Honey, I’m Home!

After what I’m going to call a 6 month hiatus for this blog (and not just laziness and a lack of time), I’ve decided that it’s time to pull up my socks, put on my big girl pants etc. etc. and give it a big ol’ smooch to wake it from it’s slumber.

I’ve had time to think about what I want out of this blog and why I lost the motivation to write, and it turns out that it was that I had forgotten this was and is my blog. Madame Macaron’s little space on the  internet to post about whatever catches my fancy and not to conform to what I thought was expected.

So, there will still be all of my favourites like the Blogger Recipe Series and The Macaron Files included, but expect a few more  posts about places I’ve been, things that I’m doing and stuff that I love.

I hope that you enjoy all the new content, and if you do, that you take a minute to leave a comment and let me know.

So belated Happy New Year. Let’s do this 🙂

xxx Viveshni

 

Photo Credit: http://www.marklerouxphotography.co.za

 

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The Macaron Files: Tip 1/20 – Know Your Oven

Being Madame Macaron I get asked a great many questions about what I do to get the perfect macarons, so I thought that it was about time for this series of posts.
Each week I will be sharing one of my tips for getting the   perfect macarons and hopefully helping you to identify any issues that you may be having with your batches. So, save them , print them, collect them ,and by the end of the series you should have the perfect macarons every time!

One of the most often overlooked factors in making macarons and also one of the most important is your oven. 

There are 3 main factors that will affect your macarons.

1.The Temperature Control
The heat settings on your average home ovens are not always 100% accurate and a few degrees of extra heat can mean the difference between lovely feet that raise your shells up or skirts that frill out around your shells leaving your macaron looking like a rather pretty and tasty doily.
The best way to ensure that your oven is running at the correct temperature is to buy an oven thermometer. If however you aren’t keen on doing that and have some time and patience, you can test your oven by baking a few shells at 20 degrees lower than the required temperature. You would then increase the temperature by 5 degrees for successive batches until your shells form feet and bake in the required time.

2. Even distribution of heat
I went through many a batch of macarons where one half of the tray would be perfectly done but the other half was under baked. I tried a different tray and even different baking paper until I realized that it was a heat distribution problem, where one half of my oven was running hotter than the other. This can also cause lopsided macarons, where only one side of the shell is rising and you’re left with more of a wedge than a lovely symmetrical disc.
The solution to this problem is pretty simple. Half way through the baking process open the oven ( yes you can do that with macarons ) and rotate the tray 180 degrees. This will ensure that all your shells are evenly baked.
3. Using more than 1 shelf at a time
There is one rule that you need to remember when it comes to using more than 1 shelf in your oven and it is that hot air rises and cold air sinks. So the bottom shelf in your oven is always going to be a little cooler than the top and therefore your macarons will need a little extra time than those on the middle shelf. As always though, not every oven is the same and you will need to get a feel for how much longer your shells on the bottom shelf need to stay in for.
Please let me know if this tip helped and if you have any that you’d like to add.

xxx Viveshni

Halloween Inspiration

When I was younger Halloween was just a day that was celebrated by the people on TV and the 31st was just the last day in October here in sunny S.A.

Well times have changed and Halloween is gaining momentum and has been adopted by many South Africans as we embrace more and more of American culture.

For me 31 October is my wedding anniversary ( 6 years this Friday!), but if you are celebrating this goulish holiday here’s some inspiration for you.

mummy cupcakesspider macaronshalloween cakepopspooky spidersMartha stewartcakewww.artschooldropout.netsouthwoodimageundergroundcookeryschoolweheartit

Image Credits

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Humpday Help : Buttermilk Cheat

hump day help

There are many recipes that call for buttermilk as one of their ingredients. Now the average person doesn’t (I’m assuming ) have a carton of buttermilk hanging out in their fridge, and if the urge to bake strikes and you are using a recipe that needs buttermilk I’m sure that a trip to the store just for one ingredient may cause some of us to put our baking off for another day.

I’ve been in the situation many times and with some research I found that there is a cheat that you can use AND it’s so simple.

For every cup of buttermilk you need : 1 cup of milk + 1 Tbsp of vinegar                                    Let the vinegar sit in the milk for a few minutes so that it can work it’s magic and you’re good to go.

You may ask why you cant just add the milk. Well my guess is that your recipe also asks for baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda and like I explained in my post about baking powder vs baking soda , you need an acid for the baking soda to react with. The milk alone is neutral, so that alone will not work and your cake won’t rise as it should, hence you need the vinegar as well.

I’ve used this countless times and it’s worked great for me.I hope this hint helps and if you try it, please leave me a comment about how it worked for you.

xxx Viveshni

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

Monday Me: 21/10/2014 – Cuppa For Cansa Part 1

The Monday me was indeed a very tired (hence the late post) yet a very fulfilled me. Months of work came to fruition when I hosted my Cuppa for Cansa this past Saturday for 60 ladies at Hashtag in Windermere.

The idea to host the Cuppa came to me almost as an epiphany. My business turned 2 in October and I wanted a way to celebrate and give back the blessings that I had received over the past 2 years. I tried to think of a way that I could do that and somewhere I saw something about the Cuppa For Cansa initiative by the Cancer Association. So, I went online to The Cuppa For Cansa website and read up all about it.

It’s such a simple yet effective idea.

Host a tea party for your friends and family and raise awareness and funds for the Cancer Association. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be a big event; it can be just you and a few friends. The key is to raise awareness. You can read up more here.

I had an idea in my head of the type of event that I wanted to host and I chatted to Justin about it. I knew that I wanted to have as much sponsored as possible, so that as much of the funds raised, if not all, would go to the Cancer Association. I also knew that I needed to get items that I could raffle or auction off to raise funds. But first things first, I needed a venue.

I started making lists and then it occurred to me to give Verushka a call. I know that she had been a part of the Durban Blogger meet and hopefully had some ideas to get me started on the road to getting things done. Her input was invaluable as she introduced via email to a host of sponsors, including Trushin from Hashtag, who so very generously and without hesitation contributed the venue as well as beverages for the day. I also chatted to Parushinee, of My Go 2 Girl, who was full of great ideas and brought on board many amazing sponsors as well.

Other businesses came on board one after the other and the different elements of the event seemed to fall into place. The response from the different business which ranged from international companies like Le Creuset to small Durban based businesses like Peg&Pencil, and even businesses from Johannesburg and Cape Town, was overwhelming and so touching.

I will not lie. It was an enormous amount of work that included many late nights, countless emails and what seemed like an endless amount of list, in addition to my normal Madame Macaron work and day job as mother and wife. It was worth it though, because I got the opportunity to connect with so many different people and hear so many of their stories of how cancer has affected their lives. Their stories motivated me even more to make the event something special and it was no longer about celebrating the birthday of Madame Macaron but more about making a change and inspiring people to want to do the same.
There’s a lot that happened at the tea and too much to put into one post so part 2 will be posted tomorrow with pictures of the event.
For now I want to thank all the amazing ladies who attended the tea and the sponsors that came on board to make the event what it was. Each and every one was a vital part of the day.

Here is a list of the sponsor. Please follow them on social media, buy their products, use their services and show them much love for being such amazing and generous businesses and human beings!

· Hashtag
· Le Creuset
· Hashtag Awesome
· PolkaDots and Jellytots
· Happiness Is
· Rain Africa
· Gopal’s Luggage
· Angel Heart
· Trinket Trove
· Exclusive Brides
· Captive8
· Aesthetic Makeover Studio
· Perfect 10- The Crescent
· Perfect Hair- The Crescent
· Shimmer
· Bargain Books
· My Go To Girl
· Peg &Pencil
· Madame Macaron
· Pick ‘n Pay
· Associated Media
· Al Baraka Bank
· Tiger Brands
· It’s A Bling Thing
· John Frieda
· Baker Gurl
· Smith’s Bakeshop
· Boutique Boulangerie
· Jasmin Nights Software Solutions
· KZN Boxes
· SFM
· The Baking Pan
Fudart

xxx Viveshni

Photo credit: Polkadots & Jellytots

Monday Me : 5/10/2014

So, have you ever had one of those days when it seems like Murphy’s Law is in full effect?

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Well, the end of my week last week was kind of like that. From mixing up the colour scheme of an order and having to redo it, to not being able to find my baking powder at 9pm in the middle of baking a 3 tiered cake and finally, not being able to find ground almonds anywhere with an order of macarons to make. I was not a happy camper. Thankfully, even if it was at the very last minute, and with the help of my amazingly wonderful husband, each issue was sorted out and the weekend made up for the horrendous week.

We partied like old people at our nephew’s 21st on Saturday. There’s nothing like being around a whole bunch of 21 year olds to make you feel your age! It’s a good thing we’re still awesome 😄

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Sunday was the best, because I got to sleep in past 9am! We had a pretty chilled day with a visit to The Stables Lifestyle market and to my parents, and ended the night off watching Frozen together for the 20th time.

So basically all’s well that ends well 🙂 I have a huge order for over 1000 macarons that I’ll be working on for Thursday, so needless to say I’m going to be super busy. The girls are also on holiday for this week, so I’ll have to think up some fun stuff to keep them occupied.

I’m going to end this with some pictures from the past week of things I baked and I stuff I did.

Have an amazing week ahead and remember to find at least one thing that makes you smile every day.

Mickey and Minnie cake pops.

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IMG_8359.JPG The Minnie Mouse themed cake that went with the cake pops.

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The lovely Ms.Glossary Lauren celebrates her birthday tomorrow but had a pre-birthday tea party on Saturday. These are the macarons and mini cake that I made for her.

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Here are a couple of pictures that she posted to her Instagram account and you can read the post on her party here.

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Happy 2nd Birthday to Madame Macaron!

2 years ago today, Madame Macaron was born. After a lot of umming and aaahing I took the first steps toward my dream. It’s been it a stressful and rewarding time and the business has been like my 3rd child, requiring my love and attention and nurturing, and also being so greatly rewarding.

I though a fitting way to commemorate the day would be by sharing my very first post from 2 October 2012….

{There of course will also be a giveaway coming soon 😉 }

Hello World

It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. This, is my first step:)

I have to admit that I’ve spent far too many months contemplating and procrastinating with far too little action, but finally Madame Macaron has been born!

My plan is to use this blog not only to share any bits of info that I collect along the way but also any new trends and recipes, my flavour of the week and specials and of course anything else that may catch my fancy.

So, without further ado, here we go……. Welcome to the world of Madame Macaron!