Weekend Project: Make Macarons!

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We've been dying to try our hand at homemade macarons every since we started talking about macarons being the next cupcake. We're thinking of attempting a holiday version to give as gifts this year! Have any of you ever made them?
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What really tipped our desire to make macarons from fantasy to necessity was this slide show from the blogger behind Eggbeater, Shuna Fish Lydon:

French Macaron Class from Shuna Fish Lydon via Flickr

Macarons are notoriously tricky to make and folks can get quite fanatical about exact techniques, ingredients, and tools. Lydon's pictures from her macaron class give some visuals to these intimidating steps - particularly the proper way to hold the piping bag and then how to pipe out the macarons.

Lydon's post pointed us in the direction of a recipe she recommends:

Step-by-Step French Macarons from Dessert Magazine

Which in turn led us to this very technical tutorial from La Cuisine de Mercotte (ain't the internet grand?!):

Macaron Day: Desperately Seeking Macarons from La Cuisine de Mercotte

And of course, what gets us really excited about macarons are all the crazy and mouth-watering flavor combinations:

Raspberry Chocolate French Macarons from Epicurious
Espresso Toffee Macarons from Tartlette
Matcha Tea and Chocolate Macarons from La Tartine Gourmande

We'd really like to make some holiday themed cookies - gingerbread macarons, anyone? Perhaps peppermint chocolate?

The intimidation factor is pretty big with making macarons. It doesn't help that there are so many recipes out there with so many very slight variations! But there's something to be said for just jumping in, giving it a go, and seeing what happens. After all, if we mess up the cookies, we can always comfort ourselves by eating the ganache with a spoon, right?!

Anyone have any good tips to share before we take our leap of faith?

Related: What's the Difference? Macaroons vs. Macarons

(Images: Flickr members jslander and Scout Seventeen licensed under Creative Commons)

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