Friday, March 18, 2011


This, my friends, is a short and sweet story of perseverance.

I wanted to make macarons, not the coconut variety with two o's (macaroons), but the French ones with one o. I don't know when I first had them, but there was a bakery down the street from one of my apartments in Boston and it was such a fun treat to buy just one while I was walking around town.

Just as I was leaving Boston I saw this book for the first time, and took it as a sign::

It was time to step up to the plate and make a macaron. I asked for the book for Christmas, Santa delivered, and the rest is delicious.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was going to be a fickle endeavor. How could it not when meringue, syrups of sugar water, and butter cream are involved?

My tip : Take some good common sense, patience, and, as I mentioned at the beginning, perseverance into the kitchen with you. Why? Well, on this particular day, not one of the timed events in my kitchen matched the book's suggested times.

-After you mix the meringue batter, you pipe it out in to this perfect little circles (following the little pattern you traced on wax paper). Dudes, my circles were anything but perfect. I'm blaming it on my batter, which seemed a touch too runny and would not just SIT STILL. But eh, I figured if it all ran together I'd end up with one big awesome treat.
-The pan o' perfect circles is supposed to sit for 15 minutes (30 on a summer day) until a slight crust forms on top. After 15 minutes? no crust. 30? no crust. At that point I figured I'd go do something fun in the craft room and come back when I was good and ready. Really I think it was only an additional 15 minutes, but it worked! There was a crust, so on to the next step.
-Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 375F oven. Oh boy, after 10 minutes, I smelled something burning and ran to the oven. Luckily it was just one of the smaller, misguided dots of batter on the pan, but the pan was definitely done and any more time was going to be too much. So, from then on I set the first timer to go off at 8 minutes and check on the pan every minute or so until they were done. {I think I need an oven thermometer}

-Check out the pictures! There are no perfect little circles, but they look, felt and tasted like the real thing. They even have the little pied, or foot, that they are supposed to get. And according to the book "without it, the pastry cannot be called a macaron." We la-di-da. I think we're making macarons after all!

-Now for the stinking butter cream. The recipe calls for heating up 3T of sugar and 3T of water in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring, and then heat again for another 4 minutes. Of course no two microwaves are the same, and of course, my microwave burned the mixture {to a smoking, smelling, brown mess} after a mere 2 minutes. So I went at it again, this time keeping my eyes on the prize after a minute and pulling it out of the microwave after a minute and forty-five seconds. {Ah, the joys of an inherited microwave, I can't figure out for the life of me how to turn the power level down, but I'm guessing that would have helped!}

-The butter cream worked on the second go, and finally, finally, I was left with an easy step : make those cute little sandwiched treats!

{I wanted to take some over to a new neighbor, and found that popping them into a mini bread pan worked perfectly!}

Will I make these again? Yes! They were so stinking delicious. C thought that the butter cream was a little too buttery, but I loved it. So I may experiment with another butter cream recipe. One that does not use the microwave.

Are there any left? Nope, I nibbled on them, and then I took the rest off to my sister's house where they mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night, and we still didn't catch the little elf that ate them!

Would I recommend the book to a friend? Most definitely. While the times were off, I could just blame that on the differences in kitchens. The book is full of clear and careful instruction, step-by-step pictures, and an amazing array of ideas for flavoring both your cookies and the creams.

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