Well, it had to be done. It almost seemed obligatory for anyone with culinary leanings to express interest, if only feigned, in French macarons (not to be confused with macaroons). Up to this point, it had been easy to appreciate them from beyond the glass display case – pragmatically packaged, sized, and ordered, not to mention, very pretty. While my mild obsession with France and everything French died out rather abruptly after high school when reality started to overshadow romanticism, I think I’ve granted myself the right to let a bit of desire for some things French linger. But perhaps it was a) my brush in with the aloofness I encountered at Moroco Chocolat or b) the pretentious and at times haughty dialogue on macaron forums or c) the bill from purchasing a set of maracons from La Bamboche that turned me off the constructed aura around a bunch of egg whites that have been beaten to look like two bulging buttons.
My attempts at domesticating these desserts and making them in my own (read: my parents’) kitchen have been positive experiences. Frustrating, but beneficial. Suffice it to say that the things we deserve are within our grasp, that mastering anything requires commitment, perseverance, patience, and many, hard years; that failure is a force that can be harnessed into encouragement, and that the most important thing about food is not how it tastes but how it inspires connections.
After some research, I decided to try a recipe from La Tartine Gourmande: Cardamon, Wattle Seeds Macaron with Orange Filling. [I won’t post the recipes here, as the original sites deserve to be visited.] I was initially attracted by the unique use of cardamon in a non-savory food, and I have a soft spot for anything citrus. The recipe was straightforward enough to follow, but, as a first attempt, the results were rather… flat. I didn’t have the appropriate piping tip, nor did I opt for the use of the silpat, and had not figured out the temperament of the tricky gas oven. But, I must say, despite the unappealing texture, the flavor was delicious, an excellent pairing of slight spice with soft citrus.
They look dismal. Perhaps they were happy to be eaten.
Even after my mom, when asked, told me that I should just quit (thanks mom), I decided to give it another go with another recipe, this time using a firmer Italian meringue instead of the French meringue. Thanks to La Cuisine de Mercotte for the recipe. I thought it was a little over-the-top to measure and separate the egg whites five days in advance, but I wanted to do things as to-the-tee as possible for my first use of the recipe. I opted for adding matcha and making a simple chocolate ganache for the filling; seemed pretty foolproof to me. The consistency of the meringue during the whole process made me much more confident in the eventual shape the macarons would take.
With the right pipe, and a better consistency… round, round, round. I chose to let them sit for two hours to retain the shape.
After a short baking period, they are laid on a rack to cool.
I was thrilled to see feet. A mix of the chocolate and orange filling.
I’m not as eager to spend $2.50 on one of these little cookies at this point, and I have the urge to make an unruly fruit crumble.
Music: Al Bowlly – Guilty