Ahhhh... Springtime in Paris, what a dream! Leisurely drifting from cafe to cafe I can see myself enjoying robust European coffees, tempting teas and most definitely partaking in more than my fair share of the delectable pastries. My visit some 25 years ago still stands fresh in my memory and I dream of returning as a "more mature" adult and truly appreciating the delicacies of the city.
Luckily, I have a good friend who just happens to be living in Paris! I'm not sure she really knows we are friends, but we've spent quite a bit of time together recently. Jill Colona, the author of Mad about Macarons, has kindly accompanied me on many of my travels. From simple drives to school and dance pick up, to the dentist, to the beach and even on my recent trip to Yosemite, Jill - or rather her book - has been my constant companion.
Seeing macarons on blog after blog and even in magazines and on cooking shows for years I admit I am a bit behind the curve in trying them myself. Their vibrant colors and perfect shapes have always been appealing yet intimidating. Being somewhat impatient I didn't see myself with the ability to make them look as lovely as others and I questioned if the time it took to make them was really worth it. Would they really be that good? In a simple answer, "Yes!"
After viewing Jill in action on the Scottish morning show "The Hour" I knew I had to try these little meringue-like cookies. Making the process look so easy on the show, I promptly ordered her book and Liv and I read it cover to cover the day we received it.
Jill's directions are exceptionally clear and provided us with the inspiration and knowledge to create beautiful macarons on our first try! The book is filled with macaron lore, tips for creating and baking, recipes for a number of macaron variations in addition to recipe ideas for those left over egg yolks. The pages are splashed with lovely photos depicting the endless colors and flavors of this delicate French patisserie.
With Jill's tip to use egg whites that have been "aged for four to five days" and the requirement to have patience and wait another 24 hours before enjoying, these confections are not something to whip up on a whim for an afternoon treat.
Precisely weighing the ingredients also put me to the test as I'm usually more of an estimator, however I pulled out my scale, set it to grams and measured with care. Whisking our egg whites to beautiful "glossy firm peaks" and mixing in the remaining ingredients proved to be fairly straight forward. Piping the "macaronnage" (I'm loving that word! Basically meaning the prepared batter) was far easier than I had imagined, and Liv happily took over that job creating some fairly non-traditional shapes in the process.
|Macarons make you smile!|
Having had varying results with prior meringue escapades, butterflies flitted in my stomach as I placed the set macarons into the oven to bake. With crossed fingers Liv and I waited patiently to see if the frilly foot, or pied, would magically form in our oven. And it did!! We did a little dance of excitement as we pulled the first perfectly baked pan onto the counter and simply stared and our beautiful frilled shells.
|Vanilla Macarons (pg. 35) with pied!!|
Tasting them we thought they were "good". Still not seeing the excitement we baked the rest and filled them when they had cooled with a blueberry filling of Liv's creation. Tasting again, they were still "good". The pretty little guys were then placed into the fridge for the requested 24 period and we waited...
|Tutti-Frutti Macarons (pg. 83) with Liv's Blueberry Filling|
Jill, you were right! These little confections are truly worth the effort. Sharing them with family and neighbors brought smiles and thanks all around and we promptly cracked more eggs to begin aging for our next batch - Vanilla with a Guava filling.
|Vanilla Macarons (pg. 35) with Guava Filling|
Giveaway "fine print":
- To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment with your favorite macaron flavors and colors. Please be sure to leave an email address if your link does not take me to your contact info.
- The giveaway will close on April 26 at 4 PM, PST.
- The giveaway is open to shipping addresses in the United States and Canada in addition to the UK, France, Austria and Germany.
- A winner will be chosen at random on April 28, we will notify you and forward your address to the publisher for shipping.