Everything about macarons makes me think of spring… their intense colors invoke flashes of warm-weather charm, and their airy consistency makes them the perfect snack to bring on spring picnics. Especially last week, when Chicago was still clinging proudly to its 40-degree days, I needed pops of color inspiration like these to see me through. Luckily, I got the chance to practice creating a handful of macaron variations during my recent petit fours unit of pastry school. Petit fours are bite-sized confectionery ranging from small cakes to tartlets to choux pastry.
I’ve really struggled trying to blast through this winter’s bleak days. February may be the shortest month, but it always seems like the longest! It helped to stay focused on bringing colorful pastries into the world. No matter which city becomes my permanent home, I know that I will be able to control my mood by simply investing a few hours in the kitchen.
I am so thrilled by the warmer, sunnier days that Chicago is experiencing this week. Every winter here I’ve contemplated buying a sun lamp… I’m convinced that I gain energy by photosynthesis! Now I have one more year under my belt of refraining from that purchase. In addition to whipping up some colorful macaron distractions, I’ve stayed sane this year by filling my apartment with fake flowers, baking with tropical flavors, and even getting a pool party-appropriate pedicure. Surrounding yourself with vivid colors definitely plays a part in keeping your chin up.
Have you ever wondered why macarons are so expensive? There are many factors that add up to the perfect macaron! If you pipe the batter incorrectly, you could have two mismatched shells on your hands. Piping must be precise. Additionally, you have to use aged egg whites in order to get the airy consistency that macarons are known for. This waiting game adds an increased level of planning precision that must go into macaron production.
Temperature control is also important. Changes in humidity could cause your macarons to crack or flatten. Finally, the main ingredient in macarons, almond flour, is expensive! I used to balk when I saw individual macarons being sold for three or four dollars. Now I better appreciate the careful effort that goes into each cookie.
I love the versatility of macarons. You can fill your macaron with flavored buttercream, ganache, or jelly. The flavor combinations are limitless! I hope you get a chance to experiment with macaron flavors, whether you’re baking or sampling! A macaron-inspired picnic is in your future!