Monthly Archives: August 2013

Salted Caramel Macarons

I was determined to finally try making the famed and mighty macaron.

Once I had decided I was going to make them, I separated out the egg whites. I was a bit nervous about “aging” my egg whites. But surprisingly to me, they don’t go off when left out overnight.

Salted Caramel Macarons

I drew up my 3cm circle templates onto baking paper and prepped my piping bags. I thought I would kick butt at piping the macaron rounds but was I mistaken or what? It’s much different than tiny numbered tips with royal icing. It’s not easy to get perfectly round circles even with your template and then you worry that the little “nipple” where you left of piping will disappear. But I persevered and ended up with four trays of reasonably acceptable circles. I definitely didn’t know the recipe I chose would make so many. Which is both a blessing and a curse as who wouldn’t want to eat so many yummy macarons apart from the fact you’ll probably gain a kilogram from each one.

You should have heard the squeal and the “They have feet!” I yelled when I peered through the oven door halfway through the baking. Probably could have died happy right then having succeeded in getting feet on her macarons. (Feet are the floofy bits that rise up under the shell if you are lucky).

With the shells baked and cooling, I dived into making the salted caramel buttercream that Jason had requested for the middle flavour. What a freaking disaster! The recipe I was following was completely wrong. Turning the sugar into caramel was fine. Adding the cream to the caramel was where it started to go wrong. Firstly, my warm cream had cooled too much so it started turning the caramel hard. I stirred hard until my arm fell off and then stirred some more. The cream finally got incorporated, then I had to cool it so I could finally add the butter. But how the hell can you add butter to a hard lump of caramel? Impossible actually.

After two hours of trying to make this stuff work, I looked up some other recipes and realised that the amount of cream should have been triple what my recipe told me. Seriously, that got me mad. I really hate when recipes are wrong. So I heated the caramel up to melting again, added the additional cream and boiled it to the right temperature. I now had a dreamy caramel SAUCE, not TOFFEE. Even after it was cooled down it still maintained enough runny-ness to beat it with butter to form the buttercream.

I must admit it was fun piping big blobs of buttercream onto a macaron shell and smooshing another shell on top. Very satisfying.

Macaron Munch

 Oops, Jason’s come and taken a bite while I was taking photos!

Verdict: Yum. Yum. Yum. And completely glad I tried to make them and that they worked! Might have to work on some of those other scared-to-try-and-fail baking projects.

Until next time, have fun!

Epic Pokemon Cross-stitch Update 22/08/13

Been stitching away as usual, though not as much at night as I was before. We recently rearranged our lounge room which rocks in all ways except one, the second lounge does not sit directly under one of the downlights like it did before. This makes it a little tiring on the eyes stitching at night. Need a lamp.

The purple guys left to right are Koffing and Weezing. The two Pokemon below are Voltorb and Electrode.

Epic Pokemon Cross Stitch 22.08.13

I am closing in on the mythical half-way mark which is exciting. What’s more, I have tossed ten entire coloured-in pages of cross-stitch pattern in the bin. Hooray!

Until next time, have fun!

Butterfly Apron

I know I’ve been hitting the apron pattern reasonably hard, as this is the third one, though only the second one for me. Maybe I’ll sign up AA (Aprons Anonymous) when I hit twenty or something.

I had bought this butterfly print cotton quite a while ago; if I estimate right it might have been close to two years and was one of the first after I purchased my sewing machine. Well, my intention of sewing with it finally happened. I paired it with a blue cotton poplin for the back skirt waistband and ties. I had to add an extra layer of off-white fabric behind the butterfly print because it was a little see-through. The pattern called for rickrack as decoration along the bottom of the skirt which I didn’t have but I had a lot of ribbon on hand.

Butterfly Apron

But what really grabs me in this pattern set, is that each apron has a different technique that I haven’t learnt before. This time I was learning pleats and there were two types. There are box pleats (below). These look pretty casual as they haven’t been pressed all the way down the length of the apron skirt. I remember my school uniform skirt had box pleats that were a pain to iron but looked good.

Apron - Front Pleats

I think these are called knife pleats. These took what seemed forever to mark up from the pattern, fold, press then stitch. And what really bugs me about these is that it makes no sense to me why they are even there. The front skirt covers up the back skirt completely. All that work never gets seen – it’s frustrating and disappointing.

Apron - Back Pleats

I had some issues with the pattern and instructions this time around. I didn’t feel that the pleat instructions were very clear, so much so that I had to go to a second source to confirm the process. The pattern was incorrect as the circles on both sides of the pleat in one section were the same, when one side should have been small and one side large so you knew which way to fold it. And lastly I discovered that I would do some things differently. See below in the picture. The bottom hem is sewn, then the side hem over it and then the ribbon attached across the bottom hem stitch line. That ribbon fold over the side hem just looks sloppy and unprofessional. It should be (and how I will do it next time) bottom hem, attach ribbon, side hem.

Apron - Ribbon Attachment

Lastly, I trotted out to Spotlight yesterday with the intention of picking up some cotton and sewing machine needles to take advantage of their 2 day 30% off everything sale. Which is always a dangerous trip because I rarely buy fabric at full price. However I had every intention of staying away from fabric this time due to two overflowing enormous plastic tubs full of fabric which did not include the fabric I picked up last month at Lincraft’s 50% off all fabric sale. All of that aside, from left to right – grey and white quilting cotton (love the polka dots), some black drill to attempt shorts-making for Jason with spring and summer fast approaching, and the most divine fleece in blue for me and black for Jason. I was searching all winter for some nice fleece and nothing caught my attention until now. Expensive without the sale, justifiable with, surely? So I am making hoodies, even though as I said, spring and summer are just around the corner.

New Fabric 20.08.13

Until next time, have fun.

Epic Pokemon Cross-Stitch – Exeggcute and Exeggutor

The next two Pokemon have been completed. Exeggcute and Exeggutor. Wow, it is really hard to type those words because you have to think about it rather than typing them as they are normally spelled. Execute, nope missed some g’s. Those really are scary looking eggs. Much prefer mine poached or fried or scrambled with bacon and toast friends rather than looking at me with “I want to kill you” eyes.

Epic Pokemon - Exeggcute and Exeggutor

Until next time, have fun!

For the Home: Cherry Peg Bag

We’ve always had a dodgy peg bag purchased from the supermarket. When approximately two months ago the hanger inside of it snapped, I went to buy another one. My cheap-ass side hyperventilated at the $4 price tag and refused to purchase it. Some support from the masses please – if you have another option would you really buy the thin, blue and white striped, plastic-hangered atrocity from the supermarket for that price? Come on, I can buy a block of chocolate with that money.

“I can do better than that, I’ll make my own!” I said.

I procrastinated by looking at tonnes of sewing sites and Pinterest trying to decide on what my peg bag should look like. In the meantime my broken disheveled peg bag lay on the back step instead of hanging from the line while I hung my washing.

But here is the masterpiece! If you are interested, I followed this simple tutorial.

I used a little bit of this cherry-print cotton sateen with the lining and button hooks in cotton poplin.

Cherry Peg Bag

Jason’s opinion is that it looks like a hungry frog, but other than that he’s a fan. I like that the “mouth” is wider than the supermarket version so you don’t get your hand stuck inside while fetching pegs. The fabric hooks fold over the line and loop over the buttons. No pesky buttonholes here! There is also no hanger to break, woohoo!

Cherry Peg Bag - In Action

The pegs are happily snuggled in their new home

Cherry Peg Bag - Home to Pegs

And look! The button hooks double as a hanging hook when not in use.

Cherry Peg Bag - Hanging

Until next time, have fun!