Almond Macarons

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First of all, I love macarons! I was very excited when I heard I was going to be learning how to make them this past spring in one of my classes! I love the chewiness of them and that they can come in almost any flavor. These almond ones are amazing! I also made some chocolate ones recently that were…To Die For! Yum!

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These pictures are from when I made them in class, but I did just recently make them for my brother’s wedding! Everyone LOVED them! I had some leftover chocolate Italian buttercream and used that to fill some of them! They were quite yummy! I added a little almond extract to the buttercream filling, and it just made it so much better! Vanilla buttercream works well too!

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Macarons are very tricky to make. They take lots of practice! I’m still working on my technique and making sure I don’t over whip my meringue. They are definitely a challenge, but that’s what I love about them.

This recipe is one I got from school, which was taken from Sugar Baby Confections by Gesine Bullock-Prado. I filled them with vanilla Italian buttercream, but Swiss buttercream could be used and also in the form of chocolate or almond.

Ingredients

7 oz. Almond flour

7 oz. Confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp. egg white powder or Meringue powder

3 egg whites

1/2-1 tsp. pure almond extract

1/2 tsp. salt

7 oz. granulated sugar

1/2 cup water, divided

food coloring if desired (usually 2-3 drops, but a few more is fine if needed)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioner’s sugar, almond flour, and meringue powder. Set aside.  IMG_0603
  2. In the bowl of a mixer using the whip attachment, add the egg whites and salt. Add the granulated sugar and half the water to a small pot.
  3. Start whipping the egg whites a little until frothy and shut off the mixer especially if the egg whites are cold (they will take longer to whip).
  4. Start heating the sugar in the pot (Do not stir). Using a candy thermometer, set it to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the mixer with the egg whites back on. Once the sugar has reached 240 degrees Fahrenheit, pour it slowly down the side of the bowl, while the whites are whipping until the pot is empty. Add the almond extract. Add the coloring after it has cooled and the mixing bowl doesn’t feel so hot. Let it keep whipping until it reaches medium soft peaks.
  5. Once medium soft peaks have been achieved, mix in about 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients. Add another third and fold in gently. It should look homogenous and have no lumps. Add the last of the meringue and fold in.
  6. Using a piping bag with a large round tip, pipe each cookie to desired size on a parchment lined pan. My batches yielded about 40 sandwich cookies, so about 80 single cookies.
  7. Let them sit out for about half an hour or until they have formed a skin. Preheat the oven after about 15 minutes of sitting out.
  8. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool completely before filling. I used Italian buttercream but you could use Swiss buttercream. These recipes can be found on the categories box under Fillings, Frosting, and Buttercream. To make vanilla buttercream, just add 2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract. To make almond buttercream, start with 1 tsp. of pure almond extract and taste it. Add more as needed. No amaretto is needed to make it.

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These freeze very well too! Enjoy!!

 

Amaretto Orange Cake 2.0

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AmarettoOrangeCake

My Spring semester finished up last week and I’m happy to have a break, at least until my summer class starts. This is the cake I made and practiced for a few weeks before our actual final. It was inspired by one of my favorite cocktails, an Amaretto Sour. It’s an orange flavored cake with Amaretto mascarpone mousse, and almond Italian buttercream! It took a lot of testing of different cake recipes until I finally found this one that had the best taste, texture, and flavor! The process was stressful, but it was worth it! I am so happy with how my cake turned out! I great reviews on it too by everyone!

Family, friends, and co-workers all tried it each week. With their critiques, I was able to make a wonderful Amaretto Orange Cake! I think I made a total of 3 cakes before I finally figured out which recipe I wanted to use and how much flavoring to add to the cake batter, filling, and buttercream.

My brother had tried a couple versions of it. The second one was the best and he jokingly called it Orange Cake 2.0. I liked it so much I decided to name it Amaretto Orange Cake 2.0!

Here’s the recipe for the cake. I recommend making it at least one day before torting (cutting into layers).

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Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

8 egg whites

4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. orange zest

4 cups AP Flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray and line (cut parchment circles) 2 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg whites 1-2 at a time. Scrape in between each addition of the whites. Add vanilla extract and orange zest.
  4. Sift all the dry ingredients. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk and orange juice. Mix until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide between the two pans but only fill each about half way. Use the extra batter to make about 6 cupcakes.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until done. The cakes will spring back when touched or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cakes take about 40-45 minutes. Cupcakes will bake for at least 15-20 minutes all depending on your oven.

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For the filling, I made an Amaretto mascarpone mousse! It’s very easy to make and quite delicious!! I love Amaretto!

Amaretto Mascarpone Mousse

Ingredients

10 oz. Mascarpone cheese

2.5 oz. powdered sugar

14 oz. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

3-4 Tbsp. Amaretto (I used 4!)

Directions

  1. Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl.
  2. Add the heavy cream slowly, while mixing or when it’s off.
  3. Once it becomes thicker, add the almond extract and amaretto.
  4. The whisk should hold a firm peak.
  5. There will be leftovers, but its so good! Use as desired or just eat it.

The buttercream I used was an Almond Italian Buttercream. I love buttercream…a lot! This recipe was taken form the Culinary Institute of America (minus the flavoring).

Almond Italian Buttercream

Ingredients

1 lb. sugar

4 oz. water

8 oz. egg whites

1 lb. 8 oz. butter, chopped into small pieces

2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Amaretto

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract plus a splash

Directions

  1. Put the sugar and water in a medium pot. Heat to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure there are no dry pockets of sugar before cooking. Do not stir. Use a candy thermometer.
  2. Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl. When the thermometer reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit, turn on the mixer with the whisk attachment.
  3. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the whipped egg whites slowly near the side of the bowl while the mixer is on (medium high).
  4. Once all the sugar syrup is poured in, let it cool until the bottom of the bowl is cool to enough to touch. (about 10-15 minutes depending on the room temperature)
  5. Add butter slowly, in small chunks. Once it looks a little more like buttercream, it can be added faster. This will take some time.
  6. Add flavoring last once it all comes together to look like buttercream. See Swiss Buttercream for pictures. (There will be leftovers of this as well.)

I also made an orange simple syrup to soak the cake, but the cake itself is already very moist so it could be left out. I used half a cup of water and half a cup of orange juice (fresh or from a carton is fine) and 1 cup of sugar. Place it in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool. I recommend making this at least one day before assembling the cake. If using this orange simple syrup, brush onto each cake layer as you start to assemble and before any filling goes in.

To assemble the whole cake, first cut each 8-inch cake in half. Trim off a thin layer of the top of it isn’t very flat. Fill a piping bag with a little bit of buttercream to create what is called the dam. Pipe using a small star tip around the top of the first layer. Fill with a the Amaretto mascarpone mousse so that it is level with the buttercream ring. Repeat for the next two layers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

I used a cake turn table to help get even and smooth sides. If you don’t have that just ice the best you can. The cake will still taste amazing!

My garnish was florentines, since my flavors were orange and almond. I thought it would be perfect for my cake. I also made these a day or two before assembling the cake. I got the recipe from school, which was found on chow.com.

Florentines

Florentines

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. AP flour

2 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest

1/3 c. granulated sugar

2 oz. unsalted butter

3 oz. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (I didn’t have any so I used a tablespoon of almond milk. Regular milk should work too.)

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment.
  2. Mix together the almonds, flour, and orange zest in a bowl.
  3. Place the sugar, butter, corn syrup, heavy cream, and salt into a small pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, pour over the almond mixture and stir together until everything is coated. Divide between the two pans.
  5. These spread a lot so I recommend using pans with edges. Bake for 5 minutes and then rotate for another 3-4 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. They should be golden brown but the edges do get a little darker.
  6. Let cool and firm up. They are very crispy and quite delicious.

 

Break these into shards and place on the side of the cake to finish it! The first picture has maraschino cherries on top. It was a last minute decision, but I soaked them in orange juice and amaretto! They were good but would have been even better if I had soaked them longer, a week maybe would be best.

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Above was my second variation. Below was my first variation!

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I hope you enjoy this! It’s an awesome flavor combination!!