I'm the first one up most mornings. It's still dark as I make my way downstairs (with a sleepy canine in tow) and begin my ritual: turn on computers, let Biscuit outside, make coffee, let Biscuit inside, clock in, begin typing. I love my morning coffee. It gets my fingers moving and helps my brain decode the usually illegible penmanship that all M.D.s seem to be born with. What would I do without it?
I really love coffee as an ingredient in desserts. I woke up two days ago craving coffee macarons, yet I had never tasted one. That evening my house was smelling like a café as I pulled two pans of espresso macarons out of the oven. I have to say, they are my absolute favorite so far!
The cakes came about as I was thinking of fillings for the macarons. A good filling is so important! I decided the filling would be mocha pudding cake. I know, cake sandwiched between two cookies sounds like crazy talk. Crazy good! I think the cake's consistency is perfect for this.
These will puff up (much like souffles) while baking, but they will deflate quite a bit after you take them out of the oven. The recipe calls for a 2 quart baking dish, but I used oven-proof ceramic cappuccino cups. You could also use ramekins.
I mixed a little espresso powder and vanilla extract together in a tiny cup to create coffee "paint". I painted coffee beans on some of the macaron tops. If you do this, allow the macaron tops to dry for about 10 minutes before storing.
Last night we had an impromptu family dinner, and I was so excited to share these . The pudding cakes were long gone, but the macaron shells were delicious filled with a little melted dark chocolate. Everyone loved them!
Mocha Pudding Cake [click for printable version]Serves 6.
Butter, room temperature, for baking dish
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for baking dish
6 large eggs, room temperature, separated
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (opt.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set a kettle of water to boil.
Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish; coat with granulated sugar, tapping out excess.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with granulated sugar until lightened in color. Melt chocolate and sprinkle over espresso powder or instant coffee. Stir until combined. Whisk in melted chocolate to lightened egg mixture (will be stiff); set aside.
In a large, clean bowl, using an electric mixer on high, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of whites into chocolate mixture. Add remaining whites, and gently fold with a rubber spatula just until combined (do not over mix).
Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Set dish in a roasting pan, and pour enough boiling water into pan to come about 1 inch up side of dish. Bake until puffed and just set (center of cake should barely move when jiggled), 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.
*** If using tall ceramic cups as I did, extra baking time is needed.
Espresso Macarons[click for printable version]
Yield: 30 shells
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites. Fold until just combined. Sprinkle espresso powder over and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Fill as desired.
Check out a few of my tips for macaron making here.