Saturday, June 24, 2017

Taking some time to learn how to make French Macarons

I love baking. Baking, like soapmaking, allows for so much creativity that results in such a useful end product that is easily shared too. My friends and family and even my mail carrier love when I start experimenting with baking.

If you have never savored a French Macaron, I encourage you to give one a try. There is nothing really like it. The combination of crisp shell that reveals a soft cookie expertly combined with a luscious sweet filling just cannot be beat. I could eat these little creatures all day long. The flavor combinations are not only creative but endless - you can use jams, curds, buttercream, ganaches, caramel and any combination of these plus more. They can be basic round shapes or formed into other designs like food or animals. I have seen so many creative ideas that I want to recreate.

BUT.... for a cookie with just a few basic ingredients that would seem like such a simple task - oh, not so. These are the most finicky cookies I have ever experienced making. If your egg whites aren't whipped just so, if your macaronage isn't folded just so and/or if your oven temperature/location of the baking tray in the oven isn't just so - then you will fail. You will not have fluffy feet, you will have hollow shells, they will be lopsided, burned on top or on the bottom, they will have wrinkled tops.... the list of issues that one encounters with baking macarons is extensive AND frustrating.

I have found that there are several variations of the basic shell recipe (egg whites, confectioners sugar, almond flour, granulated or castor sugar and optional lemon juice or cream of tarter to stabilize the egg whites) in which the ratios of liquid (egg whites) to dry ingredients are fairly consistent. For every gram of egg whites you will need 3 - 3.7 grams of dry ingredients and the makeup of those dry ingredients varies. However, there is no perfect or foolproof recipe. A recipe works for one in their kitchen does not work for another in their kitchen. There are too many factors that have nothing to do with the recipe that will determine or success or failure.

So, after about 50 attempts at making these little delicacies, I have finally figured it out and what works best in my kitchen. Here is a sampling of my successes! Enjoy!

~ Faith

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winter Themed Felted Soaps

Just a quick update on some new winter themed felted soap. Each underlying soap is a bar of my cold process handcrafted soaps created from scratch using a variety of vegetable, nut and fruit based oils and butters. Some soaps have added goat or coconut milk too. Each soap is themed to depict several various winter scenes. Enjoy!

You can find these soaps and more available for sale in the Etsy Shop

~ Faith

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More Mosaic Soaps

Two new cold process mosaic soaps in several different designs. Love the creativity that is involved in creating these types of handcrafted soap. This technique allows me to create unique, nourishing and beautiful soaps that are still in a usable shape for sink, shower or bath. 

Scented in Apple, Pear and Champagne with swirls of green, yellow and red blocks alternating with the natural ivory and black blocks and layers. 

Scented in a very pretty, soft and feminine Lotus Blossom fragrance. The swirls of yellow, pink black and ivory nestled amongst the green and black. Four different designs were created from separate batches of green, swirled and black soap.

~ Faith

Monday, May 23, 2016

More Themed Floral Garden Felted Soaps

I really enjoy making felted soap and needle felting a variety of designs on them. These floral landscape soaps have been extremely popular as they are not only functional as soap and washcloth in one, they make wonderful, unique, one of a kind gifts. These soaps are created one at a time and any that are currently available will be listed here in the Etsy Shop

Photo of flowers in my garden   -   Image of flower felted on soap

~ Faith

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mosaic Soap Tutorial

Mosaic Soap - Scented in Blueberry Lemon

I really love the creativity that soapmaking can bring out and I have seen so many awesome soaps with a lot of piping, surface embeds and unique shapes (especially the food soaps - love making cupcakes). But..... I find people tend to not want to or are confused over using such beautiful soaps and I want my customers to use the soaps that I create. Because of this I am sticking to creating beautiful and unique soaps in usable shapes and sizes. These mosaic soaps perfectly fit this goal.

This tutorial is an experiment in action. Much of it is based on theory and experimentation - please keep this in mind as your results with this technique may very based on formulation, molds and oven temperatures. I consider this a starting point for others to experiment with in design and method.

My base soap is created with 38% hard oils (coconut, palm), 4% butters and 58% soft oils (olive, castor, avocado, etc.). I add sodium lactate at 5 grams per pound of oils and superfat at 5% with close to full water (35 - 38%). You need to fully gel your soap so that it is pliable after a full gel and cooled.

For this design, I alternated a solid yellow soap with an In The Pot Swirl of ivory, blues and purple (with a tiny hint of green). I also used a solid green to separate some of the layers. All pieces were created using the same formulation and created within a few days of the others (so that none of the soap has cured much and hardened).

Color Palette - Yellow Mica for the solid portion
Ivory, light blue mica, dark blue (ultramarine blue and black mica) and
purple mica for the swirled portion

The start of the In The Pot Swirl

Monday, March 21, 2016

Soda Ash - GONE!

A quick and easy way to remove soda ash on fully cured cold process soap.
91% Isopropyl Alcohol, a toothbrush, a bit of scrubbing - no more soda ash. Fully cured bars should be hard enough not to be misshapen by the use of the toothbrush.

My Champagne and Roses Cold process 
with a good amount of soda ash on the top.

All you need is a small spritzer bottle filled wit
91% Isopropyl Alcohol and a toothbrush

Spritz the top with the Isopropyl Alcohol (about 5 or 6 spritz) 

Use the toothbrush to lightly scrub the surface to remove the ash. The toothbrush allows you to get into all the little nooks in a textured surface. Rinse and dry the toothbrush after every few bars.

Wipe dry with a paper towel and no more soda ash!

~ Faith

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Introducing New Bath Bomb Fizzies and Foaming Bath Bombs

After spending time refining my bath bomb fizzy and foaming bath bomb formulations, they are now being introduced and available for sale. Bath bomb fizzies do not create bubbles, but instead release scent and skin loving ingredients into the bath. Foaming bath bombs also release scent and skin loving ingredients but also create a generous amount of long lasting bubbles into your bath. Both types are enriched with sunflower oil and mango butter in addition to sea salts, milks (goat and coconut), cornstarch and even oatmeal to create a luxurious bath experience (each formulation will vary in these ingredients). I use mostly clays and ground botanicals to color these (some colorants can remain on the surface of the tub) too. These new bath bombs are available in both the Etsy shop and the main website. Here is a sampling of what is available.

Lemongrass Calendula Bath Bomb Fizzy
Created with lemongrass essential oil, sea salt, coconut milk, and ground calendula petals

Mango Kumquat Foaming Bath Bomb (created lather/bubbles)
Created with sunflower oil and mango butter

Strawberry Champagne Foaming Bath Bomb
Created with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Lavender Goat Milk Bath Bomb Fizzy
Created with Lavender Essential Oil, Sea Salt and Goat Milk

~ Faith