June 30, 2013

Sprinkle Charm's 2 Year Anniversary! Pistachio Macarons with Raspberry White Chocolate Caramel Filling

Sorry for the recent blogging hiatus, I have been working hard to give Sprinkle Charms a new blog design! In addition to a new design, you can now access this blog through the URL SprinkleCharms.com

When I started this blog 2 years ago, I did not know what to expect. I never expected 700 facebook fans. I never expected to be able to manipulate the manual settings on my Digital Rebel XSi camera. I never expected to have one post receive 200,000 views (Mini Oreo Cheesecakes). I never expected to have followers in countries such as Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, and New Zealand.

Photo from my first post!
I remember writing my first post about Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting after I had photographed the desserts on my counter top, at night, with a point-and-shoot digital camera. Since that first post, my baking and photography skills have improved, and I have learned a lot about the blogging world!

Since Sprinkle Charms continues to gain readers, I want to be able to post more frequently. But instead of making more decadent dessert recipes (which would probably be detrimental to my health), I want to start sharing a few healthy recipes and some of my fitness adventures with you. So check back tomorrow for a post with the recipe for Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes!

Today, I am excited to share a recipe for macarons. Macarons are one of the most technically complex desserts to make, yet they are trendy and can have delicious flavor profiles. I felt that after making my fair share of cookies, cupcakes, and pies, I was ready to take on the macaron. I spent several hours in the kitchen, had to adjust my batter after baking the first batch, and troubleshoot baking time, but I finally produced a batch of what could reasonably be referred to as macarons.

I figured that if I was going to take on this baking challenge, it wouldn't be half-hearted, so I even made my own pistachio flour! Making nut flour is not too complicated, but you can easily substitute store-bought pistachio or almond flour in place of the homemade.

I decided to make pistachio macarons with raspberry white chocolate caramel filling using recipes from the cute and fun book, Les Petits Macarons, that I bought at Anthropology.

If you make these macarons, look at it as a baking adventure because you will spend ample time in the kitchen and may not end up with perfect macarons. Even if your cookies aren't perfect, the combination of ingredients are sure to resemble something that tastes good!

To learn more about macarons, refer to the book or website Les Petits Macarons by Kathryn Gordon and Anne McBride. The book also has instructions for troubleshooting if your macarons do not turn out correctly.

1 1/2 cups shelled, whole pistachios

Place the nuts into a high power blender and pulse for 3 seconds. After four pulses, scrape down the sides of the blender. Repeat this process for 30 pulses or until the pistachios form a fine flour.

Place the flour on a silicon baking mat or wax paper and place in oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

1 1/4 cups prepared pistachio flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. powdered egg white
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
green and yellow gel food coloring/icing coloring

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Pulse the pistachio flour and powdered sugar in a blender 4 times for 3 seconds each. Then, sift the mixture into a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer.

Combine the egg white powder and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. 

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whisk for 11 minutes or until the egg whites form shiny, stiff peaks. If you tip the mixing bowl upside down, the ingredients should resemble marshmallow fluff and not slip in the bowl.

Quickly  and gently fold the sifted dry ingredients into the meringue using a rubber spatula. Once the mixture is almost all the way combined, add the gel coloring to achieve the desired shell color.

Pipe the mixture onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet into 1-inch circles using a 1/2-inch piping tip. The cookies should be about 1 1/2 inches apart. You might want to only pipe a few cookies for the first batch to test the baking times and oven temperature. Smack the baking sheet on the counter 6 times to get the air bubbles out of the batter before baking.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then increase the oven temperature to 350 and immediately set a timer for 9 more minutes of baking time (you do not have to wait for the oven to reach 350 to set the timer this time).

Allow to cool before removing from pan.

1/2 pint (70 grams) raspberries
1 cup sugar
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp. raspberry framboise (I substituted raspberry extract)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup heavy cream

Heat raspberries and 1/3 cup sugar in small saucepan until mixture reaches 220 degrees F, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and raspberry framboise.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is almost to a boil (about 3 minutes).

Heat reaming 2/3 cup sugar and lime juice in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with heat proof spatula or wooden spoon until sugar melts and turns amber. Immediately add the heated cream and remove from heat. Stir in the raspberry jam mixture.

Allow the filling to cool before spreading between two shells.