Italian Meringue Macarons

Italian Meringue Macarons – I have a love/hate relationship with macarons.  Of course, they’re beautiful (and delicious), but they are also touchy to make.  Over-mix them, under-mix them, too much moisture, and your macarons are ruined.  The perfect macaron should have a smooth, shiny surface, well-developed “feet”, and a moist center. I have had several batches of traditional French meringue macarons fail on me, and each time I was mystified as to what I did wrong.  Then I discovered the Italian meringue method, and haven’t looked back since.  There is an extra step of cooking your sugar before pouring it into your egg whites, but the results are worth it.  The ones pictured here are from a batch I made for my friend’s baby shower.  She requested “pink glittery” ones, and they turned out cute.  Edible glitter isn’t quite as bad as regular glitter, as far as sticking everywhere.

 

As you can see from the photos, some of them still had a little bit of a bump from piping them, which means that my batter was a bit too thick and could have stood a few more folds when I was mixing them, but I would rather under-mix then over-mix,
because if you over-mix and knock out too much air and they will end up flat.
Italian Merigue Macarons - The Ok Moms

Before you start:

Make sure you have everything ready to go.  Let your eggs sit out to room temperature, weigh out your ingredients, and pre-heat your oven.  Line your baking sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper.  I like parchment for this, because then you can draw circles on the bottom-side to make sure your macarons are the same size, but they do come off silicone a bit easier.  Read full directions first, so that you know precisely what you need to do.

Tools needed:

  • digital scale
  • 2 baking sheets
  • parchment paper/silicone mats
  • fine mesh strainer
  • digital or candy thermometer
  • Piping bag and tip

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams almond flour
  • 150 grams powdered sugar
  • 55 grams + 55 grams egg whites (room temperature)
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams water
  • gel food coloring (optional)
    1. Sift almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl.  Mix in 55 grams of egg whites until it forms a thick paste.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
      macaron batter the ok moms
    2. Combine granulated sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot, and stir until dissolved.  Once it is dissolved and begins to simmer, STOP stirring it.  At this point if you continue to stir, it will cause your sugar to crystallize. Cook until the sugar water reaches 244 degrees F (soft ball stage) and take off heat immediately.
    3. When the water is almost to temperature (I usually start at about 215 or so), start whipping the remaining 55 grams of egg whites at medium speed, until they reach soft peaks.  If they reach soft peaks before the sugar water hits soft ball stage, turn the speed down to low.
      Soft Peak meringue
    4. Turn mixer up to high, and slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl, and whip until it forms stiff glossy peaks. If you are going to add color, do it at this time.
      stiff peak merigue
    5. Fold the meringue into the almond paste, 1/3 at a time.  Mix until it falls off your spatula in ribbons.  The ribbons should dissolve into the batter in about 20 seconds.
    6. Pour batter into piping bag, and pipe into small rounds (1.25″-1.5″ in diameter) and hit down on counter top once or twice to knock out some of the air bubbles, and help smooth the tops.
    7. Rest for 30-60 minutes, until the tops dry out and a skin has formed.
    8. Place macarons in oven (only bake one tray at a time) and turn heat down to 300˚. Bake for 15-18 minutes – until the tops don’t move away from the feet when nudged. Carefully transfer parchment paper to cooling racks to cool completely.
      1. Once cooled, match up shells with the closest size mate and fill with your choice of buttercream, ganache, fruit curds, or jams.
        Italian Meringue Macarons

That’s it… you’re done! Leave me a comment and let me know how they turned out.  And especially for those of you that have had trouble with the French method, let me know how you liked the method for Italian meringue macarons!

 

Spring Fashion Trends 2017

2017 Spring Trends

2017 Spring Fashion Trends

Yes, Its risky taking fashion advice from a mom from the midwest… I realize that Minnesota is hardly a hotbed of sartorial action. However I promise you, I do my homework. These are the trends I think will be big this Spring/Summer 2017. Shopping links in pictures.

WESTERN

The western trend is big this year in accessories… shoes and belts with the big buckles. Small or large, I love the look of a big buckle and I think its such a fun way to add hardware and shine that isn’t  jewelry to an outfit.

The Inspiration:

Double Buckle Western Belt - The Ok Moms

Tweed Fringe - The Ok Moms Blog

Western Style Belt - The Ok Moms

Fringe YSL Bag - The Ok Moms

Get the look:

Nordstrom BP Double Buckle Belt $24
H&M Boot $59.99

 

H&M Sandal $39.99
Jeffrey Campbell ‘Edie’ $94.95
Matisse ‘Brantley’ Slide $74.95
Saint Laurent ‘Small Kim’ $1790
Miu Miu ‘Small Dahlia’ $1540

FRILL

Frills and ruffles are super in right now. I was never big of frills but this year the frills are all across the board which is great since you can find the one perfect for your body type. Frills are definitely going to draw the eye to an area, so be sure that the frill/ruffle is showcasing an area of your body you are confident about.

The inspiration:

Get the Look:

H&M one shoulder blouse $49.99
Zara stripped top $49.90
Zara Skirt $49.90

 

EMBROIDERY

We have Gucci to blame for this trend. Floral embroidery is huge… HUGE. If you aren’t ready to slap flowers across your body I think an embroidered bag or shoe is a great way to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe.

The inspiration:

Get the look:

Gucci ‘Sylvie’ $3500
Stella McCartney Mini Falabella $1575

 

Gucci ‘New Age Snake’ $950
Aldo ‘Kinza’ $70
Zara embroidered shirt $49.90
Zara embroidered blazer $99.90
H&M denim jacket $59.99

 

METALLICS

This is a big trend with shoes right now, but if you are super adventurous there are some cool ways to wear metallics as well. I think shoes are the most fun way to wear metallics and not feel super conspicuous.

The inspiration:

Get the look:

H&M block heel loafer $39.99
Forever 21 Faux leather skirt $22.90
H&M metallic boot $49.99

DISTRESSED DENIM

Think SUPER distressed. Some of the new silhouettes are very different so this trend may take some getting used to. One of the major players in the distressed denim game is an old favorite from my college days, the denim skirt. Thankfully its a lot longer than the skirts from back then. Fringe and asymmetry ….you want your distressing to feel haphazard and not ‘cute’. For jeans the silhouette seems to be the mom jean. High waisted, uneven hems, and cropped length are also good bets.

The Inspiration:

 

Get the look:

Zara mid-rise mini flare $49.90
Zara denim jacket $49.90
Zara frayed skirt $35.90

EMBELLISHED SHOES

I think this is my favorite trend. The best part about an embellished shoe is its your whole outfit. Jeans, white tee, and cool shoes… BAM.. you’re set. Here are some of my favorite incarnations of the statement shoe:

The Inspiration:

Get the look:

Gucci ‘Willow’ $695
Steve Madden ‘Jole’ $69.95
Jeffrey Campbell ‘Stathy’ $199.95
Jeffrey Campbell ‘Civil’ $159.95
Gucci ‘Princetown’ $995
Forever 21 horsebit loafer $24.90
Miu Miu faux fur slide $950
Forever 21 faux fur slides $28
Miu Miu lace up ballerina $670
Forever 21 lace up ballerina $35

STRIPES

So stripes aren’t really a new thing…. but they are big this year.

The Inspiration:

Get the look:

Zara stripped bodysuit $49.90
H&M off the shoulder top $12.99
Nordstrom BP top $35

 

Bonus Trend: Mixing Patterns

This trend is really cool if you are bold enough to try it.

If you are still reading this, you deserve an award! I know my 2017 Spring Fashion Trends report was a long one, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. Coming up soon: another haul, and I review the Dyson Supersonic Dryer.

Little People Disney Princess Palace Review

Little People Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace

So I have to admit something, I’m horrible at picking out age appropriate toys for my kids. If you have ever walked through the baby/toddler toy isle you know what I mean when I say that the toys look…. lame. It doesn’t help that my kids always gravitate towards the ‘big kid toys’ whenever we are at Target. Enter the Little People Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace:

Our first encounter with this toy was at a family function. I couldn’t tear my girls away. I chalked it up to a classic case of ‘toys that aren’t mine are the best kind of toys’.

My mom mentioned getting the girls something for Valentines day and I mentioned that they were obsessed with the Little People Palace, but that it was most likely a fluke. I was astonished when lighting struck twice. I had two toddlers playing with The Disney Palace for hours…. HOURS. This was an amazing feat for any toy considering the average toddler attention span.

Toy Review Little People Princess Palace The Ok Moms

I can’t say enough good stuff about the Disney Princess Muscial Dancing Palace. If you are nicer than I am you will keep it stocked with fresh batteries. I choose not to have the sound on because I can’t handle the repetitive songs, in my opinion the only downside to this toy. We also grabbed a set of extra princesses and this Little People Cinderella’s Coach.

Little People Musical Dancing Princess Palace

I have another Little People toy I will be giving the girls shortly, and if its even half the hit that the Disney Princess Palace is I will be letting you all know. I included all the links to the Little People stuff below:

Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace HERE

Similar Little People Castle HERE

Set of extra princesses HERE

Little People Disney Princess Cinderella’s Coach HERE

Similar Little People Disney Carriage HERE