Well, it’s been a while, y’all. I’ve been working a lot (has anyone else had a crazy-busy January?) and traveling for Christmas and playing Disney board games with my cute niece and, you know, other things. BUT.
We’re engaged!! 2016 is looking to be a pretty incredible year. This kind of explains the blogging absence; lots of things have been happening! (Did you notice I said niece earlier? I’m going to be Aunt Anne!)
But, in between my Pinteresting and wedding vendor emailing and budget compiling, I had a work snow day. I also had almond flour I got for Christmas (because…nerd) and eggs in the fridge. I decided to attempt macarons.
I’ve been wanting to try to make macarons since I left Chamonix but always avoided it because almond flour is not cheap and it’s a fairly intensive process. There’s a reason #macaronfail is popular on Instagram, y’all. But I wanted to give it a go.
I used the recipe on PopSugar and set to work. I let three egg whites (that blessedly separated without incident because the recipe called for three and I only had three eggs and I was not about to try to halve this recipe) come to room temperature while I sifted the almond flour and powdered sugar together. I put 5 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl (thank you, Food Network, for showing me how to prep ingredients). Then I began to beat the egg whites until they were foamy, then silky and shiny, then stiff-peaked, adding a bit of sugar as I went. I gently stirred in vanilla (the good vanilla that Ina uses that I treated myself to and now have to buy forever because it really is good vanilla), then folded in the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Then I “punched” down the batter until it was shiny and flowed off my spatula smoothly when I lifted it from the bowl. It looked right-ish, but I was sure, because this was not a simple recipe, that I’d somehow deflated the egg whites or overmixed. (Or, in reality, that my powdered sugar was too old and the macarons would just taste weird.)
Then I piped the batter onto the baking sheet.
They expanded a bit and a few stuck together. Not bad, though, for my first piping rodeo.
Then I let them rest for about a half an hour until they formed a bit of a ‘skin’ on top. After that, I put them in the oven, opened the oven door after 2 minutes to let the humidity out, then waited 13 long minutes.
When the timer went off, I opened the oven.
This is when the bulk of the gasping occurred.
THEY LOOKED LIKE MACARONS. They were delicate and light and their tops were crisp and they had those little “feet”–the risen-up part. LIKE IN FRANCE.
It was a miracle. I literally squealed and jumped around the kitchen.
So, for all the delicacy of the recipe, I asked Ben to bring me some icing in a tub to pipe on as the filling. Because I did not have the ingredients for real filling. These are French-American macarons, after all.
The best part was tasting the shell by itself. It cracked under the slightest pressure. The top was crisp but not overbaked, and the middle was chewy under the dome of the shell. It was light and airy and had this gentle vanilla flavor that did not at all taste like old powdered sugar. Let me tell you, it was like I’d chosen it from the macaron tower at the little Chamonix bakery to which I handed over many, many euros.
After piping on the filling, they looked like this:
Leaving Chamonix was tough, because it was an experience that was so wholly, in all aspects, incredible, and I knew it would be singular. I could go back, but it would always be under different circumstances.
But egg whites do the same thing in my Nashville kitchen that they do halfway across the world. Little batter circles burst upward into fragile, perfect domes. They lead to tiny two-bite cookies with just the right amount of crunch and chew.
When I was in Chamonix, I made muffin-tin pies that made me jump around the kitchen upon taking a first bite. Making these little guys, and gasping at the first glance in oven, brought Chamonix home. Finally.
And I have plenty of almond flour left over.