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Macaron Afterno(o)n at La Cuisine Paris

March 2, 2014

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that I am not exactly meticulous in the kitchen.

Observe: The “deperfected” chocolate chip cookies, the whooshed-together blue cheese biscuits, the don’t-worry-they-taste-better-charred-anyway carrots. Jules slices zucchini paper-thin with our new mandoline, his eyes wide, his giddy smile bordering on scary clown. I daydream about bedazzling the cut-resistant glove that shields tender fingers from the mandoline.

The better to moonwalk with, my dear.

This begs the question: Why would I attend a class on making macarons, one of the ultimate tests of culinary precision?


1) Macarons are cheerful.

Ave les pieds

Sign discovered on a visit to Seattle’s Crumble & Flake Patisserie. Please do not leave this establishment without a smoked-paprika-and-cheddar croissant.

2) Illusion of control. It always comes back to this one with me, doesn’t it? If I can master making macarons, surely my myriad anxieties will melt away like spun sugar on the tongue. Every day will read like a (web)page from the weekend-envy-inducing blog Waiting For Saturday. I will stop watching the Home Shopping Network and suppressing the urge to call in to talk to Adrienne Arpel. I will replace this activity with cardio and cleaning out the garage and listening to important books on tape.

2a) A new study has all but proven the Clueless principle that shopping for a makeover gives one a sense of control in a world full of chaos. (Via Girls of a Certain Age, one of my favorite blogs.)

2b) I think that Adrienne Arpel called me fat and then tried to sell me massive teardrop earrings that would rip my earlobes off. Her pitch was, and I am not making this up, “If you have a double chin, you need these earrings.”  And yet I do not change the channel. I cannot stop watching this woman!

Anyway. Also …

3) I was in Paris, for crying out loud!


And I was on my honeymoon. Because Jules and I got all married up! MAIS OUI. More on this later. First, we must tend to the macarons.

One of my awesome, creative family members got us a cooking class at La Cuisine Paris as a wedding gift. I highly recommend having awesome, creative family members. And I highly recommend La Cuisine’s 2-hour macaron class.

The class is in English, although it would have been doubly hilarious to witness me trying to speak French while trying to make macarons. It was packed full of tips for precision execution, like using powdered food coloring, because even a little bit of moisture from liquid food coloring can flatten your cookies.

2013-09-26 18.08.51

The powders we used were Rouge Groseille and Vert Pistache from Colorants Breton. (I have not been able to find a U.S.-based supplier. Any suggestions for a comparable product that creates such beautiful colors? )

Photo Sep 27, 6 40 00 AM

Our teacher was also from Brittany, and she was top-notch. Observe: Some of her cookies burned slightly while she was demonstrating how to pipe ganache. Pas de problème. She flipped the cookies over and turned them into this:

Photo Sep 27, 7 45 24 AM

Again, these were our teacher’s reject macarons. And now, presenting an attempt at non-reject macarons, courtesy of the newlyweds:

Photo Sep 27, 7 52 27 AM

It’s like I always say: When life smooshes your macarons together, make caterpillars and googly eyes.

Photo Sep 27, 11 06 03 AM
Ahem. Someone may have become all caught up in chocolate-decoration frenzy. And someone may have forgotten that macarons are sandwich cookies. Delicious sandwich cookies that traveled surprisingly well on the plane back to Seattle, beeteedubs.

Fast-forward three months to Macaron Attempt #2: Green Seattle Seahawks macarons for a Superbowl party. We tried using natural powdered food coloring from Whole Foods and the baking mat from this kit by Lékué, which allegedly cradles each cookie in a little silicon well. Allegedly.

Seahawks macaron


1) These cookies tasted like Starburst fruit chews would taste if Starburst fruit chews were made out of eggs.

2) It’s a good thing I am reading this psychology book about how a “growth mindset” is the key to success. The takeaway: The ability to make macarons is not fixed. Look upon those pools of green goo as an opportunity to learn, and try again. Bad macarons do not make a bad person.

3) Besides, when you are wearing a bedazzled cut-resistant glove, the traditional definition of “bad” does not apply.

mj pizza cutter

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