Every mother wants to be known for something. Perhaps it’s knitting, fly fishing, running marathons…or perhaps it’s being able to peel an apple in one long, perfect spiral like Tom Hanks’ wife in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. We want to be famous for having a spectacular talent — a skill that no other parent can match. I assume my girls think of me as “the writer” when someone asks what I do, but I write so often that they’ve come to ignore it. I decided to find a new flair so my girls could brag to their friends and teachers with renewed excitement.
“Yeah, my mom makes a mean macaron!”
Macaron? Don’t you mean macaroon? Or, have you dropped off the ‘i’ in macaroni?
Close your mouth! Let’s start at the beginning.
Macaron is a French cookie made with almond and egg whites that are sandwiched around a cream-based filling. They come in a rainbow of colors and flavors, such as buttered caramel and Irish cream.
Macaroon is the American word for a version of a flourless egg-white-based cookie. Most often made with coconut, it can also include nuts or nut paste.
In other words, one is much harder to make than the other. And expensive. Tres chic, not very cheap.
With a little time on my hands this past week, I decided to try these beautiful macaron recipes pinned on Pinterest boards. I’m drawn to color, so I became obsessed with these puffy little pastel cookies that whistled springtime. However, I thought I should cut my teeth on a slightly easier list of ingredients and procedures, so I settled for a salted chocolate variety that promised minimal tears and maximum approval.
Here’s a summary of that particular day in the kitchen, as recorded in Facebook posts:
8:28 a.m. Off to Lowe’s I goes for tools.
9:32 a.m. Step ONE: Purchase a new, baby blue KitchenAid Artistan Stand Mixer, thanks to an AuthorHouse royalty check for “Sellie and Sam”. I shall name her Julia.
10:28 a.m. Step TWO: Stop at Kroger to purchase ingredients for “Double Chocolate Salted Macarons”. Search for almond flour and Celebri-Kitty, but cannot find either one.
10:34 a.m. Step THREE: Play Pharrell’s “Happy” song to remind myself that THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Then, search the internet for advice on substituting almond flour.
11:10 a.m. Step FOUR: Return to Kroger after I learn that almond flour is stocked in the organic aisle. FIND ONE BAG left on the shelf (lots of macaron making today!), notice the price, and drive home to write another book to pay for it.
11:16 a.m. This is major stress. I should have learned to ride a bike first. But no — I have to drive a stick-shift Ferrari.
11:27 a.m. …and if you’re wondering why I’m online, it’s because I’m waiting on three eggs to come up to room temperature. (Comment from a friend: Just run them under warm water.)
11:36 a.m. Step FIVE: Follow all instructions and worry about the humidity of the house, which is a cozy 67 degrees unless you’re standing beside the window, and then it’s about 50.
11:50 a.m. ZUT ALORS! (Translation: THIS IS HARD!)
12:01 p.m. Piping bag? WHAT? How about a gallon-sized Baggie? I have my limits!
12: 33 p.m. “Pipe into circles. 25 total.” Oh. So we’ll have 6.
12:53 p.m. “Bake at 350 for 14 minutes, or until little cookie feet appear.” Mine have toes.
1:34 p.m. Step SIX: Wait for macarons and chocolate filling to cool, match tops of the same size (Yeah, right…); add a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, and let set.
1:57 p.m. Sing loud and proud! BECAUSE I’M HAPPY!!!!
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do!
That evening, I presented Mike with one delicate, airy, slightly crisp, slightly chewy, chocolatey, velvety, rich, French macaron. “Mmm,” he mumbled, biting into the little sandwich iced with salted ganache.
“That’s a $400 cookie in your mouth.”
Mike choked and sprayed the counter with crumbs.
Two days later (when he was speaking to me again), I decided to try another batch of my famous macarons. This time, I paid more attention to sifting and mixing, and I cut a smaller hole in the corner of the gallon-size Baggie to pipe petite rounds of “lava-like batter” onto sheets of parchment. Following the directions like Martha Stewart and forgiving mistakes like Julia Child, I turned out 26 salted chocolate cookies instead of six.
But I don’t have any to show you. The girls ate them all.
Want to try it? Here’s the link!