I have been meaning to do a round up post with some of my favorite macaron flavors & design, and it’s finally here. I love the flexibility of combining flavors in a macaron, something small and simple that can pack a flavor punch. The first macaron pictured is a caramel popcorn macaron. The macaron shell is made out of ground up popcorn & almond flour. Sandwiched in the middle is a smooth and decadent caramel buttercream, one of my favorites. Together they are combined to something resembling one of my favorite late-night snacks, caramel popcorn. The next macarons are actually just a simple vanilla filling, but I had so much fun experimenting with “painting” on the macaron shell. Turns out, macarons are the perfect blank canvas for colors, not only flavors. The next macarons are pink peppermint, made with crushed candy canes sprinkled on the shell, and a chocolate & peppermint filling. I adore chocolate and mint as a combination, as together they remind me of the festive and indulgent nature of the holidays. The bee macarons are lemon flavored, and I had so much fun drawing little bees buzzing about it. Again, the perfect canvas. The last macarons featured are black and white truffle macarons. The macaron shells are made with hazelnut flour. The black truffle filling is made with dark chocolate and a black truffle infusion, along with some truffle oil. The white truffle filling is made with white chocolate and a white truffle infusion. Indulgent, sweet, and just a little bit savory.
It's been a sunny season of eating fresh fruit and a lot of simple cooking. Earlier this summer I really wanted to create a different lemon tart, but still very familiar. I love a delicate & tangy lemon curd with an extra buttery tart base, a classic for a reason. It's common to top it off with a cloud of torched meringue, but I didn't want that. More decidedly, I didn't need that. Just some whipped cream with a touch of elderflower cordial and strawberries, the first of the season (can you tell how late this summer post is?). I find that in the summer whenever I am holding a piece of fruit or contemplating what to eat for dinner, less is more.
The arrival of spring immediately brings to mind one of fruit, lemon. While citrus is a winter fruit, I can't help but correlate the tart and crisp flavors of lemon to spring. It's refreshing, and March is all about hitting refresh on your daily routines. The layers of clothing slowly come off, the sun doesn't disappear after 4pm, and the warm weather is energizing. Once I learned how to make lemon curd, I was hooked. The combination of eggs, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and butter is tangy, citrusy, and delicious. To highlight one of my favorite flavors, this dessert is a play on a lemon meringue tart. It is made with lemon curd, shortbread shell, meringue crisps, yogurt with blood orange juice, and fresh figs. Just imagine a creamy and citrusy curd, with a buttery tart shell, crispy and crunchy meringue, tangy yogurt, sweet blood orange juice, and a ripe fresh fig. Separately, they're good. But together all the components add up to a light and refreshing dessert perfect for the arrival of spring.
Petit fours can make or break a person's restaurant experience. When VIP's, friends, and guests come to eat, the last impression is dessert. I like to leave a big impression with a small bite, and I do that with petit fours. After a large meal and many courses, people tend to want a small bite to satiate their sweet tooth. Usually guests can look forward to chocolates, macarons, or pate de fruit as an ending, but I thought it would be nice to try something different. Why not mini tarts and cream puffs? While not exactly ground breaking, I like playing with familiar flavors and making them bite-sized. First is a smores tart with a graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache, and toasted meringue. After is a lemon meringue tart with a vanilla crust, lemon curd, toasted meringue, and citrus tuile. Next is all chocolate with a chocolate crust, chocolate ganache, cocoa nib streusel, and Valrhona crunchy pearls. Last but not least is a salted caramel cream puff topped with a generous pour of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of caramelized hazelnuts. Small bites with a bang.
The beginning of Spring marks a whole array of fresh produce and new products for chefs to use. Unfortunately this year, the late arrival of Spring leaves much to be desired. The lack of produce as a result of such a cold and long winter leaves one feeling meh. To start off this new season, I decided to play around with the flavors of lemon, basil, and yogurt. Good citrus is still available and I wanted to ease into Spring without having to use the first of the season's fruits. I love to wait until its the height of the fruit season before fully incorporating it into my dessert. Here's to the first dessert of Spring.