Coffee Cream Filling for Macarons

中文菜谱:马卡龙咖啡馅

I think this coffee cream filling for macarons is one of best fillings I have ever made so far O(∩_∩)O~

I replace 10g almond flour with super fine freshly ground coffee.  Instant French roast coffee and coffee rum are added to the filling for an enhanced coffee flavor.  Turns out to be so amazing!  The real trick here is to use real good dark chocolate.  It makes huge difference!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup dark chocolate (I use 90% cocoa.  Any dark chocolate between 60% to 100% should work just fine)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant French roast coffee
1 tablespoon rum and coffee liqueur

Directions:

Add dark chocolate, heavy cream and instant coffee to a small ceramic bowl.

Melt the chocolate, heavy cream and instant coffee in a double boiler.  Whisk occasionally for smooth texture.

Add coffee rum.  Remove from heat.  Set it aside to chill.

When the coffee cream cools down, this is what it’s going to look like, with a smooth and silky texture.

Meanwhile, I bake some coffee marcarons.

When macarons cool down to room temperature, remove them from silicone mat.  Add 1 to 2 teaspoons coffee cream filling between every two macaron shells.

Store in air-tight container and refrigerate overnight.  By doing so, macarons and their fillings will combine better and their flavors will be maximized. 

Of course, you can always enjoy them anytime you want without the waiting.  They go very well with a cup of coffee or tea O(∩_∩)O~

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Apricot Filling for Macarons

中文菜谱:马卡龙甜杏酱

I have been baking a lot of macarons lately.  What a sweet obsession! O(∩_∩)O~ 

Different fillings bring different textures and flavors to macarons.  And I have been experimenting all sorts of different fillings.  Because macaron cookies are very sweet, I like macaron fillings to be moist, not too dry nor wet; mild, not too sweet nor greasy.   After lemon custard, I make apricot filling which is also very tasty and refreshing.

Ingredients:

1 cup of dried apricots
1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups of water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons pectin

 

Directions:

Add dried apricots and water to vitamix.  Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy.

Add apricot puree to a small sauce pan, along with butter.  Cook over medium low heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.

Add lemon juice and pectin.  Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens up to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and allow it to cool down.

After the sauce is cooled down, spoon a couple teaspoons of filling between every two macaron cookies.

Cover with plastic wrap or store in an air-tight container.  Refrigerate overnight to maximize their texture and flavors.

Lemon Custard for Macarons

I haven’t baked macarons for a long time, mostly because they are just too sweet for my personal taste.  I bought some fresh cute yellow lemons on my last trip to grocery store.  They are perfect for making lemon custard. 

Normally lemon custard requires a large amount of butter, which intimidates me a bit.  So I experiment in my kitchen several times until I create this wonderful lemon custard recipe.  It is sour and sweet, more sourness than sweetness of course, which neutralizes the overwhelming sweetness from macaron shells.  The balance between lemon acidity and sugar is very fascinating.  I think I going to stick to lemon filling macarons for a while.  O(∩_∩)O~

Ingredients:

2 fresh lemons
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
1 tablespoon butter
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Directions:

Rinse the lemons, and pat dry with kitchen towel.

Use a grater or vegetable peeler to get as much yellow lemon zest as possible. 

Cut each lemon into halves.  Juice each piece with a citrus juicer

2 lemons yield about 1/3 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice.

Light beat the egg yolks with a whisk

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Fill a small bowl with water.  Sprinkle gelatin powder on top. 

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Add lemon zest, butter, sugar and lemon juice to a medium sauce pan

Cook over medium low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.

Slowly add lemon mixture to the egg yolks while whisking.

Transfer lemon sauce back to the sauce pan.  Add gelatin mixture.

Cook over medium low heat and keep stirring.

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Lemon custard sauce will thicken.  When it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat.

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After lemon custard cools down, it can be used as filling between macaron cookies. 

The extra lemon custard sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Microwave it for a few seconds and stir before using again.

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Natural Colorful Dumplings with Pork and Garlic Chive Filling

 中文菜谱: 天然彩色韭菜饺子

Garlic chive is a vegetable that is popular across Asia.  We use it in stir fries, soups, dumplings and various dim sums.  Surprisingly it never became popular in United States and never made their way to American grocery stores.  For those who are interested, there are two ways to get garlic chives.  You can either grow them yourself, or just drive to the nearest Asian grocery store.   Sometimes garlic chive is sold at local farmer market too.

Garlic chive tastes a lot like leek, but with a milder, more delicate grassy and earthy flavor.  The best season for garlic chive is spring.  After a long cold winter, garlic chive sprouts earlier than most vegetables.  Chinese people consider garlic chive to be a messenger of spring.  When summer comes, its flavor gets stronger and become less popular.

My favorite way to enjoy garlic chives is dumplings. 

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All that beautiful colors come from vegetable purees, very natural and healthy.

Ingredients for dumpling wraps:

8 cups bread flour
spinach puree
beet puree
carrot puree
4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
water

 

Add vegetable purees along with bread flour, salt, oil and water to three different mixing bowls.  Knead with hand until you have three smooth and elastic balls of dough.

Ingredients for pork and garlic chive filling:

2 pounds pork belly, grounded
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 bunch garlic chives (weigh about 1 to 1.5 pounds)
2 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons rice cooking wine
2  to 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon white ground pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
water/ chicken stock
salt to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

Heat a light weight cast iron wok over high heat.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.  Add eggs and gently scramble.  Remove from heat when done.

Add grinded pork along with soy sauce, rice cooking wine, oyster sauce, ground ginger, ground white pepper, and sugar to a large mixing bowl.  Whisk with a pair of chopsticks clockwise for several minutes.  Add some water/ chicken stock while whisking.

When pork mixture becomes sticky, add scrambled eggs.  Whisk until everything is well combined.

Rinse fresh garlic chives under running water and drain.

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With a kitchen knife, finely chop the garlic chives.

Add to pork filling.  Drizzle a couple tablespoons vegetable oil on top. 

Whisk until everything well combined again.

The last step is to add salt to taste.

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Use a large rolling pin to roll the dough into large flat pieces.  And then feed the dough through a stand mixer roller separately.

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Gently lay down a layer of green dough on countertop.  Put a layer of yellow dough on top.

Add a layer of red one

Another layer of yellow one

Roll as tightly as possible

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Look at that pretty pattern!

With a small rolling pin, roll each piece into thin flat dumpling wrappers.

Add about 2 tablespoons pork and garlic chive filling

Wrap it up

Dumplings line up on lightly dusted wooden boards

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Add dumplings to a large pot of boiling water.

When the water boils again, add a cup of cold water. 

Repeat the process twice. 

Dipping sauce is made from soy sauce, vinegar, chili pepper sauce and a little bit of sugar.

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Tasty O(∩_∩)O~

Freeze any extra dumplings and seal in a Ziploc bag.  They can be stored in freezer for up to 3 months.

I steam some dumplings later.  They are both pretty and tasty too.

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Green Sweet Rice Cakes with Salted Duck Egg Yolks and Pork Sung

Between late March and early April, there is a traditional Qingming Festival in China.  Family members get together on this day and visit their ancestors’ and passed love ones’ graves.  They are there to tidy up graves and show their respect and love.  It is a day of remembering and sharing. 

Usually food is also an essential part of this ritual.  What food items to bring really depend on local traditions and family preferences.  Besides chicken, duck, and pork, there is one item most people bring and love: green sweet rice cakes.  The green color is from fresh young mugwort plants.  It is popular because of good herbal grassy flavors as well as medical purpose to refresh up both body and mind. 

As time goes by, people like these green sweet rice cakes more and more that they are no longer just a food item used in Qingming Festival ritual.  They become a daily snack / dim sum.

And the sweet rice cake fillings are evolving too.  The traditional ones include red bean paste, black sesame, peanut and brown sugar.  A couple years ago, some restaurant in Shanghai invented a filling with salted duck egg yolks and shredded pork and it instantly became a huge hit.  People stand in a line for hours and hours just to purchase several sweet rice cakes.  Wow, foodies!  O(∩_∩)O~

I tried many times.  It is just very hard to get hold of fresh young mugwort plants in United States.  So I substitute with spinach puree and matcha green tea powder.  Spinach puree brings the dark green color and matcha green tea powder adds a mild herbal, earthy and grassy scent and flavor.

Ingredients:

250 g sweet rice flour
30 g rice flour
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
spinach puree
water
2 to 3 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

 

For salted duck egg yolks and shredded pork fillings:

10 to 12 salted duck egg yolks (salted duck eggs are available in fridge aisle in most Asian grocery stores)
1 package of dried shredded pork/ pork sung (4 oz)
3 to 4  tablespoons golden syrup

 

For sesame and peanut filling:

1/3 cup dry roasted black sesame seeds
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

 

Directions:

With a spoon, scoop egg yolks out salted duck eggs.  And then crush them with the back of spoon.

Mix with shredded pork and syrup. 

Combine roasted black sesame seeds, peanuts and brown sugar in a coffee grinder.  Do this in two or three batches to get even and smooth grind each time.

Smells really good

Soak and clean 6 to 8 dry bamboo leaves, which are sold in most Asian grocery stores too. Lightly grease them with vegetable oil.

If you don’t have bamboo leaves available, substitute with parchment paper.

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Blanch the spinach; add to vitamix along with some water; puree on high speed until very smooth. 

Add sweet rice flour, matcha green tea powder, vegetable oil and sugar.

Combine everything together and knead into a ball of green sweet rice dough.  

Divide the dough into equal-sized small pieces.  Press down and thin out with palms.

Add salted duck egg yolks and shredded pork filling.

dd black sesame and peanut filling.

Wrap up and gently round them up between palms.

The ones topped with black sesame seeds mark sesame and peanut fillings.

Transfer sweet rice cakes in a bamboo steamer lined with greased bamboo leaves, one inch apart from each other.

Steam over high heat inside a cast iron wok for 10 to 15 minutes

Remove from heat and allow the sweet rice cake balls to cool down a little bit.

Aren’t they cute? O(∩_∩)O~

Both fillings are very tasty.