macarons on top of three tiered tray

How Macarons Helped Me Find My Better Half (A Love Story)

In 2014, I visited New York for the first time. I was there to see my hero, Roger Federer, at the US Open tennis tournament. I had no other plans except to watch Fed play at Arthur Ashe stadium and cry because we would be breathing the same air. Luckily, Lennie was with me on this trip. She had plenty of ideas for what to do in New York (other than cry over Fed) including visiting Ladurée, a well-known French patisserie. The rainbow assortment of colorfully filled cookies was mesmerizing. I wanted to try every flavor… that is until I saw the price tag. 😬 I was shocked at how expensive such a small cookie could be, so we only selected a few. The delicate cookie had a crispy shell with a chewy texture and a nutty flavor with a creamy, sweet filling. The macaron quickly disappeared and I was disappointed because I wanted more. Right then I realized, I need to learn how to make these.

Since my inaugural macaron experience in 2014, I’ve made eager beelines for the colorful rows of macarons in the pastry windows of every bakery I visit. I don’t always buy them, but 90% of the time I can’t resist. I love seeing interesting flavors like blueberry cheesecake or s’mores, but also love classics like lemon and pistachio. Macarons are truly edible art.

Macarons and Macaroons

I’m not normally pedantic when it comes to alternate pronunciations, however there is a pretty big difference between a macaron and a macaroon. You might face some serious disappointment if you order the wrong one.

“It’s macaROHN, not macaROON”

-Me, Transforming into Hermione GrangER when i hear someone mispronounce ‘macaron’

It’s easy to see why people confuse the two. Both have French origins, can be found at afternoon teas, are gluten free, and they’re delicious. It also doesn’t help that when you search “macaroons”, Google displays macarons instead. 🤦🏻‍♀️

The macaron is the delightful French sandwich cookie made of almond flour and egg whites and filled with ganache, buttercream, jellies, and curds. The macaroon is most commonly made of coconut and drizzled or dipped in chocolate. 

The easiest way to remember how to pronounce the beautiful sandwich cookie is to think of the word “macaroni” and just omit the last syllable. 😄

Our Macaron Timeline

When I first met Xak at our office in 2017, we talked a lot about baking since our desks were next to each other. It’s not that I was a particularly good baker; I just like talking about food. Xak would bring in his culinary creations to share with our coworkers: cake pops, cupcakes, biscotti. During one of our daily food discussions, I asked Xak if he had ever made macarons. We had just started Oreo Club at work, so I knew he liked sandwich cookies. Xak said he had never baked macarons before, but they could be fun to try. 

2018: Something Awful (Macaron Blobs)

Our company gives us a week off during the summer season. I already had plans for the second half of the week, but was free for the first couple days. Xak also was available the same time. We decided to meet up and attempt to make the notoriously difficult macarons at Xak’s house since he had more baking supplies and utensils than I did. I was hopeful that I would finally achieve my dream of making macarons!

When I arrived at Xak’s house, I was shocked to find out he had no mixer. I immediately began to panic and briefly wondered if perhaps Xak had been purchasing baked goods from a local bakery and was passing it off as his own. (He wasn’t)

Our first batch of “macarons” were a disaster. They were so bad that we ended up throwing out the congealed, flat, inedible blue sheet of macaron blobs that sat on a baking tray. We took zero pictures and destroyed all evidence. We then headed out to find actual macarons. We realized that perhaps we weren’t prepared for such a difficult challenge. However, that day we had another realization: baking together was a lot of fun and… maybe it would be nice to learn how to bake together from now on 🙂

2019: Something Edible (Almost Macarons)

A year after our disastrous attempt at making macarons, we decided to try again for our 2019 summer break. This time though, we had acquired some new baking supplies including a hand mixer, a sifter, and silicone baking sheets. 

There was certainly progress: for starters, we made something edible! We actually managed to make separate cookies instead of a single blobby sheet. However, it was still a far cry from a fancy patisserie. The cookies were a bit lumpy, and the feet of the macaron were not well defined. Still, we were proud to have something we could eat. We proceeded with making a buttercream and blueberry cheesecake filling, assembling the cookies, and discussed our lessons learned while eating our own macarons (yay!) and planning what to do differently for our next attempt.

blue macarons with white and pink filling
Our second attempt at macarons were far from perfect, but also a HUGE improvement from the year before. They didn’t taste bad either!

2020: Something Recognizable (Actual Macarons)

In 2020, we tried again. After carefully watching a “HOW TO MAKE PERFECT MACARON” video 6 times, we did our best to follow directions as closely as we could. Our macarons were much better this year! In fact, they were the star of our very first afternoon tea party at home. While there was certainly room for improvement, both Xak and I were so proud that we had something that actually resembled a macaron and also tasted pretty good!

2021: Something Not So Good (Macaron Reversion)

When you only make macarons once a year, it’s easy to forget what to do. Our 2021 attempt turned out a little shakier than we had hoped. Half of the macarons turned out quite nicely but the other half, not so much. The mixer weren’t cooperating, the piping bag didn’t want to pipe properly, and ultimately we felt like we had taken a step back in our macaron journey. Still, we had made something tasty (although not the best looking) and we would just have to try again next year.

2022: Something Wonderful (Delicious Macarons)

Determined to not have a similar incident to 2021 (or 2018 *shudders*), we studied up again for 2022’s annual macaron baking session. We had HUGE plans for a very special afternoon tea in honor of the release of the new Downton Abbey: A New Era movie. Our tea menu consisted of a lot of amazing items, but most importantly we wanted to showcase macarons at the top of our three tiered tray. We really hoped these would be as close to perfect as possible. In honor of our very first macaron attempt, we made vanilla buttercream and blueberry cheesecake filling.

This time, our practice really paid off. The macarons looked pretty darn amazing and they tasted incredible! In fact the whole afternoon tea was so good that we both agree this has been our favorite afternoon tea to date.

2023: Something Borrowed, Something Blue (Macaron Matrimony)

For 2023, our summer break wasn’t spent making macarons. Instead, we got married! In lieu of a wedding cake, we decided to have a dessert bar featuring tiny desserts including some very special macarons. We even cut a macaron for our “wedding cake cutting” picture (the very one you see on the home page) We chose this because of how macarons brought us together back in 2018.

Even though we’ve been making macarons for years now, I still get stressed. There’s so much that can go wrong: the egg whites aren’t beaten properly, the batter is overmixed, the cookie collapses or cracks, etc. What I’ve realized though is that we won’t always make the most perfect macarons every time, and that’s ok. The best part is that we experience the journey together and we can celebrate or comfort each other depending on what happens. It’s also nice to know that if the congealed sheet of macaron batter rears its ugly head again, there are bakeries with emergency macarons close by. 😄

It seems fitting that a sandwich cookie brought Xak and I together. The perfect macaron consists of finding the right cookie to make up the other half. Macarons will always hold a very special place in my heart and I can’t wait to make these with Xak for many years to come.

April 2024 Note from Dani: Xak and I made our first batch of macarons this year for our Gluten Free tea party! Find out whether we had a mess or success.

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