Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chewy Almond Macaroons #CreativeCookieExchange

Chewy almond macaroons are super simple to make, delicious to eat, and beautiful on a platter for your tea party, brunch or shower. Made with whipped egg whites, they are simultaneously fluffy and chewy.

Food Lust People Love: Made with whipped egg whites and ground almonds, chewy almond macaroons are simultaneously fluffy and chewy. You can't eat just one!

If you ever make a custard dessert, like banana cream pie, that calls for only egg yolks, make sure to save the egg whites in an airtight container in your refrigerator. They are perfect for these macaroons!

This recipe is easy since, aside from whipping the eggs, the whole thing mixes in the food processor. I had them made, start to finish in under half an hour. Seriously. They are chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside and even a non-sweet lover like me couldn’t stop at just one. There is no higher accolade.

4 egg whites
8 oz or 225g ground almonds
10 oz or 280g sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
About 24-30 roasted, unsalted almonds

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line your cookie sheet with a piece of parchment. I usually put a small shot of cooking spray between the parchment and the cookie sheet to help the parchment stop sliding around as you move the tray from counter top to oven. Learned that little trick the hard way. It wasn’t pretty.

Beat your egg whites with a whisk until they are nice and frothy.

Put your ground almonds in the food processor and add in one quarter of the egg whites. Eyeball it. No need to measure. Process it for a count of 10-ish.

Now add half of your sugar. Process again until thoroughly mixed. Scrape the sides down if necessary.

Add another quarter of the egg whites. Process again.

Now add the rest of the sugar. Process again.

The original recipe I was almost following said you should be able to form balls out of the dough so you should add just enough of the remaining egg white to get ball-making consistency. But, I’m telling you, this stuff was sticky and I could see that making balls would be an enormous mess.

So, I added enough egg whites to make the dough the consistency of a very thick butter cream icing, that is to say, one that would hold its shape but could still be put in a piping bag to be squeezed out of a large cake decorating tip. (I suppose you could also drop spoonfuls on to your cookie tray. They wouldn't be as pretty but they sure would taste the same.)

If you think that piping sounds like a good idea, add another 1/4 of the egg whites. Process again.

Add in the baking powder and pinch of salt. Process again.

Only you can judge so if you need to add the last quarter of the egg whites. I threw it away.
On your parchment covered cookie sheet, just squeeze out a circle of dough and then fill it in, finishing with a nice point in the middle.

Top each macaroon with a roasted almond.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottoms and around the top. You do not want them to dry out. The smell of baking almonds is heavenly.

Cool on a wire rack, although I defy anyone not to eat one warm. Can’t be done.

Chewy, moist, delicious. No kidding.

My kitchen helper. That's his intent look, following the macaroon from my plate to my mouth.
And no, I did not give him one. He got a puppy treat instead.

This month my Creative Cookie Exchange group is making meringues, or indeed any cookie that calls for whipped egg whites! Many thanks to Felice from All That's Left Are The Crumbs for handling the behind-the-scenes work this month. Check out all the lovely meringue-ish cookies we've baked for you! Yeah, okay, so mine are the only ones not named Meringue. I'm okay with that.

Creative Cookie Exchange is hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life. We get together once a month to bake cookies with a common theme or ingredient so Creative Cookie Exchange is a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts at The Spiced Life. We post the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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Food Lust People Love: Made with whipped egg whites and ground almonds, chewy almond macaroons are simultaneously fluffy and chewy. You can't eat just one!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Baked Chili Maple Bacon #SundaySupper

Kick your brunch bacon up a notch by brushing it with chili-spiked maple syrup. This baked chili maple bacon is cooked in the oven, for crunchy bacon without the splattering grease.

I am a huge fan of bacon for breakfast or brunch, especially when it is combined with sweet and spicy elements like chili peppers and maple syrup.  Today my Sunday Supper group is sharing brunch recipes that can be made ahead of time. I suggest you bookmark this post for Mother's Day.

1 lb or 450g thick cut smoked streaky bacon
1 small hot red chili, stem removed
1/8 cup or 30ml maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Place your bacon strips single file on wire cooling racks set in two baking pans.

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the chili pepper, even the seeds if you like things spicy, into a fine paste. Add in the maple syrup and stir well to combine.

Bake the bacon for 20 minutes, switching the pans from top to bottom shelves in the oven midway through.

Remove from the oven and brush with the chili maple syrup. Return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn the slices of bacon over. Brush with the rest of the chili maple syrup. Return the bacon to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bacon is done to your liking.

Enjoy warm or to save it for the next day, wrap the baked chili maple bacon in foil and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven the next morning, still wrapped in the foil, or remove the foil to warm in the microwave.

Many thanks to our event manager, Cricket of Cricket's Confections and our host, Cindy of Cindy's Recipes and Writings. Check out these great links from our Sunday Supper tastemakers.

Make Ahead Sunday Supper Brunch Recipes

Breakfast Pastries


Sides and Veggies


Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Il Pane di Matera #BreadBakers

A wonderful crusty loaf made in the tradition of Matera bread, or il pane di Matera, from milled durum wheat and a sourdough starter.

Let me start off with a disclaimer. This is not il pane di Matera. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s what the title says. Hear me out. Pane de Matera is special, with specific requirements, including not just milled durum wheat (which I have used) but from 100% Lucanian milled semolina grain known as "Senatore Cappelli," which I have not. The water is also supposed come from a local source in the Matera area of Italy. Finally, it should begin with a piece of dough from the previous day’s loaf, with yeast made from a fresh fruit starter. I used a sourdough starter.

Such is the tradition and history behind this loaf that it was given the European Union Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) which means, just like sparkling wine can’t be called Champagne unless it is produced in the Champagne region of France or random ham cannot be called Ibérico unless it comes from Black Iberian Pigs raised in the Iberian Peninsula region of Spain and Portugal, it must be produced the right way in the right place to be called Il Pane di Matera.

So while I’ve made a valiant attempt at producing my own version of il pane di Matera, and it’s a fabulous crusty loaf, it doesn’t officially qualify for the name. That said, you should make this guy. With all due respect to Italy, it reminds me of my favorite baguette tradition in France and that says a lot.

With the substandard help of Google Translate, I made my bread from this recipe in Italian. That was part of the fun!

Watch this video to see how to shape the dough.

150ml or 160g sourdough starter or 20g brewer’s yeast
3 3/4 cups or 600g Italian semolina durum wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
warm water

Mix your sourdough starter or brewer’s yeast with 6 3/4 oz or 200ml warm water and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and 1 1/4 cups or 300ml warm water and mix for a few minutes. Mine was too crumbly for the bread hook so I just kept mixing with the K cake beater.

Add in the yeast mixture and beat/knead for five minutes. At this point, I did change to the bread hook.

Add in the salt and knead another few minutes.

Put the dough in a bowl dusted with flour and cover it with cling film. Poke holes the film with a toothpick.

Leave to rise for two hours in a warm place.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and put it back in the bowl, covered again for another two hours.

After those two hours are up, you can knead the dough, shape and bake. But at this point I strayed from the recipe I was working with and turned to another source I found online which said that traditionally the dough was left to rise overnight, then it was brought to the communal ovens in the morning to bake. So, after kneading again, I popped the dough in its covered bowl into the refrigerator. If you’d rather skip this step, preheat your oven to 220°F or 104°C, with a pizza stone on a middle shelf, if you have one, and proceed down one more paragraph.

The next morning, I removed the dough from the cold and left it to warm up again.

When it was no longer chilled, I preheated my to 220°F or 104°C with my pizza stone on a middle shelf.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead it. (As you can tell from the photos, mine was still quite slack compared to the dough in the video.

Form the dough into a ball, press a crease in it, and then fold the ball in half.

Flour a baking sheet and transfer the dough to it. Use a sharp knife to slice three cuts into the dough. (See YouTube link above for a visual on this.) According to a source online that may or may not be Wikipedia in Italian (I forget but I read it somewhere and made a note), the three cuts represent the Holy Trinity.

Place the baking sheet on the pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature of your oven to 350°F or 180°C and bake for more about 40-45 minutes more, or until the loaf is golden and it sounds hollow when tapped. About midway through, I also slid the loaf off of the baking pan and straight onto the pizza stone.

There were plenty of holes, but I was expecting the rest of the crumb to be more open. Next time, I'm going to let the dough rise just a bit after shaping and before putting it into the hot oven but overall I was extremely pleased, especially with the crusty outside and the enormous flavor.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.


This month my Bread Bakers group are baking Italian breads and we have a fabulous line up for you. I can’t wait to travel all over Italy, loaf by loaf. Many thanks to our host, Anshie of Spice Roots for all of her hard work and this great theme.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

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