Easy Nut-Free French Macarons

 

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Over the summer, I took a break from the blog to spend time with my kids and to catch up on many neglected projects around the hive. It was a good change of pace and I have many things to share. What I’m trying to say is…I’m baaaack!

I’m not sure if you should be happy or afraid. Your pick.

Because I have a sweet tooth and I want to go to Paris someday, I made some French macarons. The trouble with macarons is that they are made with almond flour and I’m allergic to almonds.

Let’s all take a moment to throw a tiny pity party for me.

That was fun.

So, being allergic to almonds, I had to find a substitute. Naturally, I turned to sunflower seeds. They are my go-to nut replacement. I use them to make peanut-free peanut sauce, or “unpeanut” sauce as we now refer to it, homemade sunflower seed butter and all sorts of delicious treats. More on those later.

Today, we focus on the lovely French macaron.

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Just a side note: A macaroon is a coconut concoction and macaron refers to this heavenly French delight.

Moving along.

These were surprisingly simple to make. And that is dangerous, my friends.

 

You will need:

1 c. powdered sugar

3/4 c. sunflower seed flour (or almond flour)*

2 large egg whites at room temperature

1/4 c. white granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

food coloring (optional)

*To make your own sunflower seed flour, place roasted sunflower seeds into a food processor and process for about a minute.  The mixture will look coarse and crumbly.  Resist the temptation to go longer, as the blade will heat the oil causing the mixture to become sticky.  Sift the mixture through a fine sieve.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. Pulse powdered sugar and sunflower seed (or almond) flour in a food processor until combined.  Sift with a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
  3. Whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until they are foamy.
  4. Add cream of tartar and mix on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.
  5. Add the granulated sugar and mix on low until incorporated and then switch to high speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Add flour mixture to the egg whites, half at a time, and fold gently until mixture is smooth and glossy.  If using food coloring, add it at this step to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  7. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag  or a quart-size zip top freezer bag.  If using a pastry bag, use a plain 1/2″ round tip.  If using a zip top bag, snip the corner to make a small hole. Err on the side of a smaller hole rather than larger.
  8. Pipe onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1″ apart.  Tap the baking sheet on the counter top to get rid of air pockets and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  9. Place in oven and reduce to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through the cooking time, until they are firm and crispy.
  10. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and transfer to wire rack. If they stick to the parchment, lift the parchment at one end and drizzle a few drops of water underneath the paper.  This causes steam from the hot baking sheet to release the macaron.
  11. Using 2 macarons that are the same size, sandwich with one teaspoon of your filling of choice.

Filling Options:

  • buttercream
  • chocolate ganache
  • chocolate hazelnut spread
  • seedless raspberry jam
  • dulce de leche

Today, I went for a classic vanilla buttercream.

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For a chocolate version:  Substitute 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in place of 1/4 cup of the sunflower (or almond) flour.

If you have a favorite macaron flavor, leave a comment and send me back to the kitchen!


			

Make sushi at home

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Please forgive me.  It has been a few weeks since my last post.  I have been busy and this is beginning to sound like a confession of sorts.  What a weird way to begin a blog post.  But, by  now you know me and would expect nothing less.

Now that this month of crazy is coming to an end, I promise I’ll be better at trying to post more regularly.  Don’t you love my commitment?  I’ll be better at trying to post more regularly.  Don’t be like me.

But, if you’re already like me, you need to eat gluten-free to be healthy. Also, if you’re like me, you prefer to stay at home in your t-shirt and yoga pants and have dinner and a movie night with the family.  Fun for all ages!

Although, sushi is healthy, store-bought or restaurant sushi is typically not gluten-free. The seaweed wraps and rice do not contain gluten, but the fillings can contain soy sauce, which contains gluten.

What’s a gluten-free girl to do?

She makes her own at home. That’s what!

Here’s what you need:

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bamboo mat

Nori (aka seaweed wraps)

1.5 cups Jasmine or sushi rice (cooked with 3 cups of water)

4 oz. smoked salmon (sliced into long strips)

1 cucumber (peeled, seeded and cut into strips)

1 avocado (sliced)

wasabi sauce

rice vinegar

gluten-free tamari or soy sauce

 

Here’s what you do:

Measure out rice and water into a pan and set on high heat.  When the water begins to boil, turn down to low heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and fluff with a fork or rice paddle.

I would advise letting the rice cool, with the lid off, for several minutes so you don’t burn off your finger tips.  You will need those in the future.

Lay out the bamboo mat.  You can buy a mat specifically for sushi, or you can do what I do and use a place mat.  I have also been known to roll the sushi without a mat.  I’m a rebel.

Place a sheet of nori on top.  Sprinkle cooled rice over the nori, leaving about a quarter of an inch border on the bottom edge and about a half-inch along the top edge.  It only takes about a half cup of cooked rice for each roll.  Dip your fingers into a small bowl of rice vinegar to keep the rice from sticking and press the rice into an even layer across the nori.

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Make a horizontal indentation with your fingers along the middle of the rice and add a strip of salmon, cucumber and avocado slices extending from one side to the other.  It’s ok if you don’t go all the way to the edges, as you will trim the ends to make it all look pretty.

Squeeze a generous amount of wasabi sauce along the filling.  I like it hot, some like it not.  Do whatever makes you and your loved ones happy.  Or, surprise them and sit back and enjoy the show.

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Dip your fingers into the vinegar again and moisten the top edge of the nori.  Working quickly, roll the nori away from you and over the fillings all the way to the top edge, making sure it seals evenly across.  Use the mat or towel to lift and roll.

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Let sit, seam side down, while making the remaining rolls.

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When all rolls are complete, trim the ends with a sharp knife and slice into 1-inch pieces.  Between cuts, wipe the knife for cleaner slices.  It’s nice to have a friend who is willing to eat the ugly end pieces to destroy the evidence of you being anything but perfect in your sushi-rolling endeavors.

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I usually make my sushi in advance and cover and refrigerate until the chaos has subsided and we are all ready to sit down together.

When ready to serve. Make a dipping sauce with the wasabi sauce, tamari or soy sauce and rice vinegar mixed together.  I use small bowls for the sauce so that everybody can make their own according to their own tastes.

We buy frozen edamame to eat with our sushi.  Five minutes in the microwave and it’s ready to sprinkle with coarse sea salt and to eat.

Making sushi at home is easy and inexpensive. I can feed my family a meal of sushi and edamame for under $10. The fact that I can wear a t-shirt and yoga pants and watch a movie while I eat is a bonus.

Sayonara folks!