Homemade Hummus

For some reason, homemade hummus has always sounded daunting to me. But whenever I really thought about it, I knew it was probably the easiest thing to just blend everything together in the food processor. My thinking was right, but it does take a lot of time to end up with a batch of hummus (if you used dried chickpeas). I think it’s strictly the convenience of buying a tub of hummus at the store that kept me doing that. Now that I’ve finally made it at home, I think I’ve been converted.

Purists say that you can only used dried and cooked chickpeas to make authentic hummus. Again, for convenience sake, a lot of bloggers say that canned chickpeas work just fine and don’t really make a difference in the outcome. I used dried and cooked chickpeas for this hummus because J bought a ton on sale at the grocery store, but you do you! Whatever works best.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (15 oz), drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water (and more as needed)
  • 1 large garlic clove or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • juice of 1 or 2 lemons, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Smoked paprika, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until desired consistency. Taste as you go and add more garlic, lemon juice, salt, water, tahini, based on your desired tastes and consistency.
  2. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, paprika, and herbs. Serve with pita, veggies, or what have you.
  3. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week.

     

    You can easily make this hummus into whatever you want. If you’d like to add roasted garlic, do it! Or add some roasted red peppers. Or substitute some chickpeas for other beans. Honestly, you can experiment with whatever flavors you want.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The buttercream to ruin all buttercreams. It’ll make you rethink what “a lot of butter” means. And leave you with several egg yolks that you won’t know what to do with. It’s so light like air, slightly sweet, and very buttery. I use this buttercream for frosting almost all of my cakes and cupcakes and also for macaron fillings.

It’s incredibly versatile and can be kept frozen until you need it.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz (283.5g) egg whites (it’s okay to go a tad over)
  • 150g sugar, you can add more to taste if you wish
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • the scrapings from 1 vanilla bean or 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter, cut into 2” chunks and softened to a spreadable state

Instructions

  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean together in an clean bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of water and turn the heat on medium low. You don’t need the water to even simmer, you just want it hot enough to steam, since steam is what actually heats the whites.
  2. Whisk frequently to prevent an egg white omelet forming on the sides, but continual mixing isn’t necessary. Aim to get the mixture to at least a 145° for food safety reasons, but reaching 150° would make for a nice margin of error. If your egg whites are at room temperature, this won’t take very long, maybe just a few minutes. Whites straight from the fridge will take longer.
  3. When the mixture is sufficiently hot, remove from the heat and use the whisk attachment to whip on medium high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume and turned snowy white. Continue whipping until the meringue is cool. Use your hands to feel the bowl itself, rather than simply testing the temperature of the meringue. You want it to feel perfectly cool to the touch with no trace of warmth. Note: if you are using a glass or ceramic bowl, even if the meringue has cooled, the bowl itself may still be quite warm and continue conducting heat into the buttercream over time. If you are using a glass or ceramic bowl, transfer the meringue to a new bowl before proceeding or continue mixing until the bowl itself is cool.
  4. Turn the mixer down to medium-low and begin adding in the butter, one chunk at a time. By the time you’ve added all the butter, you may need to scrape down the bowl to fully incorporate any butter or meringue that’s stuck at the sides.
  5. Finally, splash in some vanilla bean extract or whatever you desire. Just keep adding a 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it suits your tastes.

Adapted from BraveTart.

 

French Macarons (GF)

Macarons are all-the-rage these days as they’re the new “trendy” dessert. They’re light yet decadent and a beautiful little treat. They’re often touted as impossible to make at home, and there are countless blogs out there that claim to have “foolproof” recipes for this difficult-to-master dessert. I can’t tell you how many FAQ posts I’ve seen about macarons. There are also so many superstitions about aging egg whites, humidity, letting them sit out to develop “skins,” and so forth.

Honestly, they’re hard, but they’re also not hard at the same time. I tried seven times to make macarons at home and failing each time before totally throwing in the towel. While all of my macarons tasted fine, none of the recipes I tried produced good looking ones. Which in macaron world, appearances are apparently everything.

Fast forward two years later, I found BraveTart’s recipe and it changed my world. I loved how she had a “no frills” approach to making macarons and I decided to tackle them once again. I followed her recipe, and first try, I came out with perfect macarons. I was jumping up and down with joy and disbelief. I NO LONGER HAD TO PAY $2 FOR A TINY LITTLE MACARON AT STORES ANYMORE!

It’s been amazing and I love playing around with flavor combinations. Some that I’ve made are matcha, salted dulce de leche, salted caramel, miel latte, peppermint, vanilla, and cinnamon chestnut. While I’ve found lots of success with this recipe, I will say that toying around too much with additions can definitely mess up the results. Since they are finicky, you’ll still probably wind up with the occasional cracked macaron. Either way, it’s fine, it tastes amazing, eat it anyway!

While I love macarons, I really don’t like how sweet they are. To combat that, I don’t add much sugar to the filling and I add more salt to the shells–you’ll see that reflected in the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
  • 8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces egg whites (144g)
  • 2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
  • the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp (2-4g) kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and have ready a large pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip. You’ll also need two parchment lined sheet pans ready too.
  2. Sift almond flour with the powdered sugar and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.
  4. Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.
  5. At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed.
  6. At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue. (Check out this photo if you’d like to see a picture of how your meringue should look.) When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.
  7. Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a rubbing/smearing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.First timers: the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible at first. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully. You want to knock the air out of them.Undermixed macaron batter: quite stiff. If you spoon some out and drop it back into the mix, it will just sit there and never incorporate. Do this test before bagging your batter and save yourself the trouble of baking of undermixed macarons.
    Overmixed macaron batter: has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously, making it impossible to pipe into pretty circles.

    Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.

  8. Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag and pipe the batter onto the sheets.
  9. After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and hit it hard against your counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack. Keep smashing it against a hard surface until you’re sure all the air bubbles are out.
  10. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from a macaron. If, when you try to pick up a macaron, the top comes off in your hand, it’s not done.
  11. Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly on the pans, before peeling the cooled macarons from the parchment.
  12. Fill a pastry bag fitted with the buttercream of your choice and pipe a quarter sized mound of buttercream into half of the shells, then sandwich them with their naked halves.

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the buttercream too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. If at all possible, set them out at room temperature for a few hours before consuming.

Adapted from BraveTart.

Ginger Molasses Cookies (GF, Paleo)

It’s National Cookie Day! I wouldn’t have known unless I saw a hashtag about it on Twitter at work. I’m not a huge cookie person, mainly because I’m a snob when it comes to them. I often find that they’re too sweet, too dry, too crunchy, etc. So if you find a cookie recipe I recommend, it’s usually one I hold highly.

I sold these cookies at my first charity pop up and thought they were pretty good for a gluten free, paleo option! They definitely pale in comparison to their fully gluten, non-paleo counterparts, but I think they are great for what they are. The cracks on the top are gorgeous and they’re a nice and light substitute.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/256g almond butter (roasted unsalted)
  • 3 Tablespoons/45g unsulphured molasses
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/3 cup/72g coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup/30g coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or by hand, beat together the almond butter, molasses, eggs and freshly grated ginger until smooth.
  3. Into a medium bowl, sift together coconut sugar, coconut flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, clove, salt, and pepper.
  4. Slowly add the sugar and spice mixture to the almond butter mixture while mixing on low until just combined.
  5. Drop the dough by the rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until firm around the edges and starting to crack in the center (the cookies will looked slightly puffed but will flatten and crackle more as they cool), about 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets out of the oven then transfer the parchment paper with the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen.