Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

Cookies, Pastry, Sweets

I have some friends staying the night this weekend, as well as my parents, who both were interested in macarons. Per my buddy’s request, I made chocolate hazelnut ganache-filled macarons, as well as practicing some light decorating with a gel pen.


I made a double batch, which tested the limits of the handful of pans I had at my disposal. In the end, they went off without a hitch.

A few things I learned, however:

  • I forgot to attempt wet-on-wet with the gel, and tentatively attempted on unbaked shells, after the skin had developed. The results were comical, but a tad horrifying (you can see one in the bottom left of the photo above).
  • Gel will pretty much not dry, so the next time I decide to do this, I should really just bite the bullet and make royal icing.
  • While the ganache I used was quite delicious, I don’t believe it will harden in the fridge like a normal ganache.






Beer Cheese Macarons

Cookies, Sweets

This was…not the greatest thing I’ve done, I’ll be up front on that.

These were based off a link a buddy of mine sent regarding Cheeto Macarons – something I balked at. At first.


However, my wife had bought me a pair of slipmats, and blue powder food dye (as opposed to the gel that I normally use) that I’d been dying to try out, so I figured this was as good an excuse as any.

The beer cheese was the easiest part, and the fact that we have a specialty beer store nearby helped. What probably would’ve helped more would’ve been had I checked with a German friend first as to the brand – apparently I’d, by sheer accident, bought a rather poor choice from the wall of German beer I’d been looking at.


The cheese spread tasted just fine regardless, which led to my second slip-up: egg whites from a carton are not great for this. I’d had some left over from when I last made royal icing, and thought it was clever to avoid having to crack open 4 eggs instead. Rather, I was left with a meringue that would absolutely not whip up, and rather than attempt to salvage it,  I baked off the shells as they were, and made a second batch with fresh eggs.


The difference was obvious, though I still suspect that I over-whipped the meringue by a tad, and/or didn’t bang them hard enough on the table (by this point it was about 10 p.m., and I really didn’t want to wake everyone around me). The other thought I had (afterwards, of course) was that I could’ve worked the tip of the icing bag a bit when piping the shells to try and get the nubs to go away.

In addition, I had the idea to add applewood rub to the shells, to give it a BBQ-cheddar flavor. As far as taste, it was exactly what I’d hoped for, and after a day of settling, the flavors blended together quite nicely.

As for the “mouth feel”, it was…less admirable. The miscellaneous bits and pieces of the rub made it for a rather gritty, awkward experience. While overall it was quite tasty, should I ever do this again, I think I’ll leave out the extra bits.

Striped Star Cookies

Cookies, Sweets

This is actually something I’d attempted a while back, during my first attempts at playing with royal icing. Using a basic sugar cookie recipe (which I cut into stars, because my wife loves stars), I attempted the pattern again – this time with much better results.


Of course, they were a little off the first few, but since the recipe made about 40, it was clear by about cookie 15 that I was getting better with each attempt. In the end though, I suspect it’d have turned out better had I gone with a square cookie.


The colors (green, purple, yellow, and red) are the colors for the houses my wife and are were sorted into for GeeklyCon 2018, and I figured the merging would be romantic, in a nerdy sort of way.

As a minor upset, I should probably buy a few extra tips of the same size for the next time, as a last-minute trip to JoAnne’s during a snow storm yielded only disappointment.



Banana Macarons

Cookies, Sweets

To push myself a bit further this holiday season, I decided to make macarons with an Italian meringue, rather than common, this time around.


I will admit, I was a bit intimidated by it, as the only experience I had with it prior was at a restaurant that made them in batches of 1,000 or so at a time. On a smaller scale, however, it was a much smoother experience than I thought it would.


The only irritation was having to keep a close eye on the candy thermometer, and be completely ready to go at the exact moment. In the end, it did result in a prettier, much more uniform macaron shell.


As for the filling, I used the Drunken Monkey  jam from The Jam Stand – bananas, rum, and lime. It was runnier than I thought (though it firmed up when I left them in the fridge), so it definitely wouldn’t be something to keep around for hours and hours at room temp. Also, I found that after a couple days, the shells became very soft, due to the moisture of the jam. Certainly not a bad thing, after maybe a week in the fridge (though from what I understand, that’s about the extent you want to keep macarons in a fridge anyway) they weren’t as chewy as I’d have liked.


The garnish   was a simple whipped cream recipe, just with a splash of bourbon to add some flavor. I was surprised that it managed to hold its form for over a full day before I need to re-whip it. It was a good flavor, but I figure that in the future, something with a more neutral flavor profile would make it pop a bit more.

Icewine Macarons

Cookies, Sweets

I know I’ve made macarons in the past, but this was somewhat inspired by a dream (and also the fact that my wife adores icewine truffles). The dream itself was strange, and dreams tend to be, but the more important thing is that these are the best shells I’ve made to date (usually I didn’t get such a nice dome).

I used a French meringue, as with my previous macarons, and I chose blue and purple because I wanted to try and have a “frostberry” theme with the finished product.

Honestly, the most difficult part was the truffle filling, in that it was, at first, underwhelming in taste. The ice wine flavor wasn’t truly noticeable until the next day.


Cookies, Sweets

I’ve done several kinds of macarons, which I’ll be consolidating into this one page. Originally, I was interested by the Dungeons & Dragons Podcast The Adventure Zone, and specifically, the wizard Taako. Part of his backstory is that he used to run a cooking show, and at several points in the podcast, he’s either made, or been eating macarons. After about 40 episodes, I was curious enough to actually look up how to make them, and was fairly delighted to see how versatile they can be.

The first time I made them I had issues with keeping the size consistent, which led to some of the larger shells ending up hollow. It was an easy enough fix, though; I began using my wedding ring to trace rings on the opposite side of the parchment paper, so I had a guideline.

These are filled with chocolate ganache, though I dyed half the shell batter to make Pokeball macarons. They came out nicely, and were quickly devoured, though in the future I think I would add a candy button to the front to make the representation a bit more accurate.

These were my lemon curd macarons. I’ll admit, I simply bought the curd, rather than making it. The sprinkles, however, were from the large containers I had collecting dust in the pantry. I’d seen plenty of macarons that’d been dyed, and while they were beautiful, I was curious as to how the batter would take to various sprinkles. When added to the top prior to baking, they came out as I’d hoped, and added a nice crunch to the treat.

These…were a chore.

A friend had given me a hand one day, and, remembering him talking about how much he loved pistachio macarons, set about making him a thank-you gift. The first batch didn’t have as strong a pistachio flavor as I’d hoped, so I ended up eating them myself, and making the macarons in the photos above. For the second batch, I figured I’d use pistachio flour, rather than almond flour with pistachio buttercream filling.

Unfortunately, there was no pistachio flour in the city I live in, so I decided “Hey, how hard would it be to just make it from scratch?” Skip forward about an hour and a half after painstakingly food-processing it in bursts so the oil wouldn’t turn it to mush, then sifting it onto a sheet, and baking it, only to have just enough for what I wanted, despite buying nearly a pound of pistachios.

Thankfully they came out better the second time. A fun, unintentional piece of the baking was that I didn’t have any clean, plain, medium-sized tips to add the pistachio buttercream, so I ended up with one that had some ridges to it. In the end, it ended up giving the filling a nice flair, as opposed to the usual smoothness.

Almond Biscotti


This week I made an almond biscotti , something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now. Of course, the first thing I had to do was cut the recipe in half, as there’s only so much that’ll be eaten, between me, my friends, and the neighborhood raccoons that hide in the dumpsters. In doing so, it made me realize another reason why many recipes call for grams or ounces, rather than cups – it’s far easier to cut grams in half than 1 and 3/4 cups.


It was easy enough to mix together, though I was frustrated once I reached the kneading section. Rather than a firm dough, it was akin to a cookie dough, and my wife ended up suggesting adding a bit of gluten to the mix. It firmed up quickly after that, but I still switched to a dough hook on the mixer, rather than my hands.

The biscotti puffed up in the middle nicely during the back. I’d been worried when I was shaping the loaves that it’d end up more of a rectangle. After letting it cool for about 20 minutes, it was simple enough to slice up, and let toast in the oven for a bit longer. It was particularly nice the next morning with coffee, as I’m rather indecisive during breakfast. Being able to simply open a bag was far preferable to the usual “coffee with coffee” I have on my days off.

Lily-pad Cookies


This week I wanted to try something a little more extravagant than I usually make. The cookies I used don’t actually have any extra sugar top them, something I was quite pleased with. They ended up being very dense, and while folding them, felt more like a brownie than a cookie.

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They tasted wonderful, and were the perfect pairing top the rather large (for the size of the cookie, anyway) amount of icing I was going top use.

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Honestly, this was the first time I’ve ever made icing flowers. I used a #104 tip, and an icing nail that, frankly, I didn’t even know we had.
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As you can tell from the photos, the icing got warm fairly quickly. Not so warm that I couldn’t use it, but near the end the flowers were getting sorta wilted. I’m still pleased with how they turned out, though it was a good reminder that a cramped kitchen in 85 degree weather wasn’t the best setting to be doing multiple flowers at a time.
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Still, the finished cookie came out just as I’d hoped. The dark chocolate cookie was meant to be mud, essentially, and the blue butter-cream being the water. The flower and leaves on top would complete the lily-pad cookie.

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In the future though, I suspect using a cookie cutter to make uniform shapes for the base would be best, rather than simply smashing the cookies flat. Also, the next time I’m curious to see how it would look with “water” fondant, and perhaps a green fondant pad, to really bring the look home.

Margarita Cookies


Truth be told, I was a tad wary of this recipe – I’ve tried making cookies from there before, with disappointing results. This time, however, I was quite pleased.

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I’m not a huge fan of tequila, and the thought of the larger salt crystals gave me pause. I’m glad I went through with it though. Aside from being an easy recipe, the final result was quite tasty, even without the icing (though to be fair, the icing, and extra sugar/salt mix sprinkled on after baking really made it a step above the rest).  The dough also didn’t spread much, though I’m unsure if that was because I baked them right from the fridge, or just the recipe itself.