And macarons are good for your happiness! I haven't made macarons in MONTHS. Which is a little unbelievable since at this time last year I was making multiple batches a week during some type of ridiculous obsession with thinking up macaron flavors and attempting to execute on them (I'd say 25-30% failed.) I've been obsessed with oatmeal raisin flavored things lately. Perhaps since it sounds healthy: "oatmeal raisin cookies?... healthy cookies!" or "oatmeal raisin ice cream?... healthy ice cream!" But wait, wouldn't it be a cookie that tastes like another cookie? I decided to try it: the oatmeal raisin macaron!
I've had a lot of egg whites around lately. More than I can even use up, sadly. (Been making a lot of ice cream. And yes, oatmeal raisin ice cream was one!) So since Friday was French Macaron Day, ("French Maca-what Day?" yes, you read that correctly) I slipped a batch in just before midnight -- my own weird anal retentiveness pushing me to bake until ungodly hours.
So what is this French Macaron Day all about, you ask? Pierre Hermé created this day 4 years ago. On March 20th, all over France, at all Pierre Hermé shops and many others (various ones from the prestigious Relais Desserts Association) they are giving away 4 FREE macarons to anyone who comes in! FOUR FREE PIERRE HERMÉ MACARONS! It's not all about free macarons though. Proceeds from the members of Relais Desserts go to La Federation des Maladies Orphelines in addition to the having donation boxes in all the shops. It's reported that just about everyone receiving free macarons has contributed to the boxes, which just warms the heart.
Lines outside the shops are long (they are long on normal days so one can imagine how they'd be on "free macarons" day!) But while folks wait, they get a sheet explaining the charity and also listing out 30+ flavors of macarons they can choose from. THIRTY MACARON FLAVORS! (Can you tell my next trip to Paris is going to be in the month of March?) There's also a special macaron rouge (red macaron) which Pierre Hermé sells for €1 each specifically to raise money for the charity. What a wonderful win-win and all centered around those delectable, chewy, sweet little cookies we love so much.
It didn't take me long to figure out how I was going to make a macaron flavored with oatmeal and raisins. I ground up oats and used half almond meal and half ground oats in the shells. I made a cinnamon buttercream for the filling and simmered some raisins in sugar, water and rum to hide inside.
They're not my favorite flavor ever - afterall, they pretty much just taste like an oatmeal raisin cookie! But they turned out better than I expected other than the wrinkled tops which I blame on the rainy day (and therefore, the shells not hardening enough before baking).
Macarons continue to be the most difficult, temperamental, tricky little buggars I've ever produced in my kitchen. The biggest complaint I have is that I don't know exactly what causes each failure when I have one. I guess that means I just keep making [and eating] them, eh?