A Journey in French Macarons

Ahh, the ever-elusive macaron.  Or is it macaroon? That is the never-ending debate... the spelling, the pronunciation! Which is correct? No one will ever know... I fall in the camp of calling it the French macaron so that there is no mistaking which light, airy, chewy, creamy, sweet delicacy I am referring to.

These delightful little bites of bliss were not even on my radar until early last year when I suddenly saw them popping up everywhere! I believe I was searching online for a new treat to bake up to take to a Lunar New Year's dinner celebration at my parents' house, when these chocolate macarons appeared on my screen.  They looked so intriguing, that I decided to try my hand at it... totally not aware that these "cookies" were deemed the nemesis of many a baker before me.

(also a journey thru my poor photography...except center bottom photo by my friend, jw)
After baking up a semi-successful batch of chocolate macarons (there were many cracked shells and the "feet" were barely there), I whipped up a light vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (also a first for me) from a recipe by the macaron guru, Tartelette, since a chocolate ganache would be too rich and sweet for my parents.  When all was said and done that night, I didn't really think they were anything spectacular, taste-wise... until the next day when I shared them with my family.  When it came to dessert time, I took one bite of the macaron and I was shocked to discover how extremely delicious they were! The flavor had completely changed overnight... of course, I know now that macarons are meant to be eaten the next day in order for the flavors of the filling and shells to meld together.  It was then that I was informed by my sister-in-law that macarons were expensive delectable sweets, which just happened to be her sister's absolute favorite so she asked to take some home to share with her... and to my surprise, they were received with rave reviews!

Thus, started my journey in perfecting the ever-elusive French macaron.  There's been quite a many batches that were thrown out due to cracking, but there have also been many successes.  To me, the quest for the "perfect" macaron is far from over as I am still experimenting with different flavor combinations, colors, methods, brands/ingredients, etc to truly make them my own.

Fortunately, the many batches that I've shared with family and friends, have all been well-received - more than well by some, which definitely encourages me to be bold in my macaron journey in 2011!

my first batch of macarons in 2011 - green tea w/ vanilla buttercream