Monday, November 26, 2012

Life lessons

In the car, on our daily travel to school, is when I have the most interesting conversations with my youngest son, Matthew.  Usually, he starts off by relating to me something that had happened in school or with his friends, then I end up talking about my views and  my own experiences when I was younger.  He fondly calls these conversations "life lessons".

Although I sometimes feel Matthew gets annoyed with all my ramblings, I just get on with it just the same. I'm pretty sure he'll remember these times when he's older and then he'll realize how much he had learned from being stuck in the car with me!

Well, today, I have some life lessons for you, too.  These are things that I am certain you already know though.  Let's just put them in another perspective, shall we?

LIFE LESSON #1: There are no such things as accidents.  Everything happens for a reason.

I have baked hundreds and hundreds of macarons in the past few months but have never perfected a single batch. Some would come out great, a lot of them hollow.  Some smooth and shiny, some wrinkled.  I have used a variety of recipes, baking temperatures, and baking time. Bought different brands of almond meal.  Compared silicone mats versus parchment paper.  Pure icing sugar versus one with cornstarch.  Copper bowl versus stainless steel with cream of tartar. The list goes on and on.

On yet another macaron baking session yesterday, confusion had me whip too much eggwhites for my almond/sugar mixture.  Upon realizing it, I tried to rectify the situation as much as I could.  In so doing, I could not follow the recipe to a tee.  You know what?  It yielded my best macarons ever!  Not one cracked shell.  No hollows.  No sticking.  Perfect.

Pistachio macarons with pistachio buttercream.

I made 43 in total!
See, not hollow!

That mistake was meant to happen.  The macarons could have turned out badly and I would have ended up frustrated again.  BUT it didn't. I am so happy that now, I can rest from all the experimentations.  I think I finally have a recipe and method I could rely on.

LIFE LESSON #2:   Cramming, in general, is not good. BUT sometimes, we get the best results under pressure.

I received a request for a golf-themed cake last week but had to turn it down initially because of the short notice and because I was already quite busy with other cakes.  More importantly, I did not know anything about golf or how to go about making golf-related decorations.  

Two days before the cake was needed, I decided to go ahead with it anyway.  I don't know why, but working hard till late at night seems to be my thing. I could never get to sleep until I am satisfied with what I've done.

Golf-themed birthday cake for a 12 year old.

A little bit of imagination (and a lot of Google help!) can go a long way.
The cake is very simple and yet, I love it.  I am very glad I did go through making this as it has turned out to be one of my favourites!

LIFE LESSON #3:  Don't be afraid to try something new and to take risks.  Keep on challenging yourself!

Normally, I would experiment first before doing the real thing but in this particular case, I decided to take the risk and give it a go. 

Giant cucpake bouquet with a dark chocolate cupcake patty pan!

I made my first ever giant cupcake for my brother's recent birthday party.  I've had the jumbo cupcake silicone pan for ages but was too lazy to use it.  When I came upon these series of videos on YouTube, I was encouraged to try it.  It was a success!

No one wanted to cut it or rather, no one knew how!

I finally had to do the job myself!

I loved making the giant cupcake so much, I created a similar one for my husband's birthday just a few days after.  This one had a white chocolate cupcake "liner".

My family is telling me now that I should start offering cakes like these.  Hmmm...something to definitely consider.

Even with the smallest things we do, though unimportant they might seem, we learn something from them, don't we? Feel free to share some of your life lessons too!


  1. Oh Corinne,

    I love your post today... and one more time I regret that you don't live any closer to me... I would be your best customer...

    you are a real talent in baking...

    I love your perspective about lessons... especially the "stuck in the car" lessons I can relate so well... my kids have to "suffer" too...

    Have a wonderful time...


    P.S. I love thos cupcake cakes... have to check out if I can get a silikon form like that here too...

    maybe you should consider online-teaching-career ;-)))

  2. I found one and just orderd... thanks for the links too...

    I am so excited...!!!



  3. I made a giant cupcake for my friend's engagement party but it didn't quite make it to the party. :(
    It was top heavy so it fell apart. I'm thinking maybe next time to put in a couple dowels in so it won't fall apart.
    Your giant cupcakes don't look like it'll fall apart. What cakepan did you use?

    1. This is the one I have:

  4. Thanks for life's lessons, very well said. From the first time we've known each other through our e-mail conversations I knew it! That whatever you put your mind into, you always want it to come out as perfect as possible and you'll do anything in your power to get the best result. Remember our trial and error on caramel cake, that was fun and one experience I'll never forget! Your macarons look perfect same with your giant cupcakes. Keep doing what you love to do and thank you for sharing it with us. Merry Christmas!~Mela~

  5. Your cakes are just beautiful. How did you get the chocolate cupcake base so even?

    1. Thanks! Please refer to the linked YouTube videos to see how the chocolate base is made.

  6. Oh now I found the link. Thanks :o)

  7. Hi! Hope you can post your french macaroon recipe. :)

  8. I hope you share your recipe for the macarons. I have tried baking them but still couldn't get them to be perfect every time. It's freaking frustrating!!

  9. Is the giant cupcake a chiffon cake too Corinne??

    1. No it's not. I think for this one I used Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake.

  10. Hi, can i please have the recipes for the chocolate cake sponge and the chocolate buttercream shown in the pics under life lesson 3? They look really nice.

    1. If I remember correctly, for those giant cupcakes, I used Hershey's recipe for chocolate cake. You can find the recipe here:

      The chocolate buttercream is basically just American buttercream with cocoa powder.

  11. can you post your macaron recipe please? It looks so good! :)

    1. Please refer to the Recipes tab at the top of the page to find the recipe.