Macarons, not macaroons

Macaron photo by Sunny Ripert, through Wikimedia Commons

Macaron by Sunny Ripert, through Wikimedia Commons

Visitors to Paris might fall in love with the Mona Lisa, the houseboats on the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Champs-Elysées. I fell in love with the macaron, which is not to be confused with the mound of baked coconut and egg white that in this country we call macaroon.

When we returned home I started a search for a supplier. I found two French bakeries, one in Bellevue and one in West Seattle, which produce the real thing.  But these wonderful cookie sandwiches — if an Oreo comes to mind dismiss the thought immediately — of almond flour, egg whites and powdered sugar with a buttercream filling, don’t come cheap here. (Macarons could have been pricey in Paris, too, but the aromas from bakeries made mentally converting euros to dollars impossible.)

Recently, I thought I’d found the solution to having an unending supply of these desserts at a reasonable price.  I signed up to take a class. We worked in teams so everyone had a chance to take part. I volunteered to start by beating the egg whites, a task I knew well from years of making lemon meringue pies.  “I think you’d better stop now,” said the instructor a few minutes later. “Let me look.  Yes.  Those are too stiff, more like a meringue.” No worries. I would make up for this faux pas when my turn came to squeeze the mixture onto the baking tray template.  Wait. Why was the mixture oozing outside the top of the pastry bag instead of on the circles below?  You say I was squeezing from the wrong place? No worries.  I’d have other chances to prove my prowess in the kitchen.

While the macarons hardened before baking, we moved on to making buttercream and chocolate ganache fillings. Our last step was to choose our preferred flavors of cookie and fillings and stuff the sandwiches. We could even add pizazz by drizzling chocolate over our creations.

macarons megan

homemade macarons; photo courtesy of Megan Stout

I learned that the drizzle effect you see on restaurant desserts comes from sticking a fork in a liquid topping and passing the fork artfully back and forth across the plate. Even this takes practice. I brought home thirteen macarons. They tasted wonderful. But average cost? $5 apiece. The local bakery, which sells them for $1.50, looks like a great bargain and would never lead to further embarrassment.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Macarons, not macaroons

  1. Vicky Murray says:

    Liked this one and the one about Windy. I forwarded it on to Sharon. Where is the bakery in West Seattle? I’d like to try one of these cookies.

  2. JanO says:

    Ann…Loved this one. Tho I’m a ‘whiz’ at casseroles, almost every dessert recipe I’ve attempted has been just ok at best….except for one! Harvey Wallbanger cake made with Galliano liquer in a bundt pan. Think maybe it was considered a success just because of the ingredients?

  3. Becky Hashimoto says:

    I so love your joie de vie on learning and experiencing new things. I miss you. We need to plan lunch at the French Bakery soon.

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