Expensive Items You Can Make at Home

Expensive Items to Make at Home - the simple hive

We do what we can to be frugal in our home, much to the chagrin of the teen-aged girl who resides here.  If it were up to her, everything we own would be expensive, shiny and modern.  Our home is nothing like that.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  We live in an old house filled with antique furniture and simple, mostly handmade furnishings. Hubby and I love the fact our home has a unique look and feel.  It’s groovy.

I just said groovy.  I’m a hippie at heart.  It drives the teen girl crazy that I don’t like to shop, except at thrift stores and flea markets.  Shopping malls deflate me.  Even when I can find a restaurant that can accommodate our food allergies, they are too noisy and rushed.  I would much rather make something at home and enjoy it at my leisure with my family and a good movie.

Also, in yoga pants.  Don’t forget the yoga pants.

Many expensive foods are easy to make at home.  Many home décor items are simple to make with a few basics skills.  With a little practice and patience, you can save money and not have to get dressed up, fight traffic or wait in long lines.

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Easy Nut-Free French Macarons

 

TEXFrench MacaronsT

Over the summer, I took a break from the blog to spend time with my kids and to catch up on many neglected projects around the hive. It was a good change of pace and I have many things to share. What I’m trying to say is…I’m baaaack!

I’m not sure if you should be happy or afraid. Your pick.

Because I have a sweet tooth and I want to go to Paris someday, I made some French macarons. The trouble with macarons is that they are made with almond flour and I’m allergic to almonds.

Let’s all take a moment to throw a tiny pity party for me.

That was fun.

So, being allergic to almonds, I had to find a substitute. Naturally, I turned to sunflower seeds. They are my go-to nut replacement. I use them to make peanut-free peanut sauce, or “unpeanut” sauce as we now refer to it, homemade sunflower seed butter and all sorts of delicious treats. More on those later.

Today, we focus on the lovely French macaron.

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Just a side note: A macaroon is a coconut concoction and macaron refers to this heavenly French delight.

Moving along.

These were surprisingly simple to make. And that is dangerous, my friends.

 

You will need:

1 c. powdered sugar

3/4 c. sunflower seed flour (or almond flour)*

2 large egg whites at room temperature

1/4 c. white granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

food coloring (optional)

*To make your own sunflower seed flour, place roasted sunflower seeds into a food processor and process for about a minute.  The mixture will look coarse and crumbly.  Resist the temptation to go longer, as the blade will heat the oil causing the mixture to become sticky.  Sift the mixture through a fine sieve.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. Pulse powdered sugar and sunflower seed (or almond) flour in a food processor until combined.  Sift with a fine mesh sieve into a separate bowl.
  3. Whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until they are foamy.
  4. Add cream of tartar and mix on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.
  5. Add the granulated sugar and mix on low until incorporated and then switch to high speed and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Add flour mixture to the egg whites, half at a time, and fold gently until mixture is smooth and glossy.  If using food coloring, add it at this step to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  7. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag  or a quart-size zip top freezer bag.  If using a pastry bag, use a plain 1/2″ round tip.  If using a zip top bag, snip the corner to make a small hole. Err on the side of a smaller hole rather than larger.
  8. Pipe onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1″ apart.  Tap the baking sheet on the counter top to get rid of air pockets and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  9. Place in oven and reduce to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through the cooking time, until they are firm and crispy.
  10. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and transfer to wire rack. If they stick to the parchment, lift the parchment at one end and drizzle a few drops of water underneath the paper.  This causes steam from the hot baking sheet to release the macaron.
  11. Using 2 macarons that are the same size, sandwich with one teaspoon of your filling of choice.

Filling Options:

  • buttercream
  • chocolate ganache
  • chocolate hazelnut spread
  • seedless raspberry jam
  • dulce de leche

Today, I went for a classic vanilla buttercream.

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For a chocolate version:  Substitute 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in place of 1/4 cup of the sunflower (or almond) flour.

If you have a favorite macaron flavor, leave a comment and send me back to the kitchen!