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Valentine’s Day Macarons

11 Jan

Valentine’s Day is a little over a month away and I have already been thinking of sweet and fun things to do for my kids, friends and god children.  One thing I really enjoy doing is baking and found the perfect Valentine’s Day treat to share!  Over the LONG winter break from school, my 13 year old daughter (who also enjoys baking) begged me to make chocolate and strawberry macaron cookies.

macaroons

We had never attempted making these before, but it was fun and she was very proud of her creations.  It dawned on me that these would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day treat.  They would look adorable in some bake your own cookies personalized gift boxes.

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Or, you can put some stacked in a cellophane bag tied with a personalized gift tag.

 

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Anyone would love to get these sweet treats for Valentine’s Day!  They DO require using eggs and almonds for anyone who has food allergies.

 

Here is the recipe for the French Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache from ChowHound:

Ingredients

For the macarons:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the ganache filling:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes

Special equipment: You will need a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip. If you don’t have one, you can either spoon round dollops of batter onto the baking sheet or make a pastry bag by snipping off one corner of a large resealable plastic freezer bag.

What to buy: You will need almond meal or almond flour, which are the same ingredient—raw blanched whole almonds that have been ground into a fine powder. If you cannot find almond flour/meal, you can grind blanched almonds until very fine.

Instructions

For the macarons:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip; set aside.
  2. Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse several times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 30 seconds. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and hold the line of the whisk, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in four batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.)  With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.)
  5. 5Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to help create the macaron base, or foot. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking.
  6. 6Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

For the ganache filling:

  1. 1Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
  2. 2Warm the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Stir it into the chocolate without creating bubbles. Let sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until thickened but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. 1Pair macarons of similar size. Remove the ganache from the refrigerator. If you choose to pipe the ganache, transfer it to a resealable plastic bag and snip about a 1/2 inch off a bottom corner. Squeeze or scoop the ganache to about the size of a cherry (about 1 teaspoon) onto the center of a macaron half.  Top with another half and press gently so that it looks like a mini hamburger. The filling should not ooze out the edges. Refrigerate, covered, at least 24 hours before serving.

 

Recipe for Strawberry Macarons from StaceysRecipes.com:

Ingredients
Vanilla Macarons
  • 1 cup (4oz) Almond Flour – sifted
  • 2 cups (8oz) Powdered Sugar – sifted
  • 5oz Egg Whites – about 4 -5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (2.5oz) Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon. Salt
  • 1 – 2 drops pink gel based food coloring (optional)
Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filling
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter – softened
  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar – sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry puree – about 4 strawberrys washed and de-stemmed in a food processor or blender.
  • 1-2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Instructions
Vanilla Macarons
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in egg whites, salt, and sugar.
  2. Set timer for 3 minutes and beat at a medium speed using the whisk attachment (4 on my KitchenAid).
  3. Once the 3 minutes are up turn it up about 3 notches to speed 7 and beat for another 3 minutes.
  4. Once the time is up turn it all the way up on high and beat one last time for 3 minutes.
  5. While your egg whites and sugar is mixing, sift your almond flour and powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
  6. Once all is sifted you should have some small bits of almond that were too large to pass through.
  7. If there is a teaspoon or less you just leave them out, if there is more you will want to send them through a food processor to grind them up before pouring into the batter.
  8. Once your egg mixture is done beating, add in your vanilla extract and pink gel food coloring and beat for 30 seconds, scrape sides down and beat for another 30 seconds.
  9. Add your dry ingredients into you egg whites, you need to mix carefully to make sure it has the right consistency, or you will end up with flat or dry macarons.
  10. Using a spatula fold in your dry ingredients in a swooping motion making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  11. At first it will seem really thick and clumpy but it will smooth out quick.
  12. You want a thickness that is still thick enough to hold a little shape but thin enough to fold back into itself.
  13. It took me 30-35 turns with my spatula to get a good consistency.
  14. Fill your piping bag with the filling and pipe 1 1/2″ circles on your silpat – you will have slight peaks at first and by about the fifth circle you’ve piped they should flatten out.
  15. Preheat your oven to 295 degrees and let your macarons dry on the counter for 25-30 minutes – I accidentally left a batch on my counter to dry for an hour and a half and when I put them in the oven they seemed to make no difference.
  16. After about 30 minutes your macarons should have a slight “crust” on them – they shouldn’t stick to your finger when you touch them.
  17. Bake for 15-17 minutes, depending on size.
  18. Once they’re fully cooked allow to cool completely before removing from your silpat or parchment paper.
  19. Once fully cooled pipe your filling and sandwich together.
Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filling
  1. Using your stand mixer or hand mixer whip the butter on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Slowly add in 1 cup of the sifted icing sugar, mix until combined.Add the vanilla and the last of the icing sugar and continue mixing.
  3. Add in 1 tbsp of the heavy cream at a time until the consistency is right.
  4. Add the strawberry puree and mix until combined.
  5. Once all is added beat on high speed until light and fluffy – at least 2 minutes.
  6. You want the frosting nice and creamy, but for it to be able to hold a point at the same time.
  7. Match your macarons in pairs according to size.
  8. Using the same Wiltons 12 tip pipe a small circle of buttercream on one side of the macaron and carefully sandwich together – making sure not to squish them as they are delicate.
  9. Store in an air tight container for up to a week.

 

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Jennifer

Wedding Inspiration: Greenery

28 Dec

greenery

Out latest wedding inspiration board is all about the 2017 Pantone color of the year: greenery! According to Pantone,  greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.  Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.  Greenery would make a great color palette for a Spring or Summer wedding.  This fresh shade of green could be incorporated into most everything in a wedding scheme from invitations, to dresses to tabletop accessories.  According to Brides.com, greenery bridal bouquets are a major trend.  So there is a lot you can do with this fun and fresh color.

Get inspired with our picks:

Green and gold foldover notecards, Green block save the date photo magnets, Banded self-inking stamper, Floral laurel wreath napkins, Your text own handled bag in your color choice, Personalized laurel wreath with heart plastic plates, Sophisticated scroll personalized gift wrap, French garden save the dates cards, French garden reception cards and Grey floral pattern on white and green invitations.

 

 

Other Image Sources:

Bridesmaids: http://www.stylemepretty.com/vault/image/1135903

Boutonniere: http://www.brides.com/story/pantone-2017-color-of-the-year-wedding-ideas

Table Number: http://www.stylemepretty.com/vault/image/862455

Green Floral Crown: http://weddbook.com/entry/2225286/10-ways-to-use-greenery-in-your-wedding-decor-and-save-money

Leaf place card: http://www.deerpearlflowers.com/romantic-and-timeless-green-wedding-color-ideas/

Table Setting: http://blog.stylishwedd.com/top-10-wedding-colors-for-spring-2017-inspired-by-pantone-s/

Bride and Bridesmaids: http://www.randomtuesdays.com/green-wedding-inspiration/

 

5 Ideas for Giving Back This Holiday Season

7 Dec

The holidays are fast approaching and everyone is so busy getting ready.  Holiday cards, presents, parties, baking (need I go on?).  The holiday season is also about giving back to those who may not be so lucky to be “busy” with all the things so many of us take for granted.  If you’re feeling inspired to give back but not sure where to start, here are a few ideas that may inspire you:

  • Host a food drive where you work.  You can set up a collection box or site and have employees deliver the items to your local food pantry.  Be sure to contact your local food pantry ahead of time to see what they are in most need of.
  • Host a blood drive where you work.  There is almost always a blood shortage and most blood centers offer mobile services.
  • Sign up to help with your local soup kitchen.  Helping those in need where you live is a great way to connect with your community.
  • Call your local pet shelter and see what supplies they might need (they often are in need of newspapers, blankets and towels).  You can clean out your linen closets and help a charity at the same time (win win!).
  • Donate your gently used coats to those who don’t have any.  Many churches and local food pantries accept donations.  You can always find a drop off center at One Warm Coat.

carts vernon

I hope these ideas inspire you to give back this year!  The Stationery Studio hosted a food drive for our local food pantry this year for #GivingTuesday.  We were honored to help those in our community where we work and many of us live.  Along with the food donated, TheStationeryStudio.com gave a monetary donation to help with items they need to stock their shelves.