The Zen of Macaron Making

I recently discovered a new hobby to add to my growing collection of hobbies: Macaron making! I have always found macarons to be such a source of happiness. They look so cheery with their vibrant colors. Their scrumptious texture: light and airily crisp on the outside, soft and just the right degree of chewiness on the inside, never fails to give me that Mmmmmm sensation from head to toe. The many fillings featured by each patisserie that I visit conjure images of being on some magical taste adventure. I discover flavors I never thought would make sense until they meet my curious taste buds.

I wanted to learn how to make them myself so I can enjoy and explore the many glorious tastes and pairings I have found featured on every macaron website I could find. Unfortunately, I have come to learn that these happiness-inducing confections are quite devilish to make and require a great amount of attention to details and an even greater amount of luck in some cases. Despite all the knowledge and advice I find about macaron making, I still feel this is one skill that I will not easily master by just merely reading a book. It will take practice and many failed (but still delicious) attempts to whip up the perfect batch of macaron cookies. My friends don’t seem to mind as the results are often shared with them in the hopes that they could offer some honest critiques regarding taste, texture, and appearance. Unfortunately, all I ever get is the usual “Mmmm. Oh my goodness, these are sooooo goooood!!!” comments. Not really very helpful when I am trying to figure out what to fix or work on in terms of techniques and ingredients.

One thing, however, is that macaron making has become a zen-inducing activity for me. The process of sifting, weighing, whipping, and piping all seem to give me a sense of peace. Even the process of cleaning up before, during, and after baking helps me to just zone out and focus on the task at hand. It is challenging, mind you. Every step of the macaron making process requires attention and focus. And even then, after following every instruction to the exact letter, you can still come away with less than stellar results: cracked shells, no feet, burned or underdone cookies, runny frosting… the possibilities for error are seemingly endless. It almost seems to reflect life itself and the pursuit of success. Some days, no matter how I obsess over every detail, I still end up short of the goal. It pays to develop an attitude of being more forgiving of yourself: one lesson that macaron making can definitely impart. In any case, the cookies are still sweet, the fillings are still yummy. They may not be Aplus pretty but if you look past the presentation, you can learn to enjoy even the failures in life… and in macaron making.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I must state I didn’t make the ones in the photo. 😉