Monday, November 28, 2011

My lucky day!

Look what showed up at my door on Sunday..... Ladurée macarons all the way from Paris! 
A gal from my Mad About Macarons class just got back from a spontaneous trip to France & Belgium, and I told her that she absolutely HAD to go to Ladurée and get some world-famous macarons. Little did I know I'd get to enjoy the fruits of her carry-on luggage. Even a week later, they are still delicious. And as beautiful as I imagined - nesting in their classic macaron box and bursting with color. My favorite so far is the caramel. Serious joy.

Thank you so much Jennifer..... Merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble 'em up! There's plenty.

The entire Denneler family is gathering in Colby for Thanksgiving this year, and I've made tons of cookies for all those turkeys to enjoy - 20 dozen pumpkin spice cookies with brown butter icing and 7 dozen assorted, fall-color macarons.
Traveling long distances with desserts is always tricky, but I've figured out a system that works. A few years ago, I bought these clear, plastic party platters at Party City. I use one for the bottom tray and one for a lid. (I just tape the lids on until we reach our destination.) And last night at Jo-Ann's Fabric & Crafts store, I found this plastic storage container with attached lid - perfect for my macarons.
Bea wanted to help frost the pumpkin spice cookies last night. After dotting the first couple with a big glob of brown butter icing, she decided they'd be prettier with smiley faces and random squiggles instead. Gotta love a baker that goes rogue.
Happy Thanksgiving all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Informal Attitude and Attire Required

It's time for the Kolste's Hot Buttered Rum Party, and this year's invitation is warm & fuzzy. Literally. 

I tried something completely new and experimental this time: flocked transfers.

I found a company online that will make custom flocked transfers from your designs. Then I had my local printer trim some chipboard into 4.5"x 9" postcards for me. And then I spent about 7 nights, ironing 130 transfers onto the front & back of each postcard. Exhausting, but totally worth it. I love the textures of the flock and the chipboard together.

The flocking was a little more "sticky" than fuzzy and the cards tended to stick together when stacked. So I opted to put each postcard inside of a clear plastic envelope for mailing. Better to be safe than sorry.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Macaron Madness

For weeks now I've been in a baking frenzy, preparing for my Mad About Macarons class. And today I had nine, wonderful women join me at Adriene Rathbun's for a Socialin-home cooking demonstration. It was so much fun.

I showed them how to make a basic, round, french macaron. Then we attempted a pink bunny macaron. And we finished the class with a demonstration on how to make two kinds of macaron fillings - vanilla buttercream and whipped chocolate ganache. I also brought to class an assortment of other fun macaron ideas to try - Hello Kitty, bumblebees, Very Hungry Caterpillar, turkeys, birds, graduated colors (ombré), snowmen and Mickey Mouse.

I had a fantastic time. I hope they did too. And I hope they'll all attempt this tricky little recipe in their own kitchens soon. Remember, practice makes perfect.

If you'd like your own copy of the recipes and instructions - I highly recommend this PDF from Irina Kogan of After testing about six different recipes, with varied success (mostly failure), this one was by far THE BEST. Her tutorial gives wonderful, step-by-step instructions, recommendations on what you might be doing wrong, and variations to try.

Here are a few photos from today's class. These gals can rock a pastry bag, that's for sure... Watch out, Martha Stewart!

Hello Kitty Macarons

MEOW! On the macaron cuteness scale, these would have to be a 10. 

It was kinda tricky to keep them white while they were baking, but after the third or fourth try I figured out that tinfoil on the top rack of the oven will stop them from browning.

I drew the eyes, noses and whiskers on with my AmeriColor Gourmet Writers and I used some pink triangle candies for the bow.

Bumblebee Macarons

I'm buzzing with delight at how these bumblebee macarons turned out. (You know I can't resist making a cute bumblebee dessert with a daughter named Bea.) 

They're sandwiched with yellow, vanilla buttercream filling. The stinger is a chocolate chip. And I painted the eyes and stripes on with some black food coloring. 

Itty Bitty Blue Macarons

Everything is cuter when it's in miniature form. Even macarons. And a bowl of itty bitty blue macarons would make anyone smile.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Macarons

This idea was just too tempting. Circles of bright green & red macarons make one awesome Very Hungry Caterpillar dessert.

I used Tootsie Rolls for the little brown legs & antenna, some yellow candies for the eyes, a mini chocolate chip for the nose, and I drew on green parts of the eyes with my AmeriColor Gourmet Writing Pens.

This guy would be a big hit at a school party or picnic.

Turkey Macarons

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Time for turkeys - macaron turkeys with whipped chocolate ganache filling.

I used 3 tablespoons of cocoa in these macarons and they took on more of a "brownie-like" texture. If I ever make these again, I'd go with the 1 1/2-inch circles instead of the 2-inch. They're a little too big to gobble.

I was surprised how difficult it was to find candy corn in this town 2 weeks after Halloween. I tried 3 different stores before I finally found some at Walgreens. Go figure.

Macaron Birds

Love these sweet, little bluebird macarons with chocolate ganache filling. I made a few red ones too with some leftover batter from another batch. It would be cool to make a whole rainbow of birds in every color for a kid's birthday party or baby shower.

Ombré Macarons

I decided to jump on the ombré bandwagon and attempted to bake these graduated color macarons. Aren't they pretty, going from dark purple to light pink? They would make fun gifts at a wedding or party in these little clear plastic tubes.

Snowman Macarons

Here's a frosty little fella, just perfect for your winter gatherings. The trickiest part of making a white macaron, is keeping it white. Five failed batches later, I finally figured out how to keep them from browning - put a layer of tinfoil on the top rack of your oven while they bake.

I found some great food coloring pens at Cake Stuff to draw on the eyes, buttons and scarves. They worked like a charm! I highly recommend them.

Mickey Mouse Macarons

For all you Mickey Mouse lovers out there... here's a tasty little macaron treat. I used cocoa and super black food coloring gel to get them soooooo dark. The filling is whipped chocolate ganache.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We tricked. We treated. We got tired.

This year, Gus and Bea went trick-or-treating with our next-door-neighbor and good buddy, Jay. (He was Pac Man.)

Bea tried her best to keep up with the boys, but about halfway through, Eric had to carry our pooped little popsicle home. Short legs make for a long haul.

It didn't matter though. She had more candy than she could possibly eat in a month and we were all ready to call it a night. 


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