Category Archives: Polymer Clay

French Kiss Kiss – Sweetness Sundays

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French Macarons Are A Sweet Trend, 4/6/2010. Photo Credit: Tony Bock/Toronto Star

In recent years, there is one sweet patisserie treat that is not only as beautiful to look at as it is to savor, and is also endlessly suitable to personalization. It synonymous with the luxurious life and real culinary credentials, simultaneously attaining an almost iconic image as well as a modern gustatory revolution. The French Macaron is just such a creation, with a deep rooted history, and a modern enthusiastic following at the same time. As early as 2010, they started popping up in my Toronto area bakeshops as something you could pick up on any given shop day. 

LOVE Ceramic Macaron Sachet – Fragrance Object by Hideminy, Etsy.

Valentine Jewelry Macaron Necklace by Miniature Patisserie, Etsy.

This is no easy feat, particularly for what is, when you come right down to it, a sandwich biscuit.  I somehow can’t imagine an Oreo cookie starting such a revolution on the European Continent as the Macaron has in the United States and Canada both, as of late.

Dreamy Macarons Facial Scrubs [2 Pack] by Mrs. Browns Bath Bakery, Etsy.

French Macaron Hand Soap [2 Pack] by JAKEALA, Etsy.

There is just something so fragile and special about a Macaron that cannot be mass produced. It is this fragility, the candy like colours, and the endless combinations that make up the lure of the Macaron. Movies like Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst have given a new spotlight to the over-the-top decadence and girly prettiness of this petite confection.

Blueberry Macarons [Box of 12, Custom Orders Welcome] by Madeline Bake Shop, Etsy.

Parisian Macaron Stand for French Macarons/Cupcakes/Wedding Cake – Peach Cake Stand 16″ by The Roche Studio, Etsy

 
If you look at a well made French Macaron, not to be confused with what North Americans call a Macaroon [a moist coconut based drop cookie], you will see the subtle beauty of the treat.  Put together from two smoothly topped baked round wafers, with a crumbled edge called the foot, these pieces share many of the characteristics of a meringue.  Powdered sugar, egg whites, and ground almonds make up the basic recipe, but endless flavor concentrates and colorings make them absolutely breathtaking to see.

French Macarons – Set Of Three [Felted Merino Wool] by woollyduck, Etsy.

DIY Felt French Macarons [Felt & Instructions For 18 Felt Cookies] by sweet emma jean, Etsy.

 
The exterior wafers of the Macaron have a natural opalescent shimmer over the surface, almost evoking images of fairy wings, and they are soft and moist and melt in the mouth in the most delicate of ways.  I rather predict that the cup-cake craze, while not over, will give way to the pleasures of the Macaron very soon. Similar to cupcakes, the filling, or ‘icing’ between the two wafers can take many forms.  It can be a delicious butter-cream, jam or preserves, or ganache filling.

French Macarons – Pastel Pink 10×10 Size [Home Decor] by Filamento TGS, Etsy.

French Macarons/Macaroons Fine Art Photograph 8×10 Size [Home Decor] by Keri Bevan Photography, Etsy.

While traditional flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry combinations, cutting edge pastry chefs are busy inventing brilliant alternative flavors from the familiarity of lemons to the sublime Matcha green tea flavorings. Whether flavoring the wafers or the filling, they are served in a sandwich mode, with two rounded smooth ‘caps’ with the foot facing the filling, and a thin but ample layer of filling piped or spread in between. 

Macaroon Cakes Upcycled Tea Towel Cushion/Pillow Cover by Emma Mount, Etsy.

French Macarons – Hemp And Organic Cotton Cushion 12×12 by Sarah Smile Design, Etsy.

The popularity of the French Macaron in North America is blossoming, and confectionery shops have windows full of towers of these jewel like biscuits and special long narrow boxes with ribbons, ready for Valentine’s day sales.  French Macaron are a much sexier and cleaner on the fingers ‘eat’ than an icing covered giant cupcake, with just 88 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 11 grams of carbohydrate for each delicate and sweet sandwich.  The average small specialty cupcake has 178 calories, 5.3 grams of fat, and a whopping 32.5 grams of carbohydrate in all that over-sweet sticky goodness.

Raspberry And Pistachio Ganache Macaron – Silver Plated Ring [Polymer Clay] by Pink Island, Etsy.

French Macaron Necklace With Eiffel Tower Charm by Plushable, Etsy.

 Macarons have reached epic popularity in France, being offered on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants in that country.  This new status of the french treat is making waves in the fashion world, as well as art, sculpture, and crafting.  Pastel colours are all over the runways, and the garments seem to look as delicious and light as the cookie itself.  There are heaps of photographs of French Macarons, in wild and enticing colours, as well as ‘fake’ props for your home, soaps, toys, and accessories.

Set of 2 Funny Macarons In A Pretty Box – Tea Party OOAK Art Doll Sculpt by Sandra ArteagaA, Etsy.

Sweet Treats Dessert Hand Embroidery Pattern [PDF] by Wild Olive, Etsy.

So much of what we eat, and crave, has to do with what it looks like.  Seeing the sheer volume of jewelry, trinkets, dollhouse sized treats, and non-edibles inspired by the lovely French Macaron, you can see that people have fallen in love with this iconic ‘cookie’, and though they may be a bit complicated for the baking novice to master, they are actually not impossible to make right at home. It takes a bit of practice with the piping bag to get the exterior meringues to shape up perfectly and match in size, but then you have the fun of eating all your ‘mistakes’, which may be the best part.

French Macaron Trinket Box – Mint Green/Pistachio Polymer Clay [Limoges Style] by The Mermaid Articles, Etsy.

Macaron Mercerie Sewing Accessories PDF Pattern [Pin Cushion, Needle Case, Scissors Fob] by Quilting Gems, Etsy.

So grab a great recipe for a French Macaron from a cookbook or the internet, flavor it any way you like, be it pomegranate and orange, or espresso and match tea, and whip up a batch of sweet French Kisses for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. Now if I can just sort out a vegan version of this amazing treat. That would be truly fabulous my darlings!

Vanilla Macaron Perfume AMUSE Perfume Oil [Spray or Roll On] by Theme Fragrance, Etsy.

French Macaron Water Transfer Nail Sticker Set by Js Utopia, Etsy.

Bobby Pin Menagerie – Teeny Tiny Tuesdays

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Lady Bug Bobby Pins by Hannah Hughes, Make Cake on Etsy.

It’s Tuesday once again, and today’s Itty Bitty lovely thing has been rather easy to pin down. No matter how long or how short your hair is, you can always tuck a little bobby pin in somewhere. Holding back a little strand gone astray, tucked into a sweet chignon, or decorating a braid or pony tail. A little bit retro, a lot a bit cute, these bobby pins are back in style with a tweet, a growl, and a meow. Not just for kids anymore, a sweet little bobby pin is a way you can add a little whimsy to a conservative look. They are little hints at your personality, your sense of fun, and add that little pop of color that will have people around you doing a double take. Wear any of these bobby pins and you will make people smile, I can guarantee it. While you can find these style of hair pins with any number of items decorating them, from bows and roses to jewels and buttons, I decided to present a selection of little beasties today. Have a look, see what catches your eye, and maybe pick-up a very expressive and inexpensive [most range from $5-10 USD/CAD] accessory for yourself or someone you love.

The Birds And The Bees

Yellow Honey Bee Bobby Pins by Kristine, Bee Intrigued on Etsy.

Butterfly Bobby Pin: Green Blue Spots, Natural History Elegance by Heidi, Alpine Gypsy on Etsy.
Worm Caterpillar Polymer Clay Charm Bobby Pin by Natalie Cravens, Are You Stuffed? on Etsy.
Butterfly Bobby Pins – Silver and Gold Contrast by Colleen, Amourx on Etsy.

Bobby Pin – Fabric Animal – Pink and White Bird by Morgan Rae, Metal Adornments on Etsy.

Vintage Green Barrettes by Paper Mache, Plastic Diamonds on Etsy.

Ivory Birdies in Nest Bobby Pin Pair by Emily Lafrate, Tea and Laundry on Etsy.

Blue and Cream Bird Hair Slides by The Lost Property Box on Etsy.

Owl Cookie Bobby Pins by Katarzyna Zdrojewska, Little World of Zjakazumi on Etsy.

Hot Pink Owls – Bobby Pins by Anne, Cute Jewellery & Accessories By Anne on Etsy.

We’re Going To The Zoo!

Monkey (Style 1) Bobby Pin Set by Amber Silcott, One of Everything on Etsy.

Koala Hair Clip by Baby Loves Pink on Etsy.

Monkey Bobby Pins – Pink Kitsch Cute Glitter Hair Accessories Kids by Bella Star, Bella Star Glam on Etsy.

Alligator Hair Clips – Bobbie Pins by Bonnie, CREATE HAPPINESS on Etsy.

Penguin Button Hairpins by Crafty Comforts on Etsy.

CATS CAN’T CHANGE THEIR SPOTS Cheetah Hair Bobby Pins – – Gift Packaged by Very Vintage on Etsy.

Maroon Elephant Hair Bobbies by Gen Taylor, The World Famous’s Crafty Place on Etsy.
Giraffe Bobby Pins by Keamana, Keamana Design on Etsy.

 Our Best Pets

Playful Kittens Hair Pins: Kawaii Style Cute Kittens, Glittery Pink, Turquoise, & Orange Sherbert by Amanda S.W., RaleighWood Treasures on Etsy.

Chihuahua Shelter Dogs Bobby Pins Set with Donation Free Shipping by Twilight Shades on Etsy.

Cat Bobby Pins by Cheri, Mama’s Little Babies on Etsy.

Pink Scottie Dog Hair Pin by Zebracakes on Etsy.

Itty Bitty Kitty Hairpins by Missy Kulik, Sugar Cookie on Etsy.

Poodle Bobby Pins, French Inspired, Navy Blue Dahlia Flower, Black Heart – Set of Three by Mary Elliot, Miss Mary Elliot on Etsy.

On The Farm

Sheep/Lamb Bobby Pin Set by Amber Silcott, One of Everything on Etsy.

Chickenpants Hair Clips – Set of Two by Claire Chambers, Absolutely Small on Etsy.

Cute Pig Wood Button Hair Pin – Silver Bobby Pin by Desita, Circle Colour on Etsy.
Sheep Shell Hair Bobby Pin by bathroman, You Made My Day on Etsy.

Mouse Hair Pins Paper Clay, OOAK by Brooke Griffin, The Naked Bird on Etsy.

Under The Sea

Origami Koi Bobby Pins by Is It Secret, Is It Safe on Etsy.

Octopus Bobby Pins by Keamana, Keamana Design on Etsy.

Friendly Fish Bobby Pins/ Hair Pins Set of 6 OOAK by Miss Chuga’s Gifts on Etsy.

Hair Pins Bloody Sharks or HAIR Jaws by Kristilyn, Zombie Romance on Etsy.

The Fabulous “Other”

Stegosaurus Dinosaurs Bobby Pin Set by Amber Silcott, One of Everything on Etsy.

Bobby Pins For Kids, Cute Clips – Mini Chenille Birds/Bats by Megha Silvano, Cassyz Cutiez on Etsy.

Yellow Robot Bear Bobby Pins Cute Chic Fun Fashion Kawaii Kitsch Hair Wear by Andreanna, Glamasaurus on Etsy.

Two Fabric Covered Button Bobby Pins – Rabbit and Panda by Heyday Handmade on Etsy.

BAMBI BONES – Skelanimal Charm Hair Pins by Stacy Scissors, Running With Scissors on Etsy.

Bunny Puff Bobby PINS… FREE shipping US by HModine on Etsy.

Cupcake Bear Attack Bobby Pin by Katie MacMillan, Unplanned Joy on Etsy.

What are you still doing on this post? It’s over. Go shop… go! [A little nod to Ferris Beuller’s Day Off there, Hazzah!]

For The Love Of Bundt Cake – Time Travel Thursdays

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Are you a fan of a good Bundt? Cake that is, Bundt Cake, that fancy looking tea-time cake that takes the shape of it’s ringed baking pan. According to the good old Wikipedia, the tern “Bundt” [pronounced as -bunt] seems to derive from the German word Bundkuchen, a ring-shaped cake. The adapted spelling as ‘bundt’ appears in print as early as 1901. So why, you may ask, am I going on about a cake pan? Well, it is Thursday after all, and that means a step back in time to take a look at things too good to be forgotten. The Bundt Pan is a beautiful item in and of itself, with new versions resembling Gothic Architecture, but I am still a fan of the classic style, the one my mother, and grandmother used.

Silver Bundt Pan by The Little Green Vintage Shop.

The cake pan shape itself makes any regular pound cake look so very lovely, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top really highlights the pattern of any particular pan. One of my favorite tricks from my Culinary School days makes any cake pan stick-proof, so cakes come out perfectly. Simply take a pat of room temperature real butter [or margarine if you prefer a vegan option] and coat the inside of the pan lightly, use a scrap of tin foil, clean paper bag, wax, parchment, or any kitchen paper to spread it easily. My mother saves the wrappers the sticks of butter come in for this purpose, which is totally brilliant of her. She keeps them in the fridge until she needs to grease up a pan. The next step is taking a small amount of flour, maybe a tablespoon or two, and then dumping it into the greased pan, do this over the sink to cut down on mess. Turn the pan slowly in your hands and let the flour ‘stick’ to the butter on the pan base. Make sure all edges are covered, then dump any excess flour out. Instant non-stick pan, especially useful for the vintage Bundt Pan. With all the concerns about new fangled non-stick coatings and health issues, it really is a way to go back to basics, literally.

Vintage Bundt Pan by The Rhubarb Studio.

Of course, you could go out and buy a brand spanking new Bundt Pan at any local Department Store, but why not rescue one with some lovely retro charm and vintage credentials. Not only do they make lovely cakes, but the shape is so iconic, people often hang them on walls, use them as planters, or up-cycle them into light fixtures and other amazing do-dads. The ones I have featured on this page are vintage finds from Etsy. These and others are priced so reasonably, often less than a new one, and have that rustic charm built in.

Vintage Stoneware Pfaltzgraff Bundt Pan by The Vintage Heiress.

You didn’t think I would just show a pile of cake pans without sharing my favorite recipe did you? This one is a family favorite, and despite a year of formal Culinary education, I would pick this cake over some of the most fancy schmancy pastries out there. This ones pulls me back in time to the 1970s, when my mother would whip them up regularly if we were getting unexpected guests at the cottage or if she wanted to fill out a large party buffet. This is what I refer to as “back-of-the-box” cooking. You know, those recipes most of us ignore on the packages of food we buy? Well I suspect this one was actually on the Jell-O Pudding box at one time, and I can just picture my mother in 1978, with four children under the age of five, trying to find fast and easy crowd pleasing fare. This is one of those recipes.

Yes, it is exactly that easy. It may not be vegetarian or gourmet, but it is delicious and inexpensive. It also bakes with a beautiful golden brown colour outside, but when sliced you can see a slightly green tinted moist and light cake. You can bump up the green with a little food colouring, just a few drops of green [if you are so inclined], to make the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert.

This cake has a story behind it in my family. It was a loved recipe, that somehow time forgot by the 80s, when the required Pistachio Jell-O Pudding mix seemed to vanish from the grocery shelf. When we rediscovered it in the 90s, the recipe was long lost and no longer on the package. This was before the great big “World Wide Web” and search engines, and we were sure it was lost forever. Then on a family trip to the ‘States’, we happened upon an old bookstore, and my mother and I were browsing cookbooks. My roaming hands fell upon a Jell-O recipe collection book, and I remembered that cake… and wouldn’t you know it, the recipe was in there! We (now quite guiltily) remember scribbling the recipe down on a piece of scrap paper, and hooray we had it again. Now you have it too.

Your New Collection. Vintage Bundt Pans. by Funretro.

Beyond the obviously Fab vintage Bundt Pans that can be found, there are a lot of lovely items other than cake, that are inspired by that great pan shape. Here are just a few adorable finds. Lovely artwork and miniatures, even jewelry. with the availability of the “Mini” Bundt Pan, people are using it for all sorts of things too, like some fabulous hand-made soaps. Any of these would make lovely gifts, but the gift of a home-baked cake for your family may just be the best thing this Valentine’s Day.

Persimmon Bundt Cake And Espresso- Open Edition Print by Janet Hill, http://www.etsy.com/shop/janethillstudio?ref=pr_shop_more on Etsy.

Original Painting -Red Velvet Bundt Cake at Bookclub 9×12 inch by S. Kim Graber, LaurenFaythe on Etsy.

Dollhouse Miniature Food Raspberry Bundt Cake Slice by Fairchildart.

Strawberry Bundt Cake Pendant by Christina Cainan, Mini Mia Accessories on Etsy.

Bundt Cake Pan Pendant Lamp by Spoken Stitch on Etsy.

Set of 3 Handcrafted Goatmilk Soaps Applejack & Peel Bundt Cake Soaps by Marcia, Adirondacks Soaps on Etsy.

White Truffle Raspberry Bundt Cake Candle..Made with all natural soy wax by Danielle, Pookaberrys Candle Bakery on Etsy.