Classes in June

The Macaron Files : Tip #2/20 – Know Your Almonds

 It’s week 2 in the Macaron Files Series and this week we’re talking Almonds

Almonds are the key ingredient when making macarons, so it follows that you need to know your almonds.

To start, almond flour, almond meal and ground almonds are all the same thing! So don’t be confused if you see them labelled differently in various stores.

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If you choose to buy almond flour
  • Make sure that the almonds are fresh, so  basically they haven’t been sitting on the shelf for too long, because not only will this lead to stale almonds, but also oiliness which is something that you definitely do not want
  • Before using your almond flour you will most likely need to sift it to get out any residual grainy bits. Now, while you can get away with about a tablespoon of slightly rough almond pieces in your mix, any excessively chunky pieces are going to tear not so pretty little hole in your shells or give you a very rough exterior instead of the smooth shiny shell that you are after.
  • If you find that your almonds are oily, the easiest way to rectify this is by running it through the food processor for a bit with some icing sugar. The icing sugar absorbs the oiliness and since it is a part of your recipe, you’re not adding in any foreign ingredients. You could also put the almond flour on a tray and into the oven for a few minutes, but personally I’ve had far too many instances of being distracted and ending up with toasted almond flour so I tend to stick to the icing sugar method.
If you choose you grind your own almonds
  • The first thing that you would need to do is blanch your raw almonds. So, if the skin is still on the almonds, follow the easy steps below.

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  • Now, the tricky party about making your own almond flour is that its very easy to take it a bit too far and create something closer to almond butter than almond flour. The key is to run the almonds through the food processor in short bursts rather than trying to get it done in one go. I use a coffee grinder because I find that I get a finer powder, although it does take a whole lot longer than a food processor because of the restriction on how much you can do at a time.
  • Again, after grinding sift the almond flour to remove and chunky bits.
How to store you almond flour

The best way to store your almond flour, whether you have bought it or ground it yourself, is in an airtight container, either in the fridge or the freezer. Alternately they will also be fine in a cool, dry place. The main thing is to keep them away from heat and humidity. A warm environment will cause the almonds to give off their oil and like I said previously, you don’t want oily almond flour.

If you missed the first post in this series you can find it here : Tip 1/20 – Know Your Oven and look out for the next tip next Wednesday where I talk about the pros and cons of using baking paper vs silicone baking mats.

There are also a few spots left in our Women’s Day Macaron Class on 1 August 2015, so you go here and book.

If you found this tip helpful or have anything to add, please leave a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say.

xxx Viveshni

Hello Monday : Eat All The Cake

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Hello Monday!

After a 500 3 week long school holiday the kids are back to school today and life will return to somewhat normal programming.

I have to say that although I did endeavour to take some time off and enjoy the holidays with my girls, it was a very busy period for me filled with many, many cakes, so I don’t really think that that they minded at all.

This Wednesday I will be posting Tip # 2/20 in my Macaron Files series (Know Your Almonds). If you missed the first tip you can find it here.

Then on Friday will be a healthy but delicious recipe from GI Jane in the Blogger Recipe series and somewhere in between I will be sharing my recipe for Gluhwein and my Chocolate Gluhwein Cake. So, stay tuned for an awesome week ahead!

Here are a few photos of my favourite bakes from the past few weeks.

If you’ve seen something that you like, you can always head over to our contact page and send us an enquiry or just leave a comment here to let us know which one you loved the most 🙂

xxx Viveshni

#SpiceGoddessEvent 2014

Exactly a week ago I was honoured, privileged and most especially lucky enough to be one of the 10 bloggers to attend the first Spice Goddess Event in Durban. It was hosted by the incredibly inspirational SpiceGoddess herself, Verushka Ramasami and motivational speaker, writer and blogger Sue Levy, who flew in from Pretoria for the event. It was held at the Be Pampered Spa in Westville,

I really don’t think that any of us attending had any idea of the amazing day that we were in for. Sue and Verushka had planned every aspect of the event to the T, which I might add was a phenomenal task since all the planning was done via email and phone calls alone. On arrival we were handed lanyards with our names and social media information on it, so that we could easily identify the other bloggers that we occasionally stalk online but haven’t actually met as yet. It was great to see some familiar faces like Fathima, Megan, Faeema and Thina and the new ones, Kerry ,Sasha & Kamini. We also got a delicious mocktail from Fuze Tea ( I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the total piece of eye candy that was there to serve the drinks. Hubba Hubba! )

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The whole vibe of the day was about unleashing your inner goddess. We were all spoiled with either a massage or a pedicure. Being in desperate need of a pedi I traded my massage for one and I was not disappointed. The pedi room was so beautiful and relaxing you cannot help but feel pampered, and when you’re being served Fuze Tea while you’re getting your feet massaged it doesn’t get an better.

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The lovely Faye and Thina getting ready for our pedis

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My delicious Pear and Bergamot Fuze Iced Tea

 

After our pamper session we were served up lunch prepare by the spa. It was scrumptious and each person was able to choose their dish which made it even better. I chose the chicken 🙂

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While eating were were given a few tips on reading your man by Mellissa, one of the 2 Mystic Sisters who own the spa. I would never have guessed that you can tell so much from just looking at the dip in a person’s palm of the curve of their thumb.

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We were also introduced to awesome brands and were address by representatives from Renew Colour and The Foschini Group who also gave us some amazing products to try out.

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There are some amazing Christmas gift specials on the Karl Lagerfeld and Jimmy Choo perfumes at Foschini

The highlight of the day was definitely the talk by Sue. Everyone hung on her every word and I know that there was at least one thing that she said that resonated with every person there. Verushka also imparted some of her wisdom and words of upliftment and I think that by the end of it all we were pretty emotional and it was definitely a bonding moment for all the ladies there.

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What I took from the day was this

1. As women and bloggers we need to encourage and uplift each other. Blogging shouldn’t be about cliques and a mean girl mentality, it should be about being a part of a community filled with love and support for one another.
2. Our words are powerful and we need to be careful with what we say. It costs nothing to compliment someone but it could be the kind words that they needed to lift their spirits. Sue had us to an exercise where we complimented each other before we got started and it set the tone for the whole event.
3. We need to fill our ‘love tanks’. This stuck with me the most. In our everyday lives we give a lot of ourselves to others and without getting that love back and filling up our love tanks we are going to get stuck.
4. We need to be grateful. Thank you thank you thank you!

For me the Spice Goddess Event was exactly what I needed after a year of hard work. I left feeling energized but also with an inner calm and my love tank is definitely full up again.

I cannot thank Verushka and Sue enough for organizing the event and really going above and beyond to make it an unforgettable day for each of us. Also thank you to Mellissa and Jayshree for being so warm and hospitable.

As a parting gift we all left with a massive haul of goodies from some amazing companies. I am still a bit taken aback by the volume of it but I expected nothing less from an event that involved the Spice Goddess! I will be doing a separate post on all the items in the goodie bag AND I have an exciting competition in conjunction with the Be Pampered Spa coming up in January, so keep your eyes peeled!

The lovely Fathima from Happiness Is with her haul

The lovely Fathima from Happiness Is with her haul

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Festive Season Specials

It’s that time again when the festive season is upon us and we realize that we need to find the perfect gift for the special people in our lives.

These are my Christmas specials for 2014!

Orders close on 16December 2014 and collection will be from me in Riverside Durban North on the 22nd and 23rd December. The last orders will be couriered overnight on the 22nd.

Contact me on viveshni@madamemacaron.co.za to place your order. Stocks are limited on certain items.

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Hump Day Help: Almond flour vs Almond powder

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I was out shopping the last week, getting supplies for my weekly orders, and the cashier at the store that I was buying my almonds from asked me if almond flour and almond powder were the same thing. They apparently have a lot of people coming in to buy almond flour but only stock powdered almonds and had no idea if there was a difference

So here are the facts.

Almond flour, almond powder and almond meal are all the same thing. If you look on the packaging the only ingredient listed should be almonds. If there is anything else besides almonds flour listed you cannot use it in a recipe that calls for almond flour.

I go through kilograms of almonds a month, making macarons, so here are a few tips on how to store and even make your own almond flour/ powder/ meal if you’re having a problem finding it in stores.

Almond flour can be stored for up to a year in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Almonds are very oily nuts and storing them in a hot area is going to bring out the oils, which you don’t want.

If you do find that your almond flour becomes oily you can rectify the problem by running the almond flour with a tablespoon of the icing sugar or other dry ingredient that you’re baking with in the food processor.

You can freeze your almonds to keep them fresher for longer but remember to bring them to room temperature before using them.

If you want to make your own almond flour all you need are almonds and a food processor. Be sure to Blanche the almonds.
This means
1. Bring a pot of water to the boil
2. Drop in your raw almonds
3. Remove immediately and drain
4. Rinse them in cold water to cool them
5. Dry the almonds with paper towel
6. Squeeze the skin off the almonds
7. The end 🙂

Happy baking

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Picture This {October}

Here’s a whole lot of pictures of what I’ve been working on the past few weeks.

A frozen themed party

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A Minnie Mouse themed party

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Some cakes and macarons

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Finally, a Sofia the a First party. The setup was done by Polkadots and Jellytots.

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Here are some photos of the setup by Polkadots and Jellytots. The cakes, cakes pops and cupcakes were made by me.

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Monday Me 27/10/2014: Cuppa For Cansa {The Serious Stuff & The Grand Total }

My life has never really been directly touched by cancer. I have a dear friend whose mother has beaten it twice, an aunt who died of leukemia before I was born and distant family friends who have had to fight the battle against the disease. But there has never been anymore in my immediate family and for that, I am thankful every day.

So why then, did I choose the Cancer Association as my charity to support and why host a Cuppa For Cansa when cancer has clearly not been a significant part of my life.

In Hinduism it is called Seva or Sewa, where a service is performed without any expectation of reward for the person performing it. To me the Cuppa is my Seva. Planning and hosting the Cuppa has been a tremendous growing experience for me. I’ve learned how generous and selfless people can be. I’ve also learned how spiritually fulfilling helping others with no expectations can be.

Also, I have 2 daughters and it is a fact that 1 in every 26 women, irrespective of race or social status in South Africa, will get cancer. To me that number is astounding. The key to survival is education and early detection, as 70% of all breast cancers can be found by self examination. So, I think that it is my duty to be well informed and keep my daughters well informed as they grow into women.

I want to send out my sincerest thanks again to everyone that attended the Cuppa last week and contributed so generously, as well as those who helped set up.
A few of the ladies at the tea told me that I had inspired them to host their own Cuppas. I hope that they do follow through with that because every rand raised and every Cuppa held helps the Cancer Association.

How Your Donations Help Fight Cancer

R20 can help us give a newly diagnosed cancer patient important support and information resources to help them through their cancer journey.

R50 can help staff the CANSA Toll-free Information Service 0800 22 66 22 with expertly trained, multilingual counsellors.

R100 can help train a CANSA volunteer to provide one-to-one support for people diagnosed with cancer.

R250 can help disseminate our internationally acclaimed CancerCare Coping Kits to survivors all over South Africa.

R500 can help provide ‘a home from home’ for patients while they are undergoing cancer treatment in major centres. CANSA has various Care Homes, a hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as a CANSA-TLC Nicus Lodge in Pretoria and a CANSA TLC Paediatric Oncology Ward in Limpopo. Read more re CANSA’s Holistic Care & Support to those affected by cancer…

R1000 can help provide Mobile Health Units delivering services in resource poor communities like informal settlements, townships, farms and in remote rural areas.

Like I said at the tea and Marlene reiterated, a Cuppa For Cansa doesn’t only have to be held in October. They can be planned for any time of the year, so I challenge everyone that reads this to host their own Cuppa and help make a difference. If you have already hosted a Cuppa you also have until this Friday to enter the awesome competition held by Le Creuset for the most inspirational Cuppa.

So finally, I’m very proud to announce that with the help of all the amazing ladies that attending the Cuppa, the businesses that donated prizes for the raffle and auction and the private donations I was able to raise….

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Here are the posts by a few of the lovely ladies that attended the Cuppa

Megan Deane

Jane Tennet

Hazel Whitehead

Faeema Sader  

Verushka Ramasami

xxxViveshni