Orange Buttercream Macarons

Hi from my couch! Again! Forever, maybe!

Okay – week 100 of quarantine. What can I update you on…

I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series and also enjoying a couple of new titles. I was watching too much TV (sometimes when I do this I feel like I turn into a poorly functioning human) so I took a break from movie reviews. I made the most incredible quarantine-themed playlist. I gave up on Hot Balcony Guy after my huge sign went ignored. I signed up for Skillshare so I can learn some new skills (I’m very type A…what can I say). 

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I miss my family, friends, community, etc. But all in all, things are standard and pretty good over here. Thank goodness.

And by “things are standard”, I mean I’ve made another batch of macarons.

This time they’re ORANGE BUTTERCREAM MACARONS. You guys, these sweet, citrus-y cookies? C’est Magnifique.

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Ok. These macarons. How beautiful are they?! I couldn’t stop taking their picture. These babies knew how to werk the camera!!!

If you’ve never had a macaron…what are you even doing?! I am so sorry for you. Please remedy the situation immediately. Make these. It’s so fun and a perfect quarantine baking project because they take some patience and I’m betting you have free time available.

These guys use a basic French macaron recipe with orange buttercream frosting piped in between the two cookies (with real orange juice! hello, vitamin C boost anyone?!) The result is a sweet, citrus-y, delightful, wonderful, splendid, etc. cookie that will. not. disappoint.

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Orange Buttercream Macarons

for the macaron shells

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

orange food coloring

for the orange buttercream frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp orange zest

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

orange food coloring

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 the mixture is entirely foamy and mostly white. add the remaining granulated sugar, then increase the speed to high (9 works well) and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. add the food coloring to the meringue at this point and mix until the desired color is uniformly distributed.

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, 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 orange buttercream by creaming the butter in a clean mixing bowl. add the powdered sugar and mix on high for a minute, then add the orange zest and orange juice. finally add the food coloring and continue to mix until the desired color is reached.

transfer the 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.

optional: paint macarons into lil baby oranges with orange food coloring mixed with a little bit of water.

enjoy!

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And don’t forget to check out the other macaron recipes I’ve shared, because you can seriously never have too many and with these bad boys practice really makes perfect: here, here, here. 

 

 

Dalgona Coffee (& Dating During Corona!)

Everybody is talking about how to do it. It seems intriguing, entertaining, maybe even fun? You want to be a part of it, to see what the hoopla is about. In practice, it seems like a lot of work for a sort of confusing outcome.

It’s Dalgona coffee! It’s also online dating during the time of Covid-19.

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So, if you’re over the age of 30 there’s about a 50/50 chance you have never heard of Tik Tok. Or, you’ve heard of it and have literally no idea what it is. This is fine. As a 27-year-old even I feel like I’m too old for it at times. But then I remember my job is literally to stay up to date on new social media trends and apps, so I lie to myself and say my latest obsession with it is in the name of “professional research”.

In all honesty, I find Tik Tok endlessly entertaining. Like, I’ll scroll for hours through funny videos just laughing my ass off, or attempting to learn some of the trending dances. It’s truly one of the things that’s saving my sanity during this quarantine. So when I saw this new whipped coffee trend (called Dalgona coffee) all over Tik Tok one day, I knew I’d have to try it.

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The idea is that when you dissolve sugar and instant coffee in hot water and whisk it for a few minutes, it turns into this whipped consistency that you then spoon on top of a glass of milk. The aesthetics are definitely on point, and the taste wasn’t bad per se. But like I said above…it was a lot of effort for a kind of confusing result. Unless you want to taste fluffy sugar-coffee concentrate for 5 minutes followed by a layer of watered-down milk (and who the heck wants that?!)…you have to stir the fluffy coffee into the milk. Which ultimately yields the same thing as if you just made yourself some iced coffee the normal way. And the whole whisking process? Guys, I felt like I needed a coffee to be able to prepare my coffee. And I have a Kitchen Aid that I was able to walk away from! Imagine having to whisk your coffee by hand first thing in the morning?! No way.

Ultimately, it was a fun experiment and a great way to kill some time during this quarantine.

Not unlike online dating right now!

I’ll be honest – I don’t mind the apps. I’ve had a few great dates with guys from them, pre-corona. When I broke up with my ex of seven years and decided to “get back out there”, I decided to be really intentional about having an open mind when it came to dating because I’m still learning what I want/need in a potential partner. That mindset makes “swiping” a lot of fun. Plus, the apps are a nice way for someone like me (read: entirely new to the dating process) to ease into the whole thing.

But you guys. The dating apps during corona are like…on a new level. The rules are gone and the bets are OFF. Overnight my matches per day basically doubled. I’m messaging guys for weeks that I’ve never met in real life, whereas the typical pattern pre-corona would be to exchange some banter for a few days and then schedule a datePeople are doing first dates via FaceTime. We’re all so bored and our inhibitions are so lowered (#CoronaNoRules), so we’re trying out our weirdest conversation starters. And since I’m literally starving for human interaction, I find myself wondering “would I even be talking to this person if I wasn’t going on week 5 of being quarantined alone?” It’s truly a dating experiment. Equal parts confusing and entertaining.

And ultimately…what’s about to happen here?! Once quarantine is lifted and I can meet up with people again, how do you have a first or second date with someone who is still basically a stranger but who you’ve been getting to know for weeks?! Or will all these guys just disappear once they aren’t forced to pen-pal with us? (likely) I’m laughing right now just thinking about how absurd it all is. I think it’s totally possible that the nature of dating changes because of this pandemic, and it’s kind of cool to think that I’ll be participating in that process in real time. But wow, I have literally no idea what to expect here…what a time to be alive.

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Oh right – here’s the recipe for the Dalgona Coffee if you want to try it. I hope you’re all having some fun during this quarantine, taking it easy, staying safe, etc!

Dalgona Coffee

ingredients:

2 tbsp instant coffee

2 tbsp white granulated sugar

2 tbsp boiling water

a glass of almond milk over ice

directions:

combine the coffee, sugar, and water in a bowl and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy, and forms stiff peaks.

spoon the whipped coffee over the milk. stir to enjoy.

Eggs Nest Macaroons

With all that’s been happening in the world, I’ve almost forgotten that Easter is right around the corner.

I’ve been quarantining for about 3 weeks now, but it feels like a LOT longer. I miss my friends, I miss over-paying for coffee, I miss my yoga studio, and with Raleigh having 70-80 degree weather, I am really sad that the pool in my apartment building isn’t open.

With that being said, I know I’m so so lucky. I’m still working and my family is healthy. While quarantining alone can be lonely at times, I’m grateful that I’m able to exist in my space however I want (and I’m happy I spent so much time making sure my home was cute and cozy). Quarantine has prompted some good changes, too: It’s forced me to find new ways to stay connected with my friends, like collaborating on playlists, working out together over FaceTime, doing Zoom happy hours, etc. It’s helped me get back into running outdoors and prompted me to try the Peloton streaming workouts, which I’ve discovered I love! I’m not putting a ton of pressure on myself to accomplish SO much during this time – this is a collective traumatic experience and I’m cool with taking it easy. But I am happy with the opportunity to read a little more, learn procreate, watch some movies, and bake!

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Which brings me to these Eggs Nest Macarons. Ugh, I love these guys. I made them a few years ago (seen in this embarrassing post) and just adored how simple, delicious, and festive they are. Keep in mind, they are so freakin’ sweetBut if you’re like me and have a sweet tooth, they’re perfect. 

They incorporate three of my favorite things to satisfy my sweet tooth with: shredded coconut, chocolate hazelnut spread, and mini Cadbury eggs. I’m impressed that this year I’ve only purchased one bag of eggs. One year I think I totaled more like 10. No regrets.

Also – this was my first time using the Good & Gather brand from Target. It’s more affordable than brand name products and honestly I’m really impressed. Nutella is one of my favorite things, and this version was just as good as the real stuff. Not sponsored (omg can you imagine?!), but just thought it was worth sharing!

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Eggs Nest Macaroons

ingredients:

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 large egg white

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut

chocolate hazelnut spread

mini cadbury eggs

directions:

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt together until combined. Add in the coconut and mix.

Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape the cookie into that of a bird’s nest. It’s okay if it’s a little imperfect, most nests are! With your thumb, press down into the center of the cookie to make an indent. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Bake the cookies for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and press your thumb down in the center of the nests again. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until they are firm and set. Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
Place some chocolate hazelnut spread in the center of each nest. Place 2-3 egg candies in the center of each nest, then enjoy!

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