I participated in ‘The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap‘ again this year. Despite the fact that it isn’t Australian based, I still think it’s such a great cause and also so much fun to give and receive cookies. You can read about my experience last year, here.
This year I needed to bake gluten free cookies. Instead of trying to alter recipes and re invent the wheel so to speak I decided to go with something that was naturally gluten free, meringues. I made little meringue cookies with my own twist. These have a strong hit of coffee (hence the espresso title) and their bottoms are dipped in chocolate and almonds. The coffee, chocolate and almonds make the perfect combination.
Espresso Meringue Cookies with Chocolate Almond Bottoms
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tblsp ground instant coffee
- 120g milk chocolate
- 1/2 tsp oil
- 1 cup crushed slivered almonds (toasted)
Pre heat oven to 140c. Place the egg whites and sugar into a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water(be sure your water isn’t too hot or it ill cook the egg whites). Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, once dissolved place into a bowl of a mixer and whip for about 5 minutes until egg white mixture is thick, firm and glossy. Add in coffee and whip till combined. Place into a piping bag and pipe onto baking paper lined trays.
Place in the oven for 1.5 hours. After this, turn the oven off but leave them in the oven to cool, for best results, make this recipe in the evening and leave the meringues in the oven overnight to dry out. Meringues will be ready when they feel feel hard, lift away from the paper easily and sound hollow when tapped.
Once ready melt chocolate in a microwave, check and stir every 30 seconds. Add in the oil to the melted chocolate and mix. Dip the bottom of each meringue into the chocolate and then the almonds, place on a baking sheet to set.
These Espresso Meringue Cookies were sent to Erika Rax, The Little Blue Bicycle and The Aussie Kitchen. I received delicious Peanut Butter Choc Chip cookies from Erika Rax, spicy Ginger cookies from The Little Blue Bicycle (I can’t believe you’re only 14) and Triple Chocolate gluten free cookies from Fati’s Recipes. I have to admit, this cookie swap makes you feel like a little child again. I was constantly checking the mailbox and the door to see if I had received more cookies. Once the last one arrived I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to be receiving any more. So, if you’re baking cookies, please post some to me.
It seems lately that macarons have shot into popularity with them being featured frequently on TV cooking shows like Masterchef & Zumbo. My first taste of a macaron was in Singapore with my husband. I had no idea what to expect, I bought a chocolate macaron. I bit into it’s crisp shell and soft, luscious inside just melted into my mouth with the creamy ganache filling. YUM!
I have been determined ever since to recreate these little treasures. After a lot of research, I realised it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Macarons are notorious for being temperamental and hard to master. That shattered my spirits a little but hey, why not give it a go. Well, I did, my first 3 attempts were complete failures. But I kept going. Plucked up the courage to try once more and finally achieved my first decent macaron. Pistachio!
Here’s my recipe (taken from various sources, cookbooks & websites)
Ingredients (this has to be precise and measured as accurately as possible)
35 g Egg whites (approx 1 egg white)
55g Pure icing sugar (pure icing sugar without any corn flour/starch)
45g Almond meal (blanched-skins removed)
30g castor sugar
This recipe makes about 10 macarons once sandwiched (20 halves)
Combine almond meal and icing sugar, grind until it becomes a fine powder. Sieve the almond meal and sugar mixture and discard any big bits, set aside. In a clean stainless steel or glass bowl, with an electric whisk, whick the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly drop in castor sugar until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. If using food colouring add it into the egg whites now and give it a quick whisk once more (a gel colouring is recommended). I used a little blue and yellow colouring to make a green shell, next time I think I’ll go darker. Sieve the almond and sugar mixture onto the egg whites and fold it in. Keep folding until the mixture is just incorporated into the egg whites. The mixture needs to be firm but loose enough that it settles back into itself if you make a line through the centre.
Line a tray with baking paper, then fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe into 3cm rounds. Leave aside for 30 minutes to form a skin and pre-heat the oven to 150°C. The cooler weather in Australia at the moment is ideal for macarons, the humidity during summer can really affect the formation of a skin (Tip – You know the macaron is ready for the oven when you touch it with your finger and it does not stick)
Put it into the oven for 15 minutes. By definition a macaron must have that cracked, airy crease at the bottom (known as feet), you should see this after 5-10 minutes of baking. Let the macarons cool and remove them from the baking paper. If they’re having trouble lifting off, sprinkle some water under the paper. Set aside to cool, ideally leave the macarons for a day in the fridge in an airtight container. Fill macarons with buttercream or ganache filling. I filled my macarons with buttercream that I had added crushed roasted pistachios to.