almond apple pie


This pie got rave reviews in spite of the odds against it. What odds do you say? Well primarily because I didn't cook it enough. Adorable right?

What happened was that I was trying so hard to bake the pie in advance without overcooking my beautiful lattice work. In hindsight this was a real low risk and silly to be concerned with. I normally make things to be consumed rather immediately and then perhaps as leftovers.

I ended up making this pie again by request for my parents on New Years. If you chose to buy pre-made crust... it will take you less than 10 minutes to put together. Isn't that incredible? A delicious and impressive pie so quickly. The secret to kicking it up a notch is absolutely the almond paste. Sure, you could skip that step but then you are just making a normal apple pie.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced apples with the lemon juice. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a separate bowl, then toss with the apples and lemon juice.
  3. Roll out your bottom crust and transfer it to a 9" pie plate. Press it up the sides.
  4. Take your almond paste, and roll it out into a thin circle, about 9" in diameter. It shouldn't be any thicker than about 1/8". Transfer the thin disc of almond paste to the pie plate and press it gently on top of your bottom crust.
  5. Fill your pie crust with the sliced apple mixture. Dot the top of the apples with the melted butter. Place in the refrigerator while you roll out the top crust.
  6. Roll out the top crust. Transfer it to the top of your pie plate and crimp the edges. Cut 5 slits in the top of the crust in the center to let steam escape. Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar (optional).
  7. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for 35-40 minutes more, until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the crust is golden. If the crust is browning too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the pie cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Shopping List
2 pie crusts (1 for the top and 1 for the bottom)
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounces almond paste
3 tablespoons butter, melted
milk + sugar, for the crust 

gingerbread macarons


I have made a lot of macarons recently - or so it feels. I made two batches of peppermint macarons in early December. I got a little fancy with my piping bag food coloring to create red swirls. But this weekend, I felt the urge to make another batch but it did not feel exciting to do more peppermint ones.

That's how I ended up with gingerbread macarons.

If you can make regular macarons, there is nothing stopping you from these seasonal favorites. I was a little nervous about how the spices would affect the almond batter consistency ... even though it is such a small amount. These shells are so ridiculously finicky that you don't want to mess with them too much. The last time I made macarons I changed up my recipe a bit and I feel pretty great about them now.

What did I change? Lowered the temp significantly to 300F and added more dry ingredients to the whipped merengue. This tutorial from Tasty is the best macaron tutorial I've ever read.

  1. I will now always look for the figure 8 in my batter. Watch the demo video and you'll see what I mean.
  2. Bloom time? I had never heard of this but it makes a lot of sense. After fully assembling the macaron, you let it sit for 24 hours (or so) in an airtight container. Macarons always felt better the next day or even a couple hours later... and now I know why.
  3.  In spite of the "figure 8 technique", I think there is a chance that I'm overmixing my batter occasionally. On the Great British Baking Show, I learned that if your macaron shells feel a bit hollow it is because they are overmixed. 
  4. Absolutely whack the cooking sheet a few times to get the air bubbles out. I could literally see them come to the surface after hitting the sheet.

Other macaroon recipes I've tried: peppermint swirl, matcha coconutmargaritaraspberry with coconut fillingstandard, and these award winning Christmas cookie variety.

  1. Make the macarons: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and process on low speed, until extra fine. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  4. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a spatula to gently fold until combined. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up. 
  5. Transfer the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. 
  6. Pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch (3-cm) circles, spacing at least 1-inch (2-cm) apart.
  7. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles. 
  8. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry to the touch. This helps the feet form under the shell.
  9. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. 11 Bake the macarons for 17 minutes, until the feet are well-risen and the macarons don’t stick to the parchment paper. 
  10. Transfer the macarons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
Shopping List
1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour, finely ground
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

iced oatmeal cookies


These cookies are addicting and delicious .... and I absolutely made some mistakes when I was making them. But wow, if you aren't interested in trying them ... please show yourself to the door.

Although technically an oatmeal cookie, it is lacking all the things that make people sad like raisins and a heavy oat textures. Sure there are a lot of oats in the recipe but you can't really tell because they are blended down to a finer texture.

My recipe came out a little bit different than the original but primarily because I freaked out about moisture. I was so worried about the dough not being able to keep together that I added about 3 tablespoons of melted butter to the dough. I'm a big fan of the result. They are almost permanently chewy but still strong enough to keep their shape and get covered in glaze.

To Make the Cookies:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the oats to a flour. Add the brown sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg and process briefly to blend. 
  2. Toss in the butter cubes and process until the butter is well incorporated and the dough begins to clump and pull off the sides of the bowl. 
  3. Add the egg yolk (save the white for the icing!) and pulse until the dough comes together. If you are worried about your dough not being moist enough you can add up to 3 tbsp of melted butter.
  4. Line a work surface with a large sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper. Turn out the dough onto the lined counter and form it into a log about 10-inches long. Wrap the dough tightly. 
  5. Chill the dough for a minimum of 3 hours in the fridge.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a thin, sharp knife to slice the dough log into 2 dozen rounds, each just shy of 1/2-inch thick. Transfer the rounds, evenly spaced about 2 inches apart, to the prepared baking sheets. 
  7. Bake until golden and firm on the edges. Should be between 12 - 18 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely—they will crisp all the way through as they cool. 

To Make the Icing:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the egg white, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix until smooth and thick. 
  2. Blend in 1 teaspoon of water until smooth. 
  3. To ice the cookies, working 1 at a time, just touch the top of the cookie to the icing. Don't submerge it. 
  4. Let the excess icing drip off and then set the iced cookie on a wire rack. If the icing begins to firm while you’re dipping, give it a quick mix with a fork and perhaps add a drop or two of water if needed. 
  5. Allow the icing to dry completely before serving, about 1 hour. 
Shopping List
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup  firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup  all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes + 3 tbsp melted butter (if needed)
1 large egg yolk

1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
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