Truth or Dare Macarons

IMG_8941It’s been 1,750 days since I lost my son. Nice round number. You would think in all that time that someone or some book would have set me straight on this grief experience. Many said it would get better with time. Others said maybe around year 3 you will start to feel some peace. And still others said you will feel joy and happiness again. Yet, not a one dared speak the additional real truth. Honesty around this subject is difficult. Who wants to be the barer of more bad news?

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Before I reveal my truth there is clearly something about it I don’t understand and so I continue to write this blog hoping to reach some clarity. You see there have been many deaths in my lifetime attending funerals since I am a little girl. In Italian families, back in the old days, all the kids went to the funerals to show “respect”. We were close knit. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, a nephew, friends and my parents. Kneeling and praying over open caskets. Tearful. I loved them all dearly, but the grief associated with their loss dissipated quickly and rarely visits me now. When it does it is usually in the form of a fond or funny memory and gone again in a split second. Why is it so painfully different for me with my son?

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Maybe that is the answer. He is my son. Is there something different about a mother and her son vs a daughter and her dad or her mother? Is it because he is gone too soon or was it because it was a preventable accident? I don’t know, but with William I carry a different kind of grief. It grips me when I close my eyes at night and even tighter when I open them in the morning all these days. No one told me it would be like this. The truth is it will always be this way. The truth is I have the strength to carry it. The truth is I will follow in his light. Harness your Will.

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Did you notice the black and white photo disaster above? My attempt at making the very temperamental French confection known as macarons was quite the disaster. What a waste of some expensive ingredients. Goodness has its price. I had to get my “William on” and double dog dare myself to try it again and then one more time for good measure.

IMG_9052This first recipe is inspired by a bottle of citrus vanilla flavoring called Fiori di Sicilia that I purchased on a visit to the King Arthur Flour baking school in Vermont. It just seemed right to add some vanilla bean powder in both the shells and the filling and then team it with a citrus curd. With an adjustment of oven temperature and baking time my second attempt at these shells came out pretty good, but not perfect. I think I under-mixed the batter. Folding the ingredients together until the batter is a bit runny is needed so the shells do a little spreading. As you can see my shells did not fill the circles. I also recommend weighing the ingredients, but if you don’t own a scale I did provide some equivalent standard measures.IMG_8959

Vanilla-Citrus Macarons

65 grams (3/4 cup) almond flour

115 grams (1/2 cup) confectionary, powdered or icing sugar

65 grams (2 large) egg whites

32 grams/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean powder

1/8 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia flavoring

In small bowl, sift almond flour and powdered sugar; set aside. Beat egg whites and half the granulated sugar to soft peak. Add remaining sugar, salt, vanilla bean powder and flavoring; whisk to stiff peaks. Add almond flour mixture to meringue; gently fold until the mixture is smooth, shiny and slightly runny. Pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe out ¾-inch mounds on either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Tap the pan a few times to remove air bubbles. Let them rest for 30 minutes or until they appear dry on top. Heat oven to 400F. Turn oven down to 300F and place macarons in oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and appear dry but not brown. Let cool on pan for 15 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Pipe or spoon cooled citrus curd on flat side of half the shells. Gently place second shell on top.

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Vanilla-Citrus Curd

2 egg yolks

1/3-cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon vanilla bean powder

pinch sea salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, zest, vanilla bean powder and salt in a heat-proof bowl or double boiler. Place bowl over simmering water (do not let bottom of bowl touch the water) and continue whisking until thick like pudding. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Cover surface of curd with plastic wrap; chill.

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Runny batter fills the spaces

So with Valentine’s Day on the horizon I thought I might try a hubby favorite combo of chocolate and peanut butter with my third attempt at macarons. To make the chocolate shells all I did was use the same recipe above except to sift in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder with the almond flour and eliminate the fiori di sicilia. Here is the recipe for the filling.IMG_9021

Peanut Butter Filling

1/2 cup well-stirred creamy natural peanut butter or salted caramel peanut butter spread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 teaspoons buttermilk

Beat all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

The truth is it is best to have courage and not be destoyed by life’s injustice. Find your strength and carry on. Oh, and by the way, I found Doreen…….

18 thoughts on “Truth or Dare Macarons

  1. Always wishing you Peace and Hope…even if it comes sprinkling down on you in just smidgens through your recipes and blog. Feeling the love.

  2. I think we want someone to tell us how this will all work out in the end. This is why I read your blog. (I do enjoy the food, too) There is a Portuguese word that can’t be translated well into English. It is “saudade” and the meaning has to do with the deep melancholy and longing for something loved that has been lost. It is the deep feeling that remains. Someone gave me a card with the word on it when Aidan died. To be honest, I’m not sure how it fits, but I like it. I like it because it has no literal understanding, and I won’t ever be able to describe to anyone what it is like to lose my child because there aren’t words in our language adequate enough to describe these feelings.

  3. You know I love the pictures of Will in his RU Lax sweatshirt and with Cole. Your persistence and ultimate triumph with macarons is a good metaphor for your battle with grief.

    • As always dear Krista I have to thank you for sharing your heart and grief journey here. You have helped me learn so many things about what it is like being a mom who has lost a son.

  4. My heart just hurts reading this and my eyes are filled. Your love and pride for Will is so evident in your photos. And he was a man, a good man who really was a part of you. That is why the pain is so deep and never ending. A part of you was ripped away without warning with all the expectations of what was to come with him as years passed. Our children have our hearts, always and that’s why the hurt never ends. Hugs to you, you’re so special.

    • It really helps to know other moms who understand how I feel. I know re-living this through me must also be very difficult for you. Thank you for your strength to share with other moms.❤️

  5. Hi Lisa,
    We love macarons (Laura, my wife is a professional chef from Brussels), just thinking about you and always sorry still to hear of your son (we have two adult daughters). Hope to meet you some day. Until then, happy cooking and baking.
    Buona giornata,
    Paul

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  6. You are such an inspiration to me in many ways, Lisa. You are a wonderful woman filled with strength and love and I’m so honored that I am your friend. I remember when you posted about Doreen who sat on Will’s bench. I remember reading your blog post about her and that your friend knew who she was. And now you have a new special friend. Love you, Lisa. BTW….you are one fantastic baker and I hope to be as good as you at it one day!!!!! 😀

    • I have the best time when I am at a competition with you. Laughter is the best grief relief and you supply me with a big fun dose. Luv u too

  7. 1750 days of unthinkable heartbreak. I think about William every single day and the void this exceptional human being has left in all of our lives. Thank goodness for your blog and your words of wisdom. (and for your 28 years of friendship!). Love you mama. ❤

  8. I have not been able to read this blog entry until today. It is so ironic that you posted a picture of Cole and William for this particular post because Cole is in love with Macarons right now.
    Somehow you know this and I believe that William guides you a lot. My heart gets heavy at times thinking of my extraordinary nephew. I can’t imagine what you have to endure day in and day out. However, Lisa, you show the world that you can carry on and you do it courageously.

    I too had a disastrous 1st attempt at making these, so Cole and I decided to just buy them!

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