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.

Want to make this recipe and many others? Check out my new book, BAKING FRENCH MACARONS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE.

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FREE Nilotica eBook 1/9 – 1/10/16

nilo3dBy Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015-2016

You can download this unique eBook FREE today and tomorrow! “Nilotica [East African] Shea Body Butter Recipes [The Whipped Shea Butter Series], Book 1” introduces you to shea butter that is incredibly soft and easy to apply. Nilotica shea butter is good for all skin types. As with my soap crafting books, I have made and tested each recipe and included several photos.

Amazon reader review excerpt“She states in the introduction how many years she’s been working with nut butters and it shows. Good information that is presented in clear language. She provides factual information on the properties of Nilotica Shea Butter.”

Learn the quickest and easiest way to whip Nilotica shea butter. Each recipe is easy to follow and includes the time it takes and amount it yields. Find out the secret to getting that incredibly light and airy texture. Nilotica [East African] Shea Body Butter Recipes [The Whipped Shea Butter Series], Book 1 is written by the author of Nuts About Shea Butter and How to Make Handmade Shampoo Bars.

This ebook also contains:

  • Original, tested step-by-step recipes
  • Aromatherapy and your skin
  • Recommended equipment
  • Supplier resources
  • Color photos
  • Special care and storage tips
  • A Kindle Unlimited Exclusive

Nilotica whipped shea butter is so lightweight it almost floats!

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Nilotica-East-African-Butter-Whipped-ebook/dp/B017WJCRT8

Amazon UK link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nilotica-East-African-Butter-Whipped-ebook/dp/B017WJCRT8

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What’s So Great About Nilotica Shea Butter?

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015, 2016

Nilotica [East African] Shea Body Butter Recipes [The Whipped Shea Butter Series], Book 1 lisa maligaI took 178 photos over the span of three days. It’s what I do to make sure I get the right photo. Shea butter is very sensitive to heat and sunlight – two things that I needed to get photos of my star ingredient. A hot sunny day provided awesome lighting conditions but the melt threat was on red alert. Photographing shea butter at noon is akin to taking a photo of a bowl of ice cream. I found a sunny corner indoors but the light was too intense even after a nice improvised background.

Braving the 87 degree heat, I placed the two containers on top of a tray table. I got the shot, and now it’s on the cover of my latest eBook, Nilotica [East African] Shea Body Butter Recipes [The Whipped Shea Butter Series], Book 1.

Click images to enlarge. I spent quite a while making the recipes and taking the pictures. I tested the Nilotica shea butter. I tested it raw, right out of the container. I tested it midway through the whipping process and afterwards. Ever since I first tried it back in 2009, I adore Nilotica shea butter. And I hope you want to learn more about this marvelous and versatile nut butter.

Here’s the official blurb:

Learn the quickest and easiest way to whip Nilotica shea butter. Each recipe is easy to follow and includes the time it takes and amount it yields. Find out the secret to getting that incredibly light and airy texture. Nilotica [East African] Shea Body Butter Recipes [The Whipped Shea Butter Series], Book 1 is written by the author of Nuts About Shea Butter and How to Make Handmade Shampoo Bars.

niloticacover 004
Nice shea, not so nice lighting!

This ebook also contains:

* Original, tested step-by-step recipes
* Aromatherapy and your skin
* Recommended equipment
* Supplier resources
* Color photos
* Special care and storage tips

Nilotica whipped shea butter is so lightweight it almost floats!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nilotica-East-African-Butter-Whipped-ebook/dp/B017WJCRT8

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nilotica-East-African-Butter-Whipped-ebook/dp/B017WJCRT8

B&N NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nilotica-east-african-shea-body-butter-recipes-lisa-maliga/1123394756
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1083060832
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/nilotica-east-african-shea-body-butter-recipes
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/298861008/Nilotica-East-African-Shea-Body-Butter-Recipes-The-Whipped-Shea-Butter-Series-1
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/614536

Excerpt from an Amazon reader review: “She states in the introduction how many years she’s been working with nut butters and it shows. Good information that is presented in clear language. She provides factual information on the properties of Nilotica Shea Butter.” 

whipped nilotica shea butter
Whipped Nilotica Shea Butter — standing up to the test!

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That Dirty Dawg, Norman Reedus [Daryl Dixon]

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2015

Good advice, Daryl

I’m a fan of the AMC series THE WALKING DEAD. I’ve seen all the episodes at least twice. I think that Norman Reedus’s character, Daryl Dixon, has adapted well to being around various types of people. Last season, he was adamant about Beth not drinking peach schnapps, and rightly so! He’s also efficient when it comes to taking care of zombies. He’s bonded well with fellow survivor Carol, and she’s toughened up ever since we met the abused housewife in episode 3, Tell It to the Frogs. Of course, a zombie apocalypse will change a person significantly.

In Georgia and other parts of the country that are zombie-infested, being able to access hot running water is probably difficult, especially as the years go by. But don’t they have hot springs in Georgia? Well, the internet’s not working so they can’t go to http://www.soak.net and find out that there are seven listed hot springs with water temperatures ranging from 68 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is a shame, because soaking in hot springs is good for more than bathing and most zombies aren’t able to swim, so it’d be a safe place.

Watching Norman Reedus strip off his sweaty shirt and jeans and jump into some bubbling hot water would be great for viewers and increase the already astronomically high ratings.

Snorman reedus as daryl dixon in the walking deadee Norman on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Stay calm, people!

Other than watching Norman splashing around in the springs, my next thought was what kind of soap would he use? Something exfoliating and natural. Moisturizing, too. A soap with the ability to clean dirt and zombie residue. And something that smelled clean and fresh…

I used to make and sell a soap I called La Brea Tar Pits Glycerin Soap as it removes tar. It’s named after those great big fenced in pits of tar located in Los Angeles, California. The soap weighs 6.5 ounces and is filled with oatmeal, pure Bulgarian Lavender and Australian Tea Tree essential oils, cornmeal and extra shea butter. It’s gently exfoliating due to the addition of whole rolled oats and cornmeal. This soap is for those rugged outdoor types who stab or shoot arrows at zombies and are in dire need of a really super cleansing soap. la brea tar pits glycerin soap everything shea lisa maliga

 La Brea Tar Pits soap would probably help remove any kind of zombie goo that Daryl gets on him after he yanks those arrows out of zombie skulls or during those close contact encounters. The lavender and tea tree essential oils are antibacterial and while they aren’t strong enough to disinfect a bite, any user of this soap would smell a lot nicer afterwards. They wouldn’t look or smell quite so ripe…

Looking forward to watching more of Norman Reedus as that dirty dawg Daryl Dixon on Sunday night. And I hope you are too!

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Starting a Crafty eCommerce Business Website

By Lisa Maliga, Copyright 2014

I’m sharing some basic tips on how to launch a crafty eCommerce business website.

Your website is your storefront. Will you design your own website or hire a professional? Another option is to get a predesigned virtual store at Etsy, eBay, Artfire, WordPress, etc.

Buy Your Domain Name

Usually it costs less than $10 per year.

More than a decade ago, I bought the domain name everythingshea.com which I still own. Although people from China wanted to own it, I said no, you can use whatever you want in Chinese but in good old American English it’s still EverythingShea.com. After all, I started this company because I love shea butter, and all my products contain shea butter.

Internet History: Archive.org

If you’re not already familiar with http://www.archive.org you might want to be. If you start an online website, whether you’ll be running it as a store, or just as a nice online display case of your product[s], it’s a helpful site to visit. You can see just about any website’s history or find out if the website ever existed and/or what it looked like years ago.

PayPal Shopping Cart

I used PayPal as my shopping cart. It’s free and all you pay is a small percentage for each sale. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, PayPal is an option you’ll want to consider. Also, PayPal is the payment of choice on Artfire, Etsy, eBay and many other online shops.

It’s All About You!

the soapmaker's guide to online marketing, lisa maliga, ebooks, soapmaking, soapcrafting, online marketingAside from having an eye catching, keyword-friendly main page, I recommend having an About page on your website. Visitors can get to know about you and your products. This increases customer confidence, tells us how long you’ve been making your products, and what inspired you to make them.

This page should feature information about the origins of your company. Share photos of your products—even if it’s only one. You can also have pictures of you and/or your workplace. If you have a soap site and sell soap bars or shampoo used for animals, show a picture of a dog being bathed in your soap. For an author’s website, display your picture, book cover, and/or workplace.

Expanding the WWW

The WWW is like the universe – expansive! It grows page by page, picture by picture, and video by video–every day and night. Like authors writing more books and uploading them onto Amazon, B&N NOOK, Kobo, iTunes, etc., the more titles you have, the more web pages you have, the more likely you are to be noticed.

Each page should accurately represent your product and not use any tricks. I’m a firm believer in quality versus quantity. Show and tell the audience why they need to buy your product. Be creative. Use photos and videos. Make it a visual feast that engages even a casual surfer. Lovingly describe your products, attracting people in such a way that they want to learn more—and become your customers!

Testimonials

Testimonials – Ask for them. Get them. Use them with the buyer’s permission.

Free Samples or Paid Samplers?

shea butter sampler everythingshea.com

As I was running an online only store, I didn’t offer free samples. However, I sold samplers containing several varities of shea butter and handcrafted soap. I always included a sample with any PAID order.

However, for authors, offering a free eBook will attract more readers. And there isn’t any mailing fee!

Learn more about online promotion here:

Promoting Your Website ~ An Excerpt from “The Soapmakers Guide to Online Marketing”

Shea Butter Soap Recipe

By Lisa Maliga
Copyright 2011-2014

shea butter melt and pour soapShea butter is a popular additive to soaps, lotions, creams, lip balms, shampoos, conditioners, and lotion bars. Why? The healing qualities of this African nut fat abound, helping those with dry skin, sunburn, minor skin irritations, and in just plain softening and conditioning the skin and hair. You can use either refined or unrefined shea butter in your soaps. You can also purchase a soap base with shea butter already included.

 

INGREDIENTS:
8 oz. opaque melt & pour soap base
1 teaspoon shea butter
1/2 teaspoon sweet orange essential oil

MOLD:
Two 4-oz. rectangle molds

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Slice up the opaque soap base into cubes.
2. Melt the shea butter and the soap in a double boiler OR crock pot.
3. Pour into molds.
4. Refrigerate or freeze until soap is hardened.
5. Unmold and allow to return to room temperature.
6. Wrap in cling wrap.
7. Label.

This recipe is from the eBook The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.

The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage ~ Excerpt

prepper's guide to soap crafting and soap storage lisa maligaBy Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2013-2016

Be the cleanest prepper around! Create your own lye-free soap or find the best type of soap to store in the coming years. Informative book shows the best ways to craft your own soap. You’ll receive original recipes and valuable storage tips to get the most out of your soap. Learn about natural melt and pour, hand-milled, African black soap and liquid soaps. Includes recommended reading and several supplier resources. The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage is written and photographed by the author of How to Make Handmade Shampoo Bars and The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting.

CHAPTER 3 

STORING YOUR SOAP BASE

Here are ways to get the most out of your soap base. First, some general use tips.

Your soap should be kept in a draining type of soap dish. Leaving any type of soap in a puddle of water in the shower, bathtub or next to the sink will drastically shorten its shelf life. The humidity will cause it to soften much faster. If you have a very small/humid enclosed type of bathroom, consider storing your soap in a separate room.

 Melt and Pour Soap Base

Here are some things you should know about melt and pour soap base, sometimes known as glycerin melt and pour soap base. It contains approximately 20% plant-derived glycerin, which makes it softer than other types of soap. This also means that it’s a moisture magnet. It should always be wrapped and stored in a cool, dry location. You can wrap in the original packaging, usually plastic wrap/shrink wrap, or a clamshell container. Additionally, it can be stored in a heavy-duty opaque plastic storage container. When I was crafting this type of soap I bought it in 40-pound blocks, which I cut into large chunks and kept in an airtight opaque plastic container. This was kept in the back of a closet so it was away from any harsh lighting conditions.

The Prepper’s Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

It’s Lip Balm Season!

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2016

Did you know that our lips don’t produce any oil? That’s why they are can get dry and chapped. You’ll probably notice this during the wintertime or if you live in a dry climate. However, many of us have chapped lips no matter what season. In severe cases lips can become cracked and bleed. Licking your lips actually makes the problem worse.

Several years ago, I had unsightly, chapped and dry lips for no apparent reason. My diet hadn’t changed, I wasn’t under too much stress, and I was in the same location. I’d been using a natural brand of lip balms that I’d purchased from a health food store. It contained almond oil, lanolin and other natural ingredients. On closer inspection, I reread the label. “Active sunscreen – PABA.” Doing further research, I learned that lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool, is a known sensitizer. One or both of these ingredients was responsible for irritating my lips.

I decided to try applying a small piece of cocoa butter I had that was being used to formulate lip balms, body balms and massage bars. Within 24 hours, my lips softened and turned from flaky white back to natural pink. I began exploring ways to make my own lip balm that would contain skin-loving cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter was nice, but after a while, I wanted to go back to using a stick or small pot of lip balm that I could carry around with me. I read several books and researched many recipes I found online. For over a year, I experimented with the recipes until I was happy with the results. In my quest to make natural lip balm I gave away small pots of shea butter lip balm to testers, which had been sweetened with white chocolate. Only one problem occurred – after a week the lip balm turned grainy! I also found another way to naturally sweeten lip balm, because I didn’t want any grains in my balms. I ordered unrefined shea butter and after reformulating my recipe, the problem was solved! Since 2004, I’ve successfully made lots of luxurious shea butter lip balms and have continued to experiment with different exotic oils and butters.  I’m proud of my lippy creations and next year I hope to write an e-book that will share many of my original recipes.

Meanwhile, if you are looking to buy a lip balm, make sure you carefully read the ingredients.

You only have one set of lips and can chose what goes on them—a synthetic stew of chemicals or an all-natural product that will smooth and soothe them!

Pictured below is the Java Kisses lip balm I used to make and sell. It contains natural coffee butter.

java kisses lip balm coffee butter lipbalm

Vanilla is NOT Plain!

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2010-2013

Whenever I read or hear the term ‘plain vanilla’ I cringe. How dare people accuse vanilla of the following myths: white, boring, and worst of all, plain? Vanilla is not a middle class suburbanite. The Latin name is vanilla planifolia and it’s a rich, fragrant, and tropical flowering vine with beans that undergo a ten-month long maturation process to allow the scent to emanate from those luxurious dark brown beans. Vanilla comes from such places as Tahiti, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Mexico and Indonesia.

vanilla bean speckles soap
Vanilla Bean Speckles Soap

Later I was to learn the difference between real vanilla and not-so-real. This is something for a future blog. Back then, I just wanted  a real vanilla scent for my soaps. After cruising around online and reading reviews, I discovered a place where I could get a reasonably priced vanilla that would discolor my soap but the scent would be a rich, buttery vanilla that I would be tempted to eat. Well, that came close to happening a few times but it was when I realized that it was one thing to smell a scent but another thing to bite into a bar of soap because it would just foam in your mouth and take a lot of effort to get it out. Yes, childhood memories of the times I had my mouth washed out with soap for cursing had cured me of eating any soap no matter how it smelled!

Over the years, I would try nearly a dozen different types of vanillas. I would blend two or three together and get a unique variation of the theme. Some vanillas were fruitier than others. Some spicier. And of course there were the bakery type of vanillas that reminded one of their last vanilla birthday cake. I also found some ground vanilla beans at one of my suppliers and added those beautiful brown bits to my soap so it not only took on the aroma but it was a little exfoliating. That turned into my staple – a loaf soap that I sliced and called Vanilla Bean Speckles. It darkened fairly quickly as I used a blend of 3 different vanilla fragrances and the resulting aroma had a mixture of the vanilla spice with the vanilla butter with a touch of floral from the Tahitian vanilla. That café au lait colored soap hardly was plain and boring! Because vanilla is always an exciting and diverse aroma.

The recipe for this soap is in the ebook The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting

What is Monoi de Tahiti?

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2008-2016

monoi de tahiti bottle monoi de tahiti: spa in a bottle ebook lisa maligaHow many of you would love to visit Tahiti? Now you can, for only the cost of a bottle of Monoi de Tahiti, a rich combination of Tahitian coconuts and native gardenia flower Monoi, which translates as ‘scented oil,’ comes exclusively from Tahitian coconuts. The genus of Cocos nucifera that grows in this island brings to mind images of coconuts, but also the native flower, Gardenia tahitensis. Similar to jasmine, the white petals of this flower also have a distinct sweet floral aroma that some find reminiscent of another sultry flower that thrives in a hot, humid environment: tuberose. Of all the Tahitian flowers, the one used most for traditional medicine is the Tiare Gardenia. Yet the moisturizing properties that come from using Tiare flowers in the making of monoi oil are its most remarkable and famous application.Having worked with this lovely oil for over a decade, adding it to soaps, shampoo bars, whipped shea butter and other bath & body products, I’ve written a little e-book all about Monoi de Tahiti. It includes suggested uses, where to buy this lovely oil, and never-before-published recipes.

No matter what the season, where you’re located, or what condition your skin or hair is in, you can discover this natural, aromatic gift from the South Pacific — exotic Monoi de Tahiti oil. 

Monoi de Tahiti: Spa in a Bottle can be found at:

Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble Nook  or Smashwords

Read about Monoi de Tahiti AND shea butter in Nature’s Beauty Oils: Monoi de Tahiti and Shea Butter