I’m happy to post a new blog for another successful batch of macarons that taste as good as they look. It’s also the first time I’ve used the AmeriColor brand of gel food coloring, and to get the bright pink color I only used 3 drops of Super Red. So, color me a fan of this brand!
I decided to combine chocolate with a dollop of homemade raspberry jam in the center of each macaron. All I had to do in advance was make the jam and the chocolate ganache. Instead of taking pictures, I attempted to film all the steps to preparing French macarons. Even with a tripod, the results weren’t very good. Learning how to operate a camera and keep the lens from auto focusing every time I added a new ingredient was a challenge. Trying to keep my hands away from the lens wasn’t always successful. The first tripod I bought was so flimsy, the camera tipped over. I had to invest in an aluminum one. Then came the video editing which may look easy but when it comes to removing yawn-inducing stretches of watching the whisk attachment going round and round, or seeing someone pipe three trays’ worth of macarons – well that’s not highly entertaining.
Anyway, this batch of macarons turned out fine. I used my new Silpat mat for the third and smallest batch of shells. I was so proud of it that I took extra photos of the bright pink shells.
This was the first time I made ganache with Scharffen Berger 62% cacao semisweet chocolate. I REALLY recommend this for a delicious ganache. Yes, I adore Valrhona, but I found this to be just as good. The ganache was so smooth. Even the video I took of it didn’t seem to be too difficult to film. Once it’s edited, I’ll post it on my YouTube channeland link back to this blog post. Below is a screenshot of filling the macarons.
As I made my own raspberry jam and didn’t strain the seeds, the result is natural and changes the texture. If you prefer to make this with a fruit spread, you can choose a seedless raspberry.
I’m going to be making another batch of macarons next week. They’re the perfect summer flavor. Watch for the blog and maybe even a video!
I’ve owned and read many cookbooks over the years. Some have been leather-bound tomes dating back almost two centuries. Others have been spiral bound and contained gorgeous color photos. As a teenager, I used to look at the cake decorating books, admiring the artistry behind each unique design.
Until this year, I never thought I’d write a cookbook. Sure, I’ve shared recipes before, as soap is made in a kitchen. But soap is easier to make than macarons and even a small bar lasts a lot longer than these delicate desserts.
Before the November 1, 2016, release of Baking French Macarons: A Beginner’s Guide, I was trying to get the paperback edition properly formatted. Being on a tight budget, I went to Fiverr and found a formatter who would do a 155-page cookbook with 54 color photographs for $6, including the $1 processing fee. What a bargain! I was skeptical that the newly listed formatter could do the work in less than one day as he promised. A day after the promised delivery time, I received a message. “Hi Lisa, I am high sorry for the delay. I had delay of my new PC yesterday and I cannot continue using the old one. I was highly disappointed the time the agent came in. So, I am greatly sorry for this late delivery of your work.”
A few hours after sending the email, he sent me the .DOC and PDF files. He even changed the name of the file to end with the word GOOD.
The title now read Baking French Macaron: A Beginner’s Guide.
Continuing the singular theme, there was a Table of Content.
The headings were out of bounds and didn’t pass CreateSpace’s interior reviewer. Some of them began on the chapter page. Photos were less than the required 300 dpi. The “good” ones were stretched like in the following example.
I politely thanked him for his trouble and contacted someone else.
Jackie [not her real name] gave me a rate of $30. That still seemed reasonable. A few hours later, she had finished the project. I was very surprised in the amount of time it took and was naturally suspicious. It was formatted without headings but everything else looked nice; certainly no stretched photos. Before thanking her for a job well done, I uploaded it to the interior reviewer. All the images were less than 300 dpi. I contacted her and she said she’d fix it. A few hours later, I was sent another version. The same thing happened.
For the next four days, it went on. Some of the photos eventually were 300 dpi, others were under that ‘magic’ number. Finally, when all but 7 of the photos were considered good enough, I thanked her and decided to forego a paperback edition. Even if I had a less costly version with black and white photos, it wasn’t worth all the time and aggravation I’d gone through. I couldn’t compromise and publish a photo-less book. I’d spent way too much time and money into making my book the best it could look.
I’d noticed another scam cookbook that was doing well, even though it had no photos and the back cover was completely blank. Some of the recipes had ingredients only—no measurements. That book was selling several copies a day. I was motivated to figure out my photo problems, and eventually I did.
The eBook cover I’d designed was nice, but I knew a professional could do a much better job. Print covers needed strong typography so titles would show up well.
Using my own photos for the cover, I didn’t have to be concerned about copyright issues. I’d been checking out numerous cover designers and I went through their portfolios. I found a very talented artist. The book cover was far better than the one I made on Canva.
What started my love of macarons was a quirky romance novella I wrote called Sweet Dreams. The main character is a romance author/baker. Although the macarons aren’t mentioned at the beginning of the story, those tempting petite cookies have a costarring role. During the writing of the ebook, I got obsessed with macarons. I read several cookbooks on how to make them, visited numerous websites, and sampled quite a few tasty macarons. I bought some online and tried some from various bakeries. They ranged from mediocre to heavenly.
It was a tough job, but I gutted [pun intended!] my way through it.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!