Homebakers Collective February Challenge:

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

What Kind of Macaron Are You?

Blackberry Mint Macarons

Tangy, sweet and fresh – just like yours truly.

Fresh ‘n Tart Blackberry Mint Jam:

  • 1 pint fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Mint Macarons:

  • 200g almond flour
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 150ml egg whites, room temperature, divided
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, crushing blackberries with a fork or spoon as they start releasing their juices. Cook for 15 minutes, until thick. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Strain using a mesh strainer to remove most of the seeds. I like to add 1 TBSP of the seeds back into the smooth mixture and discard the rest. Refrigerate.

Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats (preferred) or parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar to combine. Press through a fine mesh strainer, into a large bowl, using your fingers or a rubber spatula to work it through.

Place 75 ml of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Put the other 75 ml into the bowl of almond flour and stir with a rubber spatula until it is a smooth, thick paste. Let sit.

In a small saucepan, combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Swirl pan gently to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until syrup reaches 245 degrees. Meanwhile, whip egg whites in stand mixer on medium speed until they reach medium peaks. When the syrup has reached temperature, pour it slowly down the side of the stand mixer bowl while mixer is running. Once all syrup has been incorporated, increase mixer to high and beat until the meringue is stiff and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled meringue to the almond flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and flows off the spatula easily. Mix in the fresh mint until well combined.

Fill pastry bag with half the mixture and pipe onto prepared baking sheets in 2″ rounds, leaving space between them as they will spread. Once the cookie sheet is full, drop it onto the counter from about 12″ high to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Continue piping rounds until all the mixture is used.

Set the cookie sheets aside until the macaron batter dries and forms a skin – when pressed lightly with a fingertip the batter will be dry, not tacky.

When the macarons are dry, bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes, rotating pan at 6 minutes, until they are firm but are still pale.

Let cool completely before peeling off and matching.

Place all cream cheese filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping bowl if necessary. Do not over-whip.

Fit pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill with frosting.

Match macaron shells

Stir 1 TBSP fresh mint into cooled blackberry jam.

Pipe a ring of cream cheese filling around the base of one macaron shell. Fill the center generously with blackberry mint jam. Top with second macaron shell, pressing down gently to seal. Repeat.

Place sandwiched macarons in an airtight container, or wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Blueberry Muffins

Breakfast, Muffins, Unfussy

I made these for an after school snack this week and then immediately made them again. The addition of coconut oil keeps the muffins nice and moist for a couple days, if they last that long. I like to add the blueberries with the flour to the mixer which helps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin, and so some of the blueberries break down and get jammy up in there.

  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup triple-filtered coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Cream butter, coconut oil and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl in between. Add vanilla and mix.

Whisk nutmeg, flour, salt and baking powder together. Add blueberries to flour and toss to combine.

Add half of the flour/blueberry mixture to the mixer and mix briefly. Add the sour cream and mix. Add the remaining flour/blueberries and mix well. Give it a good stir with the spatula to make sure it is evenly mixed.

Divide batter among the 12-cups – each about 3/4 full.

Sprinkle a generous 1/2 tsp Turbinado sugar over each muffin.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, until the center of the muffins are just firm.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I know this is controversial, but I think the oatmeal raisin cookie may just be the best cookie out there. These are soft and chewy. You can bake these right after mixing, but they keep their shape better if you refrigerate the dough for an hour before baking.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add honey and vanilla and mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until well blended. Stir in oats and raisins, scrape the bowl and mix well.

Shape into balls using about 2 tablespoons of dough, (or use a cookie scoop) and place onto a cookie sheet to chill in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookie dough onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet about 3″ apart. Bake for 12-18 minutes until light brown.

Tell people that yes, they do have raisins, but just try them already.

Favorite Cornbread

Unfussy
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This is my favorite cornbread recipe. I feel like it splits the difference between Northern (dry) and Southern (sweet) style cornbread- it’s tender and lightly sweetened. I usually make it in a cast iron pan with bacon drippings because that is how Mother Nature intended cornbread to be made. My Dad splits cornbread and tops it with a pat of butter and a heavy drizzle of sorghum, which is hard to beat.

  • 1 TBSP butter or bacon grease
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 1 TBSP butter/bacon grease in an 8-inch cast iron pan and place in the oven to melt. Alternately, grease an 8-inch pan and set aside.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

Whisk milk and egg together in a large measuring cup. Pour over cornmeal mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in 4 TBSP melted butter.

Remove pan from oven and swirl butter/grease around so it coats the bottom of the pan. Pour batter into pan.

Bake 20 minutes until lightly brown.

Leftovers can be made into Cornbread Skillet Cake: https://bakersanonymous.org/2019/10/08/cornbread-skillet-cake/

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Breakfast, Muffins, Unfussy

These muffins pop up in my kitchen and my sister-in-law’s kitchen frequently – pretty much whenever there are 3 ripe bananas that need to be used. They stay moist and are kinda healthy.

This recipe is from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (3 large)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, banana and honey and mix until smooth. Beat in eggs. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add to egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Remove from mixer and give a good stir to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Fill muffin cups almost to the top. Bake 20-25 minutes, until firm in the center.