Sunday, December 11, 2011

{silhouette cameo: train t-shirts}

i'm excited to share with you my second project on the silhouette cameo! {surprise amy and drew! i couldnt wait. hahaha} christmas is coming up and i really wanted to make some customized tshirts for my nephews, samuel and noah, and my baby boy matthew. it will be noah and matthew's first christmas. awwww!! samuel and noah were train conductors for halloween, so i thought it would be cute to make choo-choo train tshirts. each train car has the initial of their cousins, with their name spelled out as the puffs of smoke coming out of the smoke stack. i had some grey flocked and yellow flocked heat transfer paper, so i used the grey flocked paper for the wheels of the train and yellow flocked for the boys' initials and the stars. i love that it gives it another dimension. i'm looking forward to giving it to the boys on christmas day and having them all wear it together for pictures. heehee.

i used silhouette blog's great online tutorial on how to curve the letters for the clouds. remember, when you're making the shirts with the heat transfer material, you need to mirror the image. everything went quite smoothly, until i tried to mirror the curved clouds. it was flipping the letters upside down, rather than mirroring it. i sent an email to silhouette's customer service and they were awesome! within an hour, they emailed me back and figured out a solution.

Here's the solution to mirror curved words, so you can use it for transfer paper/vinyl:
1) Right click the text (not the path)
2) Select "Make Compound Path"
3) Right click the text again
4) Select "Flip Horizontally"

i {heart} my cameo!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

{salted caramel sauce: recipe}

i. LOVE. salted caramel. smear some in a macaron and its like this transcendent food experience. haha. salted caramel is this lovely sweet & savory symphony for my taste buds. salted caramel has so many uses--simply off the spoon, melted over ice cream, drizzled over chocolate cake, as a filling in macarons (which i'll post about soon since i used this sauce in my fleur del sel macarons). i've always been a little afraid of making a caramel sauce because it seemed so difficult, but believe it or not, the sauce is quite easy to make.

the secret ingredient to this salted caramel is the fleur de sel. fleur de sel is this hand raked salt harvested from a region in France. it has this complexity in flavor that is hard to describe and perfect as a finishing salt.

the first batch of caramel i made, i actually slightly burned. {OOPS} i {ALMOST} threw it away, but decided to finish the recipe to see what it would taste like. i actually ended up LOVING the slightly burnt flavor since it added a hint of bitterness, which accented the sweet richness of the caramel. the second batch went perfectly and also tasted deliciously decadent. the important part of making caramel is to watch it very closely. it quickly turns from a beautiful caramel (color) to burnt in a matter of seconds. second point--although a candy thermometer is helpful, i found that it is actually somewhat misleading. i was waiting for the temperature to hit the 335 degree called for in the recipe. my thermometer was still reading the mid 200s when it started to turn slightly brown. i was fixated on the thermometer to read the 300s. but, it actually burned before it hit that temperature setting. so the point is, use your eyes and nose!!
the other important part is to not stir the mixture while it is boiling, since this can cause the sugars to crystallize. fourth, buy a kitchen scale.

this is the recipe i used {caramel fleur de sel, from the macaron chronicles}. you will love it.
the recipe was adapted from Chef Pang.

- Heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven
- Immersion Blender
- Kitchen scale
- Candy thermometer

- 200 grams of sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 tbs corn syrup
- 3/4 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla pod)
- 200 grams heavy cream
- 3.5 grams fleur de sel
- 140 grams unsalted butter, chilled, and cut

Recipe: (slightly modified with my own tips)
1. In a heavy saucepan (i used le creuset dutch oven), bring the 200 grams sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 2 tbs of corn syrup to a boil
2. Once it starts bubbling, do NOT stir
3. in a separate saucepan, warm the 200 grams of heavy cream
4. Use your nose and eyes--when sugar turns a deep amber color, take the saucepan off the heat. (according to the original recipe, heat until mixture is 335 degrees)
5. Add the WARM cream, a little at a time, into the sugar mixture (BE CAREFUL! the sauce will bubble up and splatter). The warm cream prevents the caramel from seizing.
6. Add the fleur de sel
7. Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved. (I actually turned on the heat a little to make sure the sugar melted. not sure if that is ok, but it worked for me)
8. Cool the mixture to 105 F
9. Add in the well-chilled, cubed butter
10. Use an immersion blender and blend in the butter until you achieve a smooth glossy paste
11. Transfer into glass container
12. Line the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming
13. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use
14. Spoon over ice cream or fill your macarons with this delicious sauce!

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