Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Macaron Investment

The question is, of course, whether to buy the kitchen scale, piping bags and tip, buckets of blanched almonds, and powdered food coloring (because bright colors improve all food!) necessary for learning to make macarons.

And I do mean "learning to make" as opposed to just making, because based on all reports - even the down-to-earth non-magical-thinking one I've decided to subscribe to - macarons are complicated and finicky.

But, you know, now that Grease is done, I have the time and the inclination. I've gotten better and better in the kitchen over the last couple years, and I'm careful and good at following a recipe.

And then there's the part where I'm completely obsessed with the idea of making them.

I mean, come on! They are so pretty! And delicious, which I didn't expect out of them before I tried them. I'm so picky about dessert, and they really look like they would taste like sweet cardboard, despite how pretty they are. But it turns out they are delicious! (Based on the two I've ever eaten - a rose flavored one and, I think, chocolate chestnut, or something like that.) And they are filled with buttercream, after all. And I've never done French or Swiss or German buttercream before, so that would be totally exciting! I love the crispness and then the chewiness and then the softness, and all the flavor without too much sweetness.

And all the flavors I could try! I have rosewater - I made rose ice cream the other day - and I could make caramel ones, and chocolate, and chocolate mint, and bourbon pecan... as with ice cream, the possibilities are endless! Plus it would actually complement my ice cream habit really well, as many ice cream recipes use 5 or 6 egg yolks, and I have trouble figuring out to do with all the whites. The answer, of course, is make macarons, which call for lots of egg whites!

But a good kitchen scale - I read good things about the OXO brand - that holds up to ten pounds, which I would probably want because my bowls are glass rather than stainless steel, so a couple pounds already is $30-50; powdered food coloring is about $2 per 1/2 oz of color; piping bags are about $4 apiece; and almonds (which would be my biggest ongoing cost rather than single startup investment) are like $6 for 8 oz! Yikes! None of that is egregious, of course, but it's more than I want to spend, especially since my entire discretionary budget has been going to train tickets to get to work, and also I really want to see Once and Newsies on Broadway (which at least is tax-deductible for me!).

I wish it were my birthday already! Oh well. I will either decide to do it or not. And I will be sure to let you know if I do, and blog about all of my macaron triumphs and travails!

In the meantime, yesterday I made giant upside-down cinnamon pecan rolls, and they are sweet and delicious. Not an everyday treat - they need a double rise, which I'm used to now from regular bread making, and also you have to roll the dough out into an 18"x24" rectangle (the size of my entire counter!) and brush it with butter and sugar and cinnamon and roll it up and cut it into pieces, which is not terribly difficult but kind of a pain - and they're gigantic (so you need a lot of people around to eat them) and too sweet for me to eat all the time - I prefer richness to sweetness - but they are pretty darn good. Faye and Alyssa and Katie and Alex and I wolfed them down after a dinner of spinach salad, vegetables with hummus, and roasted asparagus last night, while watching season 2 of Sherlock. Great night!

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