Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve been on a bit of a peanut butter kick lately. More like nut and seed spreads that resemble peanut butter, since I’m sadly allergic to the real thing. As Halloween approaches, I start to really miss the holy grail of trick or treating candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. A candy so good, you just accept the struggle of getting that smushed and half melted chocolate out of its wrapper as part of the trials you must face to earn it.  That longing for the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate inspired this month’s macaron recipe for a cookie with chocolate shells and an easy cashew butter filling.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Ingredients

for the macaron shells

(dryer version for the humid months)

  • ¾ cup ground almonds (as finely ground as you can find)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

for the filling

  • ¼-½ cup peanut butter or substitute (I’m using cashew butter)

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Method

for the macaron shells

  1. Prepare your parchment sheets by drawing 1″ circles, ½” apart across the entire sheet (or using silicon baking mats with the circles already printed on them) and placing them on a large flat surface suitable for drying your batter, like a dining table. You will need 2-3 half sheet pan size pieces.
  2. Sift ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder together, twice. Set aside.
  3. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a hand or stand mixer on high speed until you have a foam with no liquid remaining.
  4. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites. Beat on high speed until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. You’ve made meringue!
  5. Add vanilla and gently beat in.
  6. Fold your almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue in two parts.
  7. Here’s the part that takes practice: it’s time for the macaronnage! With a spatula, spread the batter, with some force, against the side of the bowl. Then scoop it up by running the spatula along the side of the bowl again and try to flip it all over and sort-of lightly smack it back into the bottom of the bowl. Gather the batter up again and repeat 15 times. It takes some time to figure out the best way to do this, don’t be afraid to play around with it. When doing the macaronnage correctly, repeating more than 20 times can result in oily, blotchy macarons, but I’ve found that doing it incorrectly doesn’t count towards this limit. If you are doing it right, the batter will take on a noticeable and somewhat sudden change in consistency, this means you are about half-way to that limit. When finished, the batter should be thickened and drip slowly from the spatula. You will have to pipe it onto your baking sheets/mats and it won’t work if the batter is too runny. This is the technique that defines macarons, this is what makes mastery of them impressive.
  8. For perfectly round macarons, use a large, 0.4″ plain tip with a pastry bag, or do it the lazy way and cut a corner off a zip top bag for mostly round macarons. Twist (or don’t yet cut) the bag at the tip and place it, tip side down, in a tall glass. Fill with your batter and twist, close or clip the other end to help keep the messy batter moving in the right direction. Pipe the batter into the centre of the circles on your sheets/mats and stop before reaching the edges as the batter will spread out a bit.
  9. Once finished piping, carefully pick the sheets/mats up and drop them back on to the table from a height of a couple of inches. The theory is that this helps the cookies keep their round shape and form the little bubbles around the bottom (the pied) when you put them in the oven.
  10. Leave the cookies on the table, uncovered, for 15-30 minutes to dry (or more on a humid day). This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350°F. You will know the macarons are dry when they look smooth and are no longer sticky to the touch.
  11. Place an oven rack in the centre of your oven. Place a sheet of macarons on two stacked sheet pans (this will stop the bottoms from getting too hot, resulting in cracked macarons) and bake for about 15 minutes. Rotate the pan half way through baking. It can be hard to tell when the macaron are done. I pull them out when the kitchen smells sweet and the cookies look crisp, have just started to brown, and don’t look blotchy in the middle.
  12. As soon as the parchment sheet/baking mat is cool enough to handle, take it out of the pan with all the cookies on top and place it on a cooling rack. The macarons will be too sticky to remove from the sheet/mat now; once cooled, they should peel off easily. I usually wait a few minutes for the pans to cool a bit and for the oven to come back to a steady temperature before moving the next sheet to the pans and baking the next round.

Once everything has cooled spread your peanut butter (or substitute) onto half of your shells. Then place another similarly sized shell on top and gently press them together.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Fall Brew

Fall Brew | Sophster-Toaster

When the nights start to get cool, and it takes all morning for the house to warm up again, the husband and I like to spend our weekends cooking, baking and brewing tasty fall treats. Last weekend, we spent a clear and calm Sunday brewing an English brown ale that warmed up our kitchen and filled the house with the classic cheese cracker smell of steeped grains.

Fall Brew | Sophster-ToasterFall Brew | Sophster-Toaster Fall Brew | Sophster-Toaster

Matt knows a lot more about home brewing than I do. He threw together a recipe using the assortment of ingredients we had lying around, leftover from summer brewing. He weighs, measures, times, checks temperatures and makes careful calculations while I’m there for the beer, snacks and lending a hand (or making sure the dog doesn’t) when he needs one.

I can’t stand how much I love our fall weekend routine.

Fall Brew | Sophster-Toaster Fall Brew | Sophster-Toaster

Top Unique Vintage
Skirt Steady Clothing
Barrette very old

All photos by me.

Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free)

Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free) | Sophster-Toaster

When I moved away from home to start college, my mom sent me off with a batch of homemade peanut butter cookies. They provided a comforting taste of home as I was adjusting to my new home, school and city. I think about them often as that was the last time I tasted peanut butter cookies. I started developing a peanut allergy shortly after and haven’t been able to eat any amount of peanuts for the last decade.

I’ve found myself craving peanut butter cookies more and more over the past few months, even though I can’t fully remember what they taste like. I’ve put off trying to replace these cookies – one of my favourites – fearing it was impossible. Then, last week, I found myself longing to have these cookies again and decided to try making them with one of my favourite peanut butter substitutes for baking: sunflower seed butter.

It worked! I can’t say if they taste just like peanut butter cookies, but they’re utterly delicious as they are. The texture is dead on and exactly what I needed. ♥

Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free) | Sophster-Toaster Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free) | Sophster-Toaster Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free) | Sophster-Toaster

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sunflower seed butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two sheet pans.
  2. Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugars together in a large bowl until well blended.
  4. Beat in the egg, sunflower seed butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture. When almost mixed, stir in the butterscotch chips until everything is well blended.
  6. Shape into balls and arrange 12 to a half sheet pan. Press with a fork to flatten.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Butterscotch & Seed Butter Cookies (Nut Free) | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies

Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster

I loved this skirt when I made it in velvet for last winter. The fabric was soft, lush and lovely but very thick and heavy. It’s really only wearable for people who live in parts of the world that see long, cold winters. I wanted to bring the design to more seasons, and more people, so I made a lighter version in organic cotton sateen! The fabric is still heavier and more tightly woven than a basic, breezy cotton and has a subtle sheen to it too, giving it just the right amount of warmth and texture for fall layering.

Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-ToasterFall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster  Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster Fall is for Night Skies and Lullabies | Sophster-Toaster

Sweater ModCloth
Skirt Sophster-Toaster
Shoes ModCloth
Earrings Designs by Amber
Button Craft Arts Market

All photos by me.