Total time: 2 hours, 50 minutes (includes resting time before baking) plus cooling time for compote
Servings: About 5 dozen cookies
Note: From executive pastry chef Sherry Yard of Spago, with Sixto Pocasangre. Save extra compote for another use.
6 tablespoons butter, cut in
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and scraped of seeds
3 large or 4 medium Fuji
apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. In a large skillet over a medium flame add the butter, vanilla bean and seeds, cook until the butter turns golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the apples, letting them caramelize on one side, then turn, about 5 minutes total.
2. Sprinkle the sugar and brown sugar over the apples and cook, turning occasionally to caramelize and soften the fruit, about 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream and continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean and put the apple mixture in a food processor, add lemon juice and pulse until smooth. Cool over ice, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (This can be made and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week.)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Scant 4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon blackstrap
1. Line two 17-by-12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, blend the almond flour, powdered sugar, ginger and cinnamon for 1 minute. Sift the blended almond mixture directly into a medium mixing bowl. Set aside. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
2. Fill a small saucepan halfway with water. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Place the bowl over the pot of hot water and whisk quickly until the egg whites reach 100 degrees on a candy thermometer.
3. Remove the bowl from the pot of water and whisk in the cream of tartar. Place it on a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on medium speed for 2 minutes, then gradually beat in the sugar. Continue whipping for 6 minutes until the egg whites come to medium stiff peaks and are shiny.
4. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and carefully spoon in the molasses. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add egg whites to the almond mixture by gently bringing the flat side of a rubber spatula through the center of the egg whites and up the opposite side of the bowl, folding the dry ingredients over the egg whites. Repeat the same motion 50 times, turning the bowl a quarter turn each time.
5. Fit a pastry bag with a medium round tip (No. 4) and fill with the mixture. On the parchment-lined baking sheets, pipe 1-inch rounds (the batter will be slightly wet) by holding the bag at a slight angle and releasing small amounts of batter. Allow one-half inch between cookies; they will spread slightly. Keep the piped cookies at room temperature, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours. (This will help form a skin.)
6. Heat the oven to 325 degrees, placing the racks in the center and lower shelves of the oven.
7. Bake the macarons for 12 minutes, reverse the trays on the racks and rotate. Bake 12 to 14 minutes more, or until firm and not wet. Cool on a rack.
8. Fill the macarons by placing the apple compote in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a one-half-inch round of filling on to the bottom (flat side) of one cookie, then place another cookie on top to make a sandwich (try to pick two cookies the same size and shape). Twist gently to spread the filling. These are best filled 1 hour before eating so that the apple compote makes the macaron melt in your mouth.
Note: From chef Alain Giraud. This recipe calls for metal nonstick mini madeleine molds. You can also use light-colored molds, but the cookies will be lighter.
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 cup flour
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 vanilla bean
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
7 egg whites
1 tablespoon orange
Grated zest of 1 orange
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, powdered sugar and baking powder. Set aside.
2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a small saucepan. Add the scraped pod and butter; over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pod and allow the butter to cool.
3. Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients and combine well. Add the honey, then the brown butter and orange zest and mix until well combined. Chill the batter at least 2 hours. (Keep batter chilled between baking batches.)
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nonstick mini madeleine mold with soft butter or cooking spray (if using butter, grease the mold twice). Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium round (No. 4) tip. Pipe a small amount, about the size of a quarter, into the molds. The batter should not reach the edges of the mold as it will spread. Bake until brown at the edges, about 10 minutes.
5. Let rest for 1 minute and unmold the madeleines. Serve immediately. (Be sure to store them so that they don't touch each other as they will stick together.)
Raisin-filled sugar and spice cookies Total time: 55 minutes, plus chilling time of 2 to 3 hours
Servings: 12 cookies
Note: From chef de cuisine Craig Strong of the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. You'll need a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter. Sanding sugar can be found at Surfas.
1/2 cup butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped of seeds
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup golden raisins
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Coarse sugar, such as sanding sugar
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter, vanilla bean seeds and 1 cup sugar, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat in the milk and eggs one at a time; mix well.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom into a large bowl. Add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic film and chill 2 to 3 hours, until dough is firm.
3. For the filling, mix the raisins, one-third cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and ginger in a small saucepan. Stir together the cornstarch and one-half cup water until smooth and add this to the raisin mixture. Heat, stirring occasionally, to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the dough in half and roll out two rectangles one-eighth-inch thick. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks and cream with a fork. Lightly brush one rectangle of dough with the egg yolk mixture.
5. Spoon 12 mounds, about a tablespoon each, of the raisin mixture spread 3 1/2 inches apart on the sheet of dough. Cover with the other sheet of dough and cut around the mound of filling with a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter. Rework the excess dough, re-roll, fill and cut for the remainder of the cookies. Lift filled cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Total time: 50 minutes, plus several hours chilling time
Servings: Makes about 6 1/2 dozen
Note: From pastry chef Michelle Myers of Boule and Sona. Coarse sugar crystals can be found at Surfas in Culver City.
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 pinches salt
3 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped top-quality chocolate such as Valrhona 70% cacao
Grated zest of 1/3 lemon
1 egg white
1/4 cup coarse sugar crystals
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture and mix until well combined. Mix in the chocolate and lemon zest. Add the egg white and mix just until blended.
3. Roll the dough into two 1 1/4 -inch diameter round logs and wrap in plastic film. Chill several hours or overnight. Cut the logs into rounds about three-eighths-inch thick.
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the whole egg. Place the sugar crystals in another small dish. Dip the sides only of each cookie into the egg and then in the sugar crystals. Place the sablés on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes until slightly puffed in the center. Place the baking sheet on a rack and let cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing them from parchment paper.