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| August 29, 2016


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baking school: macaron monday.

When you’re an international student, laundry becomes an issue. I’d already resorted to packing 21 pairs of underwear and wearing each shirt twice. Don't ask about my black pants. But one apron? One white apron?! As of today, I've been very lucky to keep my white chef coat fairly pristine. I haven't needed to break out my second coat, and I haven't even done any spot cleaning. I could have sworn I noticed something multiple times in class, but for the life of me I can't find the spots.
Which means if I can't, our instructor can't either when she checks our uniform in the mornings.

That apron, though.

I've rinsed and scrubbed and resorted to strategic positioning of the towel around my waist to hide the stupid spot that I've given up on. The stain moves every time I throw it in the sink… I just can't win. Don't worry, I'll properly wash it. Eventually. I asked my host to swap me change for laundry, since I spent the last of my loonies when my card first failed me at the grocery store. I now have enough for one wash… and you can bet I'm holding out as long as possible. But when I went adventuring last weekend, I accidentally walked into a grocery store (malls are confusing here) and made my best Canadian purchase yet: Tide to Go. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I think it’s safe to say all of us were a little worried to tackle today.

Today… was the Monday of macarons. Everywhere you look on the Internet, you'll find blogs that warn “CAUTION THIS IS TRICKY” and give lists upon lists of all the things that can go wrong. Making macarons requires careful mixing. Making macarons requires precise timing. Making macarons requires a steady, consistent hand. On and on and on…


I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN MAKE MACARONS! Because I did, and that sets the bar pretty low. Before you scoff and go, “But you've done all this! Look at the things you make already!” Just hold your horses. I'm not being modest, I’m being honest. I'm prone to mix-ups just like the next person (probably more so), but I know how to read directions and make similar hand movements to the person showing me how to do things. If I can make these and if they can taste good (they do), then this is your golden ticket, my friend.

Before we go any further, I'm going to help about 75% of you out. It is spelled macaron, not macaroon. And it's pronounced macar-own. Like macaroni... without the i. If you want to get real fancy and proper, throw a little Elvis twang in the "own." Now you can sound like a real know-it-all and order the right thing in restaurants, too. There's a difference!

Our text states not only that these are highly nutritious (it's practically the first version of a protein bar), but also that macarons originated in monasteries. Monks were poor and needed money for something (I forget what - maybe a barber)... so they had bake sales and sold macarons. It wasn't until later that the sandwich concept of the macaron was invented, but isn't that just a kick! Macarons began at monk bake sales.

I love these things.

Alexa was my partner today, and we rocked it. Our macarons were spot-on and they tasted wonderful. At the end of the day, we looked at our assembly of cookie sandwiches and she gasped at just how much money was laying in front of us. Those things can easily reach $5 a bite… we were standing at the end of a rainbow. I’m not telling you how many macarons I have, because I'm quite happy being a porky little piggy all by myself.

We used three different methods to make these little delicacies - each has its pros and cons. The first was an almond swiss meringue macaron. It was the easiest method of the three, but not as delicious as the french meringue. Making these again, I'd combine this method with tweaks from the french recipe to create a taste that wasn't as overpoweringly sweet.

The french meringue recipe was the most difficult, and produced the least uniform cookies. I think if we were to use a silicone mat instead of parchment, we'd have better results. The batter just doesn't hold its rounded shape as well as the others - you'd think it was our first go at macarons by looking at the odd little things, but in all honesty our first try with the swiss macarons was the most wonderful. We got compliments from everyone on our beautifully round little sandwiches.

Again, you can do this!

The last was a hazelnut italian meringue macaron. This method is quite similar to making marshmallows or other types of whipped egg white dessert; you add hot syrup to the whites before folding in the dry ingredients. While Amanda was demonstrating, Santa’s reindeer paid a visit and gave us all the shock of our lives. It sounded like the roof was going to cave in not once, not twice, but three times. And yes, I heard sleigh bells. Whatever they actually were, I'm telling you. Bells. So henceforth, these cookies are nicknamed reindeer snacks and would make a perfect midnight treat for Santa’s hardest workers (wink wink).

All in all, I came home with five different combinations… though I could have had many more if I'd mixed and matched the fillings. The peppermint and eggnog creations are Alexa’s and my babies - we thought up the design for the candy cane macarons from the get-go… and had an entertaining time adding plenty of rum and spices to the eggnog buttercream. We had the liberty of choosing any flavor/color/decorating combination we chose; the lovely little sandwiches are as follows:

  • mint green: french almond macaron with eggnog swiss buttercream.
  • chocolate: chocolate hazelnut italian macaron with espresso-infused chocolate ganache.
  • white/striped: almond swiss macaron with candy cane-infused white chocolate ganache.
  • pink: almond swiss macaron with salted caramel chocolate ganache.
  • speckled: hazelnut italian macaron with french hazelnut buttercream.

It sounds like a lot of work to have that many flavors, but it really isn't. If you stick with a buttercream filling, you can make up one batch of plain ol' vanilla, separate it into however many flavors you'd like to make, and mix them separately by hand. Easy peasy. Same with the macaron cookies. Make the basic batter, separate and mix. It's the dishes that'll get you. :)

I'll make these again at home eventually, and provide you with photo instructions and a recipe I like (we can't reproduce the recipes from class anyway, they're copyrighted). But I encourage you not to wait and to do a little online snooping to find a recipe and try it yourself! Have them at your holiday get-togethers! It's Christmas; everyone's already in a good mood and even if they look a little scary, they'll taste wonderful.

I have faith in you!

1 comment:

  1. ahaha i used to be terrified of macarons too! but after i did it successfullly a couple times it became no thang.


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