Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom vs. Macaron

In THIS corner, weighing all too much, is the Mom.My little sister, the Photographer, took this photo at just the right angle to make me look 40 lbs. lighter! God bless her!

And in THIS corner, weighing in at exactly the correct number of grams, the the perfect macaron.
This is a REAL Parisian Macaron from the famous French patisserie Pierre Herme'. Photo courtesy Roboppy on Flickr.

And somewhere in the middle, these two parties are supposed to meet and create sweet, pastry love. At least, that's the goal. The macaron has other ideas.

This past week I've been baking. A lot. I saw a gorgeous gift idea from Amberlynn on "The Giver's Log". She made adorable French Macarons and packaged them in a beautiful clear tube with a little label.
Photo and product by Amberlynn at Giver's Log- she even provides the cute printable label for your use. Check out her other great gift ideas by clicking the link above.

And that's when I KNEW I needed to quit ogling macarons on the foodie blogs (as I've been doing for months) and actually join in the mayhem. Her idea would be the PERFECT thing for all the small neighbor, friend, co-worker gifts I need to give away this coming Christmas. Yes, I'm thinking about Christmas already! Besides, macarons are supposed to supplant the cupcake/ cake bite as the 'next big thing' in desserts. Better than a cake bite? I'm IN!
However, I quickly learned that one does not simply 'make' macarons from a recipe. There is no mix and dump as has constituted most of my baking experience to date. No REAL macarons are all about technique. Technique I've never developed but I'm willing to learn. I mean, look at these babies? Aren't they gorgeous? Who wouldn't want to be able to produce such a perfect little treat?
Photo montage by Teka e Fabi on Flickr.

Real macarons (as opposed to the coconut confections from the Wal Mart bakery) are apparently an art form. I think I was MORE excited about the challenge of successfully making them than I was about the actual product. Armed with good tutorials, message board posts and a dearth of recipes, I ambitiously began.

The ingredients for Macarons are simple- ground almonds, sugar, eggwhites and whatever little extras you add for unique flavoring. The technique is anything but basic. The goal is to create 'cookies' (any foodie reading that will roll their eyes and think "amateur!" because you really aren't supposed to call these a 'cookie') that have these elements:

Photo by Serious Eats. They have lots of good info and tips. Check them out HERE.

I won't be presumptuous enough to post a tutorial on macarons because I'm still perfecting the recipe myself- and come on, who would I think I'm kidding anyway? I'm no pastry chef even if I occasionally play one in my own kitchen.

You can, however, find fabulous information here, here, here and here that will get you started if you want to try these yourself. There's a ton of information on the web as well as recommendations and tricks for success. They are NOT easy but so long as one has the right tools, good tutorials, some patience, and, most importantly, is willing to fail a few times in the name of success, they are totally within the realm of possible.
It has been a battle Royall' but I think I have ALMOST got my technique down pat. I'm consistently producing good looking macarons but they aren't quite perfect yet. I'll never be hired to make them for a French Bakery (or even a 3rd rate grocery store) but hey, they're tasty, fun and mine all mine!
I'll post some photos of my failures and successes later on this week- I'm still busy thinking up and trying out awesome Christmas-themed flavors like Wassail and Chocolate Cherry. Yumm!


Seriously... said...

man those look good. i think i might have to jump on the bandwagon.

Lara said...

Those things look amazing. But I don't think I could ever conquer them, unfortunately. I don't have those kinds of kitchen skills.

Maybe that's fortunate though, speaking of my hips.

Erin said...

I ate real macarons while in France last March. Yum! P.S. I love that you spelled it the french way. Tres chic!

Cynthia said...

Erin- I wouldn't have DARED spell it 'Macaroon' with the double o after all the smackdowns I've read on foodie blogs over that! LOL!

As for calorie content, they aren't that bad- until you add the high fat fillings of course. The cookies themselves are rather low-cal and the only 'fat' in them comes from the unroasted almonds. I actually really like the macarons solo and then I can feel less guilty for chowing treats.

twiceasnicelettering said...

First of all do you think I could borrow your sis for a family picture? I hate how they make ya look 10 pounds heavier so perhap sis could make me look like a stick! HA!
NO I have never had these things you call macarons nor have I ever seen any but they do look good. I will have to try them out.

Redhoodoos said...

Looks tasty to me. Good luck creating sweet, pastry love. lol! You never cease to make me giggle. BTW - I wanted to point out that next month is your 1 year anniversary of the Thanksgiving OOPS! It will forever make me chuckle and I hope you will blog about the incident again.

Loralee and the gang... said...

I don't think I'd have a problem with my weight if every sweet I ate took that much effort! Unfortunately, I am perfectly happy to devour a whole bag of Oreos in one sitting. I admire your skills!

Amanda said...

I was trying to perfect a desert myself the other day for the missionaries, Brigadeiros. Oh my goodness, I don't know how it was supposed to turn out. The Brazilian missionary took some to go after eating two though. I think they really just needed to sit a while.

Anyway, you'll have to post some pictures once you get your recipe perfected. BTW, I know what you mean when it comes to time. My Saturdays are just as hard to keep empty, even in the morning these days. Maybe we'll have to do it after the holidays pass because I doubt things are going to clear up during that hectic time of year.

Ashley said...

Those look WAY too yummy! Awesome post! Thanks so much for your comment on my blog. :)

MamaBug said...

YUM! I so admire your ambition. :)