French Macarons
(courtesy of Nicholle Alumbaugh, Homage Bakery in Reno, makes 18 cookies) 9 tablespoons powdered sugar
5 tablespoons almond meal
Aged egg whites from 2 eggs, room temperature*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Food coloring, optional (natural food coloring is available at Whole Foods Market, Reno) *To age egg whites, carefully separate eggs, reserving yolks, and leave whites out at room temperature for about two days. This process affects acidity, which makes for better macaroons, Alumbaugh says. Combine powdered sugar and almond meal in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Using a sieve, sift two times. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites on medium until foamy. Gradually add sugar. Once sugar has been incorporated, increase speed** to high and continue to whip until stiff peaks are achieved. (**If using food coloring, add during the first few seconds of increasing speed.) Using a sieve, sift dry ingredients for a third time over stiff egg whites. Fold dry ingredients into whites, until batter resembles a shiny lava. Transfer batter into a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch, plain pastry tip. Pipe ¾-inch rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, one inch apart. Let cookies stand at room temperature for 60 minutes. While resting sheet of cookies, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.   Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Sandwich two cookies together with desired filling. Place in airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Fillings for Macarons

(courtesy of Nicholle Alumbaugh, Homage Bakery in Reno) Ganache 8 ounces dark chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons liqueur or 1 teaspoon natural extract of choice Melt chocolate over double-boiler. Add heavy cream and liqueur. Mix until well combined. Cool to room temperature before using. Swiss Meringue Buttercream Whites from 3 eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature Place egg whites and sugar into heatproof mixing bowl. Place over simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form. With a paddle attachment, slowly beat in butter until smooth. Flavor as desired by adding natural extracts, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or your favorite preserves. Lemon Curd 3 large eggs
10 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature Combine eggs, sugar, and juice in heatproof bowl. Place over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until thickened. Remove from heat and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto curd to prevent skin from forming. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to plastic container and refrigerate up to one week.

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