Is there anything nicer than receiving packages in the post? Especially when the packages are pretty, beautifully presented and full of exciting beauty products? Birchbox is an online subscription service that offers members a personalised box filled with 5 such treats each month. You can discover products from around the world and then buy your favourites from the Birchbox online shop.
I received April’s ‘Good Enough To Eat’ box and it certainly lived up to its name. The Laura Mercier vanilla body ‘soufflé’ is deliciously fragrant, the dinky How ‘Bout Them Apples Cheek and Lip Cream Palette (in Pie!) is retro charm itself and I love the Colour Club Gala’s Gems Collection Nail Polish (though my daughter has her sights on that). There was also a Lord & Berry kohl liner and some Yes To Cucumbers Travel Towelettes (saving those for when I travel). A small bag of
Propercorn Sweet Coconut & Vanilla – a bonus 6th lifestyle sample – was also nestled in the box but I am afraid it lasted all of two minutes in my hands.
I think for me the anticipation of receiving something lovely in the post every month would be a huge part of the appeal of Birchbox. You can subscribe for £10 + £2.95 p&p (monthly) although other subscription packages are also available (cough, perfect as a gift, cough).
Birchbox are offering lucky Supergolden Bakes readers the chance to WIN a 6 month subscription. Simply enter this giveaway via the Gleam entry form at bottom of this post.
I call these quick-method because they dispense with the Italian meringue which means no hot syrup or candy thermometers are involved. This is a good starting recipe for someone who has never made macarons before. If you measure your ingredients carefully and grind the nuts really fine you will have gorgeous results! Use any type of buttercream to fill or even jam or any type of curd. I created the stencils using gold shimmer spray – an easy way to personalise macarons for a party or wedding.
Recipe adapted from Dan Lepard
2 egg whites (60g | 2oz)
1/2 tsp powdered egg white (optional)
50g | 1.8oz flaked almonds
50g | 1.8oz skinned hazelnuts
100g | 3 1/2oz (caster) sugar
100g | 3 1/2oz icing (powdered) sugar
1 tsp lemon juice or vanilla extract
2 drops green food colour (I used Americolor in Blue Grass)
Lime or lemon curd to fill (I used store-bought)
- Preheat the oven to 180C | 350F. Have two large baking trays ready and lined with baking paper.
- Place the nuts in a roasting tray and toast in the oven for 5 minutes keeping a close eye on them and tossing them in tray so that they don’t burn. Take out of the oven and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 150C | 300F.
- Measure your icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor (or mini chopper). Add the nuts and pulse, in shorts bursts, until the nuts are powdered. Be careful not to pulse continuously – if the nuts heat up they will release oil and you will end up with a paste. Sift the nut/icing sugar mixture into a bowl.
- Put the egg whites and powdered egg (if using) into the bowl of your stand mixer. Use a hand whisk to mix the two until a little frothy.
- Attach the whisk and start mixing slowly at first, then at highest speed until the egg whites form firm peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until each spoonful is completely incorporated before adding the next. Continue until all the sugar is in and the meringue is glossy and thick. Add the colour and mix it in.
- Tip the nut mixture into the meringue and fold it in using a silicone spatula. You don’t have to be super gentle here – use the spatula to scrape the mixture from the bottom of the bowl folding it over the top and so on.
- As you mix, the batter will start becoming more fluid. Once it starts thinning, STOP and test it. Drop a spoonful of batter back into the bowl. If the batter starts to slowly spread out it is ready – do not mix anymore.
- Transfer batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Secure the edges of the baking paper on the trays with a small dot of macaron batter (do not skip this!).
- Pipe the macarons (use a macaron template under the baking paper for accuracy) spacing them apart on the tray. If the macarons have little ‘peaks’ on top use a wet finger to pat those down.
- Forcefully bang the trays on the table once or twice to release any air bubbles. Leave the macarons to dry out for at least 30mins until ‘touch dry’. On a humid day this can take up to an hour. This is what makes the macaron ‘feet’ develop.
- Bake for 12-16 mins or up to 18mins depending on size. The macarons are ready when the tops are dry and they easily peel off the baking paper. Take out of the oven and cool completely.
- Fill with buttercream or curd using a piping bag fitted with a small round tip for best results.
How to enter the giveaway
> If no form is showing, please refresh the page. Remember you can come back for bonus entries. Good luck!
*** Check out my fab Kenwood Classic Chef mixer giveaway too! ***
> One winner will receive a 6 month subscription to Birchbox.
> The giveaway ends on the 8th of June at 12am.
> Entries using an automated process or software to create bulk entries will be disqualified.
> The winner will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and on Facebook and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.
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