Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia's 100th Birthday Magic Macs

“...nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”
― Julia Child, My Life in France

Great Julia's Ghost blessed me this morning.  I made my 5th attempt macaron batch on Monday evening, wanting to somehow succeed for Julia Child's centennial birthday. 

Because she reinvented herself, pushed herself, persevered with determination.  When someone said no, she said something like, "Oh hell, YES!"  I tried again.  New recipe.  Subtle changes to technique.  A wish and a prayer.

On Monday evening, I exhaled, and adopted Julia's "in cooking, you have to have a what the hell attitude".  What was the worst that could happen?  They'd be hollow?  Pfffbbt.  So?

Less whipping.  Lighter Meringue.
Careful, "Comma" Piped Circles.
Rapped Pans, Rested Macs
Tended In The Oven Like Newborn Babies With Cute Feet
I let them cool completely, and with great hope, carefully sliced through one pale Tiffany blue macaron.


I packaged them up unfilled & put them in the fridge.  I almost cried.  I went to bed.


Being totally honest here.  I messaged a local pastry chef who specializes in Macs and begged her to help me.  She offered a few suggestions in response, I considered.

Remembering Julia's "what the hell" attitude, I grabbed a jar of lemon curd and filled the macs, returning them to the fridge.  Either I'd find someone to eat yet another batch of hollow macs, or I'd sit on the couch on Julia's birthday Wednesday, alone, and eat the whole batch myself, sobbing while watching Julie & Julia on DVD.  Either way...

Very. Early. Wednesday.

I got up before anyone else, sun coming up.  I pulled the box of macs from the fridge and set them on the counter.  I showered, opened up the house to delicate fog chased by glowing sunbeams.  "Happy Birthday, Julia!"   I thought in my head. 

I grabbed a macaron and went to the front door to enjoy the quiet and sunshine.  Dust motes danced.

I bit into the mac and THERE WAS RESISTANCE.

After producing at least 125 hollow macarons, this was different.

Heaven help me, but Julia's birthday gift to me - the lesson - so appropos. 


Twenty four hours in the fridge sandwiched with lemony curdiness and a return to the world of room temperature had transformed my hollows into something so much closer to correct...something passable, something miraculous:
Perfect?  Nope.  But LIGHT YEARS closer!
I admit, I have filled hollow macs before and this has not happened in the past.  They stayed hollow and were brittle at first bite.  Macawrongs.

Not. On. Julia's. Birthday. Thank. You. Very. Much.

Magic?  Faith?  One hundred years of Julia Child's presence and influence upon cooks, bakers, and foodies everywhere?  We'll never know.

My entire body trembles with excitement typing this post.  If nothing else, I said, "what the hell" and tried again.  I held back the tears and didn't make excuses or explain away my failure.
 I went forward anyway.

Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!
Thank You!


  1. Oh my Gosh!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! That's so amazing!
    Love, Jamie
    PS. I'll still eat you hollow ones. :)

  2. That sounds wonderful! I have been debating on making Macarons, I had just quite sadly learned that it was not the same cookie I grew up with.I was determined to make them till I saw what they called for and that's when I shut down >.< I can make a decent meringue cookie but it just looks so scary. All the pictures I have seen make it look easy but I know its not and to hear that your first attempts didn't work as you had hoped gives me hope that they are not "easy" to make but a realistic goal I can set.

    1. Zethan, if you have any persistence whatsoever, I highly recommend this macaron journey. I've since made another batch that are the best yet, so I'm improving with every attempt. Very rewarding when you effectively teach yourself how to do something that is honestly only 4 ingredients but all technique. Feels great when you see progress! Good luck, let me know how it goes if you try! :-)


Play nice in the sandbox, please!