As someone who competes almost exclusively with herself, self-doubt might as well be kryptonite. I can't explain it, and I can't fix it, so I drag it around like garbage, and frankly, it stinks. In time, my festering disappointment and frustration abate, and I'm left wondering what the hell is wrong with me. I'm a fully functioning 23 year old, so why won't I cut myself some slack?
I've been spending an increasing amount of time online, building a brand for my blog and myself. (Increasing being no time at all to upwards of one, uninterrupted hour a day of calculated squandering on social media). As much as it pains me to admit, it adds value. Social media provides me the means for curating what I want others to see by filtering out everyday missteps and failures (my mess and frustration don't fit in the camera frame). But holding myself out as someone who lives & bakes effortlessly (to any degree) makes the frequent failure that much harder and fuels a kind of self-fulfilling imposter syndrome. And while edited perfection is attractive at times, it makes it more difficult for me to give myself a break.
All of this became immediately apparent during a recent attempt at making macarons. These devilishly divine Parisian sandwich cookies really suck to make. A great equalizer, stymieing even the most experienced bakers, they're time-consuming, finicky, and at the very least, messy.
My first go-round resulted in complete failure. Seriously, it was a macaron graveyard. And at the risk of sounding terribly melodramatic, I was crushed. I'd spent hours measuring, scaling, folding, piping, and baking -- and for what? How can I expect anyone to read my blog and take me seriously if I can hardly make macarons? (Please note the earlier attempt to mitigate melodrama). This self-directed diatribe is how I wasted a perfectly lovely Saturday.
Sunday morning I decided to buck up and try again. I troubleshooted some of the issues from the day before and made discernible improvements. It was more rewarding than I would have thought, which is in large part due to the fiasco of the day before. They aren't perfect, and that's okay. I'm embracing stylish failure. #macaronlifelessons
The recipe still needs some tweaking. Once I've discovered the secret, I'll be sure to share it. In the meantime, the fillings were delicious...
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted (if you have the patience for it)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
- In the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
- On slow speed, incorporate the confectioners sugar one cup at a time.
- Add the vanilla extract and milk and beat until light and fluffy.
1/2 recipe basic buttercream
3 tablespoons tahini paste
- Gently stir tahini paste into buttercream until combined.
- Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Earl Grey Ganache & Buttercream
1/2 cup milk
4 teabags earl grey
10 oz. dark chocolate
1/2 recipe basic buttercream
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat
- Place the tea bags in the hot milk and steep for 10 minutes.
- Chop the dark chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl.
- Remove the tea bags from the milk. Pour the milk over the chocolate and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes.
- Stir the ganache until it becomes one, consistent mixture. If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat in the microwave in 20 second intervals until there are no clumps.
- Use the ganache as is, refrigerate for a thicker consistency, or whip with the other half of the basic buttercream for an earl grey chocolate buttercream.
*Special shout out to my dear Aunt Didi for the unbelievably beautiful plates from France. This is not the last you'll see of them.*