I started this blog a year ago now, but I feel it should be 5 years old. I had been dreaming about it for so many years before starting it that I had written hundreds of posts in my head, before I even knew what WordPress was.
I always have a bit of trouble explaining what I do for a living. I like to do so many things and have had the luck to work in so many different fields that I myself often lose track of what I should put my energy into. When I started my blog, I knew three things for sure: I had a creative side, I wasn’t too bad with words, and I loved to cook. I wanted to unite, once and for all, all of my passions to benefit one project into which I would be able to pour hours without ever becoming bored with it.
A year later, after hours and hours spent in my kitchen and on my computer, day and night, at home and abroad, I am proud of what Food Nouveau has become. It’s far from being perfect and I’m still learning a lot every day, but it truly is the first thing I’ve ever done that feels so right. It has improved my skills immensely (design, language, and cooking), brought great opportunities, and allowed me to meet awesome people that I would’ve never encountered otherwise.
In 2011, my wish is to channel all of this new knowledge into my professional life. I’ve been a freelance graphic designer and translator for most of my career, and my clients are my biggest asset. I’ve had my share of bad clients in the past, but over this last year, I’ve been lucky enough to work with the best of the best. Perhaps all the positive energy from the pleasure I found in working on Food Nouveau radiated into my professional life as well. Whatever it is, for this year’s holidays, I wanted to find a very special way to say thank you.
One thing that I am close to mastering in the kitchen is the macaron. My how-to post about macarons is still, a year later, my most popular post, and I have become a bit famous (among my friends) for the colorful and flavorful macarons I turn out. I figured, instead of just sending an ordinary holiday card, why not use this excuse to bake a huge batch of macarons and send these to my clients to say “thank you”? The idea turned into an ambitious design, baking, and crafting project and I was so happy with the results that I thought it deserved a post.
I’ll walk you through my macaron project. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to bake something and wrap it in a special way to give to someone who’s particularly meaningful to you. Baking has that special quality that makes it all about the people you bake for. No one bakes a cake for him or herself! Time is precious these days, and I find that giving something you made yourself says “thank you” in a way no store-bought gift can.
I wish everybody could work not only to earn an income, but to fulfill a passion. This isn’t wishful thinking; it’s very close to being my reality. For that, I’m endlessly thankful.
Giving Homemade Macarons: A Craft Project
Early on in the project, I found a great gift box for macarons, it holds 10 1-1/4-inch little wonders. I started from there, with the idea to make 5 different flavors to package a literal rainbow of flavors.
My version of a mise-en-place for a craft project:
I decided to package my macaron boxed in white paper bags. I designed and printed a warning to be glued to the bag to advise whoever would be taking delivery that the bag had to be treated gently and refrigerated as soon as possible. I used a beautiful reindeer stamp to decorate these labels.
I printed a folded card on which I detailed the varieties included in the box and how best to enjoy the macarons. Inside the card, I wrote a personalized message to each of my clients.
Once the address and warning labels were printed and the cards signed, I started a small assembly line. To each bag its card, its address label and its macaron box.
Then I filled the boxes with the macarons. I successfully made them all equal in size so they fit perfectly in the box. I kept them frozen until the very last minute: it kept them fresh and easier to handle.
The five macaron varieties I made are:
4. Raspberry & Cranberry
5. Pecan & Maple
Don’t they look like little jewels?
I closed the boxes, wrapped a piece of golden paper around, slid my wish cards underneath the sleeve and tied everything together with a ribbon.
I cut up small rectangles of red tissue paper to place underneath the gift boxes in the bags. It held the boxes in place and added a splash of color.
I used another piece of ribbon to close the bags and tie the address labels. As a finishing touch, I stapled my business card in the back.
Let me tell you that it was a smashing success! I sent the bags via a same-day courier to make sure the macarons would stay fresh so it didn’t take long before I got some feedback. I think I brought a smile to everybody’s face and most told me that the whole box was eaten in a matter of minutes. Mission accomplished!
If you want the recipes for three of the macarons featured here, go to my post: Macarons, 3 Ways: Chocolate, Pistachio, Pecan & Maple. They are my most popular flavors. If you need help in making macarons, or want more information before tackling the project for the first time, go to my post: How to Make Macarons: A Detailed, Illustrated, Step-by-Step Recipe.