Baby Gender Reveal Party!

This past Saturday was my Maid of Honor’s gender reveal party! The verdict is: It’s a boy! I was bestowed the honor of making the cupcakes that would reveal the gender when they bit into them!

Making filled cupcakes is quite a task! I decided on chocolate, because, let’s be honest, what pregnant lady doesn’t want chocolate?

For the filling I used an excellent buttercream recipe. I decided to go with light blue. I wanted a high contrast between the filling and the chocolate

All you have to do to fill the cupcake is cut a small hole through the cupcake and fill the hole with as much frosting as you can using a piping bag.

She wanted to have an owl-themed party so I wanted to attempt making a shape with the cupcakes that at least resembled an owl. I made chocolate icing for the top of the cupcakes (to make sure all the filling was covered) here is the end result of the shape I came up with.

I even made tiny owls for my Maid of honor and her husband to bite into. Honestly, I…guess…it looks like a owl…but it also kind of looks like a furry googly-eyed creature. Either way it’s kinda cute right?

The party ended up going really well! We even captured video of the big moment! Everyone took bets on what the thought it was going to be, believe it or not, most people picked girl!



Making Macarons

I like to dabble in baking. Cakes are my specialty. I really get a sense of pride from baking and doing it correctly so the end product is not only delicious, but a work of art. I am certainly no Paula Deen, and there is no way I will ever make it onto a Food Network show, baking is just a hobby of mine.

I look at hundreds of inspiration boards a day, searching for interesting things for our wedding. And as I look I keep coming across these little cookies with different fillings. Upon further inspection, I find out that these are French Macarons.

Since I like to bake (and my fiancé loves sweet treats), I decided to tackle these cookies. I learn best from watching a video so that’s how I learned how to make them. The lady made it look SO easy. But everything that looks easy, never really is. Here is my journey and the recipe, you should try it for yourself!

Lets start off with the basic cookie ingredients:

1 & ¾ cup and 2 Tbs Powdered Sugar

1 & ¾ cup and 2 Tbs Almond Flour (essentially this is just almonds run through a food processor, you can find it in the Gluten free section of the grocery store)

4 large egg whites at room temperature (separate the eggs when they are cold and then bring the whites to room temp before using)

¼ cup granulated sugar

Now for the materials you will need to make the cookies:

Electric Mixer with whisk attachment (I’m not cool enough yet to have a Kitchen Aid, maybe that will be on my registry!)

2 bowls – 1 small and 1 large (even though I pictured only one…oops!)

Parchment Paper

2 cookie sheets

Take the smaller of the two bowls and sift in all the powdered sugar and all the almond flower.

Note: DO NOT use the sifter I am using for the almond flour. It was impossible to sift through that sifter because the holes were too small, so I guess use a sieve with medium-sized holes?

Set aside the sugar and almond flour and take the larger of the two bowls and dump in your four room-temperature egg whites. Apparently room temperature helps them whisk into what we need them to be better. Like my experienced kitchen lingo? Yeah, one of the many reasons I’m not the next Food Network star. Take your hand mixer or stand alone (I have appliance envy to whomever has the Kitchen Aid), and whisk the eggs with a whisk attachment.

Whisk until the eggs are foamy and bubbly and you can see your whisk forming trails in the whites. At this point in the tutorial I sort of got really involved in what I was doing, so I didn’t take a picture of the frothy eggs. It is pretty easy to tell though, and it only takes about one to two minutes to achieve.

Then, one tablespoon at a time, take your quarter cup of sugar and add it to your eggs (it comes to a total of four tablespoons of sugar). Add one, mix till incorporated, rinse and repeat.

After adding the last tablespoon of sugar you should continue whisking for about 4-8 minutes until it all comes together to sort of look like white goo.

A good tell for this is making sure that peaks form with no drooping. So remove your whisk attachment, stand it up vertically and see if the peak on top droops, if it does, whisk for a few more minutes.

The tiny, non-droopy peak told me that I was done, so I listened.

Then go back to your dry ingredients and combine them (if you haven’t already)

Then dump half of your dry ingredients in your egg white mixture and mix it in.

Once that half of the dry ingredients is in, dump in the other half and blend until smooth-ish. You don’t have to use a mixer for this, in fact, you shouldn’t, just a spoon will do.

Now for the fun part! Food Coloring!

I put in 3 drops to get a pastel color, but if you want it darker, just add more. Don’t go nuts though. With food coloring, less is more.

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. And arrange your oven racks to be pretty close to the middle of the oven

Now it’s time for the not as fun part: piping. I am not a huge fan of piping, mostly because I am terrible at it. For me, it is always messy and horrible. And for this, that’s exactly what it ended up being. You will see no pictures of me piping anything due to the fact that it was that horrible. Here is what you need:

A piping bag and circle tip. Don’t use a tip that’s too small, I don’t know what measurement I have pictured there, but it was about right for what we need it for.

Take your bag and fold the top over your hand (that much I know) and then fill your bag about half full.

The best way to pipe these (after reading about it as much as I could), is perpendicular to the parchment paper. Hold your tip straight down, and squeeze out a little less than a half-dollar size of batter. Then when you have the size you want flick the end of your tip to get rid of the peak that forms. You want a flat-topped macaron. The words make it sound so simple. Lies. It is messy and frustrating. Here is the end piping result (and this is the good sheet)

See how they are all different sizes? Yeah, try not to do that.  And now we play the waiting game. The piped macarons need to set. So wait between 20-40 minutes, when you touch them, they shouldn’t be liquidy and you should see the tops get a shiny sheen over them.

Now it’s time for baking! Take your cookie sheets (best to cook 2 at a time) and put one on the lower rack and one on the upper rack. Immediately turn your head down from 325 degrees to 300 degrees. Set your timer for 8 minutes. When that beeps switch the cookie sheets to the opposite racks. Then wait another 8 minutes. That should do it! They will be a little bit browned on the edges or top, but not that much.

After they come out of the oven and are cooling, or while you are waiting to put them in the oven, you can prepare the filling. I did a chocolate ganache, but you can put whatever you want in your macarons!

Here are the ganache ingredients:

¾ cup heavy cream

Chocolate Chips (I used the whole bag which is double what the recipe I found called for…I really like chocolate)

All you need for this is a small saucepan. Pour your heavy cream into the sauce pan and heat it up (while stirring) so that small bubbles form but the cream doesn’t come to a boil.

When that happens immediately remove it from the heat and add your chocolate chips. Whisk the chocolate chips into the cream until fully melted and smooth.

After this is done, let it cool to room temperature at the very least. Personally, after doing this, I should have let it cool until it was more silicified, because it was still very runny, making piping very difficult. If you want, put it in the refrigerator, but make sure you check on it, because you don’t want it to completely harden.

Once your macarons have cooled completely, you can remove them from the parchment paper and turn them over to get them ready for piping. Here is what they should look like:

And here is what most of mine looked like:

I imagine that something happened, either to the batter to make it sticky, or they weren’t cooked enough or they weren’t cooled enough, but a lot of them ripped when trying to remove them. I used them anyway, after all, it’s the outside that really counts.

Once you remove them, pair them up with another one about the same size and ready your piping materials (again). This time was even messier than the first! You can use the same tip as from before.

Pipe the ganache onto the macaron, leaving a small border around the edge. Then all that is left is to place the other cookie on top and voila! You have finished macarons!

I would recommend putting them in the fridge for storage if you aren’t serving right away. I think the ganache tastes better cold.

This took me a very long time to do. I think it was because of the piping. It will be the death of me I swear. My macarons came out kind of flat and not as light and fluffy as they should have come out. I think that for a wedding they would make a wonderful and colorful dessert for your guests, but as a DIY dessert for your wedding…I wouldn’t. I think it’s a simple process to read about and watch others do, but maybe not something you would want to attempt yourself.

With that said, if you are an adventurous person and want to do this for your guests, you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. They freeze really well and still retain their flavor.

As for me and my kitchen, we will stick to cakes.