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I Like The Way You Work It

When I first started making macarons almost 3 years ago it was trial and error. I tried recipe after recipe in search of the perfect batch of macs. There are so many variables that can affect the end result - ingredients, humidity, baking temperature, technique... and the list goes on. The key is finding a recipe that works for you. There are plenty of blogs that give amazing troubleshooting tips and recipes already... so lets talk about something else: TOOLS.

Besides using the highest quality ingredients available, perfecting your macronage technique and learning your oven, the tools you use can also come into play.

When I am whipping up a batch of macs, I'm usually making a lot. Macaron batter is thick and when you are delicately folding that beautiful meringue perfection into your almond flour the last thing you need is a wimpy spatula. I cannot tell you how many times I have broken the handle... is it the end of the world? No, but it sure is frustrating. So today I am sharing my 3 top spatula picks!

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1. Williams Sonoma's silicone spatula is by far my absolute favorite. The construction is high quality and the stainless steel handle is comfortable to hold when working with the batter. The silicone head is rigid enough to fold the batter but still offers nice flexibility and as an added bonus - dishwasher safe.

2. Le Creuset's Revolution spatula is another great option. The head has a dual sided blade which makes cutting through the batter easier and the curves of the wooden handle allow for added comfort while you work. The head is dishwasher safe and is removable but the wood handle is hand wash - I find over time when the heads are removable on ANY spatula they can work their way loose during the macronage phase.

3. Sur La Table also knocks it out of the park with their Flex-Core spatula. The nylon core allows for a rigid spatula that can hold up to thick batters and the asymmetrical design of the head is perfect for folding in your meringue. I also really like the stainless steel handle with the ergonomic design for comfort and this guy is also dishwasher safe!

I highly recommend investing in a good spatula for your macaron making. It definitely will avoid a few choice words and a sticky mess.

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watchin' Me

Halloween is  one of my favorite holidays of the year and I couldn't think of a better time to finally launch a blog to share tidbits of my adventures in sugar! I absolutely love the costumes, the candy, and all of the fun over the top decorations. I get so excited every year when I start planning what I want to be and creating my costume which of course I make myself (last year may be hard to top). With Halloween fast approaching I decided it would be fun to give my macarons a little costume makeover of their own! How adorable are these Mutant Macs?!?

Now, if you are not a baker or have never made macarons have no fear these creepy treats are still totally doable and you even have a few options! Option number 1: is a great beginner macaron recipe from Martha Stewart. This is the first macaron recipe I earned and have always had great results with it! Option 2: (by far the easiest) Purchase pre-made macarons available at Trader Joes!

What you will need:
Macaron Shells in color of choice (Or pre-made Macarons)
Filling of Choice (I prefer to use stable fillings such as Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Ganache)
White Fondant (4oz)
Powdered Sugar or Cornstarch
Gel Food Coloring (I prefer Americolor)
Petal Dusts (In color of choice and black)
Fine Tip Paint Brush
Black Edible Marker
Tooth Pick

You don't need very much fondant at all for these little monsters. Both Michaels and Hobby Lobby carry small packs of fondant that are perfect for this sort of decoration! First things first, take about 3/4 of your white fondant and dye it to match the color of your macaron shell. You want to get the color as close as possible. Keep your white fondant and colored fondant wrapped in plastic when not in use. Air and fondant are not friends. They basically hate each other and the fondant will always lose the fight. No lie.

Take a pea sized amount of white fondant and roll it into a ball. You will need one for each macaron. Next simply take your finger and slightly press down on the fondant to flatten it out a bit. You can always use powdered sugar or cornstarch here if your fondant is wanting to stick. Leave these to dry for about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your fondant and the humidity. You just want the fondant to firm up a bit and develop a skin.

Next take your Petal dust and mix it with a tiny amount of vodka. This will make an edible paint! Use a fine detail paint brush to paint an O shape on each slightly flattened "eye". Let them dry for about 30 minutes. You could also use lemon extract in place of vodka but remember it will leave a lemon flavor behind which may not pair well with your chosen filling! Once the eye is dry its time for the edible marker! Now, of course this could also be painted on with a brush and the vodka/dust paint mixture but I find I have more control when I use the marker and its less clean up... so thats a win win for me! Take the marker and draw a black circle in the center for the pupil and just like that you have an eye!

Now you want to attach the eye to the shell. Take your brush and dip it into a little vodka. Lightly brush the back of the eye enough to just moisten it. Now place the eye onto the macaron shell.

Mix a tiny bit of black dust in with your dust/vodka mixture just to darken it. Now you want to create a "V" Shape on either side of the attached eye. This will create even more depth once we add the eye lids!

Next, take your colored fondant and pinch off a (slightly larger than) pea sized amount and roll it into a ball. Use your finger and roll on your work surface to taper out each side.

Now flatten the shape out with your finger and pinch one edge to thin it and create a slight ruffle. Lay the eye lid down and use the tooth pick to drag "skin folds" down the length of the fondant.

Use vodka to attach the eye lid. Repeat to make a bottom lid. Once you have the eye lids attached use the toothpick to peel back the lids to make the eye more visible.

After the fondant has had a chance to firm up, you can use the edible marker to add eye lashes. I chose to finish these little monsters off with a little blue sparkle petal dust on the eye lids just to add a little more dimension and a touch of sparkle.All you have to do now is pair your decorated shells with a mate and fill with your preferred filling. And there you have it! Monster Macs that are sure to be a huge hit for Halloween!I can't wait to see what you guys come up with and create! Have fun with it and remember these are Monster Macs... the uglier they are the better!And just in case you were wondering about last years Halloween costume...And YES, those are my real abs.