9. Make French Macarons

French Macarons | sarahesh.com
When I was creating my 23 before 24 list, I wanted to include diverse activities, some that I knew I would thoroughly enjoy and others that were sure to stretch me a bit.
I had never had a French macaron, but I had heard stories about how difficult they were to make, how even very experienced bakers who made these tasty treats on a regular basis were not exempt from flopped batches of meringue. But after reading plenty of recipes and watching a few Youtube tutorials, I was fairly certain I could handle this... and so, nine days before Christmas, I set out to make the perfect macaron.
I started by grinding my own almond flour from almonds I had in the freezer. It took at least an hour to get the meal fine enough to sift, while being extra careful not to turn the meal into almond butter. Then I began, mixing, sifting, blending. I followed the recipe with precision, on that cold rainy day, which isn't something I do well.
French Macarons | sarahesh.com
When the batter was mixed, but not over-mixed, as was stated on the recipe, I poured it into a plastic zip-lock bag, cut the corner off of the bag, and began piping the meringue onto parchment paper. The cookies were suppose to be 1.5 inches in diameter, which turned out to be trickier than it sounds. I ended up with a lot of un-uniform dots of goo all over the place.
After 45 minutes of drying time the meringue was ready to go in the oven. I set the timer and began to hover like a mother hen hovers over her chicks, peering into the glass every few minutes, eagerly waiting for the timer to beep, signaling that I had passed the macaron-making-test.
Look, they have feet! I said, delighted, as I pulled the first tray from the oven rack. Feet are an essential part of a good macaron, or so I had read.
As the macarons cooled down, they started to sink in the centers too. Under baked. Are you kidding me! The recipe so clearly said to be sure not to keep them in the oven too long or they would burn.
I failed that test. Instead of sailing through, like I was sure I would, creating the perfect French macaron, I ended up with a bunch of gooey, under-baked- but-still-very-flavorful, Tisamisu French macarons.
We ate them all, and enjoyed every morsel, but I knew that I couldn't truly consider that an accomplishment. If I was going to cross off number nine on the list, I would have to try again. If I was going to cross number nine off of the list, I would have to succeed.
Over Christmas and New Years, my sister, Kate, went to India. On her flight back to the States, she had a long layover in Paris. She explored the city a bit, and came back with a box of delightfully colored French macarons. They were heavenly, and right then and there, as I crunched into that salted caramel treat, I vowed that I would try again, and again, and again, until I had make the perfect macaron.
Fast forward to this past Saturday - my internet free weekend - where I had all day to be snowed in at home and do what ever I please, as long as it didn't have anything to do with the internet.
The choice was easy.
I measured and weighed all of the ingredients before hand, down to the very gram, and began mixing, sifting, blending, following every step with care. When it was time to pipe the batter out onto the parchment paper, I traced the shape of a quarter onto the paper in rows of six, then I slowly squeezed out the exact amount needed each time. After 45 minutes of drying time, I put the trays into the oven, and didn't hover quite as much. After the timer beeped, I peeked in, and decided that a few more minutes of baking wouldn't hurt.
As the circles of meringue cooled, I whisked a dark chocolate butter cream frosting together, then spread it over one cookie and sandwiched it with another cookie.
These were perfect! I could now crossed off number nine on the list and feel truly okay with myself. I had accomplished the task well.
These are really good, better than the ones from Paris, my brother, Bryan, commented. Especially better than the rose flavored one.
French Macarons | sarahesh.com
If you want to try making macarons too, this recipe is really good! I didn't follow the recipe for the filling though, because the first time when I tried it, the mascarpone didn't set well. Instead I made a butter cream filling.
I would also like to thank Deb Stoltzfus, who graciously sent me a few of her tips and tricks, along with recipes and tutorials, after my first attempt went wrong. From what I hear, she makes some of the best macarons you'll ever taste. Thanks Deb!


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