It’s October! It’s autumn in full force. It’s colorful & it smells like pumpkins & it makes me want soups & it is the season of all of my favorite flavors…
It is also Sunday, which is the one day a week that I allow myself to bake. I’ve made a list of my favorite French treats. The top of the list is absolutely macarons. I adore these little gu
ys, & they hold so many memories of our favorite days in France–from dinners with friends to our first adventures in Paris. I decided to give them a go.
Rather than po
sting a recipe for this, I’ll point you toward Tastespotting, which has a beautiful collection of macaron recipes. I opted for a twist on this chocolate cinnamon recipe, leaving out the orange & adding chili powder & nutmeg–more autumn, please! While mine didn’t quite meet macaron perfection, they are delicious, delicate & gorgeous (albeit completely crumbled & broken).
Here’s the rub. Joe & I are on a tight budget, & I’m trying to make my baking fit into that. This means that when we went to the co-op where we’re members & I saw that there parchment papers was double what I’d anticipated spending, I skipped it. I knew what the consequences would be, & I forced myself to be okay with it.
So, let me give you some helpful tips that will let you save money on your macarons & have more success than I:
- Get parchment paper. Don’t get one of those silly macaron pans. Hell, don’t even use a template. When it comes time to making your little globs of batter on the tray, just use your tablespoon: it’s the perfect size, & you can use the back to flatten out the circle a bit. If you don’t use parchment paper, you will completely destroy your macaron’s structure. It will be a hollow shell that you will be forced to glue back together with ganache. (May or may not be a bad thing, when you look at it like that.)
- Fill these babies with ganache. On the first try, it’s the easiest option. My best ganache comes from 1/2 cup of whole milk & 1/2 a tablespoon of cornstarch–bring that just to a boil & pour it over 4 ounces (one large chocolate bar) of your favorite chocolate. Stir. Do not fold. Do not beat. Stir slowly, leaving your utensil “stuck” to the bottom of the bowl so that no air gets into the ganache to thin it out. But why not use cream, Megan? Because! Everyone always has corn starch & milk. You just saved yourself the extra cost of cream & the awkward bit that would be left over.
Don’t feel like ganache? Use whatever jam or spread you have on hand. I suggest not using a regular, canned icing though. You will go into a sweet coma, & your teeth will immediately fall out of your face.
- Buy bulk ingredients. Even at the organic co-op, I got sugar for 99 cents/pound! Cocoa for $13/pound, which is less than $2 a cup. (I promise that’s even cheaper than Nestle.) If you’re like my & can’t find almond powder, but bulk almonds, blanch them & give them a squeeze until they pop out of their skins. Pat dry & blend them into a find powder.
- Get your eggs good & fluffed. And don’t add any tartar or starch. The best way is to put a metal bowl in the fridge for half an hour. Don’t have a metal bowl? I used a steel soup pot. Whatever works! Get the mixer & beat 30 seconds, then gradually add in your sugar (still beating). Put that baby on high & let ‘er go. They’ll be gorgeous, I promise.
- Be super proud of yourself. Lots of people are afraid of these recipes, & there’s no need to be. You can do it.
The added chili & nutmeg made them a great fall cookie. While I enjoy them, Baby is trying to enjoy her own snack, our first tiny pumpkin of the season. After she head-butted it, she realized it would be easier to just wait for a slice of banana. Happy October!