Happy Bastille Day, dear readers! Yes, it is glorious Marianne’s national holiday, commemorating that time we stormed the Bastille and started putting some heads on pikes. (I would have gone for that one time we shot the King of England in the eye, but there’s a reason Clan McBride is not in charge of France’s national holidays.) I’ll be celebrating by watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and bellowing “JEAN-LUC!” every time Picard gets patriotic, but that’s a difficult experience to share. Instead, I thought I’d share with you the most patriotic baked good I can think of: the tricolour macaron.
While at my parents’ house, I discovered that my mother had, for some reason, hoarded enough powdered sugar to choke a horse. Lacking a horse deserving of such a fate, I set about looking for a recipe that used substantial amounts of powdered sugar. With the help of the nice folks over at the Kitchn, I settled on macarons as just the thing to do the trick. (Especially since she had some almond meal she wasn’t using.)
Of course, during the research stage, I immediately read what felt like a thousand posts discussing how difficult and how fussy macarons are to make. I was a little spooked, but then I read professional baker Stella “BraveTart” Parker’s recipe, which opens by reminding aspiring macaron makers that if you mess up, you still get a meringue. If only every mistake in life was as sweet. My recipe is adapted from hers.
The tricolour macaron is composed of one strawberry macaron, a blueberry preserve filling, and one vanilla macaron. Thus, you are going to make two batches of macarons—a strawberry batch and a vanilla batch—and then assemble them into patriotic goodness. Let’s start!
1/2 cup almond meal (or almond flour)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tablespoons ground freeze-dried strawberries
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Red food coloring
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Make the vanilla macarons. Sift almond meal into the powdered sugar, then whisk together in a separate, small bowl. Add the almond meal remainders from your sifter.
Put the egg whites, sugar, and salt into the bowl of your mixer, using the whisk attachment. Mix on medium (Kitchen Aid setting: 4) for three minutes. Mix on medium-high (Kitchen Aid 7) for three minutes. Mix on high (Kithchen Aid 8) for three minutes. Stop the mixer to add vanilla extract, and then mix on high (Kitchen Aid 8) for another minute. If your meringue isn’t stiff enough (it should clump in the whisk, like so), mix for another minute.
Add the dry ingredients to the meringue. With a rubber spatula, mix forty times, with each time representing a full stir around the bowl. Pay attention to the texture of the batter more than the specific number of strokes; when you drop a dollop of the batter on itself, it should hold its shape for a moment before incorporating back into the mixture, like so.
Transfer batter into your large plastic bag. Snip the corner off to make a make-shift piping bag. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe the batter into small circles, no more than an inch across. Leave room between them, as they will spread a little.
Grasp your baking sheet and firmly rap it against the counter three times, to release air bubbles and avoid air pockets in the finished product.
Bake for eighteen minutes. Allow macarons to cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.
Repeat this recipe to make the strawberry macarons, adding the ground freeze-dried strawberries to the almond meal before you whisk them both with the powdered sugar. Add red food coloring to your liking when you add the vanilla extract to the meringue.
To fill, place a small dollop of blueberry preserves on the bottom of a strawberry macaron and sandwich it with a vanilla macaron of a similar size.
Macarons are better the day after they’re baked. They will keep up to a week in the fridge.
My strawberry macarons and vanilla macarons look different, as you can see. Just match them up as much as you can before the size difference gets too ridiculous, and then you can just have strawberry macarons and vanilla macarons.
I used reduced sugar blueberry preserves since the macarons are so sweet.
This week has been all kinds of nerve-wracking and exciting, as I, a poor traveler at the best of times, have made my way from Atlanta to Denver for the Denver Publishing Institute. We start today, cutting into my Star Trek: The Next Generation time, but I’m beyond excited. I’m also going to see Pacific Rim with some of my fellow students tonight, which I’m very much looking forward to.
This week’s links:
- Captain Awkward talks about little things that totally shift your perspective; specifically, making the job smaller. Or, as my father incessantly calls it, “the salami technique”.
- Speaking of such shifts, the good Captain also talks about how good relationships are not built on the absence of red flags, but the presence of green flags. Where was this my sophomore and junior years of college?
- tumblr user vibiasabina’s queens, witches, and warriors photo sets are stunningly gorgeous.
- This is how to fold a suit jacket or blazer for travel. My Mama Petrelli honey blazer thanks you, Black Label.
- Racialicious’s Kendra James tackles The Lone Ranger. She mentions the WB’s 2003 sexy teen reboot of the franchise, which sounds amazingly bad.
- James also mentions They Die By Dawn, a short Western featuring an all-POC cast. Also, Erykah Badu is in it.
- Leo Babauta at zenhabits talks ways to brighten your day (I especially like helping other people) and how it’s better to tackle discomfort head on. I’m pretty patient, so I always have to be careful to distinguish between “discomfort” and “oh, this is actually crushing my soul”, but his point stands.
- Yuko Shimizu discusses the importance of “real” (i.e., work you don’t love) jobs for creative types; it can teach you skills you’ll need for your true calling.
- Melissa Harris-Perry is an awesome human being, and she shared her wisdom with Wellesley College this recent graduation season. “Ignorance is not your enemy, only ignorance with complacency is to be resisted” is advice that I think everybody should talk to heart.
- This graphic shows “gender as represented in spec script sales“. It is depressing.
- The first thirty seconds of Austenland’s trailer shows why I brace myself whenever a film about fandom is created: Keri Russell’s character’s Austen fandom is mocked as excessive, childish, and sexually immature. However, it does have a lot of charming elements (like Jane Seymour and Bret McKenzie!). If it turns out to be a film about a woman’s love for Austen maturing once she’s figured out Firthing is not healthy while also falling in love with Lindir, then I think I could really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I doubt that’ll happen.
- Thomas Rogers’ “What Comes After The Twink?” is about labels in the gay community, but it’s also about looking down at the young for their immaturity and asserting your own identity by denigrating someone else’s.
- Jon Negroni’s “The Pixar Theory” is a sprawling theory that connects the whole Pixar universe. It seems out there, but the last reveal is genius.
- Mental Floss debunks fifty common science misconceptions. Get an education.
- Saving Mr. Banks is a Disney-produced film about the making of Mary Poppins. Plus: it can actually show everything, as Disney has the rights for everything. Con: Tom Hanks’ Walt Disney is probably going to be a really nice guy. Still, the script is supposed to be amazing and it looks a delight.
- Geeks OUT is boycotting the Ender’s Game film. I’m thinking of joining.
- To make your own decision on how to handle this, check out Alyssa Rosenberg’s “An Ethical Guide to Consuming Content Created by Awful People like Orson Scott Card“. The political offset option is a nice one.
You may have noticed that I didn’t do The Literary Horizon or Booking Through Thursday this week. I’ve decided to retire both features, as they were starting to feel like chores instead of joy, which what reviews and these Sunday posts feel like to me, and, instead, mention books I’ve added to the reading list or bought over the week in an addendum here. I’m trying to move to a much more flexible format for my Sunday posts, and this is part of that.
This week’s acquisitions:
Purchased: Cleopatra, a Life by Stacy Schiff (used), The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (used)
Added: The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture by Daniel Harris (via the Awl), Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon (via NPR), The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault (via Televising Queer Women)
What food do you consider the most patriotic?