The Brellis House


Raspberry Chocolate Macarons

Posted on December 13th, 2013 by Dan

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheWe had such an overwhelming reception to our updated French Macaron recipe. We were featured in 9 Vegan & Decadent French Desserts by and had a big boost of visitors from pinterest, tumblr, and Thanks to everyone who visited the site, made the macarons, and commented on the recipe.

The Brellis House: Rows of Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheI know, as a group of vegan bakers, we can perfect this recipe. I made this batch with my same base recipe (no lemon zest or yellow food coloring) and added a few drops of raspberry juice to the versawhip ‘egg whites’. The filling is a chocolate ganache left over from our Berger Cookies.

The Brellis House: Vegan Raspberry French Macarons with Chocolate GanacheThese turned out beautifully, the pink shells and black chocolate contrast very nicely. To get rid of my hollow centers, I let them rest on the counter for 2 hours before baking and then baked them at 250°F for 25 minutes. This resulted in shells that mostly were not hollow, but still had porous centers. I have a few ideas to fix this, which I think comes from the batter being too thick- also this should help make a flatter, less puffed shell. Next time I think I’ll keep the 25 minute baking time at the lower temperature and try less almond meal/powdered sugar.

Let me know how your macarons are turning out and thanks for all your sharing & support!


French Macarons (Part II)

Posted on July 4th, 2013 by Dan

French macarons are the holy grail of vegan dessert in my opinion. Following a combination of Hannah Kaminsky’s mint macaron recipe in Vegan Desserts and research into foams and non vegan macarons, I’ve got a macaron now that is fairly reliable, though not close to perfect.


My problem, still, is hollow centers. I have theories, but I don’t get around to making macarons everyday to experiment. I think my biggest problem is that the batter is too thick (too much almond meal slash powdered sugar), so the shells get too big and puffy. Playing around with temperature and the egg whites might also help.

A macaron after a bite. It's crushed because of the hollow center of the shells.

A macaron after a bite. It’s crushed because of the hollow center of the shells.

Regardless, I’ll share with you my macaron recipe as I work on it now. I hope this can be useful for many people as a jumping off point and I really hope we can collaborate to improve the recipe. As before, my recipe relies on Versawhip as the main foaming agent. Also, I’ve since gotten a stand mixer, and I love it. The whisk attachment is good for making the foam.

Vegan egg whites with my Artisan stand mixer.

Vegan egg whites with stiff peaks using my Artisan stand mixer.

This recipe is a lemon variation, which is all too appropriate for summer.


  • 15 g cane sugar
  • 57 g almond meal
  • 115 g powdered sugar
  • 57g water
  • 1/2 tsp Versawhip
  • 15 g Ener-G Egg Replacer powder (~2Tbl)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine lemon zest
  • 2 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)


  1. Put the 15 g cane sugar in a food processor and pulse to create superfine sugar, set aside.
  2. Whisk the water and egg replacer until foamy, let stand for 2 minutes.
  3. Put the almond meal and powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse to combine and destroy any clumps. Don’t over mix or over heat the mixture (we don’t want almond butter).
  4. Place the egg replacer/water foamy mixture in the bowl of your stand mixture along with the Versawhip and xanthan gum. With the whisk attachment on low, slowly add the superfine sugar. Increase the speed to medium, add the lemon zest and food coloring, and then increase to high until you get stiff peaks (the volume wasn’t enough to get my whisk attachment into, so I had to lift the bowl up a bit).
  5. Once you have stiff peaks, turn off the machine and fold in your almond mixture, carefully. Many macaron recipes say that the batter should flow in ribbons like hot lava (whatever that means).
  6. With a piping bag or zip lock bag with the corner cut, pipe 1.5″ circles of batter onto a silpat or parchment paper which is on a baking sheet. Smooth out any bumps and tap the sheet pan to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Now, importantly, let the batter sit, at room temperature, in a well ventilated room for 1-3 hours. This is essential in keeping the shape and making feet. You want the shells to be dry to the touch.
  8. Bake the shells at 300°F for 10-14 minutes. You can double stack your sheet pans to help with insulation so the bottoms don’t burn.
  9. For these lemon macarons, I sandwiched them with left over lemon icing for cupcakes from my sister.

Additional shots of my stand mixer. I love that it’s red. We actually got it for about half off at TJ Max.



Thanksgiving Menu

Posted on November 16th, 2012 by Dan

I enjoy Thanksgiving like I enjoy other holidays- a chance to cook for a lot of people. This year my parents will be away, so Susanna and I can devote our entire weekend to her family, which is always nice since we don’t have to spend half the day driving around.

Somehow, I’m getting organized and providing a menu to our readers before the actual holiday. So here’s my menu as it stands. I’ll be keeping it vegan on my end (and as gluten-free as possible). Using a lot of French inspired dishes and recipes from others as well as some I’ve made up.


  1. Salad of Shaved Fennel, Oranges, and Candied Pecans (GF)
  2. Spiced Balsamic-Beet Compote on baguette slices (GF option)


  1. Truffled Mashed Potatoes (GF)
  2. Raw Kale Salad with Cranberries & Almonds (GF)
  3. Lightly Steamed Green Beans with Garlic and Slivered Almonds (GF)


  1. Tofurkey (store bought, I know, but so delicious)
  2. Butternut Squash, Cranberry, Root Vegetable & White Kidney Bean Stuffing (filling from Harvest Pies) (GF)


  1. Pumpkin Pie (GF pie crust, recipe to come)
  2. Vegan Galette des Rois
  3. Chocolate-Covered Cranberries (GF, recipe to come)
  4. Macarons (GF)


  1. Cranberry Soda (GF)
  2. Ginger Beer (GF)
  3. Sipp Mack 2010 Gewürztraminer
  4. Red Burgundy/Pinot Noir

This turkey from the Ithaca Farm Sanctuary, and others, thank you for choosing vegan on thanksgiving.

Lightly Steamed Green Beans with Garlic and Slivered Almonds


  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • oil for frying and dressing


  1. Stem the beans over 1 inch of boiling water for 5 minutes (cook to al dente, do not over cook!)
  2. Plunge beans into ice water to retard cooking.
  3. In a sauce pan, saute the almonds in about 1 tbl of olive oil until fragrant (these burn quickly). Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute.
  4. Toss with the beans, salt, pepper and additional olive oil to taste.
  5. Toss with an optional vinaigrette of 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tspwhite-wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 2 tsp lemon juice.

Catering a Bridal Shower

Posted on June 24th, 2012 by Dan

Lemon Water

Yes, it was my older sister’s bridal shower, but we’re considering it our first catering gig still!

My young sister, Jenny, is the maid of honor and is traditionally tasked with throwing a bridal shower. We were excited to plan the whole thing and I think we did a great job.

The theme: Tea Party.

She worked decorations, teas, invitations, etc, and I happily organized the menu. Keeping true with a traditional tea party, we had 4 different tea sandwiches, each on their own bread, scones and some desserts.

This was a fun and enlightening experience in menu planning. I baked all 4 types of bread, came up with the sandwich types and assembled the day of (with lots of help from Susanna and Jenny’s bf, Justin).


The sandwiches:

Tea Party Sandwiches

  • Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Basil on Ciabatta
  • Hummus Vegetable on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Cucumber Dill on a Dainty Tea Bread
  • Chicken Salad on Sunflower Flaxseed Bread
Tea Sandwiches

This post would be enormous if I put the recipes for each sandwich, so I’ll make a separate post with the recipes, more pictures and the bread.

To prepare for this all, I made all the breads the day or two days before. Each bread (except the ciabatta) was made in this awesome lidded bread pan, especially designed for making a square tea sandwich.

Table Setting

Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Here’s the full menu:


  • 4 different types of teas
  • lemon water
  • cucumber lime water


  • Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Basil on Ciabatta (vegan)
  • Hummus Vegetable on Whole Wheat Bread (vegan)
  • Cucumber Dill on a Dainty Tea Bread (vegan)
  • Chicken Salad on Sunflower Flaxseed Bread (vegan bread)


  • Cinnamon Raisin Scones (vegan) with lemon curd (vegan) and clotted cream
  • Raspberry Almond Thumbprint cookies (vegan)
  • French Macarons (vegan)
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries

The chicken salad, chocolate strawberries and the clotted cream for the scones were the only three items in the entire menu that weren’t vegan/vegetarian. For an audience where the only two non-meat eaters were Susanna and Jenny, I think that’s pretty good!

The day before the party, Susanna and I got a new lens! The 50mm f1.8 AF/S G.

We’ve been having a lot of fun practicing with it and getting some great shots. Here’s some of the macarons from the party. Susanna also took all of the photos from the party with this lens.


Chocolate Mint French Macaron


French Macarons

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Dan

UPDATE: View my working recipe at French Macarons (Part II).

vegan French macron

Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.

I had a proud day last week. I finally achieved a vegan macaron. It wasn’t perfect, but to me, getting this to work was 90% looking the part, which I am pretty happy about.

This was the first of multiple attempts to make macarons. Previous experiments left me with a sticky, gooey mess all over the pan as the cookies melted out in the oven. This time, though, I gave them a good rest to form a ‘skin’, and to my excitement and shock, my little cookies stayed firm and grew little feet.

vegan French macron

My recipe was an alteration from Bittersweet’s ‘Vegan Desserts‘. Her method for the egg white wasn’t working for me, so I used another egg white substitution, Willpowder’s VersaWhip. And somehow, it all worked out.

I made a chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter. I obviously didn’t take as much care with the frosting application- they’re a little sloppy. I need to practice piping the cookie batter onto the sheet pans and applying the frosting, but the hard shell and feet are a big enough accomplishment for one week.

I promise I’ll post tips once I get a truly successful batch. I can not wait to give them another try and perfect my VEGAN FRENCH MACARONS.


vegan French macron


Good Old Fashioned Fail: French Macarons

Posted on October 29th, 2011 by Dan

Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.

The key to this little cookie, is of course, the bane of vegan cooking: egg whites. I became understandably excited however, when I heard about Versawhip, a soy-based powder distributed by Willpowder. Versawhip totes that with the addition of some water, this powder can be frothed into a stable foam, replacing egg whites.

I immediately ordered a package, and began researching French macaroon recipes. When it arrived, I decided to try it out on a basic recipe, here are my steps and the unfortunate results.

Everything began with such high hopes. I measured out my Versawhip, water and some xantham gum and cream of tartar for stability, put the guns to it with my handheld electric beater and, wouldn’t you know it, I got soft peaks. Sifting in some fine sugar, et voilà! -stiff peaks.

I was SO excited, I could barely contain myself. I folded in my almond flour and sugar mixture into my ‘egg whites’. This is where things started to get hinky. The batter was thicker than what I was expecting, more like cupcake batter.

Regardless, I continued to shove the batter into a piping bag and plopped out 12 dollops onto a greased baking sheet, about the size of a half of a golf ball. Tapped the pan a few times to release air bubbles and smooth out the tops and let them sit for a half an hour while the oven pre-heated.

After letting them sit (presumably not long enough), I put them in the oven and hoped for the best. Much to my disappointment, instead of puffing up or even cooking, my poor macaroons melted into gooey sugar puddles on my tray. 🙁

From what I could tell, the Versawhip couldn’t take the heat, and instead of crystalizing with the almond flour and forming a foamy lattice, it gave into entropy and disintegrated.

I wrote to Willpowder, asking for tips on using Versawhip with baked goods. They replied that their chefs developed it for use in mousses and haven’t experimented with it in the oven, though they are willing to continue support in this area.

I plan on trying to do more online research to see if anyone else is working on this. If you have ever used Versawhip let me know, I’d love to talk about it. Also, if you feel like venting your ‘good old fashioned fail’, we want to hear about it too. Let us know in a comment below.