Lemon Buttercream Macarons

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I’m writing this from my beautiful balcony, enjoying the sunshine and a persistent summer breeze. It’s 10 a.m on my day off, I have a homemade almond milk latte in hand and a whole day of fun ahead of me. This is bliss, y’all!

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For the longest time I told myself I liked the season of summer the least. I considered it kind of boring and pretty overrated. I mean it was the best as a kid (no school! endless slumber parties! pool days!), but as an adult it just felt sort of blah. Maybe it was because when you live in L.A every season feels like a minor variation of summer. It lost it’s allure. Or maybe I just hadn’t figured out how to summer as a grown-up. Y’all. That has changed.

I have been loooving this season again. Going on runs in the warm sun, laying out by the pool with several good books, grilling almost every day, gardening, scheduling slumber parties and lake house trips and baseball games and concerts at every opportunity. And of course, getting inspired by all the bright summer-y flavors!

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Yaaas, people. Give me all the citrus. I started off the fun with lemon buttercream macarons, the world’s most notoriously finicky cookie, and this was my first batch in two years (linking to that post so we can all laugh at my photo quality and post organization back then…oy). I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean I’m a wizard? Yes. Yes it does.

As far as I can tell, these are the perfect little treat for so many reasons. They’re decadent and light at the same time, so you won’t feel super guilty about enjoying a few. They’re sweet but also tart. They’re fun to bring into work and share with colleagues. They’ll wow at any dinner party. Enjoy one after an average dinner at home and feel a little elevated. I froze these and will be making more flavors over the course of the month so I can gift them to my mama when I see her in July, as a belated mother’s day present (her only request was “nothing matcha”, ha!).

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Lemon Buttercream Macarons

ingredients

1 cup + 1/2 lb powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

lemon yellow food gel

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

directions

sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4ths cup almond flour into a large bowl. whisk to combine, then set aside.

add the egg whites to a metal mixing bowl and start whisking on one of the lower settings (I start with a 4 on my Kitchenaid) until the egg whites start to look frothy. add half of the granulated sugar to the egg whites, then increase the speed to a medium (7 for me) until whites start to foam. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.

remove the bowl containing the meringue from the stand mixer. add half of the dry ingredients directly into the bowl containing the meringue, then use a spatula to gently fold meringue around and over until the dry ingredients are well incorporated. add the remaining dry ingredients along with 2-3 drops of food coloring gel, and continue to fold the batter. avoid over-mixing by going slowly. the batter is ready when it falls off the spatula in ribbons, but isn’t runny.

transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round tip. pipe small, uniform circles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper by holding the piping bag at a 45 degree angle to sheet. make sure not to overcrowd the sheets.

once finished with piping the batter, take each cookie sheet and carefully but forcefully bang the bottom of each corner on the countertop, to help release air bubbles in the batter! let the cookies sit for 35 minutes. preheat the oven to 305 F while you wait.

bake the cookies on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes. remove from the oven but let the cookies cool completely before touching them.

while the cookies cool, make your lemon buttercream by creaming butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the lemon zest to the butter and mix to combine. then add the 1/2 lb of powdered sugar. finally mix in the lemon juice.

transfer buttercream to a new piping bag and pipe frosting on the underside of one cookie. sandwich with another cookie of roughly the same size. repeat over and over again. enjoy!

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Alright. Time to read by the pool, go to a yoga class, and grill myself some Thai chicken satay skewers for lunch. Summer, y’all!

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ahhh, February. Oh how I love this month. Our first hint of Spring is here, Valentine’s Day (or, even better, Galentine’s Day!) is right around the corner, and I can eat heart-shaped sugar again.

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So, today I’m sharing my made-from-scratch raspberry ice cream sandwiches. They’re best made ahead of time, which is actually ideal because the last thing you want to do on date night or Valentine’s Day is be distracted by a labor intensive dessert. The taste can only be described as romantic af. And the wow factor is a big payoff – this looks a lot more impressive than it actually is.

Win, win, win in my book. 😘

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Here’s what you do.

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

ingredients

for the cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp salt

1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

for the ice cream: 

1.5 cups fresh raspberries

3/4 cup whole milk

1.5 cups heavy cream

2/3rd cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

 

directions

for the ice cream:

add the raspberries to a food processor and pulse until roughy chopped.

in a mixing bowl combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and raspberries. stir to combine, then transfer to an ice cream maker for churning. follow manufacturer instructions.

take a 9×13 inch baking dish and fit a piece of parchment paper inside it so that it completely covers the bottom and all sides. transfer the ice cream to the baking dish, spreading it out till it’s flat and level. Place the dish in the freezer for 4 hours, or ideally overnight.

for the cookies:

preheat oven to 350 F. take a 13×18 inch baking sheet (preferably one with deep sides) and line it with parchment paper.

in a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

in a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. continue to beat on medium speed while you add the eggs. turn the speed down to low and add the flour mixture gradually. scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix quickly once more.

transfer batter to the baking dish, and use an offset spatula to spread it out so it’s level. place in oven and bake for 13 minutes. remove and let pan cool completely. once room temperature, place the dish in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight). 

to assemble:

once you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, take the cold cookie dish out of the fridge and, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can manage. this works best as long as everything remains cool, so there’s no breaking/crumbling.

pull the ice cream tray out of the freezer and use the same cookie cutter as before to cut out your ice cream layers. sandwich ice cream hearts between two cookies and gently press together so everything adheres. put assembled ice cream sandwiches back into the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy!

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This weekend is the one I head to New Orleans with my sister, and then before we know it it’ll be Valentine’s Day! It’s a weird one this year as my valentine is still across the country from me, but my persistent love of holidays seems to be overcoming that particular obstacle. Oh well, guess I’ll just keep all these sweets for myself. 😉

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Cranberry Bread

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My family doesn’t have a ton of recipes that we classify as Christmas traditions, but cranberry bread always seems to be one of the few things available to snack on during Christmas morning. So every December, I start craving it. It’s actually vvv convenient because I never use all the cranberries I buy for the relish I make for Thanksgiving, and this is an ideal way to use ’em up! Plus it’s easy to gift to neighbors, coworkers, and delivery folks alike.

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Cranberry Bread

ingredients:

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup chopped walnuts

directions:

preheat oven to 350 F.

wash and drain the cranberries, then set aside.

set some water to boil in either a tea kettle or a saucepan. 

mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar together in a large bowl. make a well in the center and add the beaten egg. mix everything together again. 

in a measuring cup, add the vegetable oil. then, add enough orange juice to make 1/2 a cup. finally, add enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup.

add the 3/4 cup liquid to the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. finally, add the cranberries and nuts and stir till everything is nicely distributed.

bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour. let cool slightly, remove from pan, and slice. 

enjoy!

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I cannot believe the big day is only 6 days away! If you celebrate you’re probably swamped with preparations, but I vote you take the 20 minutes to make this (not including baking time). Like I said, this is perfect for gifting to your local delivery guy/gal (as long as they aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients) as a way to show your appreciation for them delivering all your prime packages on time! They’re the real Santa Clauses, ya feel? Except not really because I know he’s real. Anyone who says otherwise smells like beef and sits on a throne of lies. #namethatmovie