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Showing posts from November, 2011

Porcelain Painting and a Mini Pilgrimage

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One of the fun things about writing stories is that I get to meet neat people and explore new places. I just spent two days in Northern Iowa - which may not sound like an exciting place to visit but the area is full of treasures and at less than two hours drive from Minneapolis is a reasonable option for a day or weekend trip.

Right now I'm writing a story about a group of women from the Forest City area who have been gathering together twice a week for about 30 years to paint porcelain. Porcelain painting is a nearly lost art and I discovered these women through a distant cousin of mine, Carolyn, who runs a bed and breakfast in Forest City, Iowa. I actually met Carolyn when I was in Forest City for a Sons of Norway meeting where my mom was a guest speaker and, well, it gets to be a long story. Suffice it to say this is my third trip back to Forest City since late summer and the second time I have been a guest at Carolyn's lovely inn, The Elderberry Inn B&B.
My suite at the…

Macarons - A Visual Treat!

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My last blog posts, Macaron Madness and French Macaron Recipe Recap, have been long and wordy - so this time you are in for a visual treat! I'm going to post pictures of the French Macarons I've made so far along with a few notes on each kind.

French Macarons come in just about any color and flavor you can imagine. It's fairly simple to change up a basic recipe and create new color/flavor combinations. If you google "French Macaron" you can come up with some wonderful pictures of them. Try it. You'll have fun!

It's pretty easy to make different colors and flavors - Basically, you add whatever food coloring you want to the meringue mixture to make different colors. For the different flavors you can add a bit of flavoring to the meringue mixture if you'd like (most recipes I see don't add flavoring to the meringue but I've tried it a couple of times) but mostly just change up the filling. Fillings are generally some sort of ganache, buttercream …

French Macaron Recipe Recap

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In my last post, Macaron Madness, I promised to share a French Macaron recipe - I'm actually going to post links to three and give you some feedback on my experiences with each. (Warning - long blog post ahead!)

Many of the recipes I find are written using grams for measurements. I have a recipe from my husband's cousin's daughter in Australia that I want to try but have yet to do so because I don't have an adequate kitchen scale. Her recipe uses a totally different method for making macarons and I'm excited to try it! The three recipes I'm sharing, however, use US measurements.
I've made seven batches of French Macarons so far (or more, I've lost track) and have only had one recipe flop. That time many of the shells cracked, stuck to the parchment and didn't form adequate "feet" (see below under Sitting time for an explanation on "feet"). Still, most were good enough to eat. So I ate them (I shared some, too). This doesn't mea…

Macaron Madness

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I have some other writing work to do but have decided that I will write about French Macarons instead. After all, I'm at a perfect spot to write about French treats, I'm sitting at Patisserie 46 in Minneapolis with a writing friend of mine and I'm about to purchase one of Patisserie 46's wonderful salted caramel macarons so I can taste test it - taste testing is essential to my macaron research, you know.

I admit, I will probably buy one of their mocha French macarons, too, and maybe one of the raspberry ones. Oh, and there was lemon one I could try and pistachio and...

Okay I limited myself to three. The salted caramel, a white chocolate filled with dark chocolate ganache and a chocolate filled with Earl Grey infused chocolate ganache and orange marmalade.

I've been on a French Macaron quest of sorts. (I must like baking quests. I was on a quest for the perfect chocolate cake awhile back). I'm not entirely sure why I'm on this French Macaron quest other th…