My Beauty Buster

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Good Morning my readers.

This post today is a very bitter-sweet post. I get to tell you the history of The French Manicure. Let us step back just a moment here though. Most of you reading this probably don’t really know me too well yet so I have to explain something to you before we get to the good stuff.

For me, there are three things I just cannot give up when it comes to beauty; 1. Getting my hair done. 2. Fantastic Mascara. and 3. Getting my nails done. If I spend any money on anything beauty related, its going to be on one of those three items. Today in this post, I’ll be talking about getting my nails done. This journey started in high school [several years back]. I first started by doing them at home. My sister loved doing her nails as well so we did them together. But, I found that my nails kept chipping and getting ruined after I spent so much time painting them. There had to be something I could do so they wouldn’t get ruined so easily. I was a sports gal so, my nails got chipped within a day of painting them.

I remember for one of my birthdays my mom got me this fake nail set that you’d glue on yourself. I put them on immediately and I had to have help for the rest of my presents because they were so hard to use [and fragile]. Unfortunately, because they were fragile… they kept popping off and I’d have to glue them back on. Then, for my first fancy formal dances, my mom took me to get my nails done at a salon. Oh so chic that was! I felt like a queen so I decided to get a fake nail manicure done; french style. My sister and I would always do the cheap box version at home; you know, the one with the strips. I really which I had a picture of them. They were all the rage! Ever since then, my nails have been everything to me. I am obsessed with getting my acrylic nails put on and now, I know how to work with them so my productivity at work doesn’t suffer. I’ve had good salons and bad (unfortunately). But I’ve advanced to trying new shades and new trends that are out there. If I ever don’t have my nails done, it is probably because I ran out of money. They tend to cost me about $40 to $60 for a set. [depending on the salon] but I make them last about 3 weeks.

Here are 3 gems from years past. Check out the one that I thought was cool by putting 1989 (inspired by Taylor Swift of course) Yikes… must have been a weird time of my life… Needless to say, I am willing to try anything with my nails!

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Now that you have that {seriously, too long} back story, you will understand why my next story is so heartbreaking to me. Today, I currently have a very strange color on my nails and they are well past due for a reset. So, I was planning on getting them redone until I was researching what the Parisians and French gals do with their nails (for inspiration) when I came across this headline: The not so French, French Manicure. I was like, say what now? All morning I have been researching different articles about French woman and how they treat their nails. Then I read this:

“Fake nails are considered vulgar in France.” Stated by The Daily Connoisseur in her blog post, The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris.

oh my gosh. Who knew I would just get stabbed in the back like that? I, of course, had to keep reading because now I wonder… how do the french do their nails? Easy answer. Simple, nude or clear, trimmed and clean. Typical right? The French don’t like the fuss. I don’t blame them. But wait, why is the French Manicure called, the French Manicure if the French don’t even do it? Well, let me tell ya!

According to several articles and websites, one being Orly Beauty, a gentleman named Jeff Pink (founder of Orly) was asked to come up with a polish that could go with several different outfits. He was asked to do this because on the Hollywood movie sets in California after each scene they would change their nails to match each outfit. Dedication to say the least. Now, different articles say different things about why he named it after the French but the overarching theme was that when this trend caught on in Paris at the most famous fashion runway shows, Pink decided that he wanted to name the trend, The French Manicure. How interesting right?

The French are such a huge inspiration to me so this story hit my heart hard. That being said though, will I forever give up my joy of getting acrylics put on? Probably not. But for now, I may give the natural, fuss-less look a try and see how I like it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you are a acrylics getter or a just keep it simple kind of gal. Comment below! Until then, as always thank you for reading!

Au Revoir Beauties!

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Perfect. The. Macaron. Round. 5.

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*SPECIAL EDITION*

Lucky you, another post on Macarons (and my favorite one yet!). Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey. It sure has been quite the ride. Making these delicious cookies has become so much apart of me lately. [really the only reason why I enter the kitchen -besides to see what my husband is cooking] I think y’all are going to be really happy to read this post today. It’s Friday; It’s basically 60 degrees out (in Wisconsin) which is a miracle and most of all I’m baking with my best friend today! #bakingwithbestie

Short little back story here… I met Daria when we both decided to take the chance and pledge for a Honors Fraternity. Yes, I said Fraternity. It was a co-ed Fraternity that you were required to have at least a 3.0 to get in and so on. We met during one of the informational meetings. She was so friendly and I was probably the shyest person in the entire room. We got paired to be in a group activity with some of the other pledges and ever since that day we were basically inseparable.

Daria doesn’t have a mean bone in her whole body. See, she is from the south and ever since I lived in Georgia for a year, everyone from the south are just so kind. I’m not sure if its because they never get snow or what but you can definitely tell a difference with those southerns. She definitely inspires me to be a better person. That’s why I cannot imagine my life without her. That day meeting her changed my life forever.

One more thing about this sweet girl. The summer I went to Europe with my mother, Daria also was headed to Europe. She was going to Austria and of course I went to France and Italy. As we were talking about when and where we would be throughout our trips we noticed that our, not planned by us, trips were going to be in Florence at the same exact time. Seriously, someone tell me what the odds of that is. We needed up being able to meet up (only for seriously like 10 seconds) in this breathtaking area overlooking the Italian Riviera. I couldn’t believe the chances of that.

Okay, enough about how great she is. Let us move on to why we are all here. Macarons. Round 5 I decided that Daria and I are going to make a fun, unique flavor of Macarons; Tiramisu Macarons. Sounds like perfection. So, grab your coffee and blanket because here we go.

As I’ve done my research (and as I’ve said in past posts) some recipes ask for cream of tarter and aged egg whites. We were too anxious to start so we did not decide to age our egg whites this round however, we did purchase some cream of tarter prior to the start of the baking process. I really wanted to see what kind of difference it adds to the Macarons. We used the same Macaron Kit Recipe for the shells but we added cream of tarter. Since we failed on our usage of the food coloring on Round 4 we decided to not use any this round.

The Ingredients for the Shell:
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This time, I did not have Zach to measure things out so, I just made Daria do that part (can’t change the process right?) We were at my apartment so, we had my oven to work with which was nice because we finally know the perfect temperature and bake time for the Macarons. Since cream of tarter was one of our new ventures this round – we really got to see  how it affected the process. We mixed it with the egg whites and sugar. Prior to Round 5, the mixture was very wet looking and thin; this round it appeared to be much more whip-like or thick. I began to think – Woah this is different, I like it.

To shorten the amount of text in this post (since it is already crazy long) I will show you the Process, the Crisping Moment, and the Results in pictures. Though, the process has not changed from Round 4 to Round 5. We are just perfecting our stirring speed, piping and baking times (which we know now).

The Process:

The Piping and Crisping Moment:

*Side note: We had to take Daria and her boyfriend home so, we had to leave the Macarons to ‘crisp’ for about an hour or so. Not sure how this effects the process. I got worry so I put some wrap over the top of the crisping cookies.

The Results:

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sprinkled some chocolate on top


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Felt like trying a new platform

For the filling there was an option to add some coffee liqueur (approximately a tsp) which we decided to do for fun!

What are the findings?

They were perfection. Besides having authentic Macarons – in my opinion these were the next best thing. They were moist and crispy. The one failure would be on my part when I decided to put wrap over the top of the Macarons when we left to take Daria home. The wrap ended up falling onto the crisping cookies and stuck to them. When I pulled it off… basically the first layer of the batter came with it. We let it sit to crisp the fresh layer for another 10 minutes while the oven was preheating. That is why the tops of some of them are not as smooth as they should be. Will never do that again.

I do think that cream of tarter does make a difference to the overall baking process. I feel it makes the batter fluffier and thicker to create a better shell. The tiramisu filling recipe I found was to.die.for. and yes, I will provide that link here because you need to try it. Needless to say, this was thee best round of making these Macarons. [probably because I was #bakingwithbestie]

The only other find that I did come upon was that when I put the cookies into a sealed container and into the fridge… the next day I went to snag one of them, the shells were no longer crispy. Bad? Absolutely not. They were still divine as ever but I was curious as to where the crispy part went. We believe that when I immediately put them into the sealed container all the lush moisture from the filling seeped into the cookie shells and in turn made them soft. Interesting to say the least. Insight on that? Please let me know!

Anywho, Thank you all so much for patiently reading this extra long special edition post and to Daria for taking the time to make Macarons with me! For your dedication, here is the link to the recipe/blog post I used for this decadent treat.

http://cookinglsl.com/tiramisu-macarons-recipe/

Au Revoir Beauties! 

Perfect. The. Macaron. Round. 4.

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Yes. You guessed it [hopefully], this gal is not done with the Macaron Challenge. I feel as though there is something exciting about whether or not it is going to be a successful Macaron or a complete fail. (sometimes, the failed ones make me want to keep going)

After round 3 however, I gained some confidence towards my baking skills that I decided that I would teach my mother and grandmother how to make them. Yikes, venturing into a lesson session…that’s scary – am I ready for that? Of course I am because I’m a Macaron Master now because I managed to succeed at making Macarons ONCEI think my confidence level went from 1 to 10 in a matter of seconds don’t you think? Keep reading and you’ll find out whether or not my Christmas Macaron was a fluke or a possible streak beginning!

Zach and I decided to travel to my parents/grandparents for my dad and grandma’s birthday. I, of course, showed my mother the Christmas Macarons and she was baffled at how we managed to succeed. {Really, I just told her that you have to measure the ingredients correctly and you’ll succeed.} But my confidence was so high that I said, ‘Mom, don’t worry we will show you exactly how its done.’ Oh gosh… Here we go.

Again, each time we make Macarons I try to find a new flavor because lately I’ve been making them a lot and it’s so much fun to experiment. This round it was going to be Sea Salt Caramel Macarons. Oh gosh, don’t they sound so mouth watering? A little salt on top of a soft chewy caramel cookie; Yes please. I’m ready to show my mother just how much we’ve improved!

This time around I will give you the site to the recipe because we used a unique one that you might find that you’d want to try. Shoot, I’m getting closer and closer to a how to post. Anyway, I Pinterest [a lot] and found a Sea Salt Caramel Macaron Recipe perfect for trying (short and sweet). We only used the Sea Salt Caramel Filling from this recipe because we did not want to mess up what success we had with our recipe we have been using which has always been from our Macaron Kit that I talked about in the post ‘The. Macaron.’ This recipe comes from http://www.thelittleepicurean.com.

Alright so lets get down to it. Did as normal – I prepare (and sift) the ingredients and Zach measures them out. Moving right along we let the cookies ‘crisp’. We popped them in the oven [that we have never used before] and waited patiently.

The Crisping Moment:

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Crisping Stage Round 4

Let us first ask ourselves, ‘Why in the world would you make red/pink Sea Salt Caramel Macarons? Sometimes I wonder about myself… goodness. Anyway, they actually do not look too shabby at this stage so – good work.

You know I’m really beginning to hate making these cookies at a different location (so unpredictable especially when you’re trying to prove that you’ve improved) The oven we were using we were unfamiliar with so when the time was up, we pulled them out of the oven and some cracked and were raw inside AGAIN. What in the world. Seriously? Alright, we decide to put them back in the oven – it was probably because the oven wasn’t hot enough… So we let them cook for a total of about 20 minutes adding about 6 minutes to the original time. Pulled them out and left for our dinner we had planned.  So frustrating. By the way, we were making our filling while we were waiting for the cooking process to be finished.

After dinner we came back to see if the resting process helped. It did. Phew. Let’s put these beauties together and give it a taste.

The Results:

What are the findings?

Don’t be over confident – it doesn’t work. Trying ovens you are not used to does indeed affect your process. The taste of these Macarons were a little special; not everyone was a fan. The amount of salt in them was a tad much. The filling was extremely runny for some reason. We tried to put them in the fridge to chill them out since we felt that the heat in the air was making the caramel melt. It still didn’t work – the tops of the Macarons kept falling to the side because the filling was not thick/hard enough. So that was odd; if you have insight about that please let me know.

Here’s a note, for visual purposes: don’t put the wrong food coloring in when you are trying to make them look and sound delicious. Red and Sea Salt just don’t go together in my opinion so bad idea on my end.

All in all though for trying a new flavor I’d say it was a success. The cookie itself turned out tasty. It was the filling and food coloring that wasn’t too successful. As always, Thank you for reading!

Au Revoir Beauties!

Perfect. The. Macaron. Round. 3.

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Copains! Round 2 of Perfect The Macaron was so hopeful. Zach and I were thrilled to be able to see the differences throughout the process but only to be let down right at the end when our beautiful creations were cracked with raw batter inside. Seriously? How we overcame the tragedy of that site will forever baffle me. Our mommas always said, the more you fail the more likely you are to succeed right? Let us all see if that holds up.

Today, I am going to show you that it is possible to succeed because, well, because I am tired of making you read my failed adventures. (Not saying there won’t be failures because… there will be). This Macaron round I wanted to make something different and really get creative. We were in the Christmas spirit and decided to make: Red Velvet Macarons with a buttercream filling. oh.my.gosh. Doesn’t that sound just so delicious? Were they? That is the overarching question. img_7422

I think at this point Zach and I have created quite the routine with how we are operating in the kitchen together while making Macarons. He measures the ingredients out (obviously, because we know what happens when I do that part…) I happily get the ingredients ready for him and I get to sift. For some reason, that part is one of my favorite parts – its so mesmerizing. We were able to acquire an old time sifter from my parents that you have to manually rotate. Why that brings me flash backs of my childhood – I have no idea.

So here we go, ingredients measured correctly – Check. This time, we are determined to figure out why our Macarons cracked last time. Did we over whip? Did we not whip enough because the inside was almost raw? So, we are using the same almond flour because we really liked that one last round. Same recipe as before as well though, we are adding some chocolate to make it red velvet inspired. We also decided to put twice as many drops of red food coloring in as last time because Round 2 Macarons turned out to be a pale pink. I am going to attempt to get a Christmas red Macaron. We also made sure to set aside ample time to make these. Our determination was so intense.

Over these past few months I have done some research on the making of macarons. It has become a passion of mine because it is such an interesting challenge. Throughout my Macaron posts you’ll find out what types of things I’ve learned. Not only do you get to make a delicious cookie, you also get the satisfaction of succeeding at something so difficult in the baking world (or so I’m told). Once I master the Macaron – I must master the crepe. yesss the crepe. My mouth is currently watering for some good crepes. Who knew my blog would turn into a baking/cooking inspired blog. – Not I.

Okay, Sorry for getting side tracked… Red Velvet Macarons. As we were putting all the ingredients together we were paying close attention to the stirring process because I believe (through my research) that we potentially over-mixed our batter which is the worst thing you can do when making Macarons. – go us. It troubles me on how many stirs to do or am I going too fast or is this mixed enough? So many questions to be answered throughout this process. They (the Macaron making pros) say that you should mix until you get a batter that is similar to molten lava. Interesting – great, now I have to figure out what molten lava looks like. And here we go again.

The Crisping Moment:

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Crisping Stage Round 3

I’m sorry, Do you remember what our Macaron tray looked like in Round 2. No? please… let me remind you.

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Crisping Stage Round 2

My goodness was there some improvement I must say. We have a stencil to use on our mat and our pink ones turn out like that? Yikes is right. Though, I think our red ones look significantly better wouldn’t you say? Round 2 we managed to get these points on the tops of the Macarons that did not decrease when we hit the tray on the counter (to get the air bubbles out) or while cooking. So this time, I decided I was going to take the back side of a spoon and just kind of gently smooth it out. Not sure if that is the right or wrong thing to do (and that’s why these posts aren’t ‘how to’ posts) but it worked!

We let them crisp until they were no longer sticky to the touch. Though this time, we decided to turn up the heat on our oven and keep them cooking longer. 300 degrees F at 15 minutes and 2 extra minutes with the oven door cracked. When they came out of the oven, they looked PERFECT. There was a hand full that looked like they had some edges starting to crack again but the majority of them looked just perfect. What was this… Round 3 (4th official time) of attempting the Macaron. Did it only take 4 times to PERFECT  this cookie? Possibly. You tell me…

The Results:

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What are the findings?

Okay okay, perhaps they aren’t perfect but do you see those feet though? Thanks mom for keeping our spirits high! Though they are 100% stunning looking (in my opinion) with just a simple buttercream filling again. One of them has green food coloring for creativity points [score]. We decided to play with adding some decorative features to the tops for Christmas fun.

Here is the kicker we found: since we planned for this baking venture and had ample time to make it work [thanks Tim Gunn]- we had time to let them rest AFTER cooking in the oven. We put them on the counter and just let them cool down for about 20 minutes or so. I feel, doing that allowed them to finish cooking  which means that when we peeled them off our mat, they did not stick and they were not raw inside. If you were wondering, we did indeed finally learn our lesson of NOT putting them on a baking sheet without parchment paper. Points for not wasting batter!

When we make so many small changes with each round it has been kind of hard to really tell what change is causing each round to be more successful but this round in particular really did show that SOMETHING went right. We are so happy with round three and hey – they even tasted good! I decided to take them to work and to a friends gathering and we got all good feedback with look and taste.

Do we stop while we are ahead or keep going with our Perfect.The.Macaron Challenge? Keep reading and you’ll surely find out!

Au Revoir Beauties!

Perfect. The. Macaron. Round. 2.

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Finally, I’m starting to get a hang of this baking thing. But it could just be the fact that now I’m determined to master these dainty cookies. Let’s be honest, that’s what it is. It’s time for some husband-wife bonding time. Zach and I decided that we were not a fan of the almond flour that was being used for the first two times of making Macarons so, it was time to go and find something different. The almond flour we have been using is extremely course and we thought that perhaps getting a finer
one could help with the look of our Macarons.img_6549

We went to both locations of our local grocery store, Copps (now Pick n Save) and unfortunately they did not have any options at all. We think they were just out of stock. So we went to Metcalfe’s. We did manage to find it there but there was only one brand/version as an option which was pretty pricey (probably because of the store we were at); approximately $11 for a 16 oz bag. Expensive or not, I had to try it. It is called, Bob’s Red Mill – Super-Fine Almond Flour. The first round of Macaron Making the Macarons were very grainy and coarse at the touch. Using this version will hopefully create a smooth texture.

Before I tell you this next part, please remember… I don’t bake. I don’t cook.(this is a safe place to share my mistakes right?) So this round was the first time my husband and I got to make the Macarons together by ourselves. My husband is the chef of our household. (that’s obvious right..) So, he got the job of putting together all of the measurements of each ingredient. To help him, I decided to start pulling out the tools. I pulled out a liquid measuring tool and Zach was like, ‘what is that for?’ I said, ‘for the almond flour and the powder sugar.’ With his lovely glare of ‘my wife doesn’t cook’ on his face he said,’Babe, that’s for liquid we are working with solids.’ My love busted out his fancy, dancy food scale and went to town. To be honest, I’m not ashamed because I’m learning and that’s what matters right?

Now that my 1st grade lesson is out of the way let’s get down to it. Immediately we could tell that there was a significant difference with this batch because it was fluffier, lighter and seemed to have more air in the batter. It definitely gave us a lot of hope that we were actually going to get this right! We also decided to get creative and add food coloring!

The Process:

Everything at this point was coming together and we knew that this could be our big moment. When we were putting the batter onto our pan there was something satisfying because they just looked so well made! (could it be because I wasn’t measuring the ingredients – probably) We were on cloud 9 at this point. So we let the beauties crisp for about 20 minutes or so and then put them into the oven to bake. Same thing as I’ve said in my past posts; Each oven is different so you really have to get to know your oven to see what temperature to put it at. For instance, we have found that we have to put ours at a higher temperature and cook them longer. Here’s a funny note… we did not learn from our last venture that putting the Macarons on a cookie sheet without parchment paper does not work because we managed to convince ourselves to do it again.

The Crisping Moment:

The Results:

What are the findings?

If nothing else, measure your ingredients with the correct tools or bake with someone who knows what they are doing in the kitchen. Either way, you’d be golden. We thought we were headed towards a win with this one but, we surprisingly did not. Unfortunately, we are unsure about where we potentially went wrong. The tops on the first pan were smooth and pretty decent looking but when we tried to take them off the pan the top would just crack off and the inside just looked raw. Did we need to keep them in the oven longer because our oven doesn’t cook very hot? The non-parchment paper tray of Macarons all cracked. Did those bake too hot? However we do have a success: WE GOT FEET. Wow were we excited. We are not quite sure how because the rest of the non-salvaged ones didn’t have feet. Why were there so many inconsistencies? We found that, putting the food coloring in with the egg whites and sugar was the right way to go because then you are not over whipping your almond flour and powder sugar. Also, the different almond powder we used was a success (or so we think) because the Macarons look and feel much smoother.

Here are some photos of the ones we did manage to put together successfully. Seeing these and seeing the previous photos makes you think that we did two different batches doesn’t it? Anyway, Thank you for reading! Keep reading for another post about how we fail at making these one day delicious treats!

Au Revoir Beauties!

And. The. Winner. Is…

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Bonjour! I’m really excited about this post for you all tonight. We are going to talk about how amazing tonight’s viewing of Miss Universe 2017. I’m going to get personal here for a second. I absolutely love pageants. I once participated in one myself; managed to get runner-up. What was my question….? oh yes, ‘What is your favorite animal and why?’ Here was my million dollar answer, “Giraffes, because they are tall.” Perhaps that was the reason why I didn’t win! Anyway. Pageants have always been something very entertaining to me. My sister was also a participant in a pageant. I also had a college friend who is now Miss Wisconsin! I was so excited to cheer her on for Miss USA.

For this post I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate our beautiful winner Miss France, Iris Mittenaere, as our new Miss Universe 2017! I may or may not have been pretty stoked each and every step as my husband and I were watching her move forward to the next round. (France, France, France) Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my country and Miss USA is gorgeous. I was really proud of her to get to top 9 she deserved it! Rooting for both countries, I was extremely happy that one of my favorites is now Miss Universe 2017!

Now, let’s talk details. This beautiful 24 year old Parisian gal will be going into dentistry! Definitely something I would never be able to do! Her platform will be on making sure kids get the dentistry they need. Soon all kids will have clean, crisp teeth like hers! [score] Throughout the entire night Iris managed to be very polished. Her hair completely on point. Her posture and speed was so professional. Then, when she had her question to answer, she managed to say that basically (to my interruption) that everyone is allowed into France. A way to tell viewers that her country she is representing is all inclusive! I was very happy about her answer. She also answered her second question with class too! It did not seem like the other contestants truly answered what the question was but France did so total kudos to you!

Can we talk about her wardrobe now? Ok. Good. Growing up I’ve always been a fan of silver but lately gold has been my go to color. Miss France ended up choosing a silver/gold long-sleeve sleek, glitzy, glammy gown perfect for her figure. It had just the right amount of sexiness that made it have a modern, updated feel to it; she just glided across the floor. She also chose the pink/purple design for the swim suit competition which I believe was an excellent choice because it was fun and brought joy to her walk on the stage. The costume she wore to represent France was inspired by Moulin Rouge. She looked absolutely stunning. I mean come on, not everyone can pull off red feather boas.

I am so incredibly excited for Miss France, now, Miss Universe and I know her year will be oh so fantastic! I wish you the best!!

Here are a couple beauties…

 Au Revoir!

Perfect. The. Macaron.

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Okay so here’s the thing, I’ve been interested in having my own business for a while now. My parents have always encouraged me to really get in there and make something of myself. One day when I was visiting them, my mom brought home some delicious Macarons from her trip to Canada. They cost somewhere around $2.50 each but completely worth every penny. Mom said, ‘Rachael, perfect the Macaron and you could have them be your delicious treat for the center of your business.’ So here we are, round 1 in the ‘Perfect The Macaron’ journey (because the first attempt didn’t count).

I’ve never really been a cook or a baker. I actually really hate cooking unless I’m doing it with family and even then, it’s a struggle. However, when it comes to the mouth watering Macaron I just can’t help myself; I love it. You are probably thinking, ‘I hope she did more research this round based on what happened during the first attempt.’ It’s true. That attempt was indeed an epic fail but I accept that because now every time after that is such a great improvement! Low standards. Big results.

My Life –>79416cb5b8603ed11f71ae7af84d7081book_cover

Okay, lets get down to it. I’ll set you up. We are at my parents’ house so, different oven and different atmosphere. New obstacles yay! I was also given a cook book that my friend gave me for Christmas called,  ‘Les Petits Macarons’ by Kathryn Gordon & Anne E. McBride. This book is extremely informative and has all sorts of advice when it comes to these delicious treats. If you are passionate about Macarons like me.. you should definitely consider purchasing it! The more reading material and recipes the better!

So we began making the Macarons just like last time but we had more time this round [score]. Though, as we are beginning the process, I decide to look at the new book I just got. Reading the way Kathryn makes them is definitely different! The recipe she has compared to the recipe I have in my kit for the French Macaron is slightly adjusted by adding salt, aged egg whites and cream of tarter. What, where did those ingredients come from.  What is cream of tarter (says the non-baker)? How do you age egg whites? So many questions I had. But unfortunately I didn’t have the cream of tarter so we just stuck with the kit recipe for the shells that we used for the first attempt including the brand of the Almond Flour.

Again, this isn’t a ‘how to’ post so I don’t want you to think I’m trying to teach you because I still don’t know what I’m doing. So, we ended up doing some of the tips in the book like the amount of time to ‘crisp’ and the amount of time to cook for one tray. We decided to make another batch on a different tray without the stencil that was provided by the kit (because we only had one) so we could see the difference with crisp time and bake time. We put them in the oven, checked on them and OH NO. The 2nd tray was spreading and extremely flat!! The other ones looked okay. We brought both trays out and the first tray were so thin about 1/4 inch thick cookies that had a very pale tan color. The 2nd tray was same in color but they all collided together. The second issue with that tray was none of the cookies would come off the tray!! They were all stuck… guess we weren’t eating those. Fail #2.

Here are the pictures of Round 1 of Perfect The Macaron:

(I did not manage to get a picture of the ones on the 2nd tray that had no parchment paper.) Scroll over picture for details.

What are the findings?

In my opinion, don’t be afraid to try new ways to see what works and what clearly does not. It is kind of fun to see such drastic differences. The craziest finding was, when they say to use parchment paper, you should probably use it otherwise no Macarons for you! 🙂 This round we also did not get any feet, they were extremely thin and they were very pale (ugly) in color. I’m thinking could, aging the egg whites, using salt, and using cream of tarter really make a difference even though my recipe doesn’t call for it? Could it have been the different oven because as you can see the Macaron looks burnt. It was also raining the day we made them, could it be weather damaged the process?

This is such a rewarding challenge because you can see each time you do it you learn something new! One day eating them will be the reward.

Thanks for reading!

Au Revior!

Did. You. Know.

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Today I wanted to talk to y’all about two important symbols that I love;

the Fleur De lis and the Giglio.

Now, I’m not sure where the love of Europe came from but prior to getting the chance to see it for myself I have been absolutely obsessed with the beauty and history of Paris. In my classes during college while everyone was watching the fashion runway shows, I was more interested in Paris and how amazing the people and language is over there. (side note; my original major in college was foreign language – French & German). I’ve always felt that the life there is so mysterious and seductive. So, needless to say, most of my inspiration for my designs came from Paris. One piece I created was a simple fleur de lis screen printed yardage for my senior thesis (all natural dyes).

The Fleur de lis was the symbol that I gravitated to all the time. If you notice, the symbol is everywhere in Europe. It isn’t in your face or insulting to anyone but a symbol that has so many meanings. Some of you may see the Fleur de lis and think of the New Orleans Saints. Some may think of religious figures. Some may not relate to it at all and that’s okay.  But to me, it means victory and strength. It means luxury and elegance.

Wikipedia has a very long intense way of explaining the Fleur de lis that you can read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur-de-lis . But I didn’t intend this post to be a history lesson. Short and sweet- The Fleur de lis is a stylized lily and on the unofficial coat of arms of France. Many countries, cities and religious figures have used it to showcase royalty, on the coat of arms and in art. This symbol is extremely popular and people may not even know they have been seeing it.

Now, I love the Fleur de lis, but when my mother and I visited Florence a few years ago I learned so much more about a similar but different symbol. Have you ever heard of the Giglio? Probably not. Not to worry I’ll tell ya. Wikipedia doesn’t give too much history on the Giglio which is unfortunate but, it is a stylized iris and the coat of arms of Florence, Italy. Quick recap: Fleur de lis – lily, Giglio – iris. These two emblems are so similar and unfortunately the Giglio version has been pushed aside. If you click on the image below you can see which is which.

There are so many blogs and sites that like to put their own spin on the history of the Fleur de lis and the Giglio. Personally, I just want the world to know that there is a difference and that they should use the Giglio more. It is a symbol that helped the people of Florence get through the battles they were facing. Ever since that trip, I’ve made it my mission to tell everyone about the beautiful symbol. Though I will never stop buying everything that has the Fleur de lis on it.

So if I was confusing. Here it is: The Fleur de lis, flower of lily (no stamens), is mostly associated with French royalty. The Giglio or Florentine iris (with stamens) is associated with the coat of arms of Florence, Italy. Both beautiful symbols with an intense history.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know these two emblems. Keep a look out for which one you’re seeing around town! Thanks for reading!

Au Revoir!

 

The. Macaron.

Salut! So when I had the pleasure of visiting Europe, I got the chance to get a real taste of the most famous macaron. Oh how delicious it was. Ever since that moment I’ve been in search of finding a macaron so decadent here in the states. I can tell you first hand it is not easy. Though, I’m unfortunately only able to search in the surroundings of my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Which, isn’t the best location for European inspired things.

Luckily, I managed to find the perfect little french bakery named La Baguette. This beautiful restaurant was a fantastic gem I was so grateful to come upon. The people working there speak perfect french. They make me feel like I am back in France every time I walk through their doors. Though at first it was quite difficult to find French worthy macarons, this bakery thankfully had some that met my oh so high standards I had. They were so good that I decided to have the delicious treats as my dessert at my wedding along with eclairs and tarts. No shock to me, all the desserts were gone within minutes of being brought out.

I’ve had an original macaron and now one from my local bakery. So now, its time to make my own. With the help of my husband and my mother, I tried my hand at the impossible macaron. This post is not a post about how to make macarons because I am no master {yet}. It is merely a post about my experience with making them.

As a gift, I received a macaron kit for Christmas; Mastrad 11-Piece Macaron Making Kit. This kit provides a recipe book with recipes from different countries as well as tips and tricks. I decided to not make it complicated and just do the simplest macaron possible. So here we go, almond powder is a main ingredient for macarons and I’ve never used it before, we got the Unblanched Hodgson Mill version.

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Being that it was my first time making them, I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve read that the mixing process is extremely important but, I’m not a baker… I mixed it as best as I knew. Another complication I ran into was the ‘crisping’ portion of the process. The french meringue recipe tells you to let the macarons crisp for 15 to 30 minutes before baking. I had no idea what this meant but, it said that the cookie should not stick to your finger.

Unfortunately, I was going to be late for work {because I thought it would be cool to bake macarons for the first time an hour before work}. We were too impatient to wait so we tried putting them in the fridge or outside to get them to crisp faster. Bad idea; I’m no expert cook. We made some random vanilla filling and called it a day. They ended up being about an inch wide and about 1/4th inch thick. The look was a bland, boring tan color so non interesting I forgot to take pictures. The crisp never actually worked because the macarons were extremely sticky when you picked them up. Needless to say, our first time macaroning was absolutely terrible on many accounts.

What were the findings?

First and foremost, allow for plenty of time to bake them. Second, have patience. Third, do plenty of research. Now, I did do some research but the more you read on how others have accomplished them the better. The research not only has to be about the process it can also be about the ingredients you buy. I bought my almond powder at our local Copps grocery store but, perhaps I could have explored other stores to see what kinds and brands they had. I’d say the best part of this experience was being able to learn with my mom and husband. It made the process fun and enjoyable. #bakingwithfamily

Will this be the last of my macaroning days? Absolutely not. Stick with me and you’ll see how I learn new things every time I bake a new batch of macarons!

Au Revoir Beauties 

The. First. Post.

Bonjour Everyone! 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. My name is Rachael. I’ve created this blog because I’d like a place to talk about a passion of mine; Europe, specifically France and Italy. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of living in these beautiful places but, I did get the chance to travel to parts of Italy and parts of France including Paris. I am not certain as to where my love for this part of the world came from though I do know the love is strong.