Missed me? Thankfully we both survived flu season, although we’re a bit worse for wear. I’ve been around but not really “in there” if you know what I mean. I just couldn’t concentrate.
I’m sure most of us are on Classmates and the other day I got one of their notification emails saying that they had just uploaded a copy of a high school yearbook from 3 years before I graduated. Yes it was a very long time ago but I’m comforted that my sister was a part of that class so she’ll always be “the old one.” She loves that. maybe. When she was year 12 I was year 9 – a freshman, first year in high school.
I was a good student and my both my parents expected me to maintain if not an all-A status, no more than one B. So imagine my surprise when my first algebra report card had a C on it. I was mortified! I was also really embarrassed because I knew I should have had an A. The work wasn’t difficult, I just hadn’t been paying attention.
Which brings me to this yearbook. I was happily flipping through the pages and I saw a photo of the reason I got my C. Mike Cowan. If you’re a golfer or a golf lover, you might have heard of Mike or even called him Fluff. He was Tiger Woods’ first caddy. But back in year 9, he was plain old Mike and I thought he was wonderful.
He liked me pretty well too but we never got past chatting all the time. Back in the olden days, I wasn’t too difficult to look at either but you certainly can’t tell it from those curls! Aren’t school photos the worst? These pictures were just pulled off the yearbook pages. Scary, I know.
Mike and I never went out or at least I don’t remember going out but we sat in the back of Mr. Clark’s algebra class and talked about anything we could think of.
So, rewind to me having to bring my report card home from school. My father hit the ceiling. I heard all the “you are better than this,” and “have you not been doing your homework?” Finally, he said the thing I was most afraid of…
“I’ll have a chat with your teacher first thing in the morning and you’re coming with me.” I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I knew what the teacher was going to say and I couldn’t deny it.
True to his word, my father and I trotted in to school at the butt-crack of dawn where Mr. Clark said, and I’ll never forget this, “Maureen is one of the most intelligent people in my class but she sits in the back of the class with Mike Cowan and chats the class away.”
Before you could take a breath my father said, “Can you move her to the front row?” …and folks, that’s where I sat in every class in every subject until I graduated. Front row, right in front of the teacher. It turned out pretty good because by paying attention I didn’t have to study. So Mike and I went to chatting on the phone every night.
There was a tragedy in Mike’s family over that summer and he moved to a nearby town and I rarely saw him after that. A few years later I heard he was heavy into golfing but I had no idea how heavy. He’s still a huge deadhead and a few years ago, according to the news, married a lovely young woman. I couldn’t be happier for him. What does he look like now? He looks older than I do, don’t you think? lol If you know Mike, please tell him I said that.
Which brings me to my macarons. When Mike and I were growing up in Maine, the closest thing we ever saw that remotely looked like a macaron was a whoopie pie – hardly the classic French cookie.
I’ve tried making them a few times and have failed miserably. The time before this batch I remember eating the cookies (I could hardly call them shells) by scraping them off the baking paper with a spoon.
Then I finally decided to buy Mad About Macarons by Jill Colonna. If you don’t follow Jill on Facebook, Twitter and her blog, you’re missing out. You should also find her videos on youtube. There’s nothing better than hearing “macronage” with a Scottish accent.
What I wasn’t doing was macronaging enough. That was all I was doing wrong. Once I figured that out, I could make a batch of these every day. The mister can eat one but he says they’re much too sweet for him. My next batch will have a non-sweet filling and then I’ll ask for something I want. Macarons will get you just about anything.
See? Feet! They lifted right off the paper too. I know, there are people worrying about what constitutes legitimate and illegitimate rape and I’m worried about feet on my macarons. Obviously my priorities are wacky.
- 110 grams almond meal
- 140 grams pure icing/confectioners sugar
- 25 grams cocoa powder
- 100 grams egg whites (about 3 extra-large egg whites), aged at room temperature for 24-72 hours
- 60 grams caster/superfine sugar
- 100 grams chocolate, chopped
- 100 ml cream
- 20 grams butter
- Place almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar in a food processor and process until mixture is extremely fine.
- Sift twice into a large bowl to ensure that your mixture will be smooth and then set aside
- Beat egg whites on high speed until foamy, then gradually add caster sugar and continue beating until sugar is dissolved and mixture is glossy and stiff.
- Mix egg whites into the almond meal mixture and stir vigorously about ten strokes to combine the egg whites and almond meal mixture.
- Using a bowl scraper lift, fold and push the mixture against the bowl until the batter is well blended and ribbon like. You won't kill it, I promise!
- Spoon mixture into a large piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle.
- Pipe mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or silicone sheet. (I used a template under baking paper to make sure all my shells were the same size)
- Tap baking tray on the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave on the bench to dry for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 160C convection and bake shells for 12-16 minutes. (my oven took 16 minutes)
- Cool completely and match by size into pairs.
- Pipe ganache filling on the bottom of one shell and sandwich its pair.
- Melt chopped chocolate in a double boiler and stir in cream and room temperature butter. Cool to piping consistency.
Did you have trouble making your first batch of “successful” macarons or were you lucky and got it right the first time?
Sweet story, you chatty thing! Sweet recipe too. They came out wonderfully!
I wasn’t so chatty when my father got involved! 🙂
Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb says
nice little sotry of your youth. Kind of reminded me of things I had forgotten in my life. Maybe one day u should meet up with those folks from school time. I mean I always imagine that it would be fun, yet I dont know in my case anybody who would be actually happy to meet up. Non of us ever kept contact…
I think your macaroons look awesome! That day I told my mum that the internet world is going nuts with macaroons. She had to laugh and she didnt believe me. Maybe I should send them your post as a proof!
Thanks maureen for the read! 😉
I haven’t been to a reunion in a long time. They’re probably all OLD. 🙂 LOL
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
What a lovely post, Maureen. You’ve reminded me of my own school crush although he didn’t turn out to be so famous.
Great job on the macarons – they have the loveliest feet 🙂
I’m not sure Mike’s famous but if he’s anything like he was when he was a teenager, he’s a terrific man. Immensely kind is how I remember him.
Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says
Yay for feet! I love your story and the macaron success, Maureen! Slightly envy you it but still: yay for perfect macarons!! 🙂
You would have had zero envy if you’d seen attempt one or two. 🙂
I remember my first time with macarons. Disaster. But eventually they worked and boy are they worth the experimentation phase. Addictive!
They are addictive! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.
The title of your post reminded me of my first and only attempt to make macarons. (Just macarons, no filling.) It was a dismal failure though my nephew said they weren’t bad and kindly ate every one claiming that they tasted like almond meringues. I’ve never tried again.
The funny thing is, I’ve never TASTED a real macaron from a bakery. And I’m not fond of meringues though I’ve made them more than a few times. I guess it’s all about the challenge.
Lovely memories of your high school years.
You need to buy one so you know what to expect after the macarons have sat in the fridge overnight. They’re much better the 2nd day. The first day they can be a bit dusty – that’s the best description I can give. 🙂
Rhonda (@diningalone) says
I think your priorities are just fine. What an entertaining post, sounds like we grew up with very similar Dads 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Your macarons look perfect! On my baking list 🙂
Good luck! Can’t wait to see YOUR blog about macarons. You’ll put me to shame but I’ll love every word.
I am still afraid of making macarons, though I love to eat them. Yours turned out so beautifully!
Your macarons turned out perfect!
Thanks! I was pretty proud of my first successful batch.
Norma Chang says
Love the post, I frequently think Dad’s are stricter with their girls. Macarons are perfect.
My dad was just perfect. He wanted only the best for us all and if that meant sitting at the front of the class, that’s what I did. 🙂
Amy (Savory Moments) says
Your macarons look absolutely lovely! Love the ganache filling, too.
Thanks – they tasted pretty good too! Especially after a night in the fridge.
lizzie - strayed from the table says
What a great story. I don’t think that anyone from my year has turned out to be famous yet. Congratulations on the macaroons.
I was getting a bit worried that you had not blogged in a while. Hope all is well again. Hugs
Yeah, I’m fine, just a bit under the weather 🙂
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says
Congratulations Maureen on a gorgeous dessert! Welcome back dear.
Maureen….these are a thing of beauty! I’ve tried making macarons only twice. The one recipe that was successful was Jill’s! I could eat the whole plate of these….they are just perfect. Oh….and I am so envious of your curls! Great post! : )
Marina@Picnic at Marina says
Maureen your macaroons look great, and I would have the same priority as you did…:)
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Hello you! I laughed when I read this post…. you are so funny. Awesome macarons, I might have to have a crack at those, now you’ve inspired me. Glad you are feeling better, and thank you for the referral to the macaron author! I am now following. Lots of hugs.
You have just inspired me!!!!!! Seriously, your macs look fantastic:-) I am so nervous to make some after three failed attempts. BUT I did just buy the Mad About Macarons book, so maybe I need to face my fear…. They look gorgeous, Hugs, Terra
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
I had to laugh at you eating them from the paper with a spoon. I just might have done a similar thing with a knife once upon a time. I haven’t had another go for about a year so maybe this weekend will be it. Better start aging those egg whites.
Choc Chip Uru says
Awwww that is such a cute story – you talkative you 😀
And congrats on the stunning macarons!
Choc Chip Uru
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
What an amazing post for jumping back into blogging after being unwell (which I’m sorry to hear about) – a great story for what looks like a great batch of macarons 🙂
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
You story-teller 😀
So glad you are feeling well and what a great motivation of baking macaron’s! Salute!
You’re a better woman than me, Maureen, I’ve never even thought of attempting macarons. These are quite stunning, though – well done you!
I never had to worry about being distracted by boys at my all-girls Catholic school, so I’ve no excuse for my B’s.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Now Maureen, it isn’t fair to compare you to Mike since you look amazing for your age! 😉 Lovely story and I’m so happy that your macarons worked out so beautifully!
Well done on the macarons, and you know what? I think Mike still looks like a sweetie even now. What did you mean by “deadhead” though?
Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) says
These are gorgeous! I enjoyed reading about your childhood and Mike. What a cool memory.
Hotly Spiced says
I can’t believe you made these macarons. (I hope that doesn’t sound insulting). But they’re so perfect looking I would swear they’ve come from the French Patisserie just up the road. And I loved the story. What a successful career he has had despite his algebra – and definitely he looks old enough to be your father xx
The Café Sucré Farine says
Very cool Maureen, these are on my list of “wanting to try” so you’ve inspired me – they’re gorgeous and look so professional!
The Café Sucré Farine says
Very cool Maureen, these are on my list of “wanting to try” so you’ve inspired me – they’re gorgeous and look so professional!
Oh, and so sorry you’ve been sick, glad you’re feeling a bit better!
Jen @ Savory Simple says
I have never been able to successfully make macarons with a conventional oven. Wish I have a convection! These are gorgeous.
Aw, really sweet story there! Fun to read – thanks for sharing that. And thanks for sharing your macaron recipe. I don’t think I have the macaron gene – they just don’t appeal to me. Yeah, they’re good to eat, but so are so many other things. But I have made meringues, which are a bit tricky in the same way macarons are, so I can definitely appreciate the trouble they gave you. Anyway, exceptionally entertaining post – thank you.
Thanks. My husband feels the same way you do about macarons. He thought they looked really pretty on the plate but he said they were too sweet. He’s not a sweet lover like I am so I disregard most of his comments. 🙂
Lovely post Maureen…thank you so much for sharing memories of your youth…
Your macarons look great, perfectly done…I am still too scared to try in spite of love for macs…
I hope you are enjoying your week 🙂
You come on over to the Sunshine Coast in Australia and we’ll make macarons together, okay? 🙂
A Canadian Foodie says
Great read! WOnderful coffee company! I have written a whole series on my quest to conquer the elusive French Macaron – attending a class in Paris, etc. My first successful ones were also chocolate – which is a great feat, apparently, as they are harder to make, for many. I now offer macaron making classes at my cooking school (in my home) but I don’t teach them. I have the most brilliant gal who does. She is like a scientist! (I can no longer teach anything due to severe asthma – cannot talk at length any more… hubby loves that!)
I am crazy over these little diva cookies.
Good grief, nobody told me that chocolate was the most difficult kind to make. Probably good that I didn’t know because I wouldn’t have tried them again.
My fear of making macaroons is almost as big as my fear of working with yeast. I’m saving your recipe and hopefully by the holidays I’ll turn out a decent batch. Fingers crossed!!
Sandra, you can do it! Just don’t be afraid of the batter like I was. I thought I was making a souffle type batter and it’s not that at all. 🙂
Since I don’t bake, I will have to console myself by going to The French Loaf Bakery a few miles away and buying and eating a few dozen. 🙂
Hysterical story and what fun to see the people we were in school with all those years ago now. And you were adorable! Love the curls! I don’t have Jill’s book but do know and follow her. I also love making macarons – when they succeed – and yours are real beauties! Congrats!
Jamie, I still have those horrid curls and you should see me on a humid day! I live on a canal about a mile from the Pacific Ocean.. somedays I’m just frizzhead. I’m still friends with quite a few people I went to high school with. We chat on Facebook. 🙂
Jenn and Seth says
i’ve never made macarons – i’ve always been too intimidated! but yours look gorgeous, i’d love to eat one!
I was too and for a long time. Then one day I said, “What have I got to lose but a few eggs and some time?” I failed. I failed again. Then I got the book and I watched the video. Success! 🙂
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says
A good macaron is a thing of beauty and these look just perfect!
wow, high praise indeed coming from you. You’re too kind. My next batch will be even better!
I need to make these! Somehow I’ve never baked macarons before, and I really need to change that. Beautiful post 😉
Thanks, Ashley, you’re really sweet!
You are a brave woman Maureen. I got out my mixing bowl to make macarons once and after reading the recipe I put it back in the cupboard. I just didn’t feel up for defeat on that day – lol…. You have inspired me though, and maybe one day soon I’ll get out that bowl again. Cute story too!
Honestly, they don’t take that long to make and it’s only a dozen eggs and some sugar and a few nuts. 🙂 maybe some chocolate. LOL I’d definitely make them again!
Good old school days! That is such a sweet story you shared and now I wish someday I can share a post on my first macaron experiment. Seriously .. i am keeping it on hold for really long. I should just try and bake a batch!!
Just have a go. Seriously, all you have to lose is a few eggs and some sugar. 🙂 Be fearless!
WOW these look as good as the ones I had from Pierre Herme’s while in Paris….I’ll take an order of a dozen please! 🙂
Holy cow, Corrie!! If you come to the Sunshine Coast I’ll make some just for you. 🙂
MMM…Macarons! They look delicious – thanks for sharing!!
Hi Dan, thanks for stopping by! I feel pretty humble next to “the macaron master” 🙂
I think your priorities are perfectly aligned. Love these gorgeous little macarons with their cute little feet 🙂 Funny thing is that my hubby can’t eat more than one either :0 Silly men, they don’t know what they are missing 🙂
Aww, Julie, thanks so much!
Libby @ theveryveryhungrycaterpillar.com says
Great story! I do not want to look at my high school yearbook photos because I know I’d be cringing at myself. I went to an all girls school so we didn’t have boys to distract us. We had … ICQ, MSN and Yahoo! Chat which were all pretty new when I was in my teens so you can imagine how us teens spent our weeknights!
Good job on the macarons, too!
Libby, you are making me feel SO old today. ICQ? MSN? Yahoo! We didn’t even have computers when I was in high school. 🙂 Scary, eh?
nice to read about your success story with the macaroon 🙂 looks gorgeous!
FiSh @ http://www.ohfishiee.blogspot.com
Thanks for the kind words! I thought they looked pretty good too but the taste was what I was after. 🙂
The macaroons look perfect! I have never attempted making macaroons because I am intimidated by it.
You have motivated me today to give it a shot. Will keep you posted when I do. Thanks.
I hope so! Just don’t be afraid of them 🙂 They’re only cookies.
Lilly Sue says
Those look beautiful! 🙂 Great job!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lilly Sue. I’m off to visit you too!
Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says
I had success the first time – and don’t know if that will happen again! I just love these little cookies and chocolate are my favorite. Beautiful!
I have huge envy for anyone who’s successful with macarons the first time! You’re very clever and definitely in the top 10%! 🙂
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
You are always a great writer Maureen! What a lovely story and I really enjoyed it – feel like I know more about you all the sudden. Haha! Thanks for sharing part of your memory with us. And what?! This is your FIRST macarons? 1) Teacher (Jill) is good, 2) You are a great baker! I can see how excited you were when you saw those feet. 😉 Beautiful macarons Maureen!!!
I’m not a great baker but I’m good-ish at following directions. 🙂
Sawsan (Chef in disguise) says
I have yet to find the courage to make macaroons, everyone seems to have horror stories about failed attempts and I am not sure I am up for it at the moment
I have to say that yours look perfect Maureen and the memories make them even sweeter
Kathy Dean says
Maureen’s Macarons look wonderful!
Using Jill’s method, they are way easier than you think – they just require some planning ahead. I have everything I need measured and sifted the day before, and egg whites already aged. Try it! After a few tries you’ll be a pro!
You’re so right Kathy and Sawsan has nothing to fear but fear 🙂 I just know that everything Sawsan makes is fantastic.
They looks beautiful! Great job.
Ah, memories… Sweet and sour. ;-P
Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says
I remember that feeling when you saw little feet for the first time. Great job! And chocolate are my favorite!
your Dad made me smile and great macarons
Roxana | Roxana's Home Baking says
Hooray for successful macarons! I love eating these French little treats, well, like all French pastries but, I wish i could say my baking adventures turned out as lovely as yours.
Maybe in the future, i’ll never lose hope
I had a few fails, Roxana, and my problem was that I was treating them like a souffle and they take a lot of bashing in the macronage bit.
I read this post, but never left you a comment. I seem to do that a lot don’t I, LOL? Look at those gorgeous feet, your macs are truly beautiful! Sending hugs, Terra
It’s perfectly okay, Terra, I know what your schedule is like lately!
I am studying your post and tips as I prepare to make my second round of macarons! 😉 I purchased some Silpats from Williams-Sonoma to see how if they impact feet development. See, I have wacky priorities, too!
I used regular old baking paper. I never thought to haul out the silpat. The key for me was not to treat the batter like a souffle batter. It’s got to be fairly runny.. ribbon runny. Then I piped made a paper template and put it under the baking paper so my shells were the same size. then BAM to knock the air out.. waited 30 minutes and baked. Feet! amazing little feet when I turned the light on in the oven.
I am pleased to report that today’s batch of macarons – using your recipe and tips – was successful! I read that the chocolate flavor deepens if you leave them for a day, so I can’t wait to try them tomorrow!
Helena Spensatelli says
Oh Maureen – these look divine!! They look so perfect, and filled with Chocolate Ganache. YUM!
They WERE divine 🙂
Jill Colonna says
Oh, Maureen! How on earth did I miss this post of yours? Holidays. That’s the culprit. I am so late in saying something but just to say I am so proud of you! Your chocolate macarons look amazing (and thanks for changing the recipe slightly, as you know my publisher doesn’t let me post it online ;-)) You are so right about beating that batter. Secret is not to fold it and treat it too gently. Merci beaucoup for the shout out. Anyway, I am thrilled to bits to see these and no doubt there is no stopping you now. Love the Mike ‘Fluff’ story. Well you certainly didn’t fluff those macarons!
Eva Taylor says
What a cute story and yes, you do look younger than Mike! This is something that has been on my list of things to bake for a few years now…thanks for the recipe, I’ll check out the references too.
Have I told you lately how much I love you? He does look old and grumpy. 🙂 (seriously, he’s got the best personality ever. Nobody could be around Mike “Fluff” Cowan without liking him)
Oh Maureen, these are picture perfect! I love Macarons, but have never made them. I think I will have to try now. You’ve inspired me. I add them to my ever expanding ToDo list. Loved your story.
LOL I used to be afraid of them but now that I know you just bash the hell out of them until they’re sort of runny, I make them often. Savory macarons are great at a party or get-together. Nobody expects it. After reading about Mike, you know how old I am! 🙂