Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At One Point, I Made French Macarons

French Macarons
Admire a specimen from my friend's tea cup collection. I don't have a tea cup collection because I don't drink tea.
Little did I know their true purpose was to display macarons.

About a month ago I stumbled upon a bizarre section of youtube seemingly dedicated to hundreds of home made My Little Pony music videos. It made me sit up straight and say, "what are these and why are they everywhere?! And can I force my boyfriend to watch them?" That's what French macarons did to the internet a few years back--I woke up one morning and they were everywhere. Eventually, I forced my boyfriend to eat them after adapting them to eliminate the poison almonds.

The funny thing is, you can find all sorts of posts about the magical process of making French macarons which basically ask you to stand on one foot and rub your belly while piping the cookies in order to get them to work. I've made them half a dozen times now, and it seems to me that the only tricky bit is learning what a "magma-like consistency" is when you're folding the batter. This part IS a learning process, and I benefited from some great videos. Other than that, just follow a good recipe and try to use nice, flat cookie sheets so that your cookies don't come out misshapen. I like this recipe from Not So Humble Pie because it's kind of science-y (there's a graph!), and I'm kind of science-y. Once you've made one successful batch, the fun bit is probably playing around with flavours and colours and then photographing them. (Did you see Ms. N. S. H. Pie's cookies? They are BEAUTIFUL!) You can swap any nut in for the ground almonds and sandwich anything delicious in the centre. You can package them up in beautiful packages and give them away to people you want to impress. You can take pictures of them overflowing tiny cups...

Featuring: Matryoshka measuring cups!

The other funny thing about French macarons is that they really aren't all that delicious. Next to all the hype, the reality sort of fizzles. They sell for ridiculous prices ($2.50/cookie!?) in our local fancy pastry shops, much in the way of home made sea salt caramels. Unlike home made caramels, they're not that great.  I've shelled out for them a few times wondering if it was just MY macarons that weren't delicious and have found that, at least locally, the quality of the macarons was even a bit lower than my own. Maybe there are just no REAL macarons and I need a friend to bring me home a box from Pierre HermĂ© (Hint Hint) before I can really decide how I feel about them.

macaron recipe
They look a lot like hamburgers, but don't really taste the same.

I'm not saying that French macarons are BAD. I'm just saying that, given the choice, I'd sooner eat good old coconut macaroons that can be whipped up in under an hour. They certainly aren't as pretty, however. French macarons are stunningly adorable. And maybe that's the whole point.

Hazelnut Macarons
...Step two, something something. Step three, PROFIT!

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