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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Birthday, Birthweek, Birthmonth - Birthday Table

Now this is a table for a queen, or at least
I was treated like one!  

You may remember that over a year ago, I was invited
to join a crafting group after we did a Christmas 
Home Tour.  Since then we have also added in
celebrating everyone's birthdays, and since I always
choose to run away someplace warm for my birthday,
and the other ladies have busy, busy schedules too,
this week we finally got together to celebrate
my birthday.  I love extending it, now it has to become
my birthday, birthweek, birthmonth and BEYOND!

The birthday girl always gets this huge crown on her plate.

I am happy to accept celebrations long past the day!!
As I get older, there is so much more to celebrate and
each year is a blessing.

Since it is winter and we can't enjoy Joanne's back yard,
she and Laura put together this royal table at Laura's house
where Laura said she had to get a new dining table and
chairs.  In over 25 years, she said she never had a real
dining table.  Glad I could be her excuse!!! Haha!!

Joanne is magical at festooning everything, even the
window is draped.  

The chairs were also decked out for royalty.  
What a beautiful setting.  

They wouldn't let me go into
the dining room until it was all ready.

The table was done in golds with pink and vintage 
Valentine's accents.

This time, each plate had a crown atop it.

The stack started with Joanne's aunt's scalloped
gold rimmed plate.  They are so beautiful.  She found
the other plates in the stack at thrift shops.  They said they
were glad that I was fancy (think Fancy Nancy), so that
they could do this elegant table in gold.

I don't know why they would say that - haha!!

Each place setting had vintage Valentine's cards too.

A vintage Valentine cookie tops this clear plate, under
which was another vintage Valentine, dated from 1906.

The cookies were made by the beautiful and talented
Amy at _thebakeaholic on Instagram.

Her cookies literally melt in your mouth.

Each of us had a different one.  Some said they were 
too pretty to eat, but you know me, I didn't have any problem 
eating them!  They were fantastic.

The beautiful pink for Valentine's Day was
carried out in the glasses and the raspberry lemonade.

I loved Laura's fun gold flatware, where every
item was a different pattern.

This cherub is eyeing a delicious Shirley's roll - 
a local bakery here.

We each received a Valentine's Day bottle brush tree to
take home with us.

Laura had a virtual forest of the beautiful bottle brush trees,
on her tall buffet,
 that she had made.  Aren't the colors just beautiful?

Click here for a tutorial on how to make those.

I wouldn't have even though to make them for 
Valentine's Day and they are stunning!  
I want a forest of them too.

What a lucky birthday girl to be treated like royalty
with friends who all brought dishes for the dinner.
We had Brie en Croute, Pickled Asparagus wrapped
in Ham and Cream Cheese, Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad,
Herb Crusted Chicken Breast, with Broccolini, and
Gruyere Potatoes.

But the piece de resistance was this gorgeous
gold encrusted birthday cake.  Also made
by Amy Perkins.

It was a Raspberry Cheesecake Cake.  It featured
a layer of cheesecake flavored cake, a layer of crunchy
graham cracker, a layer of cheesecake filling, a layer
of raspberry frosting, repeat and repeat!! 

Wow - what a flavor explosion.  
I have never been so amazed by a cake as I
was by this.  And lucky me, I got to take
some home.

With friends like this, getting older is easy!

I will be sharing this royal table with

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hundreds of French Macarons - a Valentine's Cooking Class at Purple Chocolat Home

I wanted to share my 
French Macaron Cooking Class
held in my home.

If you are unsure about how to make them,
just prepare for a class of 20 plus people!!

I was in a panic, as I had successfully made
them before, but of course if you are going
to teach, everything is going to go wrong,

The class was advertised on Instagram
and in less than a day, we had more than our 20 
spots full.

My oldest granddaughter is on a competition 
cheer team and they are competing in
March in LA.  My daughter and I were talking
of making and selling French Macarons to
friends and neighbors as a fund raiser, but we
ended up deciding to host a cooking class as
a fund raiser.

We literally made hundreds, so that each person could
have a box to take home.

We also filled the kitchen with them as 
part of the Valentine's Day decor.

We even included how to add a touch of
real, edible gold.

The furniture was taken out of the living room so that
each participant could have a seat and decorate their
own macarons.

Each place setting had a beautiful Macaron box,
a paint brush, a paper plate, and access to
the plate of decor items.

The demonstration part of the class took place 
in the kitchen,

After demonstrating the technique, everyone had
a turn to give it a try.
The macaron silicone mat can be purchased

Then we moved into the living room 
to the table set up for 22 to begin

Our little cheer competitor stands at the head of the work
table, decorating her own macarons.

She also handed out prizes, as we had
drawings throughout the night including
a digital scale, a candy thermometer, piping
bags and tips, and other fun Valentine's related
items.  Over half the people received a prize.

Everyone decorated and ate and had a great time.

They each went home with a fancy box
 of six beautiful macarons.
To purchase the boxes click here.

(Screen from Home Goods - 3 years ago.)

The class was a huge success and a fun evening
to get together, learn, eat and socialize.

We already have requests for more classes.

We showcased the piece de resistance,
and the last four, (who stayed
for the final clean up) got to eat it.  I am definitely
making these for a party dessert in the

I will post this table with

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Showstopping Dessert Macaron - Just in Time for Valentine's Day

Just like fabulous dessert macarons we had
in Paris, I have created one for you large enough
to share with your sweetheart - or go ahead, have
it by yourself!

After four glorious weeks in Cabo, 

escaping the bitter January cold and dreary weather,
and spending my birthday on the beach,
(and choosing to have a real vacation, 
and not post anything!),

I came back to preparing a French Macaron making class,
so I have been crazy busy doing that.  
I will post more on that, but I wanted to show you
this beautiful dessert and give you the
French Meringue Method
for French Macarons.

My previous recipe was for the Italian Meringue
Method that we learned in Paris.  I prefer the Italian
but the French is easier, although I think the Italian
has more consistent results.

Tricks to Macaron making:
1.     Have eggs at room temp., and beat meringue to a stiff peak.
         2.     Weigh all ingredients. Fold almond flour and meringue together 
until it flows like lava.
      3.     Pipe out even meringues.  If a peak is left after a few seconds, 
give macronage a few more stirs.  
Test one by squeezing it through a bag or tip.
                     4.     Drop pan several times on counter, then prick air bubbles with toothpick.
           5.     Let dry on counter at least 20 minutes.  It will feel dry to the touch.

French Macaron Recipe – seems easier, but more finicky

Remove about 4-5 eggs from fridge and separate.  Let the whites come to room temperature.
Sift almond flour and measure out 110 grahams.  Measure out 200 grams of powdered sugar.  
Sift the two together.  Place in a bowl.
Measure out 50 grams of granulated sugar.  Add ¼ tsp. cream of tartar and stir together.
In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with whip, place 100 grams of room temperature egg whites. 
Begin whipping at a medium level, 4 on Kitchenaid.  
When whites become foamy, gradually sprinkle in the sugar and cream of tartar mix.  
Turn speed up and beat until the mixture is glossy and holds a stiff peak. 
The meringue will clump in the middle of your whip. 
Stir in gel or powdered food coloring at this point. 
Dump the almond flour mix into the meringue and begin to fold. 
After about 40 folds, the mix should be starting to be thoroughly mixed. 
It should flow like lava from your spatula and when forced through a frosting tip it should not leave a peak
 after about 5-10 seconds.  If it leaves a peak, stir again about 5 strokes. 
You do not want to over mix.
Pipe into equal size rounds on a Silpat or parchment paper. 
Drop the pan onto counter several times to release air bubbles, 
then prick any you can see with a toothpick.  
You get a lot more bubbles with French Meringue, so be diligent on this.  
Let rest on counter for 20 minutes until tops are dry.  Use a fan if in a moist climate.
Bake at 340 for 12 minutes.  Makes about 24 – 48 halves.
Let cool, then remove and fill.  Cover and let age on counter overnight.
Then refrigerate.  I have found in  my dry climate, they need to age 
on the counter, not the fridge, as you want them to begin to absorb
the moisture from the frosting.

Watch this cute video to see method for French Meringue – done by a young girl.

Standard American Buttercream – flavor differently as desired
1/4 C. softened butter
2 C. powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. flavoring – I used almond for these
2-3 T. water or milk

In a large mixing bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the whip, mix the softened 
butter and powdered sugar, adding the first 2 T. of liquid and
 then adding remaining liquid as needed until you get a soft fluffy frosting. 
Don’t add too much or it will be runny.  Too little and it will be stiff.
Beat on medium high for 5-7 minutes.

To create these Dessert Macarons, make one extra large
macaron - about 3 inches across, one normal, about 1 1/2
inches across and one small, about 3/4 inch across in
whatever color you prefer.  Bake and cool.  Sandwich together
with Almond flavored buttercream, then fresh raspberries,
and more buttercream to cement the remaining cookies
on top. 

If desired, accent with edible gold for a crowning touch.

from what I have read, you want to use the
Italian gold leaf, as it is more pure.  

To apply gold leaf - 
use a little piping gel and smear a tiny amount onto
the top of your left hand (if you are right handed).
(I used the sparkle gel in a tube where you get cake
decorating supplies at the grocery store.  I didn't want
to buy a whole tub of it from Michaels.)
Smear a tiny amount onto the macaron, where you
want the gold leaf placed.  With a soft brush, touch
the gel on your hand, to slightly moisten the brush,
then touch the gold leaf.  The gel on the brush will
help you pick up the delicate leaf.  Then place it on
the macaron where you have smeared a little gel. 
A little goes a long ways, but adds the perfect touch.

It is good to be back, but I sure enjoyed my
extended vacation.


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