Coffee Macarons

Coffee MacaronsBuy 489

You’re looking at French macarons with espresso-flavored meringue shells and a coffee liqueur buttercream filling. They taste incredible, if I may say so myself.

Making French macarons is probably an old hat for many of you but it isn’t for me, I’ve struggled with them for a long time. The ones I’ve made in the past mostly exploded at some point during or after the baking process and the few that stayed intact usually didn’t develop their characteristic “foot.”  (They still tasted good but of course in my line of work that isn’t sufficient). I finally found instructions that work from Helene over at the beautiful Tartelette blog. I think one of the crucial parts about Helene’s recipe is the low temperature (280 degrees F); I had always baked macarons hotter. I followed her basic recipe, didn’t get a single pop and pretty little feet all across the baking sheet. Very exciting stuff! :)

Coffee Macarons
 
Author:
Ingredients:
  • This recipe makes about 28 macaron shells (14 macarons).
For the macarons:
  • 200 powdered sugar
  • 110 grams almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 90 grams egg whites (about 3 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25 grams granulated sugar
For the filling:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
Instructions:
For the macarons:
  1. Pulse powdered sugar, almond flour and espresso powder in a food processor until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Whip egg whites and vanilla to a nice bubbly foam.
  3. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites, continuing to beat until you have a glossy meringue that just barely holds stiff peaks.
  4. Fold the almond mix into the whipped egg whites until combined. (It'll be a sticky, very slow-flowing, thick mass).
  5. Using a large round tip pipe the macaron onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. If your macarons keep a little tip in the center, get your finger wet with a little bit of cold water and push the tip down.
  7. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven to 280 degrees F.
  9. Bake the macarons for 15 to 20 minutes, switching positions of the baking sheets halfway through.
  10. Once baked, leave the macarons in the oven, turn the oven off and open the oven door. After 15 minutes, take the macarons out.
For the filling:
  1. Beat all ingredients together until you have a smooth cream.
  2. Match the macarons into pairs by size.
  3. Put a dollop of buttercream on one shell and fit a second shell on top.

 

Food Photography and Styling: I find that these white on white shots can look disorienting, which is why I like to have a horizon line in them that says to the viewer “Here is a table, here is the edge of that table and behind that table is a wall.” That provides a point of reference that I personally find very comforting. I started by placing three macaron on a plate but they looked disconnected and lost so I went with a “basket” scenario instead. This little white bowl/ramekin was the only item I had that fit three of them more or less comfortably. I didn’t want to distract with color so I just placed a jar with milk in the background and left it at that. As usual I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm).

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Lemon Cardamom Bundt Cakes

Recipe for Lemon Cardamom Bundt CakesBuy 485
You can’t see it but these little guys are bursting with intense citrus flavor courtesy of lots of lemon juice, lemon zest and cardamom. They also have a nicely crispy exterior thanks to the very thin ridges of mini bundt cake pans. I adapted this recipe from Gourmet (on epicurious.com) but left out the ginger and added the cardamom instead. For some extra crunch (and also for looks) I sprinkled some chopped pistachios on. Delicious!

Lemon Cardamom Bundt Cakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This recipe makes 5 mini bundt cakes (2/3 cup batter for each cake)
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 5
Ingredients:
For the cakes:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the glaze:
  • 10 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • chopped pistachios (optional)
Instructions:
For the cakes:
  1. Grease a mini bundt cake pan.
  2. Dust the pan with flour and shake out the excess. Put the pan in the fridge until you have the batter ready.
  3. Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Beat sugar, butter and zest until creamy.
  6. Add the egg to the butter mix and continue to beat until incorporated.
  7. Beat in the milk and the vanilla.
  8. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients.
  9. Beat in the lemon juice.
  10. Fill into the pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean (about 35 minutes). Let cool, then unmold.
For the glaze:
  1. Whisk the sugar into the lemon juice and drizzle over the cakes.
  2. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the cakes (optional).

Food Photography and Styling: The pretty pinwheel shapes of these cakes lent themselves to an overhead shot and their brown/orange color looked nice with a cool gray/blue so I chose my metal tray as a surface. Don’t ask me what this little antique metal wire mesh thing is, it’s not a cooling rack because it doesn’t have feet and I have no clue what this kind of thing used to be used for but it doesn’t matter because I thought it looked great here, it broke up the surface nicely, anchored the two mini cakes to the surface and kept them from looking lost. The glaze isn’t very thick and was therefore almost hard to see on the cakes so I decided to put a dish filled with it into the composition to draw more attention to it. I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm) to light the set from the back.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Crab Bisque

Crab BisqueBuy 479
The other day when I flipped through the 1970s cookbook that I adapted the Bavarian cream recipe from I came across an interesting idea: adding nutmeg to crab bisque. I tried it on my own crab bisque recipe and was surprised how well it worked. The spice added a new and unexpected dimension that I really liked. Otherwise this recipe is pretty straightforward with mostly the usual suspects: shallot, celery, tomato paste, white wine, sherry, etc. Hope you like it! :)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Crab Bisque
 
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I like it better than vegetable broth or store-bought fish stock in this recipe)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 ounces crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons sherry
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • a few sprigs of thyme
Instructions:
  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Add shallot and celery and saute until soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste, broth and white wine and bring to a boil.
  4. Add almost all crab meat (reserve a little bit for garnish), then puree with an immersion blender.
  5. Stir in the cream and the sherry (to taste) and heat through.
  6. Sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg into each serving and garnish with crab meat and sprigs of thyme.

Food Photography and Styling: I lit the set slightly from the back to get a nice reflection onto the surface of the bisque that kept it from looking dead. To create a focal point I added a little bit of crab meat into the center and topped it with a few sprigs of thyme. I also sprinkled some thyme and nutmeg next to the bowl to keep the table from looking too sterile and as usual I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm).

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Tomato Tarts

Tomato Tart RecipeBuy 21

Just some quick and easy tomato tarts here today. I find baking tomatoes like this to be a great way to concentrate their flavor. These tarts are made with the same easy and flaky dough recipe from cooks.com that I used for my chocolate espresso meringue tarts a while ago and then I just added gruyere, the tomatoes, thyme and salt and pepper. Yum!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tomato Tarts
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients:
  • This recipe will make four 3½ - inch tarts.
For the crust:
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into small chunks
For the filling:
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere
  • 28 cherry tomatoes
  • leaves of about 8 sprigs of thyme
  • freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix the vinegar and the milk. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour and salt, then cut in the shortening and the butter.
  4. Pour the milk/vinegar into the flour/fat and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball and doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl anymore (it should have the consistency of play dough).
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  6. Roll the dough out thin and fit into four 3½-inch ramekins. (Gather the scraps and roll them out again).
  7. Divide the cheese among the ramekins.
  8. Divide the thyme leaves among the ramekins.
  9. Slice the tomatoes and fit them on top of the cheese and thyme.
  10. Sprinkle some salt and freshly cracked black pepper over the tomatoes.
  11. Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden-brown (25 to 30 minutes).

Food Photography and Styling: I’ve baked these little tarts many times and I usually take them out of their molds but they always look very messy that way so I decided for the photo to bake them in nice ramekins and leave them in there. The little “trivet” underneath the ramekin is a small tile with a pattern glued onto it. (I didn’t make that myself, I bought it at a yard sale). I have burlap in different colors and used a beige piece as a tablecloth and then put my brown burlap ribbon on top. Red and green go well together so I made sure to sprinkle some fresh thyme all over the set. I lit the set from the side and back using my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm) and reflected some light back onto the front of the set.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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