March 31, 2013
Here eat this...don't you trust me? Is it because it's green? Is it because of April Fool's Day?
The guinea pigs, er, I mean, the lunch crowd at work are notorious sugar fiends. Any one of them would be willing to trudge through a calorie-burning walk in the snow every break just for an extra doughnut. Of course, so would I!
But many of my taste-testers are also a bit Dutch, which means an instinctive distrust for green things, exotic things, flavors which no sane grandmother would ever think to combine. So, naturally, I wanted to scare their taste buds.
Especially when I saw this! This delicious recipe came from Steph over at Raspberri Cupcakes, who is such an inspiration to me as a baker and as a blogger. She takes such experimental risks with flavors and is so creative with the presentation. Learning new recipes and putting them to the test is my goal here on Tried & Twisted, so how on earth could I resist such a unique new flavor combination?
Would such a daring flavor combination as avocado and chocolate ever possibly be accepted by my taste-testers?
March 30, 2013
Parisian macarons are the sort of tempting, tantalizing dessert that many people love to look at, but would never dare to try at home.
The reason is not always the challenge, but because of all of the prerequisites needed before you can even begin. You need to buy almond flour, you need a kitchen scale, you need a piping bag; the list gets so long and daunting that some home bakers can't invest in all the fancy do-das necessary just to try a dessert they may have never even eaten before.
Maybe you can't manage to bake macarons the "right way", but what if there were a short cut?
I can't say it will be an easier way. It is far easier to make macarons when following the correct method with all of the necessary equipment. But if you want to put macarons on your plate as hassle-free as possible, here are a few tips for your shortcut route.
March 24, 2013
I am a sucker for old movies. Theatrical, dramatic, no CGI -- the actors had only their talent to rely on. So the other day, I was rewatching The Agony and the Ectasy, which is based on the story of how the Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michelangelo under the direction of Pope Julius II. Man, Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison have such a fiery dynamic in that film. You just have to see it!
So why do I bring up an obscure old film in the middle of my March of Macaron series?
Early in the movie, Michelangelo is downtrodden and frustrated. The ceiling is being done exactly to the Pope's direction, but it's just not right. It's not inspired, not perfect yet. Michelangelo goes to the bar to get drunk in his despair, but he finds that even the wine at the pub isn't good. He complains and the barkeep dumps his entire tank full of wine, stating that if the wine is bad, throw it out! With those words, Michelangelo is inspired to take the mediocre ceiling, throw it out, and start again to make what would become one of history's most famous frescos.
In the creative process, there will be failures, but you have to let it go, so you can try again next time with a fresh start.
When dealing with a dessert that's notoriously challenging to learn, you have to expect that every batch will not be perfect. Even professionals sometimes make less than perfection -- just look at Michelangelo. But there's no reason to give up creating or making macarons. All you have to do is start again!
When dealing with a dessert that is just so sweet and tasty, it's an awful shame to throw it away just because it doesn't look perfect. So why not reinvent it?
March 22, 2013
Every year a few weeks before Easter, I suspect minions of bunnies are dispatched from headquarters, sneak into supermarkets, and fill the shelves with delicious chocolate-covered candies that somehow magically jump into your shopping cart as you pass by.
Hm...perhaps they work in cahoots with the gremlins in the closet that sew clothing tighter while you sleep.
In either case, it is the day for chocolate-covered candies, like the coveted Cadbury creme egg. So to celebrate Easter and continue my March of Macarons series, here is a new macaron of my own: the Cadbury Creme Egg Macaron!
March 20, 2013
Ah, the first day of spring! March 20th, a day of warm sun, dainty spring buds, green grass, fresh fruit, pastels, and macarons!
Since Piere Herme first began the tradition eight years ago, the first day of spring has shared the title of the Jour du Macaron or Macaron Day, an international celebration for the classy meringue cookie, the French macaron.
Since I do have a minor macaron obsession, I thought I would encourage you all to celebrate by visiting your nearest participating patisserie and by picking up your own macaron for free. And it's for a good cause too!
Here's a post listing some participating patisseries to help you find your mac for the day!
Sadly, I cannot make the four hour drive to the nearest patisserie on a whim...or can I?
March 18, 2013
The other day, I shared an in-depth tutorial on the process of making the finicky, but rewarding dessert: the French macaron. Several of the photos in that tutorial featured a gorgeous ruby red macaron. Who was that lady in red? That was the strawberry jam & vanilla buttercream macaron, and today I'll introduce you to her recipe.
This recipe reminds me of days long ago with my Grandma, eating all varieties of fruit jams and jellies preserved in jars in her farmhouse cellar. The super sweet strawberry flavor always made me feel like I was getting away with eating dessert for dinner, like eating a strawberry ring pop in a sandwich.
While I do often challenge myself to make the jam from scratch, for this batch of strawberry jam macarons, I cheated and bought my jelly at the grocery store. Will you ever forgive me? Will you still respect me as a food blogger if I admit this? I promise I'll make it up to you with a jam recipe from scratch...eventually.
March 17, 2013
Hungry for macarons after reading my first of post? This month, I welcome all adventurous at-home bakers, curious novices, and macaron addicts looking for insight into the Parisian macaron. Here you will find solace that you are not alone with your confectionery obsession.
The French macaron can be a difficult dessert to perfect since it involves many steps and several techniques. I've been baking macarons for almost a year, but some batches still don't turn out perfectly. Have no fear! Every failure is a learning opportunity, and even if the screw-ups may not look perfect, they still taste delicious. All it takes to master baking macarons in your own home is patience, time, and a little practice.
March 12, 2013
Let's add a little spirit to our French macarons for St. Patrick's Day with the Irish whiskey and mint macaron.
The whiskey is a surprisingly subtle flavor hidden underneath the mint, so you may wish to add more or less whiskey to your personal taste.
Overall, this is a simpler macaron recipe, once you've mastered the technique, relying on a few drops of peppermint flavoring and whiskey buttercream to jazz it up and make it special for the holidays. Care to give it a try?
March 7, 2013
St. Patty' Day, the day when everyone is just a bit more Irish!
In recent years, St. Patrick's day has been all about sitting down with a tall dark stout at a local microbrewery, like the Appalachian Brewing Company, or sitting back and listening to some good Celtic music at a fair or concert for Gaelic Storm or The Hooligans. So, I was having trouble thinking of St. Patrick's Day as a craft-project inspiring event.
For inspiration for this holiday craft, I joined up with my friend Ali to create St. Patty's decoration ideas for her friend's bridal shower.
March 4, 2013
Welcome to my first feature series: March of Macarons!
All month long, I'm going to feature tutorials and recipes dedicated to my favorite dessert, the French macaron. My series, the March of Macarons, is inspired by Macaron Day (le Jour du Macaron), an annual celebration for the confection on the first day of Spring.
These sweet and challenging desserts rose from obscurity to popularity recently, now featured in wedding magazines, food blogs, and movies. Some would say macarons are the new cupcakes -- but I say there's enough room in the dessert world for both!
Allow me to introduce you to the sugary sweet world of the French macaron.