Snackventure: Lisa goes to Lou Malnati’s

Lisa may be a born and bred New Yorker, but thanks to a little help from Shannon and I, she’s really coming along as a newly-imported Chicagoan. She’s waited in hours-long lines at Hot Doug’s, driven by the line outside of Kuma’s Corner and said, “Um… maybe next time,” and she even knows not to let her visitors talk her into going to Navy Pier because it sucks.

She drinks Intelligencia coffee, heads to Superdawg for late-night munchies and now she can check another one of her list because she’s conquered Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. Shannon and I were so excited to share our favorite high calorie snack we couldn’t help but act a little stupid… you’ll see.

Our little Lisa is really growing up! She’ll be calling her soda “pop” in no time!


SnackLab: Macaron Madness (+ a giveaway)

After Natalie appeared on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight one thing was abundantly clear to us: most Chicagoans hear “macaron” and think of those coconut things. Now, don’t start hating, those coconut things are good too. In fact, Cakespy covered the lowly coconut macaron so well on her site we almost wanted to make those instead of these fussy, chewy little French jobbers. But there’s no denying it – French macarons are worth the trouble. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, a crispy shell with a chewy center… and all those colors!

So, Natalie and Lisa tried their hands at these sweet little burgers while Shannon was off making Chicago more beautiful one head of hair at a time. Of course there’s video evidence, along with some helpful scenes that should make your first crack at macaron-making a breeze.

Before you begin, separate your egg whites from the yolks and let them age in your fridge for 2 days. Yep. Two days. We don’t know why, just do it. Also, you want to use 2/3 pasteurized eggs and 1/3 unpasteurized. What are we, your biology teachers? Google it!

You also might need to pick up a few special tools including:

  • One or two Silpats
  • French baking sheets (or you can double up equally-sized baking sheets – the thing is, you want a heavy baking sheet)
  • a stand mixer
  • a candy thermometer

Lisa has outlined the recipe and steps for plain macaron shells as follows:


  • 300g almond flour (leave out to dry on sheet pan for a couple of hours)
  • 300 g confectioner’s sugar


  • 110g egg whites
  • 300 g sugar
  • 75 gwater
  • 110 g more egg whites
  1. Sift the almond flour & confectioner’s sugar together, then put into food processor for about 30 seconds. You want it to look like sand but not too powdery. (If you were adding powdered color you would do that here.)
  2. Place TBT mix in the bowl of your stand mixer, add 110 g egg whites, mix with paddle to a firm paste. Let sit.
  3. Meringue: boil sugar and water on stove top to 110 c. When it reaches this temp mix egg whites with whisk in stand mixer.
  4. When the water/sugar mix hits 120 c, slowly add to whipped egg whites. Mix til it cools down aprox 40 c.
  5. Slowly fold part of meringue mixture into paste mixture, then slowly add the rest. Do not mix too much – it should be thick, soft and shiny.
  6. Pipe 2 cm cookies onto a double cookie sheet covered in Silpat or parchment. Place in oven pre-heated to 300 degrees F for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn pan and then cook for another 10 in a vented oven. Don’t be afraid to keep opening the oven and checking on them – they should be able to slide off Silpat when they are done.
  8. You want your macaron shells to be shiny, not cracked and, if you really want to be fancy – you’re looking for a foot. Yes, a foot. You can read more about cookies with feet on Joe Pastry, we have other things to do.
  9. Cool and fill. (You can find lots of filling recipes here, we’re not telling how to make Lisa’s super secret salted caramel.)

Win me!

Macarons are generally better the next day because the filling has a chance to soak into the cookie, and as an added bonus, you can freeze them for a few weeks so you always have some on hand.

Shannon showed up while we were filling these puppies (you’ll hear her “yeeeaaaahhhh!” at the end of the video) and we promptly ate half the batch, ready or not.

And to celebrate our success, we’re giving away this adorable one-of-a-kind painting by Very Small Anna – Fifi Has Excellent Taste in French Food. Enter to win it by leaving us a comment about your dream macaron flavor. What kind of shell? What flavor filling? We want to know! We’ll pick a winner on 3/27/10.

So that’s how you do the macaron-a. Until next time, don’t stop snacking – and keep it brutal!

Snackventure: Logan Square Kitchen Pastry Market

Natalie, Shannon & Lisa

Well first and foremost BrutalSnack is proud to announce that we are now a menage a tou! Shannon and I could not face another day of snacking brutally without our dear friend Lisa of Brass Knuckle Brownies by our side. (We have one collective side, and it’s a bad side… so stay off of it.)

Now that we are complete, we took our snacking on the road (um, like a mile from all of our houses) and visited Logan Square Kitchen‘s fancy Pastry Market. That day also happened to be sweet little Shannon’s 24th birthday, so Lisa and I thought we’d try and drown our old lady sorrows in some sustainable pastries and sweets from B True Bakery, FIG Catering, Floriole Bakery, Flour Cake & Pastry, Katherine Anne Confections, Macaron Chicago, Nice Cream, Rare Bird Preserves, Rich Chocolates & Candies, Sugarkist, and Tinycakes.

Drown ’em we did, girl! Despite the hellacious crowds totally cock blocking our persist of cupcakes and the occasional crew of chatty old ladies, we did manage to snag quite  a haul – you can check it all out in our video ’cause this is a video blog, duh!

Check out all the vendors by clicking the links above, and as promised, here were just *some* of the caramel flavors we were all yapping about from Katherine Anne Confections: strawberry balsamic, chocolate walnut, honey vanilla, chocolate and fleur de sel.

Until next time, don’t stop snacking and keep it brutal!

Arluck Time!

Join the ladies of Brutal Snack on February 4th at the Beat Kitchen to celebrate the life of  Mat Arluck and to raise money for some great causes.

Proceeds will benefit Grind for Life, an organization started by pro-skateboarder, Mike Rogers, to provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families when traveling. Some proceeds will also be put into a college fund for Mat’s nephews, Luke and Reece, whom he loved dearly.

If you knew Mat (or even if you didn’t), we hope you can make it out to see Cooler by the Lake, Sweet Cobra, Deminer/Crash Course, Closing In and Lyndard’s Innards (as Black Flag). Tickets are available on the Beat Kitchen site.

We’ll be there selling Mat’s favorite cupcakes – peanut butter and chocolate – along with some of Bake and Destroy’s greatest hits (vegan Elvis comeback specials, French toast cupcakes, etc – baked in cute papers from Bake It Pretty) and other treats donated from Letizia’s Natural Bakery and Angel Food Bakery. (Special thanks to Sweet Cuppin Cakes for all their help with this, too!) All the money, of course, will be going to the causes of the night.

We miss Mat every day, and can’t wait to meet his family and to remember him with all the people who loved him.

Arluck joke. If you get it, you should go to the benefit!

Coming soon…

BrutalSnack: A video blog from the broads behind Bake and Destroy and Slash & Dine