Rose Macarons

Rose Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

I’m keeping it simple with this month’s macarons. I’ve flavoured both the cookie and filling with rosewater to really bring out this subtle, soft flavour and not let anything else overpower it. The soft pink colour and sweet, floral flavour are just what’s needed at the end of this long, cold and stormy winter.

Rose Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Rose Macarons | Sophster-Toaster Rose Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

Ingredients

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting.

for the macaron shells

  • 1 cup ground almonds (as finely ground as you can find)
  • 1½ cup icing sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • pink gel food colouring

for the buttercream filling

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • pink gel food colouring

Method

for the macaron shells

  1. Prepare your parchment sheets by drawing 1″ circles, ½” apart across the entire sheet (or using silicon baking mats with the circles already printed on them) and placing them on a large flat surface suitable for drying your batter, like a dining table. You will need 2-3 half sheet pan size pieces.
  2. Sift ground almonds and icing sugar together, twice. Set aside.
  3. In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a hand or stand mixer on high speed until you have a foam with no liquid remaining.
  4. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites. Beat on high speed until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. You’ve made meringue!
  5. Add the rosewater and beat in at low speed.
  6. Add the pink gel food colouring and beat in at low speed.
  7. Fold your almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue in two parts.
  8. Here’s the part that takes practice: it’s time for the macaronnage! With a spatula, spread the batter, with some force, against the side of the bowl. Then scoop it up by running the spatula along the side of the bowl again and try to flip it all over and sort-of lightly smack it back into the bottom of the bowl. Gather the batter up again and repeat 15 times. It takes some time to figure out the best way to do this, don’t be afraid to play around with it. When doing the macaronnage correctly, repeating more than 20 times can result in oily, blotchy macarons, but I’ve found that doing it incorrectly doesn’t count towards this limit. If you are doing it right, the batter will take on a noticeable and somewhat sudden change in consistency, this means you are about half-way to that limit. When finished, the batter should be thickened and drip slowly from the spatula. You will have to pipe it onto your baking sheets/mats and it won’t work if the batter is too runny. This is the technique that defines macarons, this is what makes mastery of them impressive.
  9. For perfectly round macarons, use a large, 0.4″ plain tip with a pastry bag, or do it the lazy way and cut a corner off a zip top bag for mostly round macarons. Twist (or don’t yet cut) the bag at the tip and place it, tip side down, in a tall glass. Fill with your batter and twist, close or clip the other end to help keep the messy batter moving in the right direction. Pipe the batter into the centre of the circles on your sheets/mats and stop before reaching the edges as the batter will spread out a bit.
  10. Once finished piping, carefully pick the sheets/mats up and drop them back on to the table from a height of a couple of inches. The theory is that this helps the cookies keep their round shape and form the little bubbles around the bottom (the pied) when you put them in the oven.
  11. Leave the cookies on the table, uncovered, for 15-30 minutes to dry (or more on a humid day). This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350°F. You will know the macarons are dry when they look smooth and are no longer sticky to the touch.
  12. Place an oven rack in the centre of your oven. Place a sheet of macarons on two stacked sheet pans (this will stop the bottoms from getting too hot, resulting in cracked macarons) and bake for about 15 minutes. Rotate the pan half way through baking. At this point, if you want to try to keep your cookies light in colour, place a second oven rack directly below the first and move your cookies down to it, then place a third sheet pan above the cookies on the higher rack to protect them from the heat above. It can be hard to tell when the macaron are done. I pull them out when the kitchen smells sweet and the cookies look crisp, have just started to brown, and don’t look blotchy in the middle.
  13. As soon as the parchment sheet/baking mat is cool enough to handle, take it out of the pan with all the cookies on top and place it on a cooling rack. The macarons will be too sticky to remove from the sheet/mat now; once cooled, they should peel off easily. I usually wait a few minutes for the pans to cool a bit and for the oven to come back to a steady temperature before moving the next sheet to the pans and baking the next round.

for the buttercream

  1. Warm the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave until it is soft but not melted and beat until creamy.
  2. Break an egg into a large heat-resistant mixing bowl and beat lightly with a hand mixer. Set aside.
  3. Add water and sugar to a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until thick and syrupy, about 7 minutes. You’ve made simple syrup!
  4. Slowly pour your simple syrup into the beaten egg while beating with a hand mixer on as high a speed as you can without flinging syrup everywhere, remember it is very hot and sticky. Once all the syrup is in, beat the mixture on high speed, slowly reducing speed until it is thick, light in colour and the bowl is no longer hot.
  5. Add the butter to this mixture in two or three parts and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated and creamy. If the buttercream splits and continuing to beat doesn’t bring it back together, it has likely become too cold. Pop it in the warm oven or over a double boiler for 10-30 seconds and try beating it again. Continue doing this until it comes together.
  6. Add the rosewater and beat in.
  7. Add the pink gel food colouring and beat in.

Once everything has cooled, place your buttercream in a piping or zip-top bag and pipe onto half of your shells. Then place another similarly sized shell on top and gently press them together.

Rose Macarons | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Sweet Birthday Baby

Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster

For my 31st birthday, I decided it was about time I spend the day doing exactly what I want to do, instead of celebrating by putting on a big stressful party for other people to enjoy. What I wanted to do was spend the weekend in Toronto with my husband, exploring and doing things I’ve never done before like going to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the aquarium and riding a streetcar!

Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster

Despite the chill in the air, us both having colds and getting lost a few times, we had an amazing weekend! We intentionally went to the aquarium during dinnertime so it wouldn’t be so crowded, but it didn’t work. It was still packed with obnoxious parents shrieking at their fairly well behaved children, people taking in the oceanic atmosphere after enjoying some of our newly legal cannabis and everyone jockeying to get the perfect shot of everything single thing they encountered. To tune out the crowds and the chaos, I started trying to take silly glamour portraits of the animals from positions and angles no one else was interested in using. I showed my husband the few I’d gotten and made him break his usual reserve to chuckle, so I kept going and actually had a blast indulging myself and my models.

Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster Sweet Birthday Baby | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

Spring Fever

Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster

I did pretty well this year. I managed to stay positive about winter all the way up to the end of February. I lived in the moment and enjoyed everyone’s least favourite season through the snow, wind and ice storms, through the dull root vegetables, through the plastic on my 1926 windows, through the cold mornings and through the endless layers of bulky window clothes until around my birthday. At some point between catching a bad cold and running out of the pickled jalapenos we grew and preserved from last summer’s garden, a switch flipped inside me and I started desperately longing for spring.

Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster

Something inside me needs to shake off the winter wool and see the snowdrops poking through the garden soil. I’ve been dreaming about open windows and the feeling of a soft, warm spring breeze on my skin. I am so ready to wear pastels, short dresses and anything but my big winter boots again.

Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster

The unseasonably mild weather we’ve had the past few days has been such a tease. I got a chance to wear something other than my jeans and a heavy sweater (with optional long underwear) uniform of the past month, but knowing these above 0 temperatures have come too soon to stick is only making my spring fever worse.

Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster

Dress Gap
Blouse Banana Republic
Stockings What Katie Did
Shoes ModCloth
Glasses Warby Parker
Necklace Suzy Shier

Spring Fever | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.

The Ice Storm

The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster

We had a bad ice storm earlier this week. We didn’t get a day off to play, but Matt and I did get a rare opportunity to work from home together. We didn’t lose power until the middle of the night so we were able to get lots done while making each other tea, sharing snacks, showing each other what we were working on and staying inside, warm, safe and together.

The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster The Ice Storm | Sophster-Toaster

Overalls thrifted
Sweater L.L.Bean
Socks ModCloth
Glasses Warby Parker
Ring & Earrings old
Phone Case Rosehound

All photos by me.