Thursday, June 24, 2010

Macaroon Truffle Tartlets

The longest I've ever lived in one place was the first four years of my life; spent in a house that my mom lived in as a small child, and where my cousin subsequently grew up. In the 26 years since then I have moved 21 times, and I'm about to turn that into 22. So, while I'm trying to update my blog as frequently as I can, it is difficult to do while packing up my house and moving myself and my little ones. For now, we're moving into an apartment in the lower level of my mom's house so that we can save money for the big move - number 23! - that will take place in a few months. We'll be going to Iowa so that my kids can grow up in the same amazing community I grew up in.

Once I'm settled in my mom's house I should be able to post with greater frequency, until then, these tartlets are so quick even I can squeeze them in!

These tartlets are as simple as they are delicious. What could be better than a chewy macaroon shell filled with rich bittersweet ganache? Perfection. Oh, and they're gluten-free!

Macaroon Truffle Tartlets

For the Macaroon Shell

2 large egg whites
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the Ganache

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Butter the insides of 8 regular muffin cups and line the bottom with a parchment circle - don't skip the parchment, they will stick without it. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together all macaroon ingredients, stirring until evenly combined. Distribute evenly between muffin cups - about 2 tablespoons per cup - and press firmly into the bottom and sides of the cup. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until insides look dry and outsides are golden brown. The insides will remain very light. Cool completely, then remove from pan.

Make the ganache
Place chopped chocolate in small bowl - I like to use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup with spout for this. Heat cream, stirring occasionally until it is bubbling around the edges, but not boiling. Pour cream over chocolate, and let it sit for 1 minute. Stir chocolate into cream, starting in the center and moving out to the edges, until smooth. Don't over stir, or the ganache will separate. Divide ganache evenly among macaroon shells and refrigerate to set.

There are so many variations you could make with these: topped with whipped cream and/or berries;with a layer of jam, peanut butter or caramel under the ganache; caramelized or toasted nuts incorporated in the ganache; herb-infused ganache; crystalized ginger or citrus peel in or on top of the ganache, the list goes on!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cherry & Brown Butter Streusel Muffins

Whew. Well, that was unexpected. It has been almost 4 weeks since I posted anything, I can hardly believe it. I went out of town fully intending to bake and post while I was there - I even drove half-way across the country with my stand mixer, digital scale and a box of baking essentials. Then about 3 days into the trip, my laptop died. My 1 1/2 year old MacBook Pro. Died. I was not so happy about this. I waiting to find out if it can be fixed, and in the meantime, I'm borrowing my mom's laptop. Thanks, Mom!

I've been back in town about a week, and finally got around to baking last night.

I miraculously found cherries for $1.49 per pound - organic, of course - and decided to make a treat for my little ones to wake up to this morning.

It is no secret around here that I'm slightly obsessed with all things containing brown butter and topped with streusel; I mean, how can you go wrong?! I thought the deep nutty flavor of the brown butter would pair nicely with the juicy, moderately tart cherries. Oh, yes. Oh. Yes.

These muffins arenot excessively moist, so don't overbake them! They are, however, soft and tender and incredibly flavorful. The brown butter really comes through, and melds beautifully with the whole wheat flour and vanilla extract. The streusel adds a wonderful crunch, while the cherries provide little bursts of juiciness every couple bites. Berries of any variety would also work great in this recipe, just be sure not to thaw them if you use frozen ones.

* * * * *

Cherry & Brown Butter Streusel Muffins

For the Streusel
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup palm sugar
2.5 oz (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, browned

For the Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch*
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, browned
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pitted cherries, then halved

Preheat oven to 375. Line 12 regular muffin cups with liners, or butter and flour cups.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for streusel, mix well, and place in refrigerator until needed.

In a large bowl stir together flours, palm sugar, baking powder, arrowroot or cornstarch and salt. In the pan you browned your butter in, add milk and vanilla extract. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Fold in cherry halves. Distribute batter evenly among muffin cups. Crumble streusel on top of batter in cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

*You may have noticed this is an eggless recipe. If you would prefer to use eggs instead of the arrowroot or cornstarch: omit arrowroot/cornstarch from dry mix; reduce milk to 3/4 cup; add two eggs to butter mixture after you've added the milk - it should be cool enough that the eggs won't cook.

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