Sweet Treats: Macarons

Sweet Treats: Macarons

Macaron Rainbow
Originally uploaded by sweetmilktea

There seems to hardly be a dessert more iconic in lolita fashion than the macaron. (A “macaroon” is an entirely different kind of cookie, and doesn’t feature in anything lolita fashion-related!) Once featured in the Angelic Pretty series “Dreaming Macaron,” the popularity of these tiny pastries REALLY took off! When not appearing tucked into prints on lolita garments, these puffy discs can be seen in a multitude of colors as sweets jewelry. They’re also a common motif for deco projects.

Personally, I love eating AND making macarons, although it isn’t an easy task! Macarons are very delicate, and it takes a lot of patience to prepare the ingredients, incorporate everything just right, and actually bake the halves that will form the sandwich. When I make macarons, I spend a lot of time sifting almond flour until no lumps remain, then carefully folding in the egg whites–which have to be given a few days to age, and MUST be used at room temperature. These are not the kinds of pastries to be made on last-minute notice.

Traditionally, the flavor of a macaron is dictated by the filling, although the pastry itself is colored appropriately. Personally, when I make mine I like to flavor the cookies just a bit with a few drops of extract. Some of my favourite flavor combinations are rose cookies with strawberry, raspberry, or lingonberry jam~ Jam isn’t a particularly traditional filling, but I don’t like most buttery, frosting-type creams; I feel like they overpower the actual pastry.

However, sometimes it’s less stressful to quell a macaron craving with a trip to the bakery~ These small desserts have become very popular in recent years. In Chicago I keep hearing about more and more bakeries trying their hand at these tiny cookies.

When I buy macarons, I go to Bittersweet Pastry Shop. They’re right in my neighborhood, and their macarons are quite good–crisp, not overfilled, and with the appropriately cute “foot.” (That’s the crinkled edge–all good macarons have a foot; it means that the top is crispier than the chewy inside. When the balance is right, it’s delicious!) They’re certainly not the BEST macarons I’ve ever had, but sometimes it’s worth it to spend a few dollars on something tasty instead of spending several days to make them myself. The chocolate macarons are much better deal than the larger, flavored macarons–$16 for one pound, as opposed to $3-$4 per cookie~

Macarons make a lovely addition to tea-time. They both look and taste fancy, and when made or purchased in pastel-colored flavors like rose or violet, it seems that no dessert could be more ladylike! There are few things prettier than a display of multi-colored macarons atop a china plate…although that’s always a fleeting moment for me; they’re too tempting!

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