I am practically squealing with delight to bring you this adorably relevant content today. In this edition of Wake & Bake, not only did we cook up some of THE cutest little french cookies you’ve ever seen--we’re also here to celebrate the unofficial, yet very important holiday that is Galentine’s Day. In today’s climate, we find ourselves happily drifting further and further from tired ass norms while creating new, refreshing ways to make those traditions our own. Enter Galentine’s: a day to worship and celebrate the goddesses in our lives. Every year on February 13th, across the nation women gather for brunch, cocktails, treats, and small gifts to rejoice in each other’s company. While February 14th might still belong to the general public as the feast of Saint Valentine, we’re here to tell you that you can and should show love for the femmeships in your lives just the same.
One of the most wholesome and pure things about Galentine’s Day is that the holiday itself was created by an oh-so-lovable fictional character named Leslie Knope on the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation back in 2010. Played by Amy Poehler, Leslie Knope is the effervescent lead female protagonist of the show. Constantly building up the women around her and inspiring everyone she meets with her can-do attitude, Leslie’s thoughtfulness borders on terminally delightful. It’s remarkably touching and special to think about how this fictional tradition caught fire across the globe and transcended television over the past 9 years.
To commemorate, we decided this was the perfect opportunity to try our hand at something we’ve never made before: MACARONS!
Macarons are those colorful, delicate sandwich cookies you might see in the window of most fancy bakeries and cafes. They’re available in all sorts of wild flavors now, but their origin dates back to simpler times in 16th century Italy. Back then they were a singular cookie made from almond powder, egg whites, and sugar. The foundation of their recipe hasn’t changed much over time, but they evolved into the familiar double decker cookie with some sort of buttercream filling in France around the beginning of the 20th century. Since one of our biggest requests has been gluten-free and/or flourless desserts, we were all too excited to take on these tiny cuties.
In the W&B kitchen this week we had the lovely pleasure of being visited by talent singer, songwriter Isabel Crespo. (If you missed her Songwriting Scholarship release yesterday, GO TO THERE!) Our photographer Leah Jones also joined the kitchen party (hence the GORGEOUS process shots) while the Shiny Sound Recording crew made magic happen in the studio. Getting to bake and brunch to the sound of melodic tunes coming from the Shiny Sound Studio is one of the greatest privileges ever, and meeting the artists and communing with them over delicious food and ideas is somehow even more exciting!
This being indeed our first rodeo, we decided to keep the flavors and colors pretty simple. The cookies were flavored with a vanilla bean and dyed pink by adding just a touch of red food coloring gel. The filling was a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream made entirely from brown sugar + chocolate + butter + egg whites--which blew me away, because I didn’t even realize one could make frosting sans white sugar. It. was. Incredible. The caramely rich flavor of the buttercream, when combined with the melted chocolate….my entire mouth just filled with saliva as I typed this. Add this to my long running list of mind blowingly delicious things I learn in Caitlin’s kitchen.
After making the dough for the macaron cookies, we used parchment paper and a shot glass to trace perfect circles onto our baking sheet in order to ensure evenly shaped cookies. Guess what? Mistakes were made! The second round of cookies got piped out just a teeny bit bigger than the first batch and they completely collapsed in on themselves. It was sad. Sure, they were still tasty, but it was a harsh reminder that even when you think you’ve got everything figured out, poof! Your cookie literally crumbles. Therefore, take it from me: DO NOT overpipe your cookies or make them too big on the bake sheet. A little dab'll do ya, as the old saying goes.
You’ll want to see “feet” on the bottom of your cookies when they’re nearly done baking. The feet are the ruffles on the edge of the cookies that give a macaron their distinctive look. When we checked on our first batch in the oven and noticed they had feet, we were quite literally cheering “THEY HAVE FEET!!! OMG WE HAVE FEET!!!” It was the kind of triumphant moment that only comes when you attempt something you’ve never done before--and you totally nail it.
After the stress and excitement of macaron making was over, Caitlin began whipping up a chocolate mousse, just for kicks… as if we needed anymore seduction going on in that kitchen!? This mousse is a positively sinful dark chocolate mousse, that despite using eggs, dark chocolate, and heavy cream, is as light as can be and keeps you coming back for more. Plating and propping up our macarons was one of the funnest foodie photo shoots, simply because everything looked so damn CUTE. We even managed to make our collapsed cookies look good by breaking them in half and using them for decoration in those decadent cups of chocolate mousse.
So, if you’ve been looking for a couple of gluten free desserts, or have always wanted to try out macarons, but have been too afraid, trust us when we say that we are here for you! They’re no easy feat, but feet or no feet, whether you celebrate Valentine’s, Galentine’s, Palentine’s day or whatever, your day deserves to be filled with things like buttercream, tiny cookies, chocolate mousse, and true affection for the special people in your life.