Thursday, March 25, 2010

Macaro(o)n Week

I guess how you spell it depends on which one you're eating, but for the record, I made both varieties so I can't settle on the 'o' or the 'oo' version, and since it's pronounced the same, who really cares.  Actually, 'who cares' is probably the French, of course they do, so hopefully they'll forgive my indecision and wandering palate into the other non-French Macaron world this week as well.

It definitely was macaron week, but I do need to note the exception of my selection and delivery to the Ronald McDonald House.  As much as I've been on this 'macaron mission' this past week, I thought better of baking them for RMH.  You see the comment I've heard most often from the House Manager there is that what guests seem to appreciate most about the cookies I've delivered is that they are individually wrapped and portable. She also said that they typically just grab one 'for later' as they're on the way out door to the hospital or Roswell or to do errands.  So with that in mind I figured it best to not provide them with some light, delicate little treat that will break and crumble back into a powdery dust the minute it's shoved in their purse or pocket.  So no macaroons for RMH, but rather a traditional Sugar Cookie with a hint of sour cream that I hope not only proved to be more convenient but also a bit more substantial.

So back to the macarons, first and foremost I have to say:  "Ta-Da!"
My photography may not be perfect, but these macarons are!

So there you have it, you are witness to my first 'proper' french macarons. Orange with Orange Chocolate Ganache (my personal flavor quest!) and Chocolate with Espresso Cream.  Officially they were attempts (batches) numbers 5 and 6 and, unfortunately for me, only batch 3 actually had to hit the garbage can - since while the shape of the macaron may be extremely unforgiving, the taste definitely is not.  I knew I was on the brink with 
batch number four, I was cheering and skipping around the house when they rose to perfection in the oven and I saw perfect macaron 'feet' for the first time, even Gulliver was excited (ok, it doesn't take much to make that dog happy, but he knew we were on the verge of something fantastic! :)  But alas, not unlike the Buffalo Bills celebrating at halftime of Superbowl XXVIII  (attempt #4 for them too) I was a bit premature in my excitement when the perfect looking macarons were actually underbaked and refused to release themselves from the Silpat mat.  But unlike the unknown demons of my first few attempts, the simple solution of having to up the baking time boosted my confidence.

One concern I had was that even if I was successful, these cute little sandwiches wouldn't be a very substantial snack so I thought perhaps I needed some kind of back up plan.  I was toying with the idea of a few different complimentary recipes when the notion occurred to me 'why don't I make macaroons?' the 'oo' kind?  So a few scrolls through Martha's 'Cookie of the Day' archives landed me on 'Pinched Orange Macaroons' complete with a video segment from her show of the Pastry Chef, Patrick Lemble, making them step by step.   This I could handle, and hopefully on my first try! Check out my picture to the right, they look just like they do on the video, only  better, you can't eat the ones on TV. And these are seriously good.

So with that tangential macaroon victory on the board, I rolled up my sleeves and got down to business on the macaron I really wanted to make. I measured with annoying accuracy, and then after aging and resting and room temperature-ing the egg whites, I beat the hell of 'em, uh, I mean, I beat the egg whites until I 'obtained that glossy meringue being careful not to over beat' stage.

Then I ground and whisked and folded and piped and rested and waited patiently.... then (catching breath); I cooled them and paired them off and piped the chocolate ganache and Voila! C'mon, how simple is that!?
Ok, I'm almost done talking about macarons, I swear (for this week anyway), but once completed, something else occurred to me ... no matter how many I make, these are not going to last long - trust me, this I know. Figuring a single, slightly hungry, 'Noogieland Teen' at Gilda's club could plow through a whole batch in a matter of minutes. I realized I had to come up with something a bit more 'kid friendly' that wouldn't cost a fortune or take a lifetime to make. So in keeping with a theme, I settled on, you guessed it, Macaroons.  But obviously not French Macarons, or uppity Four Season's Almond Macaroons, but instead, exactly what I'm sure 99 out of 100 people think of when you say 'Macaroon.'   Good old Coconut Macaroons, courtesy of Alton Brown.  So all told 3 different types; 4 different flavors of macaro(o)ns went to Gilda's club this week, and they were also unintentionally timely in that the 'cookies with no flour' thing made them ok for Passover too (I think). So with all that, I do believe this is now officially "Macaro(o)n week."

I'm kinda of sad that it's drawing to a close, but I know I'm no where near done with these guys yet.  They're too fun and cute, not to mention tasty, to just file the recipe away with a few footnotes. And I'm hoping someone, other than myself, who actually ate them can vouch for that 'tasty' commentary - and I think they're especially delicious if that whole "we eat with our eyes first" saying holds true.  No, these have to be made over and over, with different nuts and cremes and colors and fillings.  Anyone have a birthday coming up?  Any weddings or gatherings or occasions? They don't even have to be "special" occasions, for example, I happen to think 'Sunday' and 'lunch' are occasions ... hey, Easter's only about a week away and I know exactly what I can make - now if I only had a brunch invitation ....


  1. I'll be happy to tell all your readers that indeed they were as tasty as they were cute! Great job!

  2. >>>all your readers<<< I think you meant to say "both" :)

    Thanks Shelley!

  3. A cookie can change the world! We have so been enjoying your cookies at Gilda's. Thank you so much. They brighten our day and we look forward to them

  4. I agree...Cookie goddess, you are amazing.

  5. I'm glad I already weighed in before I logged on and saw all of these decadent treats you've been making. I think I've gained by just looking at them, even though I'm drooling. You sure have a talent. WOW!

  6. The first few times I went to Gilda's I was still too weak to drive, so my husband drove, and waited for me downstairs. Sometimes he would fall asleep, and the volunteer at the desk and I would have a little laugh together...about his snoring...then I'd wake him up and we'd go home. The first Wednesday that I drove myself, upon arriving home, my husband said "where's my cookie?". I had no idea what he was talking about...he explained to me that Wednesday is "Cookie Day" at Gilda's. So now every Wednesday, I bring him a cookie or two. After dinner, we sit down, and unwrap our cookies...he's happy, I'm happy...and all is right in the World. You see Mary Lou...a cookie can change the world.

  7. They were definitely yummy! I have a few in my fridge waiting for me when I get home :)

  8. I just want to know if they can be dunked in Guiness?! Then I'm sold...