Monday, September 19, 2011

My macs became a platter of "Dolly Partons"

I always hear this old saying; “ Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Look at these macarons of mine. Do you think they are pretty? When I brought them with me to a Hari Raya lunch which hosted by one of my girlfriends, I received a lot of oohs and aahs from her and the other guests. 

They did not know that my macarons had a flaw on the surface. Did you notice the little flower design on them? You likely did, as it is uncommon to see macarons decorated like that. So I won't keep you guessing. The decorations are to hide a small flaw in the confection's shape. Somehow, my baked little gems had developed "nipples", meaning a raised feature in the middle on top of all of them. I believe they turned out this way because I underfolded the batter. When I tasted them, the texture was perfect, a little crispy on the skin and soft and chewy on the inside, exactly the way I like it. I showed the macarons to my Quay lo. His first response was that I should use some red food colouring and "rouge" in the unwanted feature. After regaining my composure, I explained that might be ok for him but hardly suitable for a luncheon with my lady friends in celebration of a religious holiday. A platter of "Dolly Partons" just would not do.

Since they were delicious, at least by my own estimation, I thought it was worth hiding the flaw. I piped the little flower on to each of them. Bless my lady friends, they were all duly impressed, and I was duly relieved, while my husband was still at home laughing his head off.

This experience made me think of how outside flaws can sometimes be covered up easily and sometimes not. Have you come across someone who looks attractive and beautiful but as you get to know the person better, you find out that the true character is so ugly that it goes to the bone? Or the reverse, that there are also people who may appear unattractive outwardly, but inwardly they are a gem?
When we look for a soul mate, don’t we all wish we could get someone who is beautiful inside and outside? However, if we are given a choice, which would we prefer? Remember, our ideas of outward beauty seem to change with the times, and the latest fashions, or the latest "look", as popular culture tends to tell us what to think. Too many of us fall prey to those ideas. Quay lo always rants about high heels. He thinks the women of the world have been sold a form of self-torture. I think he may have something there.

In the case of my food and bakes, I would prefer the taste to be right and if they don’t look good, I will find ways to cover up the flaws where I can, and serve anyway if I cannot. But if the taste is not right, there is no way to salvage and one must simply start over.

Oh, and in one respect the same is true of me. I cover up my outside flaws with "war paint", but as for my inside flaws, I must work very hard to get rid of and I hope I will always know them and work on them. Thank goodness I am not a tray of cookies. And thank goodness that my Quay Lo loves me for who I am, flaws and all. And I love him, even though he keeps asking me to recreate those "Dolly Partons".

Okay, I said I will share with you what I learned from the demo of “How to make macarons” by Chef Frederic Oger from Academy of Pastry Arts. He pointed out few important points:

When to stop whipping the egg white. Notice the peak with a hook? That's when you stop.
When to stop folding the batter. Stop folding when the batter slowly flatten

Get to know the behavior of your oven to determine the temperature and the time required.

Lastly, don't forget to tap the base of the baking sheet to flatten the batter before letting it to dry out for at least 30 minutes or more. They should be ready to go into the oven as soon as  it does not stick to your finger when you gently touch it.

Macaron Chocolate
Recipe from Academy Art of Pastry, Malaysia

Chocolate Praline
Recipe from Academy Art of Pastry, Malaysia

The correct way of piping out the batter

How to make a piping bag from parchment paper

It was a great demo and we get to eat lots of wonderful pastry. Here are all the goodies displayed in the Academy which is truly a feast for the eyes.
All kinds of breads
 These are the cakes on display
 The Mac fever
Look at all these breath taking pastries!

Work of Art - Chocholate sculptures

I would like to thank Academy of Pastry Art Malaysia for inviting me to attend the demo. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about making macarons. It was an eye opening to see so many breath taking and artful bakes! AWESOME!!

After attending the demo, I took heed of all the advice given by Chef Frederic and here is my 3rd batch of Macarons. I must say, I have them perfect, both look and texture! I just need to practise more on my piping and I would say I have conquered the intimidation of making macs! WOOHOO!! I got positive feedback from 5 of my friends whom I get them to taste my macarons and I can't tell you how thrill I am. LOL!


  1. I'm with your hubby ... still laughing! Nice recovery with the flowers, although that brought them from Dolly Parton to stripper (pasties). LOL

    Either way, I think both batches are beautiful! Good job. :)

  2. I'm laughing out here, too! And, I read it to my husband when he wondered why I was laughing so hard. Yes, he is laughing, too.

    Thanks for the wonderful recipes and directions.

    And, thanks for naming me awhile back for the 7 link challenge. We have been on the road coming to the ship and getting through the first week on board. Things are finally settling down. I hope to get to the challenge by next week when I have a connection again. I haven't forgotten and appreciate your naming me.

    All the best from Port Canaveral,

  3. LOL...Agree with your Quay Lo. You should recreate the Dolly Partons. Can be one of your signature Mac :) It's something different from the plain Mac.

    True what you said about inner beauty. Got a friend whose face aren't one of those smiling type. But her heart is as good as gold. The kindest one ever

  4. What an adorable post and LOVE the idea of the Dolly Partons! Understandably unsuitable, though, but so funny. True, much better to have the inside perfect with outside imperfections, no matter what it is ;-)

    Your macs look wonderful - and love the look of that demonstration in Malaysia. Beautiful array of pastry art; thanks for sharing.

  5. Your macarons look perfect. I don't I can make those as beautiful as yours.

  6. LOL!!! With your dolly partons and my spotted 'you-know-whats', I think we'll both take the term 'food porn' to a whole different level! Hahaha ... I can't stop laughing. You are just so cute!
    A little suggestion: just tap the tip with a wet fingertip and it'll smoothen out perfectly ... you got to do this quickly before it dries.
    They look great with the decoration on top!

  7. It must be very difficult to make, love your pictures.


  8. wow, I'm still smiling,,

  9. What's funny to me is that my husband literally judges books by their covers. That's how he picks what he's going to read.

  10. Adding my ohhhhs und woooows to your macaroons.I love these little pearls..when you bite them..first crispy than gooei.Divine;)

  11. Great post! Your husband has a point with the highheels; even my guy friends don't see any difference whether I wear them or not (besides that I'm three inches taller). I guess I just like wearing heels sometimes because they make me FEEL pretty?

    Your macarons are gorgeous and the flower design was such a clever way to cover up the flaw.

  12. So, that was your brother's birthday cake :)
    Good job on those macs

  13. Yeah, I still get the dolly partons every now and then when I make macarons:P You covered your imperfections so beautifully:)

  14. I think you covered it up perfectly, and yes not all flaws can be corrected but we can try to correct them by trying and trying again.

    And I'm always so jealous by your visits to the Academy - so many wonderful pictures of all the baking that goes on. Makes me wish I were in KL so that I could head down for some lessons!

  15. Thank you for this lovely post of macs!! You have my oohhs and ahhhhs here! hee.... send some macs for me to taste.......

  16. Veronica...thanks for sharing tips on making macarons...I find making them intimidating but I shall try making one of these days :)

    Haha..." a platter Dolly Partons " sounds shall be your trademark ma :p and seriously yours looks perfect...I mean the macs :p

    Have a nice day,

  17. Your macarons are lovely. Also your post was lovely and all so true.

  18. Great job with the macs! They look great!
    A platter of Dolly Partons... haha, that's awesome! Perfect for a stag night, don't you think?

  19. Very pretty macarons unfortunately am not a fan as I find it too sweet.

  20. Quay Po, I think your macarons are beautiful! Additionally, I like Quay Lo's sense of humor...his comments had me smiling. This is a great post and the pictures are terrific. Brava!

  21. hahaha! yes i'm sure your husband's sugestion wouldn't go down too well with the ladies >< you worked it out perfectly in the end though, they look beautiful!

  22. Hahahah.. I couldn't stop laughing about your dolly Partons. Anyway both the macs looks very pretty.

  23. They are so well baked and beautiful! So happy for you...:) I have yet to try on those macaroons, maybe some day..hehe!
    I think the same too, no one is totally perfect, I mean 100% in looks and character. I'll look for the inside if you ask me..^^

  24. you two are so cute, great post!

  25. Your Quay Lo is such cute guy. You sure have a lot of entertainment and amusement being with you. Your Macarons look so delicious and attractive.

  26. I've heard so much of this Macaroons but never taste it before. Seems like it is a very 'in' thing recently.

    I think inner beauty is more important than the outer. And for food wise, the taste is of course more important than the look! You did very well to cover the flaws.... Nice deco :D

  27. I will said Ohh... & Ahh... just by looking all those picture!! Haha ha!
    Tq for those lovely pic & recipe Quay Po - Love it!!
    And I just want u to know that u won an award on my site... congratulations!! ;)

  28. Great post, Quay Po. You are absolutely right about how easily it is to hide our outside flaws, but the flaws from within is something that we need to work hard to improve. Just like with these macs, your creativity masked the "Dolly Parton" flaw, which is just an outward quirk. But if the flaw is with the flavour and the taste, then that takes a couple of trial and error, and takes time and effort to improve.


    A Single Girl's Musings

  29. Beautiful! And totally agree about covering up imperfections...sometimes the imperfection is the beauty itself :-)

  30. You are so lucky to have a chance to learn macarons from great chef! Last week I also tried macarons with Italian meringue method twice but all has no feet.
    Anyway I will try again . Yours look so great.

  31. I just had a conversation with a dear friend about how someone's behavior can change my perception of whether or not they are good looking! I have been blessed with a husband who is good looking inside and out!

  32. Lovely! I always want to try making macarons, they look so tempting. Thanks for sharing so many tips, hope I can succeed in making this ;)

  33. Both batches are beautiful!!! I am adding some Ooooohs and Woooows to your macaroons!

  34. Your Dolly Partons sure look enticing though! :)

  35. Wonderful macarons post of yours, Quay Po! No doubt that your macarons weren't perfect but they do look pretty and unique! ;D
    I've never bake before except the only time during Home-economic class when I was in high sch. I'd love to try this macaron and many other baking recipes very soon! *so excited*
    Tks so much for sharing all the tips and videos! ;D

    It's really very true on the old saying about judging and I can't agree more with you on this: "Beautiful on the outside but ugly on the inside" and " Our ideas of outward beauty seem to change with time." Personally I feel that we learnt thru experiences and all for this saying. ;)

  36. I probably wouldn't have taken it as a flaw (I'm not a good baker though), but you covered it up so beautifully! I think I might prefer this version of the macarons to the plain one. :-)
    By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog and for your comments. I have been reading and looking at your beautiful photos, and it's been both enjoyable and educational!

  37. Your macarons have the overall beauty that people didn't even see the imperfections -- I didn't see it. They are very pretty to me, Quay Po. :)

    Wishing you a very enjoyable week!

    ~ ray ~

  38. Your macarons look terrific! I like the colours too. Thank you for sharing what you learnt from the demo!

  39. Oooh, that's funny! hee! hee! Reminds me when I made two brie en croute. I placed them on the platter and they were very life-like! I masked them with fresh fruit! You hid the nipples beautifully! hee! hee!

  40. What a charming sense of humor you have! There I was admiring the decoration - little did I know it was concealing their lewd side! :) Well done!

  41. Thank youu for coming over! I am so loving wht you got going on your blog. And it;s like you read my mind, because I've been lookin for a solid recipe of macaroons! (Yes, since those lavender macaroons post!)

    Lookin forward for more and connecting with you on twitter too!

  42. I will just S.T.A.R.E.
    Looks absolutely Yummylicious. Practice makes perfect. Do more.

    and I will continue to stare at ur blog.

  43. Bakes look yummy, china looks pretty, photos look fabulous, what more can i say except I would really love to taste them! Thanks a lot for sharing such a detail recipe, those photos are worth a thousand words, especially the one with the serious looking chef holding the whisk with the egg whites, i sure know when to stop whacking them now :)

  44. if i were to make the macaroons, and it turns out with dolly's gems there, i would of got stunned, freaked out, and serve them dollies.

    maybe there might be a good laugh out of having dolly's gem present :p.

    but yes your way was definitely better. good thinking. eventually those decoration did a good job :).

  45. Oh man, that's hilarious! Fabulous recovery though, no one would have even known :) It's very honest of you to share the...ahem, little problem with your cookies!

    And check out the INCREDIBLE pastry spread! What fun :)

  46. How funny! I'm so glad they worked out well in the end, and that you mastered the macaroon. The pastries look amazing, lucky you to be invited to take part.

  47. Love this post and I had a good laugh. I think they look lovely with the little flowers on them but your husband had a good point. LOL Diane

  48. hi quay po, these cookies looks so sweet and so delicate and so deserve an award.. please come to my site and collect an also sweet pretty award from me. congrats

  49. @Chris
    You are even more imaginative! LOL! Thanks for the compliment.

    Good to know you and your hubby had a good laugh together. No worries about doing the 7 links if you are busy. You are constantly cruising, how wonderful!

    @Small Kuching
    Haha, if the Pierre Herme knew "Dolly Partons" macarons i are my signature Mac, he will die laughing at me.

    Many thanks for your visit. A comment coming from an author of the book "Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons Like the French" means a lot to me!!

    But you make the things much better than me! Thanks for the compliment.

    hahaha, aiyoh, better be careful of what we post lah. Very soon, you and I will be the infamous "Food Porn Queens" in the food blog community. Ya, I did the wet fingertip trick but those "nipples" were too stiff. OOPS! how come everything I said sounded so obscene but i don't know how to put it in better way to explain myself. ! LOL!

  50. @Filip
    Oh to make a perfect Mac is extremely difficult.

    hehe… good, smile more to stay young and pretty.

    @That Girl
    Most people do that isn't it?

    Oh my, I am a true addict now.

    For me I wear my high heals to be more matching with my Quay Lo. He is 6ft 4ins, and I am 5ft 2ins. Chinese people got a saying about couples who are so different in height. "mouse trap hanging on a lamp post." hahaha, I don't know how that come about.

    That was not my brother's cake, the perfect one is. My sister in law will kill me if I give a "Dolly Parton" to my brother! hehehe

    I guess I have to be more creative covering my baking flaws because I am really not a very good baker.

    I think there are more baking school in Singapore right? If you like the Academy, how about planning a weekend in KL and go for one of their 1/2 day or 1 day weekend class with me? I have a spare room and you can stay with me if you like.

  51. @Mel
    If the macs can last, I would love for you to taste and let me know what you think.
    May be give me warning before you come to KL and I will make it just before the day we meet up?

    hahaha, I wish my trade mark is "Dolly Parton" but unfortunately I am just the opposite! hehehe I am glad you actually meant my macs and not me.

    @Words of Delicious
    Thanks my dear, you are very kind to say that.

    Great idea! I will recreate the "Dolly Partons" for my nephews and niece stag nights. That will be fun!

    @Yummy Bakes
    Yes, I was like you too before I knew how to make them but you will change your mine after you tasted mine. My filling has no sugar at all so the taste is well balance. Those who said the same thing like you and have tasted mine now crave for my macarons. I am sorry if I sounded that I am bragging but that is the truth.

  52. @Brooks
    Thanks for your compliment. Oh yes, my Quay Lo is very humorous and I love it.

    @Shu Han
    Thanks dear:D

    Thanks and glad you had a good laugh.

    It will be a piece of cake for you.

    I think it is good to stay when grow older then I feel young even with a wrinkled face hehe.

    @Sheoh Yan
    Thanks, we play different roles in life. Sometimes, we play the Drama Queen, other days we play The Clown. We need to have more entertainment and amusement as we grow older to distract us for we have so much aches and pain to deal with. hehe

    Yes, I am with you. You should at least give one mac a try and see why the craze:D

  53. @Elies
    Thanks SOOO much for thinking of me for the award. I REALLY appreciate it. I will go claim it later. However, please don't be disappointed if you don't see me displaying that award. I still have not figure out how to have a dedicate page to display them but I will get to you one day.


    Yes, the imperfection that make us who we are:D

    I know you are determine person, you will get the feet soon! Nothing is too difficult for you.

    I am so happy for you:D

    You sure can! If not, blame in on Quay Po for her lousy Mac posts. hehe

    Oh yes, of all the bakes, I have tried, Mac is the most exciting because the moment you see the legs rising, you will flip!!

    Thanks very much.

    That's why my Quay Lo asked me to recreate them. hehe

    Sure you can, where are you?

  54. @Lyn
    You are very welcome. Sharing brings me joy. Yes, we learn from experience, the older we get, the wiser we are.

    I am so happy to hear that you enjoy your time here. I hope to see you around.

    Thanks much. You too have a wonderful week.

    Happy to share and hope it makes it easier for you when you finally to to make the macs.

    That is a clever way to something to life!

    Thanks, you are very modest to say that.

    Thank you for providing us a space to enjoy ourselves. Let's stay in touch.

    Yes I am still practicing:D

  55. @LIte Home Bake
    I like your last sentence! hehe Thanks for the compliment.

    Oh, you won't because they looked too obscene to be served hehe.

    @Parsley Sage
    I think when we share with friends, we don't just share our triumph, but also our failure.

    @The InTolerant Chef
    Yes, I am very lucky to be invited by the Academy. All the Pastry Chefs there are excellence teachers.

    Glad you had a good laugh.

    Many thanks for thinking of me for the award. I will go claim shortly but please do not be upset if you do not see me displaying the award. It is not that I do not appreciate, I really do.:D

  56. appreciate the photo showing the chef with that whisk. very helpful. i find the design you made on top of the macarons are so apt for hari raya..deepavali also..beautiful macarons! yup, taste is always more important than how it looks, with a little make up here and there, they can turn into something very pretty.

  57. What a great way to fix the flaw - they look beautiful and delicious.

  58. @lena
    You are most welcome:D

    Thanks. I hope I don't have to fix any flaws on my future batches of macs.

  59. Veronica! If you didn't say anything about the "Dolly Partons", I'm sure none of your readers would've known. All your macarons look gorgeous and perfect. Not to mention, delicious! Macarons are one of my favorite desserts. You are my hero for perfecting these! And I must agree with you, I'd rather my food taste better than look good but taste bad. Great job with the macarons. Thank you for these very helpful tips. Although macarons are way beyond my league. Haha.

  60. That macaroons are really gorgeous.I tried making it twice but sadly no feet :(

  61. @LeQuan,
    If you stay nearby, I will send you a dozen! every week until you surrender and tell me to stop... hehehe. You know I not only get addicted to eating macs but making them. I like the high I get when they come out looking good as well as tasting right. Don't say it is beyond your league, I know you. If you set your mind to do something, you will succeed!

    Oh Anne, try and try again. Follow those tips given by the chef and you will sure get your feet! hehe

  62. Veron, congratulations! Your mac looks really PRO. Kudos.
    Have a great weekend.

  63. wow! your days of macawrongs are over, sista! This recent batch looks perfect!

    Now I'm so tempted to attend classes at the pastry academy in Malaysia, after reading your raves about them over and over again!

  64. @Kristy
    Thanks dear. You too enjoy your weekend.

    Please don't say that so soon, I can tell you now it is now over yet and you will read about it in my next post:D LOL! It will be fun if you can come to KL one weekend then we can attend a class together. That will be fun!

  65. Laughing so hard at your macarons with nipples. That is priceless. I adore your Quay Lo's suggestions as well. That is great.

    You did a great job beautifying them as well. Nice job!

  66. @Mary
    hehehe, I don't blame you when I tell the story to my family, they too laugh their heads off.

  67. Gosh, this looks almost mission impossible for me! LOL! Wonder when I'll reach the level where I can even understand. Hahaha! Guess I'll just wait for u to feed me :)

  68. Ha ha ha, your Quay Lo is so cheeky! Nice job on the cover up, making a feature of the blemish, very clever :)

  69. @Shirley
    Hey the next trip to Singapore, I will have to meet up with you my dear, see if I can bring some to feed you hehe.

    Oh yes, he is very cheeky! I am glad I could cover the flaws:D

  70. It look delicious!!! btw you have your own restauran? perhaps i can drop by and eat there. =P


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