Nothing stirs fear into the hearts of bakers everywhere like the French Macaron. Perfectly smooth with that ideal crackle, that decadent ganache, and oh those ever elusive "feet." A slight miscalculation in the beating of your egg whites and the entire batch'll come out flat as a pancake. Problems regulating oven temperature? Say goodbye to those darn "feet." Oh, and if you mix hot sugar with egg whites too quickly, say hello to sweetened scrambled eggs. Just thinking about the process gives me a bit of a panic attack. And yet, I'm fascinated by them.
A few months ago, my family hosted a party to celebrate Baby 'Boo's upcoming arrival. It was a low-key affair that we just kinda threw together. Ok, I'm lying. It was a highly color-coordinated and themed event because that's how my neurotic, type-A self rolls. And because I firmly believe that the most important thing I can pass on to Baby 'Boo is a love of food, I knew I wanted macarons at the party. No not wanted, NEEDED.
But I knew nothing about macarons. Well, except for eating 'em. And then, my darling friend Gina kindly offered to host a macaron baking class at her home. And so, some lovely blogger friends and I crashed Gina's gorgeous kitchen to watch her work her macaron magic. I braced myself for a frustrating and challenging afternoon. We'd concentrate. And measure. And wait quietly with knots in our stomach while the darn macarons baked. And somehow, the afternoon was nothing like that.
We giggled and chatted. We snacked. We dribbled macaron batter all over Gina's counters. It was then that I realized the true skill of a great cook is not always in producing great food but inspiring others to try to as well. Gina made making macarons look effortless as she encouraged each of us to pipe cookies. I piped some horribly wonky looking cookies that vaguely resembled circles. Other blogger friends with less spazzy hands were able to pipe circles. But regardless, all of us piped and all of us had a total blast doing it.
And when those cookies baked up and those elusive "feet" appeared, I think I shed a tear or two. I could barely wait for them to cool so I could smear them with the decadent ganache and eat enough for two (because if I'm going to grow a human, I should at least get to eat some extra macarons, darn it). For a second, I stepped back and took it all in. Bloggers chatting away, a KitchenAid whirring with egg whites, the smell of freshly baked cookies in the air. And through it all, Gina mixed, and supervised, and guided, like it was no big thang.
I went home and made macarons for Baby Boo's party. Some of them were perfectly round. Many of them were not. But you know what? The wonky looking ones were just as tasty as the (few) perfect looking ones. So thank you Gina for opening your home to us and teaching us how to make macarons, but more importantly, for reminding me to appreciate good food and good friends.
Macaron recipe from Squirrel Bakes.