May 14, 2009
In March, I was lucky enough to attend the book event for A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, better known as the author of the blog Orangette. I've been making my way through her book, but like a good dessert, I'm taking my time. I want to savor every essay, every recipe. Also, Molly is from Oklahoma too, so there are parts of the book that I find myself getting sidetracked with because I know the exact location she's talking about, and in some cases, the people she mentions. It's a terrific book, and I suggest that if you haven't already picked yourself up a copy, you should. Not only are her essays fabulous, but the recipes are something worth writing home about.
So far, I've tried two of the recipes, and after reading what I just wrote, I feel a little lazy. I've been baking other things of course, just not from her book. And actually, one out of the two recipes is not a dessert or even sweet - it's a delicious culinary invention called bouchons au thon. which apparently literally means "tuna corks," which is pretty accurate after you see the finished product.
But onto to the sweets recipe. Readers of this blog know of my fascination with the French macaron - the delicate meringue baked with a delicious ganache filling of your choice. One of my fondest memories of being in Paris with my mom was our incessant macaron eating. We made fun of each other every time one of us would order two - one for now, and one for later. "Later" in this case was two seconds after we had finished the first.
I find French macarons to be little pieces of art, and one of my favorite sights is a case full of different flavored ones, tiny masterpieces that not even Renoir could capture if he tried.
But the macaron has a secret. An American secret. The macaroon - a lump of coconut baked to a golden yellow that can be found anywhere from an upscale patisserie to the sweets aisle at Whole Foods. Looks wise, they don't hold a candle to their foreign cousin. They just sit there, like the the quiet, awkward neighbor we are forced to invite over to our house for the annual Christmas tree trimming party because we know they know we're having a fête.
But just like my beloved French macaron, I too have a secret. Perhaps it's the patriotism I was born respect or the fact I had to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day in public school for 13 years (I went to morning kindergarten, so I got to recite it then too) I adore the American macaroon. I buy the "two bite" versions sold at Whole Foods, and when visiting Oklahoma City, I'll pick one up as I walk out of the Greek deli I frequent (why a Greek deli is selling these, I don't know). So, I was delighted to find a chapter on macaroons in Molly's book, and of course, I had to make them.
Molly's recipe is simple and I was surprised with how something so easy to make could be so good. And even better, they are kept in the refrigerator and taste even better the next day. I noticed that my fridge had a friendlier glow about it during the two days the macaroons called it home, so you don't have to try hard to imagine what a hit they were when I treated my office mates to some afternoon snacks.
These macaroons are one hundred percent better than anything I've bought at Whole Foods (the Greek deli is a strong contender though). You can see the full recipe here by visiting Orangette, but as mentioned, I suggest you pick up her book as well. For anyone passionate about food, it's a must read.