The first time I tried macarons, I hated them. They were pretty bland and mostly tasteless and their texture made me think they may have been stale and old. I decided I would have to give them another chance when I could find a better quality product. After all, why would everyone be so obsessed if they were really that bleh?
A few months later, the coffee/alcoholic gelato(!!!) shop we found ourselves in to celebrate one of my friend's passed defense had some beautiful-looking macarons with interesting flavor names (pistachio, raspberry-chocolate and strawberries and cream!) for sale. They were ridiculously overpriced at $3.50 each, but it was a celebration and none of us four 18b lab girls had ever tried a french macaron, so what the heck, why not!
(Btw, aren't the flowers in the photo below gorgeous?! My husband bought this small bouquet for me OVER A WEEK AGO and it still looks almost exactly as fresh as the day it came home! He did such a good job…I love the bouquet SO MUCH. If I had a wedding do over, I would probably take a picture of this bouquet in to the florist (or maybe just have H-E-B make it and save like a million bucks on flowers)…but I digress…).
After that, making macarons became less for me about creating something delicious that I wanted to eat or serve to my friends and more about taking on the challenge of successfully pulling off a dessert that is notoriously fickle and difficult to produce correctly. It had sort of a soufflé status for me (another dessert I plan to conquer someday soon - maybe once I have room for/get around to buying a kitchen torch…). So…something difficult? Challenge accepted!
We chose a recipe for strawberry-rhubarb macarons, something that seemed appropriate for two Kansas girls, and at the same time delicious, and not requiring specialty store ingredients (like ground, dried blueberries - where in the world do you buy that???). It also seemed best not to pick something too complicated for our first try at macaron-making (although ginger-basil, and blueberry-orange blossom macarons may be on the future to do list…). Unfortunately it seems rhubarb is very out of season in January, so strawberry-rhubarb became just simply strawberry.
The recipe and instructions we used were from this website: http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/2013/06/strawberry-rhubarb-macarons/
I would definitely recommend this recipe and may have also found myself a new blog to follow… :)
As you can see from the pictures, our macarons didn't turn out exactly perfect - we had to use a star tip to pipe out the batter, so the wafers were slightly more angular than normal, and our wafer sizes weren't as consistent as I would've liked, but both of those issues are easy fixes - using a round tip and a circle template underneath the parchment paper. Also, when we redo this recipe we will definitely make more filling - the amount the recipe called for wasn't quite enough to fill each macaron, and I would like to be able to put a little more in each one as well.
But even with these flaws - very few of the wafers cracked, they were all in relatively the right shape, and all had the macaron "feet." They were totally cute, and - SURPRISE SURPRISE - they are DELICIOUS! I mean totally, obsessively, addictingly DELICIOUS. It is a good thing I wanted to be able to give one to Joe and also to take pictures and blog about them or they probably would not have survived the three hour ride back from Houston with me.
I am so glad that Alison suggested we macaron together - it was a ton of fun and I feel awesome that our first go at them went SO WELL!
I'm so excited to try out some new, more exotic macaron flavors soon - there are so many possibilities: maybe a Lime Basil, Bourbon Pecan, Rhubarb-St. Germaine, or Hazelnut with Chocolate Frangelico Ganache!!! Oh my goodness, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Which one would you pick to try next?