Living life simply and simply living life. What does it all mean, I often wonder. The answer could be seemingly trivial or more simplistic than we want it to be depending on whom you ask. Having blogged for five odd years and while my posts were neither here nor there at times, having transitioned from healthy living to a blog dedicated entirely to food, I have learned to embrace some risks.
That in my opinion, can fall somewhere within the lines of living life simply and simply living life. Not giving too much care as to what the world expects of me but rather, enjoying the process of blogging, sharing, and building a community. The risk of making myself vulnerable with recipes that have the potential to either elevate or dampen my 'image' is a good illustration. How about, sharpening my writing skills which I know I was not gifted in to begin with? Then there's the possibility of failure. Failure to become a kitchen virtuoso like the legendary Skye, or even a photographer with the ability to capture whit and grit like the darling eslee, whom I've had the honor to befriend over coffee and dinner just the other day. That by the way, was a literal dream come true. Some things take time, patience, and plenty of hard work, and enjoying the process is probably the wisest direction.
My culinary skills, my writing, my relationships...they're all things I consider myself far from having mastered, yet so much of anything good that comes from it I owe to the blogging community. And as such, I've had the pleasure of connecting with wonderful artisans via Uncommon Goods. Artisans that recognize the efficacy in making aesthetically and functionally superb kitchen collections. Whether it is in hosting a wonderful gathering to catch up with old friends (see hostess gifts here), or the delight of surprising a loved one with a thoughtful, hand crafted house warming gift (see ideas here), I genuinely feel their care in every minuscule detail. The artisans partnered up with Uncommon Goods make it apparent that well thought out gifts and kitchen tools make all the difference, as in the case of this personalized name cutting board (see item). What comes to mind ultimately is, they wouldn't be selling a product that they themselves wouldn't already use.
When I partnered up with Uncommon Goods for this post, I immediately knew I needed to challenge myself and opt for a kitchen item that represented novelty. I, for one, could never stand the thought of eating a macaron, much less a box of them which, according to some Instagram posts, it seems to be the norm. Perhaps I just tried the wrong kind in the past but I was willing to give it another chance. I wanted to see what macaron baking would consist of. It is right up there with my fears of making baguettes out of scratch, after all.
When all was said and done, I was genuinely impressed with the nearly fool proof method using their macaron kit by Lekue; the texture of the shell was enough to keep me experimenting with different flavors. I think when it comes to baking these delicacies, choosing the right combination of flavors makes a vast difference and of course, the right almond meal to egg white ratio. If I were to be completely honest though, the act of eating macarons doesn't compare to the therapeutic experience that comes from squeezing the batter into the perfect little medallions, all with the help of the refillable pouch included in the kit.
Overall, I was extremely pleased with Uncommon Goods' excellence. Not only is their customer service attentive and caring, but they strive to help the community and world we live in. They aim to relieve the needs of female war victims by providing them with the right tools to become self-sufficient, and they also contribute to meeting educational needs of impoverished communities in New York.
Uncommon Goods has made it so easy for the aspiring cook and designer to reach their aesthetic goals and just as importantly, to make a lasting difference in our world. This kind of collaboration, along with the friends I've made over the years, encapsulates the notion of living life simply and simply living life. It has taught me vulnerability without taking myself too seriously, because somewhere along the way I have made incredible connections.
Chai Macarons with Coconut Essence Filling
Makes 30 macarons || adapted from Lekue's basic macaron recipe
Time: approximately 1 hour
Equipment: stand mixer or electric beater, processor for tea leaves (optional), rubber spatula for folding batter, macaron silicone mat+refillable pouch (or parchment paper and large piping tip with pastry bag if you don't have the kit), large cookie sheet.
Ingredients for shells
1 1/2 tsp ground up chai tea (or 1.5 tea bags, leaves ground up)
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup confectioner sugar, sifted
3/4 cups fine almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
Ingredients for filling
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner sugar
1 tbsp whipping cream (or more if you prefer creamier)
1 tsp coconut extract
For the macaron shells, give yourself about 40 minutes to prep them, let them rest pre-baking, and then popping them into the oven. Grind up the chai leaves as fine as you can with a processor, but if you don't have one on hand, you can chop them up but it will take forever. Set leaves aside.
Beat the room temperature egg whites in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with electric beater. Beat them on medium-high speed until they start to foam a bit. Add granulated sugar gradually as you beat on medium speed, then raise to high speed and beat until stiff peaks start to form. Set aside. Put almond meal in a separate medium bowl. Sift confectioner sugar into the almond meal, followed by ground chai, salt, and gently stir a few strokes. Add the stiff egg whites into the almond mixture and fold in the egg whites extremely gently until dry chunks are gone, but don't over mix or the foam will die and create stiff shells.
Spoon batter into the refillable pouch with the large circular tip (or a piping tip with pastry bag). Carefully hold the pouch at a perpendicular angle over the silicone mold. Squeeze onto the circles about 1/6 inch away from the egdes of the circles that are marked on the mold. If you are drawing these circles onto parchment paper, make sure to follow that same guideline. The silicone mat just makes everything go faster and requires less effort. After repeating with each circle, place it on a large cookie sheet and let the batter expand a bit and dry up slightly. Rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. When 30 minutes are over, bake for approximately 20-22 minutes or the shell tops make a sturdy sound when tapped. Set aside and cool.
For the filling, cream the room temp butter with a beater (or stand mixer), add confectioner sugar and gradually raise the speed. When it's roughly incorporated, add whipping cream and coconut extract. Beat until it reaches a creamy but slightly solid consistency. Fill the shells with filling and enjoy! ***If you have leftover shell batter, which I did since the silicone mat has only 24 circles, you can make large macaron shells and fill with vanilla ice cream. So good!
This is not a compensated post. I have simply been provided with products that I chose by the kind folks at Uncommon Goods.