After years of making macarons, and still needing more practice, I stick with it because I love creating new flavours. Macarons can be tricky and time consuming to make, but they can take almost any flavouring imaginable and still come out lovely and delicious every time. They are one of my favourite foods to endlessly tinker with.
Today I made macarons inspired by my favourite cookie: chocolate chip. Macarons can be made in nearly every flavour, but they don’t take large chucks well – flavouring must be in either liquid or powder form – so I made a standard almond/ vanilla flavour cookie and garnished with cacao nibs. To add more chocolate flavour, I filled the cookies with dark chocolate ganache.
The combination turned out unbelievably well! Neither flavour overpowers the other. The garnish is cute and does a good job of letting you know what flavours to expect. They even taste a little bit like chocolate chip cookies while still holding on to that unique macaron sweetness. I made the mistake of having friends over before I had time to assemble the cookies. I had to beg them to “only eat the ugly ones” as they ravenously drizzled the still-warm ganache over the cookie halves and pounded back a dozen of them.
To make these chocolate chip cookie flavoured macarons, use your favourite recipes for plain vanilla macarons and dark chocolate (bitter) ganache. I used the recipes for Basic Macaron Batter and Bitter Ganache Filling from Hisako Ogita’s I Love Macarons. I also added a few pieces of cacao nibs to the top of each cookie before drying and baking.
All photos by me.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at making macarons. I’ve been trying to learn how to make them well for almost exactly three years now and this is my first batch ever that weren’t too sticky or hollow in the middle. I’ve never had trouble with the pied (the pretty, bubbly bit) but I’m still confused about how to macaronnage properly and I’m lucky if I get a handful of cookies to come out perfectly round. Macaron recipes appear deceivingly simple with only five ingredients that come together quite quickly but there are a lot of opportunities for mistake that make these cute little cookies difficult to master.
The best part about making macarons, and the reason I keep trying, is the literally uncountable number of flavour, colour, garnish and filling combinations you can make. This time I tried out an idea for smoky black tea macarons with orange marmalade filling.
Using the macaron recipe from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita and following her flavouring tips, I added 1 tsp of smoked lapsang souchong star loose leaf tea, that I first crushed to a finely ground powder with my fingertips, to the dry ingredients before mixing them into the meringue. I decided not to colour the cookies with any food colouring. Then, because I’m not a huge fan of making or eating traditional buttercream filling, I chose to just fill the macarons with orange marmalade. The end result is a naturally peach coloured nutty, smoky, sweet citrus cookie perfect for a grown up tea party.
All photos by me.
Last week, I featured Kathy Casey’s D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic in the party themed, December edition of “Obsessions” because it’s always the first cookbook I go to when I’m planning party food. I do this not only because deviled eggs are delicious and adorably retro but because, in addition to amazing and creative recipes, this book also includes a page on tips for finding cute serving dishware and a section titled “Egg-ceptional Ideas for Holidays and Special Events”. This section is where I found the recipes I used to make festive, naturally red and green coloured eggs for a Christmas party I attended last weekend.
“Sunny Roasted Red Pepper Deviled Eggs” with roasted red pepper pesto and toasted almonds
I made “Sunny Roasted Red Pepper Deviled Eggs” and “Devilish Green Eggs and Ham”, both for the first time. Both recipes came together quite easily, though I did used to work in a restaurant that frequently made pickled eggs, so you could say I’m an egg peeling professional. The roasted red pepper eggs were certainly pretty with their delicate sliced almonds and sprinkle of smoked paprika but everyone at the party agreed that the green eggs and ham deviled eggs were far tastier – definitely a make again recipe. There is absolutely something to the green eggs and ham recipe’s basil and prosciutto combination but I’m starting to thing my friends may just be suckers for anything with a meat garnish.
“Devilish Green Eggs and Ham” with pesto and prosciutto
I’ve worked my way around this book quite a bit since purchasing it. I’ve made “Steak and Deviled Eggs”, “Dirty Martini Deviled Eggs”, “Tapenade Deviled Eggs” and “Beet’ing Heart Deviled Eggs” – which has you dye the egg whites with picked beet brine! – just to name a few. The “Steak and Deviled Eggs” recipe, which includes whole stripes of steak as a garnish, has strongly cemented my reputation as a respected deviled egg maker and established my role as the deviled egg bringer for every large function I attend (and I couldn’t be happier about this).
If you love deviled eggs as much as I do, buy this book! You won’t regret it.
All Photos by me.
I started experimenting with this simple potato soup a few years ago. This version of the recipe was first developed at the cottage and quickly became a favourite among my friends. I love making it for a large group and serving it, still in the pot, with lots of little bowls of garnishes surrounding it so everyone can have fun customizing their own bowls.
The soup is quite simple and comes together rather quickly. The potatoes can be baked several hours ahead and left to cool until you are ready to assemble the rest of the ingredients.
2 rashers of high quality bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cups russet potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed (about 5 small to medium potatoes)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or enough to cover
1 cup milk
3 tbsp plain yogourt
salt and pepper to taste
For the Garnish
cheddar cheese, grated
Things happen quite quickly, so you’ll want to have all of your ingredients ready before you get started.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash your potatoes and pierce them a few times with a fork. Place them directly on the oven rack (there’s no need to season the skins because we will be peeling them) and bake for 40 – 60 minutes, or until tender. Let cool.
- Slice bacon into garnish size pieces and place in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Cook until crispy then remove the bacon to a paper towel and set aside. Leave the bacon drippings in the pot.
- Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring often, until soft.
- Peel and chunk up the baked potatoes. They are easy enough to peel with your fingers – if they have cooled – but you can use a knife, if you like. Add them to the pot with the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
- Once you’ve reached a simmer, remove the pot from the heat, add the milk and sour cream then blend until smooth.
- Heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with plenty of garnishes. I like classic baked potato garnishes like sour cream/ yogourt, cheddar, bacon and green onion but you can use anything you would normally put on top of a regular baked potato!
Serves 4 – 6 as a meal.
All photos by me.