Archive | August 2009

Christmas in August

Early Xmas

When I was 10, I wanted to have the job of the gift wrapping lady at the local shopping mall. Growing up, I’m often more excited about wrapping the gift than buying it.

Tomorrow we will depart for a long-awaited homecoming trip to Poland. This morning, I was inspired to create some name tags for the gifts we would bring along. They were simple; create an arrow shape on a word programme, add a border and the name. Viola.

Wrapping a number of presents at a time reminds me always of Christmas. It’s come early for me this year. La Ménagère will be off for two weeks to fulfill her wifey duties. See you then!

Polish Macarons

It’s difficult for macarons to fall out of favour. There is a flavour to suit each mood, each day of the week, each time of the day, each craving. Although macaron shells are made with almonds, not flour, they are surprisingly neutral, blending well with almost anything sweet you can think of.

The upcoming trip to Poland reminds me of the first time I was there three years ago. At the Mister’s granny’s place, I tried some Chocolate Plums (Sliwka Naleczowska). If you do go to Poland, you should purchase some. It’s unique to the Polish sweets culture and can’t be found outside of the country. All the plums I’ve eaten in my life till then were pickled – meeting both extremes on the salty and sour scales. Too intense for mild tastebuds. Sweet preserved plums covered in dark chocolate refreshed my acquaintance with these dark purple fruits.

Sliwka Naleczowska

For my polish Ah Ma (Hokkien term for grandmother), I made these purple coloured macarons, filled with dark chocolate ganache and of course, a plum jam center. The bittersweetness of the dark chocolate and the tartness of the plums is a perfect combination for those who always found macarons too sweet.

Chocolate Plum Macarons

Local Macarons

Marzipan Macaron II

I disliked marzipan. In my initial months here, I couldn’t understand why there was marzipan into everything baked – cakes, bread, cookies, tarts. After being ambushed by a generous amount of marzipan in an otherwise tasty cookie I bought, cookies were struck off my bakery shopping list.
However, three months after being constantly offered this intensely flavoured almond confection, I acquired a liking for it. Good marzipan is not too sweet, smooth and has a delicate nutty aroma. Although marzipan purportedly originated in the Middle East, Germany represents herself as the ‘World Capital of Marzipan’ today. I don’t know about other parts of Germany but marzipan is definitely popular in the north.

So I thought, why not macarons with a marzipan filling? Almond floured shells with almond paste. – here, the ‘doubling effect’ worked very well. Rather than being overwhelming, the resulting taste was simply… almondy.

By now, they have their fair share of fans and remain in the permanent collection of macaron flavours.

Marzipan Macaron

A Macaron Tree of Love

Macaron tree

When I received the invitation to M’s wedding, I knew then that I wanted to present something special to the couple. My initial idea was that of the classical macaron croquembouche. It’s grand, befitting as a wedding cake and fits enough macarons to feed the entire party. Sadly, I couldn’t find the needed cone here. An appropriately-sized cone from France cost more than what I care to pay for. I almost settled for a modified Schultüte but decided that it’s probably asking for double trouble. In the end, a trip to the art supplies store brought new inspirations and the heart-shaped forms, some moss, bridal roses (selbstverständlich nötig! 😉 ) and brown satin ribbons completed the material kit.

I had some trouble trying to make the forms stand properly within the flowerpot. You may realise, if you look closely, that the plant is lopsided. Nonetheless, it withstood the transport and sat proudly on the coffee table, flaunting its various pink macarons.

Although it was tedious to make, I look forward to the next opportunity to produce a similar piece for another good friend.

Overexposed Tree
Another photo, this time a little overexposed. It reminds me of a good old Polaroid, the best we had before digital cams.

The all-important Outer Shell

I’m a sucker for pretty packaging. And I believe that packaging constitutes an important part of purchase and savour pleasure. That’s why I refuse to pack my macarons in white cardboard boxes with grey interiors.

Still in the experimental stage, there have been several box designs since I started selling the macarons online last Dec. Here’s the collection:

Kugel
My favourite of all time – A plastic ball filled with Christmas-themed Macarons for my German language teacher. It may find its way onto Christmas Trees this coming festive season.

Christmas 2008 Edition

Red, a favourite Christmas colours with a transparent band of Christmas Tree glass balls.

Pink Polka Dots

Polka Dots are always irresistable! January was the month of Pink Polka Dots.

Pink Band
I found this lovely pink paper at a local home decor shop, Nanu Nana. Pink continues as the theme colour in February.

Pink Gift Box
A customer wanted to give her friends something special during graduation. I made them these boxes out of my favourite pink paper. Everyone was rather pleased.

Black Floral Gift Box
Another box for the same customer, just for variation. This gift wrap was found at another home decor shop, Home Depot. I love its elegance, black with floral prints in gold.

Birthday Gift Box
Another customer ordered the macarons as a birthday gift and requested for a message to be included. I parted with a precious butterfly for Peggy, her friend.

Purple Days
Someone told me that the colour purple represents the soul. Purple became the colour of the month for April, with the hope that the macarons satisfy all gourmet souls out there.

Blue with Brown Band
June came with new inspirations from old themes. I fell in love with the pink/brown and blue/brown combination a couple of years ago. When I found this bronzy brown gift wrap at Home Depot, I knew the latest box design will stay for some months. As of now, macarons are still being sent in these cheery blue boxes.

After a meeting with WL in May, she sent me a PostPac with her packaging ideas. Gorgeous!

Black/White Gift Box
I begin to appreciate sunny yellow for packaging. Somehow it’s really cheery and complements the brown paper cases.

Black/White Gift Box II

Green Floral Gift Box
This green box is totally my style – girly and vintage.

Green Floral Gift Box II

If anyone has other suggestions, do let me know!