Well I guess I have some ‘splaining to do. I kind of took an unintentional summer vacation from the blog. The truth is the week after I tried blueberries, I intended to keep my in-season produce train rolling by blogging about apricots.
The problem was that I tried apricots and found them spectacularly mediocre. They were fine. But pretty much just worse versions of peaches. I did enjoy some apricot jam on my morning toast for a few days, but I really had nothing else to say about them.
And this utter lack of inspiration held me back from blogging…for over a month. Whoops.
But my niece turned two last week with a League of Their Own—themed birthday party (naturally), so I took the opportunity to make a dessert I had never made before: vaguely-baseball-decorated macarons!
To say I had never made macarons before feels a little silly when I had also never eaten a macaron before or, to my knowledge, been in the presence of a macaron before.
The closest I had been to them before last week was witnessing the trials and tribulations of many a Great British Baking Show baker as they attempted the technical French treat with varying levels of success.
But I really had no better ideas for a baseball-themed dessert and knew I could fill these macarons with peach preserves in honor of the Rockford peaches. They were the only option!
These cookies proved to be as tricky and time-consuming as the Great British Baking Show always made them out to be. I followed the recipe (and full breakdown) from Sally’s Baking Addiction and attempted to avoid the many potential pitfalls: improper whipping of the egg whites, too much (or too little) air deflation when combining the batter, not letting the piped batter rest enough before baking, and of course over-baking.
I was confident in my egg-whipping abilities and got through that hurdle easily enough. It did take me far longer to sift the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar than I’d like to admit, but it wasn’t particularly difficult.
Everything was smooth sailing until I needed to transfer my batter to a piping bag.
There’s one thing you should know: I am TERRIBLE with a piping bag. I don’t understand how people make piping frosting look so easy. Sally did warn that this part might be messy, but I think she underestimated just how big of a mess I could make.
You’ll see from the photos below that I didn’t exactly achieve perfect circles, but these were for a two-year-old’s birthday party — who needs perfection?
After letting the piped batter dry on my counter top, I placed the first two baking sheets into the oven to bake for 13 minutes.
You may notice that this first batch came out a little tan. I decided to bake the final batch a little less (my oven does tend to run warm), so those came out with the signature firm top known to macarons but without any color.
Because most macarons are dyed all kinds of colors, I wasn’t really sure what white macarons were supposed to look like. My guess is more like the second batch, but honestly, your guess is as good as mine.
Once the cookies came out of the oven, I ate one (what? I made an odd number!), made some buttercream frosting, and filled half the macarons with peach preserves and the other half with raspberry jam.
Oh and made yet another mess while piping my buttercream around the jam. Practice has not yet made perfect.
Finally, after a long day of baking, I washed my stand mixer bowl one last time to whip together some red (more like pink) decorating frosting. With one more (failed) attempt at the piping bags, I decorated my Rockford Peach macarons with a baseball design and my off-theme raspberry macarons with random designs to 1. differentiate the flavors and 2. really show off my lack of artistic creativity.
Come dessert time at the party, I finally got to try my
second-grade-level craft project masterpiece!
Yum! Delicious! Loved ’em!
The cookies had the thinnest shell on top and then chewy centers. They were perfectly sweet and paired quite well with the jams, if I do say so myself.
They were unimpressive to look at and were missing the iconic “feet” that macarons are meant to have, but I’ll sacrifice my Paul Hollywood handshake for cookies that taste like that any day!
I’m happy to report that my two-year-old niece was also a fan. She clearly has much more refined taste than I’ve ever had — that fancy French bebe.
I’m not saying I would never make macarons again, but they are definitely a special-occasion, take-the-day-off-from-work kind of baking project. That said, I will happily eat macarons that were made by, say, a professional any time.
What are your favorite macaron flavors/fillings? I’ll be looking for a top-notch bakery in my area soon, so let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @thepickyeaterchronicles!