Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm a horrible person.


Don't tell cupcakes, but I've found a new love. Reader, in case you haven't met yet, I'd love to formally introduce you to the French Macaron.

Photo courtesy:

Look at cute. Colorful. Adorably ruffled. DELICIOUS.

First things first, I know you're thinking...macaron? Isn't it macaroon? To which I'll say, NO. French macarons have a wonderful eggshell-like crispness, and a cakey (yet airy) center, whereas American macaroons are ugly, dense coconut concoctions. French macarons are beautiful, and it's rumored that even Marie Antoinette loved them.

Disclaimer: I really don't like Kirsten Dunst. So let's pretend that this is actually Marie Antoinette enjoying macarons.

Secondly, you're probably wondering why I'm posting about another dessert on a blog dedicated to cupcakes. Well, let's put it this way. I've baked maybe 3 batches of cupcakes since the beginning of 2010. How many batches of macarons have I baked this year? of yesterday, I think I've baked 13 batches. In a 2 month span. Yes, I'm obsessed.

See, macarons are adorably cute and delicious, but they are truly the divas of the pastry world. There are two methods to baking these little treats, the Italian method, and the French method (which I will explain in just a bit). There are only six ingredients for macarons, which makes it deceptively easy to master. Take a bowl of aged egg whites, add a pinch of salt, and whisk to soft peaks. Slowly beat in granulated sugar until medium soft peaks. Add your food coloring, and slowly add sifted almond flour and confectioners sugar.

Next comes a technique that the French call "macronage," which is the process of carefully incorporating the dry ingredients with the meringue, until it flows like magma*. This stage determines whether you'll have macarons or macawrongs. One turn too little, and you'll end up with lumpy cookies. One turn too much, and you'll be eating deflated, porous almond cookies.

This is where I would post pictures of 10 of my failed batches, except I'm too embarassed to admit to my failures. And yes, you read that correctly, 10 failed batches. Out of 13.

If I have learned anything about baking macarons, it's that it's not only the macronage that counts. The meringue has to be JUST right. It can't be humid outside, because meringues don't like humidity. The temperature in your oven also has to be perfect, and the heat needs to be equally distributed. Not too hot, or else the macaron shells will crack. Not too cold, or else they won't get those beautiful feet. They also need to sit on the counter until they develop a skin before going into the oven. It also helps if Jupiter is aligned with Venus, and if there's a herd of unicorns flying over a volcano outside of your home (*because really, how many people actually know what flowing magma looks like?).

Anyway. My first batch of macarons was actually a success. I got my coveted feet, and of course I wore it as a badge of honor.

Banana Cream Macarons

...aaaand, I became a little too confident. Clearly, anyone that can successfully bake a batch of macarons on their first try is a prodigy. Well, those stupid cookies put me in my place, because the batches that followed were MACAWRONGS. 6 batches later, I succesfully made Matcha macaron shells, and used Azuki bean paste as a filling.

After a string of more failures, I succeeded in making Rose cream cheese flavored macarons for my sister's birthday.

OKAY. So clearly, I have a problem. I think I'm okay with admitting that now. However, I'm not finished with macarons yet. I think that I'm JUST barely starting to understand their finicky nature, and I still have dozens of flavor combinations that I would like to try.

...but I haven't completely forgotten about cupcakes. In fact, exploring different macaron flavors have inspired me to come up with different cupcake recipes, too.

So to sum it up, I love macarons, and you should too. I'm also thinking about turning my blog into a general baking blog, because you know what? I like baking all kinds of things. Cookies, cakes, souffles, you name it. It's time for a change!

But if you happen to see a cupcake before I do, please let it know that we're far from over. They will always be my first love.

Happy baking :)


  1. You are too cute, Anne! I have yet to try a macaron but now I want to...any suggestions for a bakery in the LA area where I should try them?

  2. Awww! Thanks for reading, Connie!

    I'm currently on the lookout for good macarons in the LA area. I've tried Euro Payne bakery in Pasadena, and Surfas Bakery in Culver City. They're okay, just REALLY sweet. But it is to my understanding that Paulette's in Beverly Hills has some amazing macarons to offer :)