I already have the holiday of love on the mind. I want everything I consume to be pink and heart shaped. I want to just wear shades of red. I want to listen to love songs and send love letters to everyone I know. I’m trying to hold off until the month of February, but you know me, I’m kind of bursting to celebrate something again. The month of January is so long.
So I got it in my head that I wanted to make macarons for a Valentine’s Day treat. Make them now, I told myself, and then you can freeze them until it’s time to eat them. So you kinda get in the spirit while still being sensible. Then I made a complete failure of a batch; cracked, hollow, the totally wrong consistency, so I decided maybe not. But then I couldn’t get the little suckers out of my head so I did some research, I tried again… and failed. And then I did a lot more research, tried again, and failed again. Ugh. I was closer than ever before to getting the perfect macaron so I tried one more time and, lo and behold, it worked! The entire batch was perfect. The raspberry buttercream frosting I made to sandwich the cookies together was both pink and red (albeit still a little too buttery, considering ditching that part altogether) making the final product absolutely perfect for the occasion. So in addition to getting these cute af cookies, I also got a pretty intense lesson on life, right in my own kitchen!
So here’s the lesson: I like, really didn’t like failing at these. Similarly to how I don’t like failing at anything else. It was beyond frustrating to try my hardest and not get the outcome I wanted or expected. And for reasons that were seemingly out of my control! I decided to quit repeatedly. It was only after I cooled down and realized how much I wanted to succeed, how much joy it brought me each time I got closer to the perfect cookie, that I decided to perservere. So I put in work, I got better tools, I asked others (in the form of reading their tips and recipes), and ignored the negative thoughts giving me doubt (“this is such a waste of perfectly good almond flour”). Am I spelling it out enough? Beating a dead horse? It was a good reminder that if you love something, you hustle to succeed at it no matter what the cost, time commitment, or how many times failing hurts your ego. You just have to keep going because doing the things you love and getting better at them is what makes life colorful. I’m still finding all the things I love, but right now I know I love baking and I love sharing my life in this visual little corner of the internet, so here we are!
I told you I’m feeling sappy.
Anyway, January means a fresh new year to accomplish some #goals, so it’s a relevant lesson.
And duh, the reason you’re even here…
Basic Macaron Cookies //
– Using a fine sieve, sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4 cup almond flour into a clean, dry, metal mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
– Take 2 large eggs straight from the fridge, crack em open, and separate the yolk from the whites. Macaron snobs around the world will scoff at you because the eggs haven’t aged, and to those people I exclaim “who has the time?!” Save the yolk to make hollandaise sauce some other time, lol. Whisk the whites in a stand mixer until they reach stiff peaks. Half way through this process add 1/4 cup granulated sugar. This is your meringue. Don’t overbeat!
– Start the macaronage process. Waste no time here. Dump half of the dry ingredients into the meringue and fold the batter over until incorporated. Dump the rest in and repeat. Batter should be smooth, and should fall off spatula in ribbons but should not be runny. Overmixing sucks. Spread out the batter against the sides of the bowl to get rid of air bubbles.
– Put batter in a piping bag and cut off the tip of the bag. Hold the bag at a 45 degree angle to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and squeeze until circles form. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet.
– Take the sheet and bang all four corners against the kitchen counter, hard. Do it really early in the morning so your roommates hate you! It gets the extra air bubbles out. You should notice the macarons flattening a little and they should have a smooth top at this point.
– Set sheet to rest for 35 minutes in a cool dry place. Not the fridge. Just out on a table in a room with no humidity. They need to rest so the top hardens a little and the air is pushed down during baking (this makes the foot!). In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300-310 degrees.
– Double up on baking sheets, and for me it was best if I baked mine on the top shelf for 15 minutes. I also propped the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow for air circulation. I stood there and watched them, because I’m crazy.
– If all goes well, they should be smooth, not shiny, with a foot. The inside will be softer and chewier than the outside. Take them out of the oven and let them cool before transferring of the pan.
– Organize pairs by size, sandwich together with fillings like jam, Nutella, frosting, but I can’t in good conscience suggest buttercream because I haven’t found a recipe for that I love.
Next step: flavors!