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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Homemade blueberry preserves for the filling

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

 

 

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A box of blueberry macarons
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Tea and macarons!

Stay tuned for another macaron baking adventure soon!

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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