ever. Dating from a time in which I was very young, very inexperienced and very into Instagram filters, my two first posts were entitled “A Weekend of Baking: Snickerdoodles” and “Buttermilk Scones,” and featured terrible, low-quality, er, slightly less professional writing and photography. In light of my blogiversary, I thought that maybe I’d show you some of the high points (and low points) of my Crumbs and Nibbles career! Continue reading