Happy #MacaronDay!

All posts for the month of March will be devoted to my recent trip to France and Spain.

Just as I was writing this post about macarons I found out that March 20th, was Jour du Macaron or Macaron Day! Ok, so I’m a day late; but, where I’m from we celebrate things all month long!

The Macaron is an almond meringue, sandwich cookie. It’s light and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Traditionally they have a jam, ganache or buttercream filling. These cookies are not to be confused with macaroons, which are traditionally crispy, coconut cookies.

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The macaron, as we know it, started gaining popularity in France during the 1800s. Now they are a staple in French bakeries. You can find macarons in almost every pâtisserie there.

The macaron is famously known to be a hard cookie to make. I set out to expand my knowledge on this popular French treat so that I could make them myself.

A Dream Come True

I first found the cookie in Paris, France at the Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette is a French department store. It is what we would call a luxury mall in America. We walked into the food section and there was what seemed to be miles upon miles of macaron shops. I settled on some from the shop Pierre Hermé Bakery:

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The experience at Pierre Hermé was unlike any American bakery that I’ve visited. All of the attendants were impeccably dressed, cordial and attentive. They packaged my macarons with care. It was a luxurious buying experience. They even offered a catalog of their spring collection. I loved every moment of it!

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The Pierre Hermé macarons were delicious; but, I couldn’t help but think there had to be a better macaron somewhere. I wanted to experience a small pâtisserie where the macarons were made in house. I got that opportunity when we reached Nimes, France. While in Nimes we stopped at a cute little pâtisserie named Boulangerie Croquants Villaret.

Boulangerie Croquants Villaret was filled with lots of sweets; but, most importantly there were in-house made macarons! I tried the Speculos and Salted Caramel macaron. I think I heard angels singing! They were so good that I took the tiniest bites in an effort to cherish the flavor. They were definitely homemade like I like it!

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Right outside of Boulangerie Croquants Villaret in Nimes, France.

As a little girl, I imagined myself in Paris sitting by the Eiffel Tower, indulging in French pastries while a Frenchman in a red beret and striped shirt played violin in the background. I know, so cliché, but the keyword is imagine! Nonetheless, this experience was a dream come true.

Macaron Madness

I’ve mentioned my cookie obsession before. I’ve been known to liken myself to being a real, live Cookie Monster! When I decided to take a trip to France I knew that I had to taste a traditional French Macaron — but I didn’t want to just taste it. I wanted to make them too!

Prior to my trip to France, I had never tasted macarons; so, I had to try them before I made them.

I tried macarons from three separate places in Charlotte, NC. Check out my list from least to most favorite.

Least favorite: Trader Joe’s

Flavors: Trader Jacques Chocolate and Vanilla French Macarons

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I found them in the frozen treats section. Compared to the ones I’d already tasted, these were like a Wal-Mart pound cake as opposed to your country grandma’s thick, buttery homemade pound cake. They tasted generic and flavorless. I would not recommend them, the end!

Good: Le Macaron French Pastries

Flavors: Lavender White Chocolate, Madagascar Black Vanilla, Colombian Coffee and Salted Caramel

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The lavender white chocolate flavor stood out with a floral, earthy flavor. Fun fact, France was once the world’s largest producer of lavender.

Most favorite: Amélie’s French Bakery & Cafe

The Salted Caramel Brownie flavor was my absolute favorite. It’s like I tasted every ingredient used to make the cookies. Well done!

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This is a Salted Caramel Brownie macaron from Amelie’s. It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Makin’ Macarons

Armed with the knowledge of what a macaron tastes like, I set out to make my own. I combed through tons of food blogs, websites and instructional videos on how to a make the cookie.

The consensus among the topic of making macarons was fold, fold, fold your ingredients properly — but, not too little and not too much. Just until you have “the perfect lava consistency” or until your batter forms “perfect ribbons” that holds their shape for a moment. Also, the macarons have to have perfect feet:

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Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s some bad and boujee cookie right? It’s a little too much!

I had all the ingredients lined out so pretty, plus champagne for guidance of course.

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I just knew it would be perfect and they turned out like this:

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It was an epic fail! Lol! The shells were cracked, lopsided, hollow and they didn’t have good feet. Plus I was going for a bolder purple color. After research, I found that I probably overmixed the batter and didn’t include enough food coloring.

Back to the drawing board.

The next time around was much better; but, not perfect.

I decided to go for a deeper, much darker purple color. I took extra care with mixing and allowing the cookies to set properly before baking.

And drumroll please…

Here’s the finished product:

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A basic macaron with honey buttercream filling. It was delicious!

Here’s the recipe I used:

How To Make French Macarons – UPDATED VERSION

I’m sure that this wasn’t the best recipe; but, after combing through tons of vids it became the best by default!

Also, macaron templates come in handy. I found a good one here:

Southern Fatty Macaron Template

I have been completely obsessed with macaron research. I hope you enjoyed my foodie shenanigans!

Do you like macarons or do you have any recipe tips for me? Tell me about it by commenting below.

Thanks for reading and as always, see y’all soon!

M&M Love Cookies

I told y’all that I’m a Cookie Monster. Sugar cookies are one of the easiest cookies to make. I just used a basic sugar cookie recipe and added M&Ms.

In honor of Valentine’s Day here’s a lil sugar for your suga’!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Half bag of Milk Chocolate M&Ms

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated.20180121_1521112124487210.jpg
  3. Chill the dough in the refrigerate for 2 hours. Scoop out some dough, and roll it into a ball. It should be about the size of a golf ball. 20180214_04315561873964.jpg
  4. Roll the ball of dough around in some M&M’s, making sure the M&M’s stick into the dough, and place the cookie on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place 6 cookies on a sheet since they will spread due to their size.20180214_0431231965669125.jpg
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes until just slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet to finish cooking a little.

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Enjoy! Nom, nom, nom, nom!

Did you make these cookies or are you a Cookie Monster as well? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below. As always, thanks for reading! See y’all soon!

Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies

I am a self-proclaimed cookie monster. Nom, nom, nom, nom! I’ve tried so many different types of cookies that I’ve lost count. A good cookie for me is one that is the perfect balance of salty, sweet, gooey in the middle and slightly crispy on the edge.

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I fell in love with the Heath bar cookie years ago when my coworker bought them into the office. “What is this buttery, sweet, little, brown, round delightfulness?”, I thought.

Since then, I’ve tried several different varieties of the cookie. My favorite is the hearty oatmeal version.

Recently, I found an oatmeal toffee cookie recipe. I changed the recipe a little by adding coconut flakes, Heath bar bits and milk chocolate chips for a bit more heartiness. The coconut was a hit with my friends and family!

I’ll be sharing much more about my love for cookies in future posts. So without further ado, check out the recipe below:

Makes about 36 cookies

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Total Time: 28 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
  • Coarse sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt and mix till combined. Mix in oats and coconut. Carefully stir in Heath bar bits and milk chocolate chips.
  3. Use a cookie scoop out rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake approximately 8 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt and allow to cool on cookie sheet for a 8 minutes. Once cooled, remove to wire rack to finish cooling

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