espressosoapwatermark

Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes ~ New eBook Serves Cooks & ‘The Walking Dead’ Fans

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

It’s almost a month until The Walking Dead returns for a seventh season. There are six seasons where no one’s seen Daryl bathe or shower. Of course, when we left him back in April in the episode “Last Day on Earth”, he wasn’t thinking about cleaning up. In fact, with the introduction of Neagan and Lucille, Daryl wasn’t looking too good. 

While I’m looking forward to the return of the show on October 23, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know who Lucille’s going to meet up close and personal. Yes, I’ve read the rumors and have visited some sites that have leaked photos and other news. However, I’ve been too busy making soap [and French macarons] to do more than glance at the information. I’ll find out for sure next month. I’ve waited this long, what’s another four weeks?

I received a wonderful gift from a friend who’s also a fan of the show and of the Daryl Dixon character. I was so pleased with how appropriate it was that I used it in this photo:

espressosoapwatermark

As many chefs know, coffee removes strong odors such as onions, garlic, fish, and meat. It’d probably be great for a guy like Daryl after some run-ins with zombies…and maybe a few of Neagan’s unpleasant companions. People who probably don’t have access to hot and cold running water and soap. If they did, I have a hunch they’d all like some Espresso Coffee Kitchen Soap.

So, I’d like to introduce my latest soap crafting eBook. Naturally, I made all the soaps and took photos of them. I was running low on soap. Now, my soap dishes and soap cabinet are full again.

Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes

It’s easy to create chef’s soap in your kitchen. Quickly cook up a batch of soap that will wash away strong kitchen odors. Now you can make excellent smelling and deodorizing soaps with four classic and carefully tested recipes.

For less than the price of a cup of coffee you’ll get:

  • Original, kitchen-tested recipes
  • Photographs of all recipes and soap bases
  • Fragrance and essential oil information
  • Types of soap molds
  • Where to buy links
  • FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Kindle link: Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes

Kindle UK link: Kitchen Soap for Chefs: 4 Easy Melt & Pour Soap Recipes

optimized-kitchensoapmelt-2

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 15: Lemon Butter Curd Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

lemonbuttercurddickenson

You’ve heard of lemon curd and lemon butter, right? In fact, there are two types of lemon butter, one edible, the other that can be spread on your skin as it’s made with lemon peel and lemon oil, sweet almond oil, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. How do I know this? I’ve spent 10+ years in the kitchen formulating the perfect whipped shea body butter and I’ve tried all kinds of butters and oils. But I digress, this is about real dairy butter that goes inside those lovely macaron shells.

This time when I made my lemon buttercream filling, I didn’t use any cream. I blended room temperature butter with the powdered sugar [a/k/a confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar]. I looked in the fridge and saw that the heavy whipping cream was a day away from expiring. Not wanting to take a chance, I decided to add the lemon curd. I added just the right amount to make it much tarter than in the past. Before, it was a sweet lemon. Now, it was a sweet and tart lemon and the vanilla bean paste helped perk up the flavor even more. So it was still a curd and there was that lovely fresh Plugra butter so why not call it butter curd? I also enhanced the color with yellow gel colorant.

lemonbuttercurd
Lemon Butter Curd Filling

Admittedly, I have problems with hollow macaron shells. While some people might not like to bite into a big air pocket, others aren’t as fussy. I’m a perfectionist and didn’t like them, although I’d rather they were hollow than footless! But this time I had fewer hollows. Here’s the proof:

lemonbuttercurdinside
Fewer hollows inside the macaron. Yes, the bright yellow lemon curd is almost the color of mustard. 

Since July, there have been a couple of baking changes. The first is that the oven maintains an even temperature. Secondly,  I’m using powdered colorants which means I mix the batter well, but not too well.

I’m also adding the powdered colorant to the triple-sifted almond flour/sugar mixture just before it goes into the meringue. For this lemony batch, I went au naturel and used turmeric. The resulting color wasn’t a bright yellow and the photos make it look tanner than it actually was. The truest color is that seen with the almost hollow-free macaron just above.

I’m working on a new eBook that will contain macaron recipes along with LOTS of helpful tips for making your own French macarons. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to baking another batch of minty macarons this week.

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 14: Decadent Blackberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

On Tuesday, I baked my twentieth batch of macarons! Again, I used a natural powdered colorant and the pictures will show you how they turned out.

blackberrymacs3
Decadent Blackberry macarons with buttercream and jam filling

I’m calling them decadent because they contain both blackberry buttercream filling and blackberry jam. Yes, I used fresh blackberries. Summer is berry season and I believe in celebrating that fun fact!

Using my new silicone mats saves time, as I don’t have to cut parchment paper to fit the baking sheets.

blackberrymacs3velesco

Macarons only contain a few ingredients yet they require some advance preparation from preparing the fillings to separating and aging the eggs to sifting and mixing the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar together. It sounds very precise but by doing this I end up saving time when baking the macaron shells.

I’m adjusting to my new used oven and I’ve found that 300 degrees is the best temperature and the oven rack being one level below center prevents browning. This is why an oven thermometer is a great [and inexpensive] investment.

blackberrymacsshells

I added the powdered colorant to the meringue just before adding the flour/sugar mixture. It worked out so well. This is the first time that the powdered color was the same color before and after baking!

blackberrymacsbakeunbake
Baked macaron shell in the back is the same color as the unbaked macaron shells!

Here they are: real fruit flavored macarons. 

blackberrymacs&tea
Tea and macarons!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 13: Really Raspberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

raspberryjamingredients
Empty canning jars, fresh raspberries, sugar, & liquid pectin

There was a sale on fresh organic raspberries so I got ambitious and decided to bake raspberry chocolate cupcakes AND raspberry macarons.

This is the first time I’ve used fresh fruit instead of jam. And you know what—it won’t be the last! Wow, I could really taste the difference, hence the name Really Raspberry!

First, I made raspberry jam, which took about five minutes. All I did was smash up those fresh raspberries with a potato masher—why mess up a food processor–add a lot of granulated sugar and some liquid pectin. The result: 2 jars filled with fresh raspberry jam. I also left in the seeds as I wanted it to be all natural. I was also too lazy to strain them! Once cooled, I added the contents of one jar into a pastry bag, put that into a Ziploc bag and stored it in the fridge where it’d be ready for the macarons that would be made on Monday.

raspberrymacaronjam
Fresh raspberry jam

I’ve made the chocolate cupcakes a few times and prefer them to any other because I pour the batter into the liners rather than scoop it, so it’s a lot easier. Plus, I love chocolate!

Making the fresh raspberry buttercream frosting for the cupcakes was as easy as it was when I made it with jam. I even added the raspberries last. Oh, and the amount of vanilla bean paste was very small.

On Monday, I made the macarons. I had not one but two fillings – raspberry jam and some leftover raspberry buttercream frosting. I left it in the pastry bag with the large star tip, as I was too lazy to change it. Now I’d have super fancy looking macarons.

The natural red powdered food coloring was added to the almond/sugar mixture the night before. That’s one thing I’ve learned about making macarons – do as much preparation as possible the night before they’re made. I separate the eggs and leave them on the counter in a bowl covered with a paper towel. I weigh the dry ingredients. And since I was using new silicone baking mats, I even made a template for them.

raspberrycupcake
Chocolate cupcake with raspberry frosting–made enough for 12 cupcakes & 24 macarons

Making macarons on a Monday is a fine way to start the week! I began the meringue at noon and by 2:18; the third and last batch was done. I didn’t make a record number as only 48 shells were deemed acceptable. I made more, but some were thrown out as they stuck to the mat. I was trying out another oven that was fairly true to the oven thermometer. I used the middle rack, which I won’t do next time, and will lower the temperature. While many of the shells were hollow, at least they had feet.

raspberrymacaronsdrying
The shells look red before going into the oven

I had fun deciding to add the buttercream filling and jam—sometimes both! I’d seen macarons with the fancy filling before but hadn’t gotten around to trying it. It’s very simple to do.

raspberrymacaronfilling
Real raspberry buttercream filling is easy to add to the shells.

Soon I’m going to be baking another batch of macarons with a new powdered color that I haven’t yet used.

raspberrymacaronjamsml
A small macaron with jam filling–NOT seedless!
raspberrymacaronsstack
Real raspberry buttercream filling

For now, I highly recommend the really raspberry macarons. I’ll be including the recipe in a future eBook!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 12: Blueberry Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

 

blueberrymacaron
Blueberry macaron with homemade blueberry preserves

I baked two batches of blueberry macarons last month and achieved different results. This was the first time I used a natural powdered colorant. With this type of color, you’ll need to use a bit more of it if you want a vibrant color.

 

The powdered colorant can be added during the meringue process or can be blended in advance with the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

Recipe #1 contained blueberry ganache filling. Even adding more cooked blueberries didn’t help as it still tasted like white chocolate. The color was a medium shade of blue.

Another change was the oven. I baked the macarons in a smaller counter top model. The oven reached the temperature in a short time, and it was properly calibrated. The problem was there were only 2 racks and 2 levels. That meant the tray levels were either too close to the top or lower heating elements. I put my first tray on the bottom level and shielded it with an empty cookie sheet to prevent further browning. Also, all shells were baked on parchment paper covered trays.

blueberrymacrons1done
Light blue blueberry macaron shells just out of the oven

The results of blueberry batch #1 featured browner than blue shells. The color of the blueberry ganache was lovely but only adding a fresh blueberry in the center gave the macaron any real blueberry flavor.

blueberrymacrons1filling
Blueberry ganache filling with a ripe blueberry

For batch #2, I used the quick ‘n’ easy method for making preserves. I pulverized 8 ounces of fresh blueberries with a potato masher as I didn’t want to get the food processer dirty and have to wash it. Then I added more than a cup of granulated sugar, stirred at a rolling boil and preserved it with liquid pectin. I followed a recipe in a book for baking cupcakes and the amount of pectin was far too much. I’ll be making this batch again with less pectin and see how it works. Too much pectin makes it more difficult to pipe.

blueberrymacarons2rest
Resting macaron shells on a silpat–darker blue than batch #1

More of the powdered blue colorant was used and I mixed it into the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. The standard oven was used so the results were slightly better because I used the middle rack. However, I shielded each batch by putting an empty a cookie sheet in the rack above it. That meant the temperature never reached 350—instead it averaged 335. So, while the macarons have feet and aren’t burned, they are as hollow as most of my other batches.

blueberrymacarons2after
Out of the oven and bluer than the first blueberry batch

I also used only silicone mats to see if there was any difference. I prefer them because it’s usually easier to remove the macaron shells.

blueberrymacarons2fill
Homemade blueberry preserves for the filling

The second batch tasted better, more like a true blueberry macaron.

 

 

blueberrymacarons2box
A box of blueberry macarons
blueberrymacarons2tea
Tea and macarons!

Stay tuned for another macaron baking adventure soon!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9

 

I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist ~ New Cover & Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

iwantyou (1)Before I became a fan of THE WALKING DEAD, I wrote about a character named Arlen J. Stevenson who was the author of zombie fiction. I chose that genre because it seemed a little different—edgier—than thrillers or science fiction.

Originally, this manuscript got some interest from an editor at a small literary press. “It sounds serious and worthy, and I appreciated the description and know exactly what you’re talking about from hard experience. I do wish you luck with it though because…it has to be said!”

When I first uploaded I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist, along with my companion title, Love Me, Need Me: A Narcissist’s Tale, I designed my own cover. I’ve since stopped doing this as I prefer not fussing around with fonts. I finally got around to having the cover redesigned after combing through some stock photos and finding one of a man who resembled the Arlen I’d imagined. Art and reality merged.

Since publishing this book, I’ve learned a lot about formatting. While awaiting the cover to be designed, I had a look at the sample, noting some the spacing issues. I went through line by line and fixed the problems. By doing this, I reread the story and was struck by the online psychological game playing that abounded within the book. 

This is unlike any other book I’ve written. It took years of research before I wrote my first draft. I did encounter several versions of Arlen online and in real life. At the time, it was very difficult to be around those types of uncaring and self-centered people. But what I learned filled more than one book. 

EXCERPT:

Here’s Arlen’s email to LeeAnn [Southern Pecan is her MySpace name] after “meeting” her on September 28.

Date: September 30

LeeAnn,

You’re wise, insightful, and loving. On top of that, you radiate both a wonderful sexuality combined with a heaping dose of loyalty. All mixed together, it’s potent.

Why do I want you with all these other people around? Frankly, there’s not even a choice involved, you are simply on a different level.

I’ll make this short and sweet. I want to get to know you more, the sooner the better. If all you want is an internet friendship, fine, just tell me. But if you want the chance for more, tell me that, because that’s exactly what I want. The reason you and I both are doing this is because we both sense we’ve gotten ahold of what potentially could be the real thing for us both.

Let me know, darlin,
AJS

P.S. My marriage is not what it should be, dear, and has been for awhile. This doesn’t flatter me in the least, but even if it wasn’t, I don’t know that I could resist you.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The author of three zombie books uses his literary accomplishments to entice his online victims. Arlen J. Stevenson flirts heavily with several women via raw and steamy emails in order to lure them to his lake house. His MySpace site has amassed thousands of potential victims. “I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist” shows Arlen’s arc of seduction with eighteen different women. You’ll meet poetic Southern Pecan, desperate Betsy, flirty Debra, and lonely Ginger.

The love and long-term relationships he proposes to the women lasts long enough to satisfy his ego and sexual cravings.

This unique volume can be read as either a sequel or a prequel to “Love Me Need Me: A Narcissist’s Tale.”

WARNING! “I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist” may be offensive to those who dislike graphic language and sexual content.

Amazon: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
B&N NOOK: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
iTunes: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Kobo: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Scribd: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist
Smashwords: I WANT YOU: Seduction Emails from a Narcissist

 

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9 

NOTE: Next week there will be a new French macaron blog with lots of pictures!

 

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 11: Blackberry Macaron Blues

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

blackberrymacs1
Blackberry buttercream is purple but the shells aren’t!

I’ve got the blackberry macaron blues. I’ve tried twice and both times the shell color isn’t blue, isn’t purple, isn’t black. I wanted “Purple Rain” colored macarons. I love that color. I love that Prince was fond of royal purple. The bottle of gel colorant is that hue. But the results are quite different.

I got the purple buttercream that I wanted. However, by using a violet mica colorant, the shells aren’t purple. Mica colorants are used for soap crafting but the ingredients aren’t harmful as they’re derived from minerals. I was doing this as an experiment and there were no negative results — just a lack of purple!

purplemica3
Purple mica colorant

 

The purple mica has a sheen to it—which is what makes the soap sparkle a bit but won’t do that to a macaron shell.

purple24kgoldsoap
Purple soap colored with mica. The flecks are real 24K gold leaf

For my second attempt I used a purple gel colorant for the shells. After separating my egg whites and placing them on the counter to age overnight, I emptied out the piping bag with the purple buttercream filling into a mixing bowl. The blackberry jam tasted no different from the strawberry jam I used in my first buttercream. I figured adding fresh blackberries would change the taste. All I did was cook the blackberries in a tiny bit of water and mash up the berries. Then I strained them, poured the seedless remainders into the buttercream, and mixed it with a mixer for several minutes. It was loosely incorporated. But 24 hours later you can see how it’s separating. The resulting mess looks curdled but it’s not. This time the fresh blackberries can be tasted. But the macarons are messy to eat!

blackberrymacsfilling
Blackberry buttercream filling
blackberrymacsfilling2
The separation of buttercream and blackberries seen here

blackberrymacsstack

The above photo shows drops of blackberry juice. Maybe someone can use this idea for Halloween if you want a blood theme, just use fresh blackberries–or raspberries!

Next week I’ll test a fantastic new fruity macaron recipe and a brand new type of colorant!

Subscribe to: 
The Discerning Readers’ Newsletter
Win free books and a box of macarons!
http://eepurl.com/UZbE9