Posts filed under: ‘Cooking‘

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Madness – Asymmetry

So yeah, I’ve been slack with the posting. Short attention span and all that 🙂

Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer


One of the first things you may notice about these macarons is that they’re not smooth and even. There’s a reason for that 🙂 Mostly it’s because I’d been cooking macarons for something like ten hours and my care factor had slipped a little (Sorry, Thoraiya!) But I kinda figured that with a title like Assymetry I could get a pass on them being smooth, shiny, perfect little bites of sweet delight.

Which isn’t to say that they’re not delicious little morsels, because these were amazing! The colour was easy to choose. I didn’t. They are macarons a la naturel. No colouring, just the natural colour of the almond meal macaron. The flavour though like Thoraiya’s writing is a twist on the everyday – Vanilla and Elderflower. And the consensus was that it was absolutely delicious!


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan


Add a comment June 3, 2014

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Madness – Cracklescape

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

Photo by Cat Sparks



Of the nine Twelfth Planet books, Cracklescape was the easiest flavour to choose. I always knew it would be the same flavour as the cupcakes I did. Salted Lime Caramel! Because it’s hard to go wrong with salted caramel. And when I make them again, as larger versions, which I will, I’ll be folding crushed toffee shards through the frosting for extra crackle, as well as putting a dollop of goopy pure caramel in the centre of the frosting.

The shells had lime zest grated into the mixture for a hint of citrusy goodness to match the cover,  and there was a good squeeze of juice in the caramel itself as well, and it really worked. I think these are quite possibly my favourite. (Favourite enough that I have made a batch of them this week – in full size.)


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts


1 comment May 9, 2014

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem – Love and Romanpunk

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Photo by Cat Sparks

I LOVE how strong the colour turned out with this one. Actually, the colours for this one, BAD POWER, and THROUGH SPLINTERED WALLS all came out gorgeous, and I think that was mostly because I let them mature overnight. Alisa and I had been cooking all day and into the night and had only completed six batches, so about 8:30 I decided to make the mix for the remaining three, but cook them the next day. And it paid off. The colours matured beautifully!


I had come across a flavour combination of Fig and Port Wine, which seemed to be perfect for LARP, but I did encounter a couple of issues with it.

Problem number one is figs aren’t in season, so I got hold of some semi dried figs and marinated them for a day or so. Problem number two occurred when I first attempted to make the filling dairy free. I thought the flavour would go well with a chocolate base, and I had a recipe where you cream an avocado and mix it with cocoa to make a rich chocolate frosting.

Perfect! or so I thought. The base frosting tasted beautiful, and I will be using it again, but remember those marinating figs? When they were mulched up and mixed in, a) I needed A LOT of them to override the cocoa which left me with an overwhelming fig flavour, and b) the look and texture was not something you want to put on anything you are intending to eat. Brown. Lumpy. Sticky.

Yeah. No.

So, I pushed it to the side and decided to try a different variant. Fortunately, when I’d purchased the semi-dried figs, I’d also gotten some of “Maggie Beer’s Fig & Fennel Paste.” The taste was quite mild and was complemented well when I added in a splash of port. The question then was what frosting base I should add it to, bearing in mind I was trying to stay dairy free. I ended up going with the cashew frosting – soak natural cashews in warm water for several hours, then blitz with a bit of oil. A nice subtle flavored frosting that didn’t conflict with the fig and port. Very nice!


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle


Add a comment May 5, 2014

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem – Nightsiders

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Photo by 
Cat Sparks


The cover is yellow, but the flavour of the book is far from bright, nor is it sweet. So no traditional yellow flavour (eg: lemon or banana) would suffice for me. Instead I needed a dark, gritty flavour, and I decided on Vegemite. Don’t laugh! And don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. The King of Macarons, Adriano Zumbo introduced the world to Vegemite Macarons and the world accepted this offering of ambrosia. And technically is wasn’t Vegemite, coz I needed to use Ozemite in order for all the macs to stay gluten free.

The Vegemite was mixed into a white chocolate ganache and a handful of gluten free breadcrumbs for texture. And the salty tang of Vegemite (Ozemite) balances beautifully with the sweet of the white chocolate ganache and the macaron shell.

At the launch this was the flavour that garnished the most attention, and not everyone was convinced enough to try it, but for the most part, those that did thought it worked.

Add a comment May 1, 2014

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem Edition

As you may have noticed, two of my passions are baking and fandom. And the most fun I can have is when I combine the two. And I had an opportunity to do this recently, because Swancon was on, and Twelfth Planet Press had a special announcement to make. The question was, how to do it in style? Remember last time, when I decorated 300 cupcakes in a hotel room? Yeah, I didn’t learn.

And, since this time around I would be in my own kitchen,  I couldn’t just live with that, could I? Noooo, I had to up the difficulty level. Because that seems to be how I define fun. 🙂

The Challenge: A macaron for each of the nine released book of the Twelve Planets series. Colour and flavour matched. And for an added twist of difficulty I decided to make over half of the fillings dairy free.

Now, NO ONE should eat nine macarons in a short period, not unless they want to go into sugar shock, so by opting for mini macs we figured we’d lower the sugar intake for those determined adventurous enough to try all flavours. What Alisa and I discovered with a full day spent cooking, is minis are way harder to get right than traditional sized ones, which means I have A LOT of leftovers (aka way less than perfect) at home that we are working our way though.

FYI they look a lot like this.


However, we did end up with around 450 complete mini macarons for the night.

A night which seemed to be a success.


Last few… they were gone moments later.

20140428-185613.jpg 20140428-185555.jpg

And Alisa selling ALL the books!


Oh, and the Twelfth Planet Special Announcement? News about a Thirteenth Planet by Isobel Carmody!

In the next few days I will attempt to post the story of each macaron. I’m not going to give a specific macaron recipe, because there are a million out on the net, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. However, I will talk generically about the shells, and give an idea of what I used for the fillings.


Photo by Cat Sparks


Add a comment April 28, 2014

Gluten Free Fluffy Pancakes

Last night we had had some awesome gluten free pancakes. I mean GF Pancakes can be pretty blah normally, but these…will become a staple. However, these weren’t awesome just because they were GF, but pretty amazing pancakes anyway! They were light and fluffy, not rubbery or crumbly, and tasted like real pancakes.

2-3 egg whites
2 cups gluten free self raising flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar (we used maple syrup for flavour and taste)
2 eggs

Beat the egg whites until stiff and meringue like

Beat all other ingredients in a separate bowl until thoroughly mixed

Fold in beaten egg whites

Drop spoonfuls into a hot buttered pan.
Cook as per normal. However these are thick enough that they tend to start to burn on the outside without being cooked through, so keep an eye on the temperature.


Add a comment May 27, 2013

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure — Love and Romanpunk


Thousands of years ago, Julia Agrippina wrote the true history of her family, the Caesars. The document was lost, or destroyed, almost immediately. (It included more monsters than you might think.)

Hundreds of years ago, Fanny and Mary ran away from London with a debauched poet and his sister. (If it was the poet you are thinking of, the story would have ended far more happily, and with fewer people having their throats bitten out.)

Sometime in the near future, a community will live in a replica Roman city built in the Australian bush. It’s a sight to behold. (Shame about the manticores.)

Further in the future, the last man who guards the secret history of the world will discover that the past has a way of coming around to bite you. (He didn’t even know she had a thing for pointy teeth.)

The world is in greater danger than you ever suspected. Women named Julia are stronger than they appear. Don’t let your little brother make out with silver-eyed blondes. Immortal heroes really don’t fancy teenage girls. When love dies, there’s still opera. Family is everything. Monsters are everywhere. Yes, you do have to wear the damned toga.

History is not what you think it is.


2 comments February 2, 2013

Fear me, for I am a Macaron Master!

Look what I made!


Nice shiny domes – check
Pretty, ruffled feet – check
Crisp outer shell – check
Soft, fluffy interior – check

But I do have a confession to make:

2 comments December 27, 2012

How to make a dinosaur

I work in the homewares department of a large department store, and this keeps my kitchengeek self well supplied with toys.

So when I saw this:

IMG_0383.JPG (2)

Now, generally I am not a fan of these jigsaw pans but I immediately knew *EXACTLY* what I wanted to do with it. And then it went on clearance and I paid like three dollars for it. Of course, that was months ago, and it’s been sitting in my cupboard ever since, because, well, time it is lacking.


Add a comment December 5, 2012

In Search of My Macaron Mojo

Macaron’s. That sweet little bite of heaven. So quickly devoured, so melt-in-your mouth. The bane of so many who venture into the kitchen.

Of course I had to try making them.

One reason is because they are gluten free, and since I’ve had to move into GF cooking as a general way of life now, I figured it’d be handy to know how to make them. But also, you know – they’re challenging, and I do like a bit of a kitchen challenge.

The first time I attempted them I had never actually tried one, so perhaps that wasn’t the wisest move. Not that I’ve let that stop me before.

They tasted fine, at least, I thought they did, but they were eggshell thin, reminiscent of crazy paving, and had no feet to speak of.

Since then I have tried macarons from several places, so at least I have an idea of what I’m aiming at.

I made some more last week:

Taste wise they rocked! Cranberry & Salted Pomegranate = yum!

Aesthetically, not so much. I obviously under mixed it as all my shells had nipples. Some of them cracked, and the oven was obviously a fraction too high  because they lost their pale pink colour and started to have a toasty look.

So, I read more blogs and recipes and guides on What Can Go Wrong, and I tried again today.

Things started off okay…they certainly looked better than my last attempts





The one batch of mix was able to give me three batches in the oven. Each batch came out a little differently.

Batch the first:

The second:

And the third:


As you can see, the third lot is overcooked…I’m trying to find the fine line in my oven temperatures to give my macaron’s a nice foot without toasting them,,,so far, not overly successful.

The second lot are my best. A few cracks here and there, no feet, but could be worse. And they kept their colour nicely.

Batch one was undercooked…which left me with something that looked like a Macaron Massacre – lots of gutted bodies.

They might not have ‘footed’, but I could still make them into wanabee ‘rons.

I still had some Salted Pomegranate filling left over, so I made some with that, and then the others I made White Chocolate & Raspberry


And look at this! ONE (semi) FOOTED MACARON:

Just don’t look at the back of it! However, I’m taking that as proof positive that it can be done!








Add a comment August 26, 2012


I’ve Said It Once…

Past Ingredients