good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Month: June 2015

Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia

Crystal Cave and Trees of Sequoia

A day after we made it back down the mountain from this  Pear Lake excursion and after a good night’s sleep, we returned to the park for a tour of Crystal Cave. I was really looking forward to this for two reasons: 1. checking out […]

Pear Lake

Pear Lake

We just returned from a rigorous backpacking trip that was my first introduction to extreme outdoors adventure (I am inexperienced in backpacking and much of outdoor activity, so this was extreme for me). While I recover, K will tell you all about it here: I’d […]

Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

Cocoa Nib Macarons with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream


It’s been a while since I’ve had macarons and I am especially missing the fabulous Pierre Herme kind from this trip. I haven’t found anything remotely close in my part of town so I decided to make my own. At least this way I could get the flavors I wanted, go a little crazy with experimentation, and fix that craving. Done and done.

Since the cocoa nibs worked out so well in this recipe, I decided they would make a reappearance here in the macaron shells. They really intensify the chcocolate flavor and pair especially well with… bourbon! Yes, indeed chocolate+ vanilla+ bourbon = pure satisfaction.







Recipe adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

Yield: 2 dozen

2/3 cup ground almonds

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large egg whites at room temperature (aged for at least 24 hrs)

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa nibs


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, grind almonds, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder to a fine powder. Sift through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.

In a stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until frothy. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites turn glossy and stiff peaks form.

Add the almond flour mixture all at once and fold to combine with a rubber spatula. Scoop batter from the bottom and fold over the top. Continue until the batter is smooth, but do not over mix. Test a small amount, the size of a quarter by dropping onto a plate. If the batter spreads nicely and does not have a peak, it is ready. If there is a stiff peak, continue folding the batter for a few more turns.

Fill a pastry fitted with a medium size tip with batter. Squeeze the batter onto the prepared parchment lined sheetpan forming 1” circles and spacing at least ½” apart. When the pan is full (you will have 2 separate batches and repeat this process twice), rap gently on the countertop to release any air pockets. Sprinkle cocoa nibs on top of the piped batter. *The second batch will be plain and not have cocoa nibs.

Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake macarons for 12- 18 minutes until slightly crisp on top. The tops should not wiggle when pressed slightly. If they wiggle, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for 2 more minutes or until they are slightly firmer.

Place the sheetpan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.


Vanilla Bourbon Buttercream

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country

Yield: 3 cups

1 vanilla bean, scraped

2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Pinch of table salt

2 ½ cup powdered sugar

2 ½ sticks (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons bourbon

In a standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, scrape bowl and add the vanilla seeds, milk, and bourbon and beat until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.


Sandwich the buttercream between one plain macaron shell and a cocoa nib topped shell. Continue until all shells are filled. Place in an air tight container and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight to let the flavors meld. Bring to room temperature before enjoying.

Shrimp and Chive Gyoza

Shrimp and Chive Gyoza

Anytime we go out to eat at a Japanese restaurant, I always order gyoza which are dumplings filled with a combination of meat and vegetables and then steamed and fried. Alternatively, they are also made with edamame or a vegetarian filling. In my family, we […]

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