Before I began, I had to decide what flavors and fillings to use. I ended up nixing the vanilla bean cookie idea because those vanilla bean pods cost their weight in gold. I wanted to do a little trial and error first. For the filling, I chose lemon curd and thickened Nutella. The lemon curd turned out brilliant despite my quick improvisation of a frying pan and pot as a doubler boiler. Yes, that works, and yes, we are sadly lacking in the kitchen equipment department. Taking donations now!
The Nutella was tricky because I looked at about 5 recipes, mixing and matching whatever ingredients we actually had in the house (which isn't much). I used a generous 1/2 cup of Nutella, 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, a little less than 1/4 cup powered sugar, and 2% milk as need to create the right consistency. See the improvisation written all over it? Trial and error. Trial and error. It's hard to mess up Nutella though. Its hazelnut chocolateyness is just too delicious for its own good.
The macaron cookie process surprised me in it's simplicity. My only complaints are a sore arm from whipping the egg whites and maybe a smidge too much sugar... although that could have been my fault for not incorporating it thoroughly because I mixed the sugar in by the tablespoon instead of the teaspoon. Read your recipe carefully friends!
Draw circles on the back of the parchment paper with a round objects to create identical cookie sizes. Use a piping bag to drop the mixture on the baking sheet. These bags are a pain to fill by yourself, so set it inside a bowl to keep it steady while you pour. I was covered with macaron guts by the end! Then, let your macarons rest and drop the tray on a table to get out all those pesky air bubbles. These are key steps to success. Next time I will leave the macarons in the oven longer. My oven runs a little cooler, I discovered, since most of the cookie bottoms stuck to the pan, even with the parchment paper.
Lastly fill those delightful, delicate cookies, but not too much! Less is more in this case. You don't want to overwhelm them. I learned that the hard way as I had to go back and scoop out filling. Refrigerate and enjoy!
Mine turned out well for a first attempt, but certainly a long way to go toward perfection. I loved this baking challenge and can't wait to apply what I've learned and tackle them again in the future!