Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ooh La La! Macarons and A French Obsession

Hello, everybody!

 The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got some fun eats for you! Edna and I were just reminiscing over our very favorite desserts of all time. That's what we do around here. No stimulating conversations over politics or religion. Favorite desserts is our topic of choice.

  When I lived in France, I lived in the North where they used almond paste for almost every dish. But every now and then I had something truly different. One day a friend of mine brought me a macaron. (I tried to find her on facebook, but there are a lot of Stephanie Michels out there and it's hard to tell what someone would look like at nearly forty when you knew them at 13. So, Stephanie, I really, really loved that macaron! And now I'm going to try and make my own.)

 Apparently there's a real science to it. I suppose I should have researched it a bit before I started. For one thing, it's NOT a rainy day activity. Which makes no sense. If it wasn't raining, we'd be at the park, not in the kitchen!!

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 300F.

(I used almonds with skins. I think you're not supposed to use almonds with skins because my nut flour had little dark specks and the other pictures don't have those specks. That's my theory. The other theory is that the internet is a big fraud and no on can be that perfect.)
Edna went to work on 4 large egg whites, room temperature. She was singing a lovely song. You can listen to it here. Sing it, Edna!

 So, she got the egg whites whipped to stiff peaks.
 Slowly add 2/3 cup sugar.
 Then we stirred in the nut and powdered sugar mixture, just until it was mixed.

 Then, I put it in a pastry bag and piped it onto a cookie sheet. Put it in the oven for 18-20 minutes.
While they're cooking, cut some fresh strawberries.
Ok, the oven went off and these looked done. They didn't look right, but they looked done. How do I know? I poked one.
The top should crack and cave in while the inside stays chewy. At this point I'm re-reading instructions because they look a bit... flat. Edna mentions the 'rainy day/ meringue' issue and I agree. Perhaps a sunny day would have a better time to try the elusive macaron. But we are not deterred!!
Leave the macarons on the sheet for 20-30 minutes until cool. Otherwise they will come off the sheet in one piece. Here's one with some whipped topping and strawberries. Verdict?? DELICIOUS. It was almost exactly like I remembered. And hey, that memory was from a long time ago. I'll say this was a success. A bit flat, but still a success.
And of course I had to try and make some cool colors. Here are some blue... with raspberry filling. My kids said it looked like they'd been given a color filter like one of those fancy apps on the phone...
So, they were good. An now they're gone. I thin I'll leave you with this picture of the cake my sister made for my birthday last week. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT THE CANDLES. The smoke alarm might have gone off. We might have had to get the fire extinguisher. We might have vacated the house. Or not.

Anyway, the cake is vanilla layers with huckleberry cream cheese inside an buttercream frosting for the outside! Huckleberries grow in the mountains where she lives. If you've never had them, they're like tiny blueberries an insanely hard to harvest. You can spend all day picking huckleberries and come home with half a gallon and a number of ticks. Yikes.

  But lucky me, I don't have to do any of the hard work. THIS just SHOWS UP at my house! yee-haw! And the picture doesn't do it justice. It was bursting with flavor, partnered with the light vanilla cake and silky smooth butter cream frosting... it was amazing.

 So, until next time my dears! Edna waves her beaters and we'll see you in a week!


  1. I want your sister! the macarons look good too (well the blue ones look sorta icky green on my screen at work)but the regular one with the strawberries looks good! :-)


    1. haha! I know, the blue was... weird. Maybe more coloring next time? And a better chef!

    2. And no, you may not have her. She's MINE. :D But I might share.

  2. First and foremost, you knew I was sick and yet: no cake.

    You could have over-nighted it. You could have driven it here and seen the USA in your good ol' Chevrolet like the song suggests, but NO.

    I got nothin'.


    I love macaroons. So does Dave. And yes, humidity for anything egg-white based... or candy that's humidity-sensitive.... humid days = BAD

    But I love that you did this and I bet it was delicious!

    I love the coconut macaroons, the little roundish balls of coconut that you bake in a S-L-O-W oven (and as you know, slow is not EASY for me.... Welcome to NY...) but the results of that patience (we talked about waiting in Seekerville the other day, that smart <a href=">Jan Drexler</a> did a great blog on it!) is amazing deliciousness.

    Frogs and birds this morning. My yard is a cacophony of amazing voices!

    1. haha! I just bought a Chevy Tahoe so I really COULD have driven over there like the song! Except the cake would be gone. :(

      Yes, lesson learned. Will have to try them again when the sun is shining!!

  3. Oh, well, that HOT LINK ain't so hot, LOL!

  4. we've missed out on my aunt's divinity several times because it was raining - she says she won't even try it when it's raining. thank goodness the other stuff isn't so finicky!
    sorry you're sick Ruthy. sooo ready to go home and sleep - night shift and they worked us like rented mules :-(

  5. Oh, I love macaroons! A friend and I used to make them when we were kids. I don't know how we got started on it, but we decided they were easy and had fun making them. We also made those no-bake oatmeal cookies. :)

    That's a gorgeous cake!!! I've never had huckleberries. Wish I could try some!

    1. No, no, those are those little coconutty things Ruthy was talking about. Macaron are like divinity, and no coconut. :)

  6. Where have I been all my life? I always thought macaroons ONLY came in coconut! Obviously, I haven't spent enough time in France!

    (Actually, when I was there, I thought it was plenty of time. I happened to be there on a national holiday, so couldn't exchange money. And it was raining. I had enough francs to buy some roasted chestnuts, look at Notre Dame in the rain, and get back on the train to Germany. Civilized Germany, where they'd take my money so I could eat. No, I'm sorry. I didn't have much fun in France. I'd try it again, though!)

    I'll have to try these! I'll wait until it stops raining, though (O! Blessed, blessed rain! How we love thee!)

    The birthday cake looks divine. Truly divine. You and your sister share baking genes, obviously!

    1. HAHAHAHA! Jan, when I went on the train to Prague, from Poland, I knew you couldn't get Prague money out of the country, nor could you take Polish money out of Poland. So, I ASSUMED they would stop the train somewhere on the border. My ticket also showed a change in train providers, so I would just make sure to change money there, right?

      Yes, the train provider changed because they took off the front of the train and replaced it with a Czech one! All the passengers stayed put (as did our money, safely in our pockets). I went to the dining car ten minutes later and everything had changed to Krona. Not the money I had. So I had a five hour trip left and no way to buy food. Oh, the joy!

      I will always love American Express because one I got to Prague, there was no way to change the money (no banks would take it), but American Express handled it for me and I didn't EVEN HAVE A CARD!

      I could still be there, wandering, hungry...
      Love those people.

    2. And these are macarons, not macarooooooooooons.

    3. Leave it to the French to name two kinds of food with the same name (minus an "o").

      Here's the scoop from Wikipedia (source of all things extremely accurate, as we all know): "In France, the coconut macaroon is known as the "congolais". Another name for the coconut macaroon is "le rocher à la noix de coco". The almond flour version is simply called "le macaron" in French."

      So we're both right. When it's with almond flour, it's the French "macaron". When it's with coconut, it's the English "macaroon".

      As long as they taste good, I don't care :)

    4. And American Express is the friend of travelers everywhere.

      At least they were thirty-some years ago. I have no idea what the outside world is like now!

    5. Well, no... because in French, they have two different names and they are different treats. It's only in English that we get confused.

      Let's pretend we're French!

      Aujourd'hui nous allons manger les MACARONS!

      Demains, nous allons manger les CONGOLAIS!

      See? Simple. Today, macarons. Tomorrow, macaroons.

      But I won't be because I'm not really fond of coconut. :D

  7. So glad the spam monkey labeled his link so CLEARLY.

    Please don't click on anything people.

    Missy? Lovely admin? (Will try e-mail..)

  8. OH, I can make these! If you buy almond flour in bags, it is blanched therefore no speckles. But I like the freckles. I had one yesterday when we had company and they were eating brownies. I had to have something.

    $4 for one macaron! FOUR!!!!! I mean, that is like a third of a bag of processed almond flour!

    Yes, now I can make mine. Like in the fall, when there is no humidity!

    Peace, Julie

    1. True! We have very dry summers so I'll be making these like a fiend once the weather cooperates!

  9. These look so good! Will have to try when it quits snowing :) and now I know why my divinity fails!

  10. ha! Little known facts! They were really, really delicious with the strawberries. I was so surprised! No wonder everyone loves them.

  11. P.S. Missy, I love that I can check to see if there are any new reviews by waving the mouse over my books. :D

    1. I didn't even know that, Virginia! :) I'm glad you pointed it out. I think. ;)