Hoppy Citrus French Macaron Recipe

Today’s post is a great example of how unbelievably spoiled my husband is at times 🙂

Last week, I was craving macarons. As there was nothing open / nearby, I decided to just make my own. I find that commercially made ones don’t have enough flavour, anyway.

So as I was deciding what kind of macarons I wanted to make, somehow the subject of cooking / baking with hops came up. I hadn’t done any hop recipe development in a while – the Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings and Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce recipes were the last I’d done up, and that was during the harvest last fall – our current hop growth is already starting to threaten our entire side yard, this season!

Anyway, I ended up developing two separate hop flavoured macaron recipes yesterday. These were especially made for my hop head husband, who really believes that “The more bitter, the better!”. Hops, chocolate, whatever – that’s his thing.

This first recipe uses Centennial hops, known for their citrussy notes. Cascade hops would also work well, especially if you’re less into the bitterness – Cascade has all the flavour of Centennial hops, but with less bitterness.

If SUPER hoppy IPAs aren’t your thing, you’ll probably want to cut back the hops to about 1 Tbsp worth. I’m not a huge fan of hops on their own, and these are only slightly too bitter for me – the filling really balances it out. The bitterness builds and leaves a nice aftertaste.

As a final note, I recommend you read my first post about making macarons if you are at ALL intimidated by the idea of making these: The Easy Way to Make Macarons. The only change I’ve made since then, is that I sifted the ingredients together, on account of the hop leaves. They turned out perfectly!

Oh, and I did eventually get to put on a batch of macarons for ME, after all of this hop macaron craziness 🙂

Enjoy!

Hoppy Citrus Macarons Recipe
(Makes 20-24 cookies)

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds *
2 Tbsp finely ground dried hop leaves – Centennial or Cascade**
3 large egg whites
4 tbsp white sugar
Green gel food coloring, if desired

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Mix together powdered sugar, ground almond meal, and hop powder. Sift through a wire strainer, discarding any large pieces. set aside.

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *very clean* metal mixer bowl. It is very important that not only is the bowl and whisk attachment VERY clean, but that no specks of egg yolk are included with the egg white. The presence of any egg yolk or grease on your bowl or whisk will prevent the egg whites from properly whipping up. This is the only “rule” you really need to be concerned about!

Affix your bowl to the mixer, and whip eggs on high until stiff peaks form. The whites will be pillowy, thick, and marshmallowy. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, it should leave a very definite “peak” – if the tip flips over a little, that’s ok. Add a small amount food coloring, if desired, whisk in.

Dump bowl of dry ingredients into the meringue. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the mixture until everything is well incorporated and very thick.

Once mixture is fairly uniform, beat it until it’s still thick, but oozes a bit. You don’t want to beat it till it’s fully RUNNY, but you’d like it to settle back into place if you remove some and drop it back into the mix. It’s better to under-beat it than to over-beat it.

Spoon macaron batter into a pastry / frosting bag with a 1/4″ or so opening – whether a metal tip, or just the end cut off the bag.

Pipe ~ 1.25″ – 1.5″ rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the batter isn’t running all over the place, there’s no real worry about placing them close together – I’ll leave an inch or so between the rounds.

Pick up the sheet of piped cookies, and rap it against the counter a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes, or until they lift easily from the parchment. (Undercooked macarons will stick). Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and prepare the filling.

Orange-Lemon Buttercream Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 Tbsp Orange zest – about 1 orange worth
1 tsp lemon zest – about 1 small lemon worth
1 Tbsp orange juice
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter until smooth. Add zests and orange juice and mix until incorporated.

Slowly add 1 cup of powdered sugar a bit at a time, until incorporated completely. If mixture seems too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar, continuing to mix until thick (but spreadable!) and smooth.

To assemble Macarons

Spoon or pipe about a Tablespoon worth of filling onto the flat underside of one cookie. Top with the underside of another cookie. (Rounded sides facing out). Holding cookies by the edge, twist gently to force frosting out almost to the edge.

* Finely ground almonds may be referred to as almond meal” or “almond flour”, depending on where you find them.

** I like to use a spice / coffee grinder to get dried hop leaves down to a fine powder – even my mini food processor doesn’t work so well, just blowing the leaves around in the bowl. Blitz to a fine powder, then measure.

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Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!

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“Fat Elvis” Cupcakes!

This past weekend, I had to bring something to an author’s picnic that Minnesota Historical Society Press – the publisher of Sweet Corn Spectacular was putting on. Being kind of corned out at the moment, I decided to bring something other than the delicious corn-filled foods I’d been talking to the media about for the past few weeks.

Inspired by the excitement that one of my friends was expressing over this particular cupcake flavour, I decided make a blast from my past – Fat Elvis Cupcakes. This is an amazing flavour combination: a moist banana cake, combined with both peanut butter and chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream!

It was a popular flavour on my cake menu back in the day, done up as cupcakes and sold at farmer’s markets, and it’s been popular with those who have copies of “Evil Cake Overlord“, where it was also featured.

It went over so insanely well at the picnic – I’d almost forgotten how wild people get about that flavour! I’d also forgotten that Swiss Meringue Buttercream still isn’t widely known about / used here in Minneapolis, so it was a lot of fun exposing people to it, once again. It’s creamy and smooth and perfect – nothing at all like heavier, gritty American buttercream.

Normally, this is done as a torte, with alternating layers of frosting. As a cupcake, I’ve always loved to swirl the two frostings together, for flavour AND appearance. Aren’t they gorgeous? I figure it’s about time I blogged the recipe.

Enjoy!

Fat Elvis Cupcakes
Makes 18 regular sized cupcakes

2 cups Cake flour
1 1/2 cup Sugar
4 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 small (3.5oz) box Instant vanilla or banana pudding mix*
4 Eggs
3/4 cup Water
1 cup Pureed bananas
1 cup Butter, melted
1 Tbsp Pure vanilla extract

1 batch Swiss Meringue buttercream
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled to almost room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pan with cupcake papers, or spray with nonstick baking spray (I prefer liners)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl. Add in eggs and water, beating until smooth. Carefully add pureed bananas, melted butter and vanilla to the mix, mixing on medium speed until smooth.

Divide batter among prepared cupcake pans. Bake until golden and knife inserted into center of batter comes out clean and cake springs back – about 20-22 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature

Prepare either swiss meringue buttercream, divide into two equal portions. Beat peanut butter into one portion until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat melted and cooled chocolate into the other portion.

To Frost:

Have 3 large frosting bags on hand. Fit one with a large coupler set and tip of your choice – I used used a 4B, large star tip. Fill the other two bags with one each of the two frosting flavors. I like to tie them off with a little bit of twine, as it keeps things cleaner:

I filled them a bit more full than you really should – I was making a double batch!

Cut about 3/4″ off the end of the two frosting bags and CAREFULLY insert them into the third frosting bag, so that the two open tips insert almost all the way into the coupler (NOT all the way into the tip, though!)

Be gentle, you don’t want to squeeze frosting out of one or both of those bags yet!

Use the frosting bag as you normally would, piping a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake.

* I use vanilla pudding with this, as I prefer to see it only as a moisture ingredient… however, feel free to substitute banana pudding mix for an even more intense flavor.

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Sugar Cookie Decorating – Dalek Cookies

So it’s been a week since I returned from Convergence… probably about time to make good on that Dalek Cookie Decorating tutorial I was promising, huh?

Ah, Convergence. 6500+ geeks under one roof, amazing costumes, messed up conversations… and more than one reminder that I am getting OLD. I was in bed by 10 pm the first night, and was barely able to walk by Sunday. Yikes!

My husband had an AMAZING time in his Weeping Angel costume, posing for several hundred photos (Conservative guesstimate, it was likely over 1000!), sneaking up on people, photo bombing some … he was kind of a rock star 🙂 Click here for photos!

For my part, I taught cookie decorating for my “Cooking with an Overlord” activity.

If you were at Convergence and had NO idea what “Cooking with an Overlord” would entail, you weren’t alone – *I* had no idea what it was going to be until about 2 weeks before the event, which was LONG after the program guide description was due, LOL! (That was right around the time I was up to my eyeballs in MasterChef stuff.)

At the last minute, I decided that I wanted to teach people how to do cookie decorating, using Doctor Who themed cookies. A quick Google search brought me to Warp Zone Prints on Etsy, a company that was using 3D printers to make cookie cutters – Brilliant! I immediately ordered the three cutters pictured above, and planned the logistics for such a large class.

Note: I did a trial run of all three cutters, only the Dalek one was really suitable for this type of cookie decorating. The TARDIS and Weeping Angel ones were so cute, I’d recommend dyeing your cookie dough and only doing outline decorating on them, however.)

At my cookie class, I got to see Idris serve Carmen Sandiego with a warrant, so… there is that. 🙂 My friend Michelle is sporting the Idris costume I made her – check out my costuming site, I’m back in the custom fashion design business! – and Carmen Sandiego is my friend Samantha, a local writer who reports on Eurovision at her blog, ESC Insider.

We also had the pleasure of meeting the famous Pink Dalek herself, Alanna… who was excited to EX-TER-MIN-ATE some cookies!

Me decorating some cookies to demonstrate to the class… let’s get to it!

Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe for Decorating
Makes about 55 Daleks

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5+ cups all purpose flour

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg whites, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Mix remaining 3 ingredients together, carefully mix into wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line cookie sheets with parchment paper

On a floured counter, roll cookie dough out to about 1/4″ thick (can be slightly thicker). Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you’d like, place cookies 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before decorating.

Royal Icing Recipe

4 egg whites
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4-6 cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

In clean stand mixer, whip egg whites until foamy. Add lemon juice, whip for another minute. Slowly add powdered sugar until cookie icing reaches desired consistency. You will want a fairly thick frosting – but still smooth and workable – for piping details and borders.

A good way to figure out if your frosting is the right consistency is to pull a spoon through the middle of the frosting bowl.

– If the frosting settles out in less than 5 seconds, it’s too runny. Add a little more powdered sugar.

– If the frosting settles out in 5-10 seconds, you’re good to go!

– If the frosting takes longer than 10 seconds to settle, it’s too thick. Add a little water or lemon juice and try again.

LET’S DEC-OR-ATE!

First, take about 1/4 of your frosting and dye it black. Personally, I like the Americolor line of food coloring gels.

Cover the remaining frosting tightly with plastic wrap – have the wrap sitting right on the surface with NO air pockets, vent holes, etc. The frosting dries out FAST.

I recommend using a frosting bag with a coupler and tip (#2 or #3 round tip), so please take these photos as a “do as I say, not as I do”. It was after Convergence, I was tired and burnt out, didn’t feel like messing around with tips and couplers. Also, I used pre-Convergence frosting – which was too thick for outlining – so my cookies are kinda ugly. LOL!

If you don’t want to use a tip, cut the very end of the frosting bag off to leave a fairly small opening – 1/8″ diameter or so.

Holding the tip / end of your frosting bag about 1 cm away from the cookie, carefully pipe out your outlines and design details. These lines will eventually contain the flowing frosting, so make sure you don’t have any breaks in the piping, or the icing will flow out to areas you don’t want it!

Once all the outlines are piped, allow the cookie to dry for about 10-20 minutes.

Next, you’ll want to tint your first color of frosting – about 1/3 of the original batch. I used a few drops each of gold and warm brown to get a sort of bronzey colour for the main body of the Daleks. Daleks come in many colours now, though, so use whatever colour you prefer!

Once you’ve gotten the right colour mixed up, you’ll need to thin the frosting so it will “flood” the decorating area. Add a few drops of water and stir well. Use the end of your spoon to drizzle a bit of frosting back into the bowl. If it smooths out and disappears in a count of 3, you’re good to go! If not, add a couple more drops of water until it’s the right consistency.

Carefully pipe a bit of the liquid frosting into the areas you want – you’ll probably not even need to squeeze the bag, just carefully guide it, nudging it into corners, etc. This can be messy to start, just practice!

Generally speaking, flood piping is done from the outside perimeter of an area inwards, but on these cookies there’s so little room to work with, just do whatever feels right!

Sit back and admire your work. (Yes, these examples are sloppy. Sorry!)

Following the past few steps, dye about 2/3 of the remaining frosting gold (or whatever colour you’re looking at for these sections, thin it for flooding, and have at it!

Dye about 1/2 the remaining frosting bright turquoise blue, and flood the appropriate circle. (I have no idea if “the one on the forehead” applies, given that the forehead of the actual creature would be more like 2/3 of the way up, inside what is seen. Maybe I’m over thinking this…)

Dye remaining frosting pale grey and thin it. Pipe to fill in the … whisk?… area!

Allow the cookies to dry overnight before packaging or serving.

Enjoy!

(Or, if like me, you are less than impressed with your own work after a loooong weekend at Convention… you can go over all of your original outlines with some more black frosting to make them stand out a bit more and “clean up” the overall appearance! Bonus points for claiming that you emant to di it that way, for extra definition!)

Btw, the following picture sums up my Convergence weekend nicely, I think:

Milk Chocolate Whipped Ganache

This is a great alternative for buttercream, when frosting or filling a cake

10-11 oz bag good quality milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp flavoring extract (optional)
2 Tbsp butter

Place chocolate chips into a glass mixing bowl, and put aside.

In a small saucepan, combine heavy whipping cream, flavor extract (if using), and butter. Heat to a boil, remove from heat.

Pour hot cream mixture into bowl of chocolate chips. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. Starting in the middle of the bowl, slowly start stirring the chocolate and cream until all of the chocolate is melted and the cream has disappeared into it – it should be smooth.

Cover with plastic wrap, preferably resting right on top of the surface – this prevents a skin from forming while it cools.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then whip with a stand or electric hand mixer for 2-5 minutes, or until fluffy.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream


This is the base for all of our delicious frostings… Light, yet rich and soo creamy!

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated (NOT powdered!) sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *clean* metal mixing bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water on your stovetop. Whisk occasionally until it hits 160 degrees.

Move egg mixture to your stand mixer and whip on high (using the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, and mxture is relatively cool. While waiting, cut up the butter into chunks.

When Meringue has reached the stiff peaks stage, switch to low speed and add the butter a chunk at a time. Add vanilla.

Once vanilla and butter is incorporated into the mix, turn speed back up to high and whip until you have a smooth buttercream. It will go through some weird stages before this point – soupy, maybe curdled. Don’t worry! It will come together!

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream


5 egg whites
1 cup granulated (NOT powdered!) sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate (chips or otherwise), melted and cooled slightly – not hardened.

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *clean* metal mixing bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water on your stovetop. Whisk occasionally until it hits 160 degrees.

Move egg mixture to your stand mixer and whip on high (using the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, and mxture is relatively cool. While waiting, cut up the butter into chunks.

When Meringue has reached the stiff peaks stage, switch to low speed and add the butter a chunk at a time. Add vanilla.

Once vanilla and butter is incorporated into the mix, turn speed back up to high and whip until you have a smooth buttercream. It will go through some weird stages before this point – soupy, maybe curdled. Don’t worry! It will come together!

Once frosting is ready, turn speed back down to low. Making sure that the melted chocolate is no longer hot, slowly add it to the mixing bowl, pouring down the side of the bowl. Once all of the chocolate is in the bowl, you can speed up the mixer a little until it is all incorporated, and smooth.

Cocoa Swiss Meringue Buttercream


This is another version of chocolate frosting, for those who don’t want to fuss with melted chocolate!

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated (NOT powdered!) sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2-5+ Tbsp cocoa powder (Good cocoa, preferably!)

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *clean* metal mixing bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water on your stovetop. Whisk occasionally until it hits 160 degrees.

Move egg mixture to your stand mixer and whip on high (using the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, and mxture is relatively cool. While waiting, cut up the butter into chunks.

When Meringue has reached the stiff peaks stage, switch to low speed and add the butter a chunk at a time. Add vanilla and 2 Tbsp cocoa powder.

Once vanilla and butter is incorporated into the mix, turn speed back up to high and whip until you have a smooth buttercream. It will go through some weird stages before this point – soupy, maybe curdled. Don’t worry! It will come together!

Taste your frosting, and add more cocoa if desired.

Chai Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 cup granulated – Not Powdered! – sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1-2 packets Oregon instant Chai powder

Mix egg whites and sugar in a *clean* metal mixing bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water on your stovetop. Whisk occasionally until it hits 160 degrees.

Move egg mixture to your stand mixer and whip on high (using the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form, and mxture is relatively cool. While waiting, cut up the butter into chunks. Set aside.

Empty 1 chai packet into a small bowl, and add 1-2 Tbsp hot water. Stir until no longer gritty. Set aside.

When Meringue has reached the stiff peaks stage, switch to low speed and add the butter a chunk at a time. Add vanilla and Chai paste.

Once vanilla, chai paste, and butter is incorporated into the mix, turn speed back up to high and whip until you have a smooth buttercream. It will go through some weird stages before this point – soupy, maybe curdled. Don’t worry! It will come together!

Taste your frosting, and add more Chai powder (again, make it a paste first!) if desired.

Vanilla American Buttercream


Also known as “country buttercream”, and “decorator’s buttercream”, this sweet and thick frosting is a cheaper and easier alternative to real buttercream.

1 cup butter, softened
2 lbs Icing (powdered) sugar
1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract (or other flavor)
1/4 cup Milk

Whip butter until smooth. Add Vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Slowly add powdered sugar a bit at a time, until incorporated completely. Beat on high for 1 minute – mixture will be very, very thick.

Lower mixer speed to lowest setting, and slowly add 1/2 of the milk. Once incorporated, check for consistency. Add more milk or sugar to achieve the consistency you want or need.