Posts filed under: ‘conventions‘




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

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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

 

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Add a comment June 3, 2014

A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Madness – Cracklescape

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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

A night which seemed to be a success.

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Last few… they were gone moments later.

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And Alisa selling ALL the books!

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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.

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Photo by Cat Sparks

 

Add a comment April 28, 2014

Conflux

Well, Conflux has been and gone and it was great fun! I had never been to Canberra, so that was an adventure in itself. And if eating a salad in the airport counts, I have visited Adelaide as well. So now I have been to every capital city in Australia. I am so well travelled. Next stop, get myself a passport.

Mostly for me the weekend was about supporting Alisa and Twelfth Planet Press, and getting to catch up with friends! And late nights…oh the late nights. #Iamold

By far the greatest majority of my time was spent in the Dealers Room, but I quite like that, because nearly everyone wanders through at some stage or another, so I get to see everyone.

I don’t tend to do panels, so my one contribute was organising the awards ceremony. I wanted something fun and engaging and the awesome Deb Biancotti provided all that. She did an amazing job.

Congratulations to all the winners! It was wonderful to see some of my favourite fandom people being honoured.

And the trophies themselves this year were stunning! Lewis Morley did a beautiful job on them. Most years I am a bit meh about the trophies, (although squeaky octopii were definitely cool) and I have never been particularly sad that I don’t do award worthy things….but oh, I badly coveted this year’s edition. And then some people actually got TWO of them! So not fair! (It is really…Tansy, Kaaron and Kathleen all deserved to win their categories!)

I thought I had people convinced about me being all sweetness and light, but Sean the Blogonaut saw through me when it came to the Ditmars…because I utilised my underworld contacts to procure myself a Blackmarket edition.

I has Ditmar
It’s so, so pretty sitting in my cabinet.

Add a comment May 4, 2013

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure — Love and Romanpunk

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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.

(more…)

2 comments February 2, 2013

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure — Nightsiders

In a future world of extreme climate change, Perth, Western Australia’s capital city, has been abandoned. Most people were evacuated to the East by the late ’30s and organised infrastructure and services have gone.

A few thousand obstinate and independent souls cling to the city and to the southern towns. Living mostly by night to endure the fierce temperatures, they are creating a new culture in defiance of official expectations. A teenage girl stolen from her family as a child; a troupe of street actors who affect their new culture with memories of the old; a boy born into the wrong body; and a teacher who is pushed into the role of guide tell the story of The Nightside.

Nightsiders by Sue Isle is a collection of four stories set in  a post apocalyptic Perth. It’s a world where the sun is vicious, and the few remaining residents move around at night time in order to survive.

When I was trying to determine what kind of cupcake would embody Nightsiders, I automatically went to lemon, because of the sun, but I wasn’t quite happy with that as a choice, because it felt too fresh, which I didn’t think represented the feel…not the writing isn’t fresh, it is. It’s n awesome book! Rather it was the whole “lemon fresh” thing I had an issue with. Until I realised that making Scorched Lemon Meringue Cupcakes would be perfect.

I have a very easy, basic cupcake recipe that works well as the base, and as an added bonus it’s gluten-free.

(more…)

2 comments August 3, 2012

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure – Salvage

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Seeking to salvage their foundering marriage, Melanie and Richard retreat to an isolated beach house on a remote Queensland island.

Intrigued by a chance encounter with a stranger, Melanie begins to drift away from her husband and towards Helena, only to discover that Helena has her own demons, ageless and steeped in blood.

As Richard’s world and Helena’s collide, Melanie must choose which future she wants, before the dark tide pulls her under … forever.

(more…)

2 comments June 17, 2012

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure

This is one of those “It seemed like a good idea at the time” stories.

The Crazy Cupcake Adventure really began several weeks before Continuum 8, when Alisa and I were discussing what to do for the Twelfth Planet Press hour. In a moment of (insert adjective here)ness, I suggested themed cupcakes.

It was always going to be easier to make the cakes at home and transport them over frozen and unfrosted.

The challenge was going to be in decorating 300 cupcakes in a hotel room.

The tools I took:

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The tools I didn’t take:
EVERYTHING ELSE!

There were items I had packed, but when we reached the airport we discovered we were significantly overweight and had to do some quick and judicious culling, so in Melbourne I had to Make Do.

And of course, one of the tools I couldn’t take on the plane was my blowtorch. Fortunately Alex had recently acquired one so I was able to borrow that for some extreme cake decorating.

The day started at 7:30 when I went in search of Coles, which was hidden deep underground with no signage. So I, um, may have gotten a little lost. I procured most of my ingredients and Alisa later did a second foraging expedition to get the final ingredients, and some painkillers to knock a blossoming migraine on the head.

On top of operating with one solitary bowl, I had to find ways to soften butter and cream cheese to a temperature that wasn’t akin to a snowball on Mount Everest. I solved this by having the ingredients in my bowl and warming the bottom I the container with the hair dryer that the hotel supplied. it worked a treat! Except when I blasted the air into the bowl and ended up snorting a face full of icing sugar dust. I was tired and migrainey, okay!

Eleven and a half hours after starting, with ten minutes to spare, I finished. A quick shower and dress and I was able to swan into the party which was in full swing.

Nine minutes past seven I walked in and over half the cupcakes were gone! This is (one of) the reasons we don’t have many photos. And it is an awesome reason to not have many photos! 🙂

6 comments June 13, 2012

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