Stir Crazy!

Our weather has been making me stir crazy.  Either that, or perhaps I am suffering from cabin fever! Seriously. It has been chilly, wet, dark, dreary, and just not the kind of weather one wants to venture forth in!

When I get like this, I need adventure! I love looking at seed catalogs and such, but I need something more hands on! I belong to Instagram, where folks post photos they take and others can comment on them. I love this, as I have people commenting from all over the world.  Most of my Instagram friends have Scotties, so it is cool seeing photos of these little dogs in their various environments.  Whenever I have some spare time, I take a look at photos from all over and one thing kept coming up over and over again.

French Macarons. No, not Macaroons. Macarons!

Naturally, I needed to do some further research….I found lots of information and recipes online for these cookies, but everywhere I read, I found discouraging reports. Things like, even professional chefs fail at making these “delicate” cookies.  You must go out and buy a silicone baking mat for these cookies; otherwise, they stick to parchment paper and fall apart. The first attempt at making these cookies is usually a failure. You must use only gel food colors in these delicate cookies, or they won’t turn out.

Determination became my companion. I will make French Macaroons. And, I *will* succeed!

Having made this proclamation, I went to Canandaigua in search for what I needed! I looked in WalMart, Michael’s, And JoAnn’s for a silicone baking mat. Since each of these stores sells Wilton products, I was confident I would find the said mat. Fail. I left the stores feeling deflated. How could I possible make these cookies with a silmat? I was about to leave Canandaigua when Mark wanted me to run into the Dollar Tree for him. I wandered the aisles and I found a small roll of parchment paper in there. Some of the recipes for French Macarons called for parchment.

Yesterday morning, I woke up determined to succeed at cookies! I watched a video on making them and read every tip I could find. Then I went to work. My eggs were left out for a couple of hours since they were to be room temperature.  To make sure they were, I placed them in some warm water for five minutes. I decided that since I had no superfine sugar, I would place my granulated sugar in the food processor and make it more fine.  After that,  I took the Bob’s Almond Meal/Flour I had purchased and ran that through the food processor as well. I mixed my powdered sugar and almond flour together and sifted them, making sure there were no “lumps”. I was now ready to begin. And, more importantly, succeed!

French Macarons are actually a “meringue” cookie, described as very light. Since I had never actually tried one, I wanted to! I made up my batter, making sure it remained light and airy. One thing I did that was not advised was to add a couple of drops of blue food color.After the batter was made, one is instructed to use a pastry bag with a tip on it to form little circular cookies. I have no pastry bag, so I grabbed a ziplock bag, placed the batter inside and snipped a tiny hole in the corner.  I was delighted as I piped out my delicate little cookies.  After they are piped onto the parchment paper, one is instructed to slam the cookie sheet down to release any bubbles! I did this, then placed the cookies on the table where they remained for forty-five minutes.  After they form a dry surface, they are ready to bake!

I placed my Macarons in the oven….I saw on a video not to bake more than one tray at a time. I set the timer and held my breath.  A while through the process, I stopped washing dishes and decided to look inside the oven door through the glass front. YES!  My little cookies were rising up just as they should!  They are supposed to form a ridge, called “feet”. Yes!!! My cookies were doing just what they were supposed to!  However, there was a comment to add extra food coloring as the cookies fade…my two drops of blue coloring turned my sweet treats a pastel green.

I made up a batch of Swiss Buttercream to fill my cookies. In the end, the family advised me these cookies are delicious!  Wow! They kind of melt in your mouth.

Sweet, sweet success!!! Now I wonder if I will be able to repeat it?!