Macarons, the magnificent obsession….

Honestly, I considered doing a Macaron a week for 2014 but I thought the blog would be enough to commit to. Instead I’m aiming for the Macaron of the Month Club page so I can record the different ones that I make. I have been obsessed with macarons since visiting Paris. Who wouldn’t like them? Small, cute, they can be decorated or remain utterly simple and they come in all flavors and delicious colors! Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz you could make macarons to match your decorating theme or party theme. That would be something I would do. I tried to make them on and off for years without any success. I burned them, didn’t color them right, and definately didn’t have a a clue about the nuances of baking them.

So while walking a mall last year a couple of days after Christmas I wandered into Sur La Table. I know they have classes for cooking and baking and I knew that they had a macaron class. I had wanted to take it with a girlfriend in another store, but she thought the class was demo only so we didn’t take it thinking if we were going to spend our hard earned dollars, we wanted to get our hands dirty. So I asked the clerk if it was a hands on class and she assured me it was. Sold. I signed up in December for the Valentine Macaron class and it was the best $75 I have spent in a long time on something other than cute shoes.

There were about 20 people in the class and the instructor was terrific. This women had done her dissertation at the Culinary Institute of America on Meringues, and approached it totally scientifically. We learned the first macarons were a mistake in a bakery, I think the famous Laduree because they have made a reputation on macarons. Other key takeaways, you need a scale, you have to fold the air OUT of the batter, the batter should be shiny and “sigh” when it is moved in the bowl and a little gel food coloring will go a long way. (We also learned Swiss buttercream that same day, but that’s another post.)

The first batch I did after the class were perfect! And I don’t bake a lot for the simple reason that you have to be way to precise to bake and get great results. Before macaron class my baking was limited to Irish Soda Bread ( I made 200 loaves for wedding favors for my reception) and double chocolate brownies with ganache frosting.

But I played with the technique off and on for the past year when I could and not at all in the summer. The humidity is a complete deal breaker. The key to macarons is DRY air.

So as the year progresses and I share each month’s macaron, I’ll give some more insight into them.

So without further ado here is the Christmas Edition macaron, made for our holiday open house recently.

IMG_0519

And then I found myself on the day after Christmas with some time on my hands. What’s a girl to do? Make macarons of course. This batch was orange flavored with chocolate ganache filling and candied orange peel on top.

orange macarons with ganache

orange macarons with ganache

And it seems the worst of the winter has set in this week, with 2 days of snow on Thursday and Friday. I could get ready for Downton Abbey on Sunday nite by making a batch of “Violet” macarons in honor of the Dowager Countess….hmmm. Watch this space!


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