Showing posts with label cherry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cherry. Show all posts

Thursday, September 29, 2016

J@H - Homemade Cherry Cola

Sorry to have been so sporadic posting here recently, I have been crazy busy with lots of things happening in my non-internet life. Many changes have occurred over the past four weeks and I'm hoping they mean that I will have more time for cooking, blogging and life!

The big news? I quit my job,! Then I took off two and a half weeks before I started a new job! I'll miss the people at my old job, the international travel and the unique business model. What I won't miss? The 2 hour and 15 minute commute.  Each way.  

In addition to my new job, I also got myself a car! I haven't owned a car in almost six years. Since I lived in Connecticut, I got around on my own two feet or via public transportation. Trains, trams, buses, I've learned the tri-state area system pretty well over the past five years. Need to know how to get anywhere via NJ Transit? I can get you there. Now I just need to learn how to drive in New Jersey. Trust me, it's a whole different game from driving anywhere else!

With these changes, I've added so much more time to my life. I finally have the time to finish my Junk at Home Challenge! I decided to get going on it right away and try my hand at cherry cola.  

I've made a few recipes from the Homemade Soda cookbook by Andrew Schloss, but I've always shied away from making this recipe. It requires a lot of ingredients. Most of the ingredients are pretty common, but I had quite the grocery list and had to visit a specialty grocer to pick up dried bitter orange peel.

The recipe itself comes together very quickly. Once the cherry cola concentrate is finished, you just have to let it cool and you can be enjoying floats in no time! This cherry cola definitely tastes like cherry cola, but it doesn't taste like something that you would buy in the store. The flavors are much more complex and pair really well with vanilla ice cream!

Let's see if I can finish my 2015 challenge by the end of 2016!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mallomars
Two Year Ago: Rigatoni with Pepperoni, Mozzarella and Arugula
Three Years Ago: Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Four Years Ago: Sun-dried Tomato Ravioli with Basil Cream Sauce
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie Mallomars
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Crisps

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

It's been a busy year around the Wilde household. I've barely had enough time to cook real food, with next to no time to spend in the kitchen making something fun. I made sure to make time this season to participate in the annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

 The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

This year I decided to make a classic Christmas treat in mallomar form! Each year for Christmas, my mom buys my dad a box of cherry cordials. I always sneak one (or two) from the box and they always remind me of the holidays. 

Cherry-vanilla marshmallow sits on top of a crisp chocolate cookie. Covered in milk chocolate and topped with a candied cherry, these cookies taste just like the cordial candy, but without the liquid candy center. This recipe may sound daunting, but it's actually very straightforward. If you've never made marshmallow before, don't worry, it's much easier than it looks. The most difficult thing is piping the marshmallow onto the cookies. It takes a few practice pipes before you get the right technique.

If you are looking for one more cookie to add to your tray or bring to a cookie swap, give these a try! They look really impressive and taste even better!

One Year Ago: Candy Cane Mallomars
Two Years Ago: Gingerbread Mallomen
Three Years Ago: Pinata Cookies
Four Years Ago: Peppermint Mallomars
Five Years Ago: Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

Friday, January 3, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Happy New Year! It's time to get our healthy eating habits back on track...

If you were visiting the Wilde Kitchen last month, you may have been overwhelmed by the huge quantities of sugar around.  All the cookies, candies and desserts really have wreaked havoc on our usually healthy eating habits!  It's time to get back to basics and fill our bellies with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

With the new year comes going back to work too!  I'm commuting again and that means I take my breakfast on the go.  Last year around this time, this slow cooker oatmeal became my go to breakfast. I picked up the basic recipe from Monica at The Yummy Life and have tweaked it a little to add some more fiber and flavor.

I prepare a batch of this oatmeal during the weekend and enjoy a warm breakfast each morning on the train. Depending on how I'm feeling will change up the garnishes I add.  Sometimes it's dried cherries or raisins. Some days I like walnuts, others I toss in sunflower seeds. By Thursday I just feel like adding a whole bunch of brown sugar and cinnamon.  You can really make it your own!

One Year Ago: Granola Bar Muffins
Two Years Ago: Iceberg Wedge & Blue Cheese Dressing
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Adapted from The Yummy Life

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored & diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Dried cherries, chopped walnuts & chia seeds for garnish

Lightly coat your slow cooker bowl with cooking spray.  Add all the ingredients except garnishes and stir to mix.  Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 7 hours.

Eat immediately or...

Divide oatmeal between four containers.  Place in the fridge until it's time for your daily breakfast.  When it's time to eat, remove one oatmeal serving from the fridge and add dried cherries and 1/3 cup milk.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and microwave for 1 minute more.  Add 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow chia seeds the time to hydrate.  Enjoy your breakfast now or on the go!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cherry-Lemonade Marshmallows

Sometimes it's fun to give and receive handmade gifts and nothing is more fun to make and give than marshmallows! I've made a long list of different varieties here at WITK, including peppermint, blueberry and birthday cake. These marshmallows are a little different because they contain no corn syrup!

That's right, these marshmallows are actually made using chemistry! The main ingredients for these fluffy pillows are sugar, water and cream of tartar.  Cream of tartar is actually the mild acid - potassium bitartrate. By adding this acid to the sugar solution and introducing heat, the cream of tartar actually catalyzes the breakdown of the sugar (sucrose) molecules into its components - glucose and fructose.  Do you know what is in corn syrup? It's glucose and fructose! We just made our own corn syrup, in situ! (thought I would throw in a little more sciencey verbage for you there.)

So if you aren't a fan of using corn syrup, you should give this recipe a try! The combination of cherry and lemon makes these more of a summer flavor than a winter one, but who doesn't want to be reminded of those warmer days? Whip up a huge batch of these and hand them out to your friends this holiday season! You can even use organically grown sugar and organic cream of tartar (I'm thinking it's collected from organically grown grapes?) and make organic marshmallows!

One Year Ago: Apricot-garlic Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Coconut Brownies
Three Years Ago: Salted Caramel & Chocolate Crostata

Cherry-Lemonade Marshmallows
Adapted from Sweet Confections

These marshmallows came out a little airier and stickier than my usual recipe. This makes a lot of marshmallow, the recipe is easily halved if you don't want two full pans of marshmallows!

For the Lemon Layer
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1 cup water
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Cherry Layer
3/4 cup pureed cherries
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1 cup water
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the marshmallow coating
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup powdered sugar

Lightly coat two 9x13-inch pans with cooking spray. Gently wipe out the excess with a paper towel.

In a small bowl, whisk together cold water, lemon juice and powdered gelatin. Set next to the stove and allow to bloom.  In a 4-quart pot, combine water, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Clip on candy thermometer and cook until sugar dissolves and temperature reaches 250ºF.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Add bloomed gelatin and whisk until dissolved.

Pour marshmallow syrup into the bowl of your stand mixer.  Whip with the whisk attachment on high for about 10 minutes.  Add lemon zest and whip for another minute, or until batter is shiny, fluffy and almost completely cool.  Pour into the prepared pans, half in each pan.

Clean out all your equipment and make cherry marshmallow layer!

In a small bowl, whisk together pureed cherries and powdered gelatin. Set next to the stove and allow gelatin to bloom.  In a 4-quart pot, combine water, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and clip on your candy thermometer. Boil until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 250ºF.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Add gelatin and whisk until dissolved.

Pour marshmallow syrup into the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high for 10-12 minutes, until shiny, fluffy and almost cooled.  Add some red food coloring if you want a darker color. Pour cherry marshmallow batter on top of the lemon layer.  Let marshmallow sit for 4 hours to solidify.

Mix Cornstarch and powdered sugar and place in a large bowl.  Set a mesh sieve over a bowl and get a storage container ready.  Dust your countertop with some of the cornstarch mixture and remove the marshmallow slab from the pan. Dust the top and sides with the cornstarch mixture. Using either a pizza cutter or a chefs knife, cut marshmallow into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1-inch cubes.  Toss the cubes into the bowl of cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Toss to coat.  Transfer marshmallows to the mesh sieve and shake off excess powder.  Transfer to the storage container.

Marshmallows will keep for 2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Panera

Restaurant Wars 2013 continues today with Panera!  The Boyfriend and I actually live within walking distance to the town Panera, which means we eat there at least once a week.  Usually in the winter, we eat there almost exclusively.  Mostly because it gets cold here in the winter and it's the closest restaurant to our apartment.  Seriously, it's better to walk there than it is to get in a cold car and drive anywhere else.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Dairy Queen

I've been slacking on my 2013 challenge.  It's funny really.  Since I've been unemployed I have had more time to complete the challenges, but I haven't finished one since May!  Today marks me getting back on the horse and starting the second half of the year with a delicious bang.

Today's challenge is perfectly timed with this hot weather that has been blanketing the country.  It's ice cream related.  My challenge restaurant this week is Dairy Queen!

The vast menu of DQ gave me lots of options to choose from for my challenge.  From Blizzards to Peanut Buster parfaits, waffle bowl sundaes to Dilly bars, most of treats are made from soft serve ice cream and different inclusions.  What I usually order when I head to DQ is a vanilla cone, dipped in cherry red shell.  Simple, delicious.  Love it.

There are lots of recipes out there for chocolate magic shell.  Simple combine chocolate chips with some coconut oil and you've made yourself magic shell.  Cherry magic shell is a little bit more tricky.  I had to make a few batches to get this one right.  I started out with white chocolate and coconut oil, with cherry extract.  That batch tasted like coconut magic shell.  Not quite what I was going for.

Batch two I swapped out the coconut oil for grape seed oil.  Grape seed oil is perfect for this because it lends no flavor to the magic shell.  It wasn't there yet, because the cherry flavor wasn't strong enough.  That red stuff from Dairy Queen really tastes like cherries.  Well, fake cherry flavoring actually.  I decided to swap out the cherry extract for cherry candy oil.  It's a much more potent flavoring and matched with a little vanilla extract, made for just the right combination.  I threw in a big dash of red food coloring and I finally came out with magic in a jar.

Now I don't need to drive halfway across New Jersey to get myself a DQ vanilla cone.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vanilla Ice Cream with Roasted Cherry Swirl

Happy Fourth of July Internet friends! 

For my international friends out there, I hope you have an enjoyable Thursday.  For my American friends in the Internet ether, Happy Independence day! 

I hope that your day is filled with sunshine, cookouts, ice cream and warm weather.  I love living in the tri-state area this time of year because we can celebrate the holiday all week long!  There have been fireworks dotting the skyline since Saturday as the hundreds of townships in the area celebrate with local events.  Boyfriend and I headed to the Montclair fireworks last night and have big plans to view the fireworks of New York City, western Long Island and eastern New Jersey from high up in the hills of Upper Montclair tonight.

To celebrate Independence day this year, I decided to put my OXO fruit tools to use and make some cherry swirled vanilla ice cream.  A few weeks ago I received a package from OXO (via the OXO blogger outreach program) filled with tools to help us enjoy the summer fruit bounty.  The box included a pineapple corer, mango pitter, strawberry huller, fruit scoopers and this cherry pitter! 

Using the cherry pitter cut my prep time down significantly and my cherry sauce was in the oven in no time.  Cherries are delicious all on their own, but roast them in the oven with a little sugar, you've got a winner.  Rather than just topping the ice cream with the roasted cherry sauce, I decided to swirl it right into the just churned ice cream.  Super delicious, perfectly refreshing for the fourth of July!

Disclaimer - I received the OXO fruit tools as a part of the blogger outreach program.  All opinions about the tools are my own and I have not been compensated for this post.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cherry Kuchen Bars

I make a lot of desserts.  I go through pounds of sugar every month.  I love to bake, but I also love to fit into my jeans.  So here are the ways that I stay healthy and still make all these tasty treats.  Maybe my tips will help you keep off the pounds but let you enjoy time in the kitchen!

- For most of my recipes, I will make half batches.  Having fewer cookies around means fewer to eat.

- I make things that Boyfriend likes to eat.  As long as I leave fruit out of my dessert recipes, he'll happily chow down cookies, brownies and blondies.  He's six foot three inches and burns calories like a hummingbird.

- My coworkers often enjoy treats on Monday morning.  I once put an entire bundt cake in the lunchroom and left for an hour.  When I returned, I found an empty cake plate.

- Boyfriends coworkers also get to have sweets.  Things like cakes, cupcakes and pies stay in New Jersey because they are awkward to carry on the commuter train.  The most positive thing about sending them to work with BF is that I don't eat any extras.  The downside?  I've lost a few containers because someone forgets to bring them home.

- The freezer is full of dessert.  They are there if I really want something sweet.  At the end of the month I go through the freezer and clean out all the excess food.

Of course I also hit the gym several times a week and I'm on my feet a lot during the work day.  I generally eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch during the week (oatmeal for breakfast & a salad for lunch) and I make lean protein and veggies for dinner.  Repetition helps me maintain my healthy weight.

Or you could think about it this way.  The more cupcakes you feed your coworkers, the thinner you look in comparison!  It's a win-win.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Homemade Granola

I love commuting on the train, but it's days like these that make me really wish I drove to work.  Or that I owned a car.  My imaginary car would have a fancy remote starter so that I could warm up the car (and of course its heated seats) while I finished primping for work. 

Instead, I pile on layer after layer of sweater, jacket, scarf, earmuffs, hats, gloves and mittens.  Yes, it takes me at least five minutes to get ready to go outside.  This is funny actually, because I spend as little time outside as possible.  NJTransit has this fancy "departurevision" section on their website.  It tells me how much longer I can stay in my warm apartment before the train rolls into the station.  Love it.

So what has this winter brought me?  A smaller pants size!  Seriously.  I spent two months out of this winter completely ill.  Bronchitis, sinusitis, cold after cold.  I spent two months eating soup and orange juice, or nothing at all because "eating takes too much energy."

The cold weather has helped me keep those ten pounds off.  How you might ask?  It's too cold to go out for lunch!  Why leave my cozy office and go outside to pick up a (fill in your favorite unhealthy lunch here) when I could stay in front of my (illegal) space heater eating a salad I threw together at home.  I'm thinking I'll put back on those pounds I lost during the summer, when it's warm enough to go and get piles of Thai food for lunch.

A girl does not stay full on salad alone though.  Around four o'clock, after running around the lab for a few hours, I indulge in... yogurt!  I know, I'm so bad.  But you should totally get yourself some yogurt and make this granola. 

Can you believe that in my year of homemade everything challenges, I'm only now making my own granola!  I feel like you can throw anything in with a whole ton of oats and you've got granola.  You could be all - "Hey, I made this macadamia nut, coconut and dried jalapeno pepper granola, it's so good for you!"  Or "What?  You haven't tried the new beef jerky and fried plantain granola?"  Just put some oats with anything and BAM - granola.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why Bother? 2012 - Granola Bars

Yes, the Why Bother challenge has spilled over into the new year!  I'm finally over a long bout of bronchitis and have drained nearly all of the congestion from my head.  Nobody is happier than I am, except maybe the hundred or so people I share my train car with.  No more loud coughing from me!  So many of my friends and family have been battling with some virus, bacterium or other, this season.  And after a month of being sick, I'm happy to count myself among the healthy again.
With the bronchitis I was battling, I had to push of the last few challenges of the Why Bother? challenge.  This January we will complete the challenges with granola bars, crackers and soft cheeses.  I'm excited to finish all of the challenges that you gave me over a year ago, so let's get started with snacks!

Most foodie friends that I know are highly unlikely to venture down the cereal bar aisle in the grocery store.  You bakers out there probably have your own go to recipe for granola bars, perfected after many tries in the kitchen with different grains, nuts and dried fruits. 

I want everyone else out there to have a go at the bar.  Or in this case, the cup!  I love making granola bars at home.  They change every time I make them, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Sometimes they are heavy on the nuts, sometimes I have an odd assortment of dried fruits.  You should feel free to adapt each granola bar recipe in the same way.

Today I bring you a baked granola bar recipe (Saturday we'll have a no-bake variant) that combines some of my favorite flavors.  Peanut butter, cherry and oats.  It's like a PB&J sandwich!  Don't have any dried cherries in the house?  Substitute the dried fruits for whatever you have lying around!

Granola Bar Muffins
Adapted from Snack Girl

This recipe was given to me (via my mom) from a fitness fanatic.  She loved that these bars are low in calories, high in protein and packs major flavor.  With no added sugar, these bars are great to feed your kiddos or yourself!

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed dried berries (mine included raspberry, cherry, cranberry & blueberry)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix peanut butter and mashed bananas with a fork.  Add nuts, dried fruits, oats and vanilla.  Stir until it all comes together.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup and lightly press into the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove granola cups from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Acorn Squash and Sausage Bake

The holiday gift giving season is in full swing and I'm sure you're out there, trying to think of what to get that special someone.  Or perhaps you don't know what your sister-in-law could possibly need?  Maybe you've got a boss who has everything?  I thought I'd toss out a few ideas for fun (and sometimes totally useless) gift ideas for everyone.

How about an updated locket necklace from Kate Spade.  What girl wouldn't love to wear this around their neck?  You can fill it with pictures of their kiddos, puppies, kitties or special someone.
A little tough, a little sweet, this cuff is just the statement piece your best friend has been looking for!  Check it out at Wanderlust and Co.

You don't have to be a New Yorker to love this NYC subway map iPhone case!  Personally, I want it so that I don't have to keep opening up my app when I need to know where to transfer!  The NYC Transit Museum has a ton of fun transit related gifts, for city dwellers and suburbanites alike!
Do you know someone who always has a dead phone?  This handy (and adorable) gadget will charge your phone away from home.  Check out this (and a ton of other fun things) at Uncommon Goods!

Apparently featured in Oprahs magazine, I think any foodie worth their salt (HA!) would love this collection of gourmet salts.  If anything, they are super pretty and would make a great piece for their kitchen counter.  Find this set, or a smaller set of four, at The Spice Lab.

If you are all out of ideas, then you can always resort to making your friend, family member or coworker and nice homemade meal.  I suggest the following...

It's a simple, one baking sheet meal.  Perfect for days you just want to throw together a meal.  Acorn squash is the perfect gourd to go with because it doesn't require peeling.  Just de-seed and slice the squash and it's ready to go in the oven!  Sweetened up with some red onion and dried cherries, this meal will make a great dinner gift for anyone.

Or just head to, I want to buy everything I see on that website.  It's totally unhealthy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cherry Granola Bars

It's Tuesday again and we're making our way through another summer week.  Where did you weekend go?  I know exactly where mine went.  I spent one half of it shopping for cars, which I have decided is way more fun if you are the one buying said car.  Or you actually bring said new car home when you finish buying.  Boyfriends new car is currently spending some quality time with the dealer, while he is away on a business trip in Florida.

The other half of my weekend was spent watching the new Batman movie.  Seriously, it's that long.

Okay, so the Dark Knight Rises isn't really 24 hours long.  It's three hours long.  It is long enough, that it can go from being sunny, to down pouring and back to sunny and dry, over the course of the movie.  I know this because boyfriend and I have discovered a new found love of biking around our area. 

We live in Montclair, NJ, which according to the signs posted in the town, is "Where the city meets the suburbs."  It's a cute little town with a main street full of shops and restaurants.  There's a Whole foods and a weekend farmers market.  If you're into antiquing, there are at least four antique stores right downtown.  There is an indie movie theater and a Red Mango, right next to a cupcake shop and just down the street from a gelato shop.

A coal oven pizza place just opened up that serves the most amazing thin crust pizza.  You can go to Tosca and have their amazing corn salad, full of roasted corn, goat cheese and walnuts.  You can head to Raymond's (lovingly referred to as Raymondo's around our house.  I have no idea why.) and fill up on a plate of eggs Benedict, if you can get a table.  Or you can just get an espresso and macaron from Le Petit Paris and people watch.

It's a great little place to live and conveniently located on the train line.  But since this is New Jersey, we are only a few miles away from several other fun towns.  This Sunday we rode three miles, all uphill, to Upper Montclair (hence why it was all uphill).  While Montclair boasts our little Indie movie theater, Upper Montclair has an equally small movie theater playing the newest releases.

The clouds started to clear around two o'clock this Sunday, so we hopped on our bikes and rode up the hill to Upper Montclair.  (Much faster than our first attempt a few weeks ago I might add!)  We stopped and got sandwiches and smuggled them into the movie theater where we enjoyed three hours of Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway.  We came outside and it smelled like rain, but it was also intensely sunny and warm.  The only trace of the rain was a few puddles here and there and a wet bike lock.

One final random question here.  How much does it cost for a movie ticket at your local theater?  I felt like I was getting a deal the other day only having to spend $11 per ticket on our movie.  This is after buying two IMAX 3D tickets a few weeks ago for $18 each!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mastering the Macaron!

A few weekends ago, boyfriend and I bundled up and headed into Manhattan.  I was very excited about our Sunday plans, while he was less so.  I told him that if he behaved, I would buy him S'mac for lunch.  What were we planning on doing that Sunday afternoon?  I had signed us up for a macaron class!

Several months back, okay I think it was sometime in July, Groupon was offering a half price macaron class at Dessert Truck Works on Clinton St.  I didn't even hesitate and bought us two seats in one of their classes.  Boyfriend wasn't super excited about the class, since he's a master of boxed macaroni and break apart chocolate chip cookies, but he was willing to come with me.

Originally I had scheduled us for a class in October, which is right when we decided to go to Thailand.  The next class they had available?  February!  I wrote a reminder note on the marker board in the kitchen.  As the class drew near, I kept reminding myself to go to Dessert Truck on February 12th.  The morning of the class, the tri-state area woke up to frigid temperatures.  It was one of those days where I would have stayed in our apartment all day long, but we had to get on the train and head into the city.

I'm glad we got out of bed and went to the class because the class was completely worth it.  Held in the little bakery on Clinton street, the shop is closed until after the workshop, giving you one on one attention from the pastry chef.  We arrived and were given tea and coffee to warm our hands against the cold outside.  The group assembled and we were twelve macaron makers of all levels.  From those that had never even eaten a macaron, to those that love the cookies, to me, who had made a batch or two in the past.  We were all ready to learn a little something about these delicious French cookies.

The macaron teacher explained the basics of the cookies and told us of the three different varieties of macarons.  She described them in the best way that I have ever heard, macarons are like European men.  The French macaron - like a French man.  Sensitive, unpredictable and finnicky.  The Italian macaron - like an Italian man.  Strong, sturdy & dangerous.  The Swiss macaron - like a Swiss man.  Somewhere in between the Frenchman and the Italian.  I don't know a whole lot of Swiss men, but her descriptions of the French and Italian men seemed pretty funny, and right.

Personally, I've only ever made French and Italian macarons.  I can agree with her comparisons to European men.  I've had varying success with the French method while I've made some good batches with the Italian ones.  I was so excited that we would be making macarons with the Swiss method, because it was not something I'd ever done before.  We split up into groups and were ready to start whipping some egg whites.

Our instructor suggested our group of four split up, in order to get more hands on time.  I explained that boyfriend would not be handling the food at all, he would be taking pictures.  There was a little back and forth, but it was determined that it would be best for all (especially the final macaron product) if boyfriend didn't touch the cookies.  I kind of wished that he did participate, because my arm got tired whipping those egg whites!  He did make a good photographer though, I got some interesting pictures.  Yep, that's me in all these pictures, Hello!

The Swiss method consists of whipping the egg whites and granulated sugar over a simmering pot of water.  This gently cooks the egg whites and builds a little structure in the meringue.  The three of us took turns whipping the eggs, trading off when our shoulders couldn't take any more.

Once the egg whites reached the stiff peak and were slightly warm to the touch, we got prepared to combine all of the ingredients.  First, some unwhipped egg whites were added to the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture.  Next, we added the meringue and started the macaronage (aka, the stirring/folding).  This was the part that I wanted clarification.  What is the correct consistency to stop working the batter at?  Again, the "flowing like cooling lava" description came up.  I preferred the test of cutting the batter down the middle with the spatula.  If the line disappears in ten seconds, then your batter is ready.

We added a little red color for make our macarons cute and pink.  After transferring to the piping bag and pressing out all the air, we piped rows and rows of pink cookies.  Practicing piping identically sized macarons is tricky, something that I still have to work on.  We came out with a tray of pretty nice looking circles. 

Since the workshop was only three hours long, we didn't have time to wait around for the shells to dry, then bake and cool.  So we did a little swap!  Pink cookies went onto the drying rack, yellow and green ones came out!  We were given a series of delicious fillings, chocolate ganache, salted caramel, blackberry buttercream and toffee and told to fill our new cookies. 

We got to come back a few hours later and pick up our baked macaron shells.  I was so excited to see that they had feet!  The only question remained, could I do this at home? 

If you happen to be visiting NYC or live in the area, I would highly recommend heading over to Dessert Truck for a workshop.  We had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about what I was doing right and wrong with my macarons.  It was great to learn another method for making these wonderful little cookies and the instructor was fun, helpful and informative.  You might have to book a ways in advance, this particular workshop was very popular after the Groupon deal!
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