Welcome to The Cookie Monster, a blog about the most marvelous, versatile, and beloved bakeable item in the land: The cookie. You may see occassional forays into pies, bars, and other sweet treats, but my main focus is and has always been on the bite sized genius behind my very favorite snack. Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Strawberry Macarons

In the culmination of my self proclaimed Macaron Month, I finally achieved a (almost) fully successful Macaron endeavor!  Hooray for me!  I only had about 15-20% crackage on this go around, which is far better than the 50% crackage rate of my previous attempts.  I followed some helpful tips from my fellow food blogger and KKG Kirsten, tried out a new flavor, and all and all had a successful baking afternoon.  Huzzah.

115 grams blanched almond flour
230 grams powdered sugar
144 grams egg whites
72 grams sugar
2 tsp Strawberry Flavoring
1/2 tsp salt
a smidgen of pink gel coloring

Following the same process for the most part as the First Round of Macarons this month, I worked on my meringue, and then folded in my measure almond flour and powder sugar.

Ah.  Lovely.  I think some of the cracking issue may have been a mixing issue.  As in I was undermixing before.  So I made sure I got everything well incorporated.

Very focused pregnant baker. Haha. More after the jump.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Brown Sugar Stars with Maple Buttercream Filling

Hey blog friends!  I hope you are all having a good weekend.  Today I am cranky.  I tried napping, walking, cleaning and nothing could snap me out of my pregnant crankiness despite my efforts, so I resorted to making myself some tasty treats.

I pretty much decided to wing it, based on my ingredients on hand, and I'm happy with these results.  The brown sugar cookie stars are very buttery and delicious, and the maple filling seems to fit in with the beginning of fall.

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
dash salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

Maple buttercream:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/12 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Mix together, your butter, shortening and sugar until well blended, add in the rest of your ingredients except for the flour, and blend.  Finally add in the flour a little at a time, until you have a nice even dough.  Form into 2 balls, and pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes.

Roll out your dough and cut out your cookies into your desired shape.  I obviously went for a star to switch things up, though for sandwiching purposes, a simple circle would probably be easier.

Bake at 375F for 8 minutes. The bake time on these was perfect.  Let the cookies cool and prepare your frosting.

Homemade frosting is so easy to make. And so very delish.  First off, mix together your softened butter and flavoring (in this case maple syrup).  Then slowly add in your powdered sugar on low speed, in order to avoid powdered sugar explosions.  Finally mix in your milk a little at a time until you reach the desired consistancy.  I used a hand held mixer for all of this.

Yum.  Pipe your frosting onto the bottom side of half of your cooled cookies.  You could also just spread it with a knife, but I was trying to keep things neat.

Then sandwich :) And refrigerate.  I think I should have thickened up my frosting a little bit more, as it was pretty gooey.  Tasty for sure, but gooey.

Ta Da!  I'm happy with these, very yummy.  You could even do a little sprinkle of cinnamon and powdered sugar on top.  Definitely worth a try.  As for my pregnant grumpiness, they didn't really help that much, save for the few moments of blissful cookie eating.  But it was worth a shot.

oh yeah.... Munch helped :)

Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella Buttercream

Happy Saturday night blog friends!  What does one do on the weekends when drinking and going out is not an option (pregnancy week 29....getting there!) well, if you're me...you make cookies, so I decided to go for round two of the tricky yet delicious Macaron.  I wanted to see if I could remedy the cracky situation by switching up the rack positions in the oven....

I followed the same recipe, only using hazelnut extract in place of vanilla, and things were looking good when I piped the macarons onto the cookies sheet....but then, once again, partial disaster struck....

Curses!!!!!!  But I got about a half batch of pretty ones....

The house smelled delightful, and I quite liked the hazelnut version of these little guys.... I whipped up a quick buttercream frosting with nutella, recipe below:

1/4 cup of butter, softened
1/4 cup of nutella
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons of milk

Blend together the nutella and butter, scraping down the size of the bowl, add in your powdered sugar and mix until evenly blended.  Finally, add in the milk, a little at a time, until the frosting is at your desired consistency.

I decided to pipe the frosting this time to keep things cleaner, which worked out well, then I sandwiched the cookies.  They really are best the day after baking (I know, I know, baked goods anomaly) so I stored the majority in the fridge for tomorrow :)

Yum! This version is very tasty!  And I think I will go ahead and officially make September macaron month since I need to attempt this at least one more time to try to alleviate the cracking issue.  I think I am going to lower the oven temp 10-15 degrees next time, and bake the cookies slightly longer.  It seems like the bottom rack of cookies is too hot, and the ones that come out perfectly are not quite done when the 18 minute baking time is up.

I also think the cracking could be caused by the way I'm piping the batter.  the cracks looks suspiciously like my swirl pipe pattern, don't they?  Maybe I'll try something different on that front as well....

Until next time, blog friends.... I hope you're all out having rockin' Saturday nights.  I'm gonna eat some Macarons, and go to sleep!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vanilla Macarons with White Chocolate Buttercream

Ever since my dear friend Sarah and I had a moderately successful experience making the finicky yet delicious Macaron I've been meaning to give them another go.  The somewhat labor intensive process, coupled with the expense of buying almond meal (the key ingredient) continued to put off this project until at last I broke down at the supermarket and bought the needed supplies last week.

Couple that with a very stressful week at work, and a challenging "baking for fun" project was an absolute must. 

I've had my eye on this recipe, spotted on pinterest months ago, which comes along with some excellent direction and troubleshooting tips for these bad boys.  Here is my version:

115 grams blanched almond flour
230 grams powdered sugar
144 grams egg whites
72 grams sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

White Chocolate butter cream frosting (recipe to follow) after the jump.