Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr. Nice Guy

Ever had one of those days where the whole world seems to be picking on you?  I'm sure you have.  Don't worry, I'm not about to spend the next three paragraphs griping about my day.  After all, I'm pretty sure you've stopped by to learn about how to make some seriously scrumptious macaroons (we'll get there!), and are somewhat less interested in my two (totally bogus) parking tickets, my farcically unpleasant boss, and the fact that it's been days since I saw my man-slice, now that he's shifted to a nocturnal work schedule at the hospital.  No, no, I've gotten all that griping out of my system by now (thanks, Mom!)

Instead, I'd like to tell you about something nice.  Or rather, someone nice.  This past Monday I started a brand new unit at culinary school:  Baking and Pastry.  Wooooo!  Sorry, the excitement still hasn't worn off.  And with the brand new unit came a brand new instructor.  And...and...wait for it...he's NICE!  Really nice!  Honestly, actually nice! 

On day one, I thought it might be an act.  You know, buttering us all up (no pun intended) before shifting gears into No-More-Mr.-Nice-Guy the minute we reached the unit on pie.  On day two, I wondered if his elated mood might be a by-product of the copious amounts of sugar dust floating through the air.  On day three, I finally had him figured out.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you...a genuinely nice guy.  The strange thing about his niceness is that it seems to be infectious.  Cliques of students who previously didn't say much to one another are sharing tips, compliments, and banter.  People are pitching in to clean up like never before.  In three short days, the entire chemistry of our class seems to have shifted.

I was so drawn in by his nice-ness that I even forgot to ruin my egg whites this evening, and was flabbergasted to find myself holding a platter of semi-respectable macaroons at the end of class.  If you recall my first 5 attempts at beating egg whites into something pretty (click here, and here), you'll understand just why I was so surprised. 

So, friends, I do hate to end a post with something trite, but it's late, I'm sleep deprived, and cliches are starting to look as inviting as my fluffy down comforter.  Perhaps I'll simply say that having the person in charge be nice, is a gosh darn nice change of pace.

Almond Macaroons

4 oz. egg whites (from 4 eggs)
11 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 oz. almond flour
8 oz. confectioner's sugar

Step one:  Whisk egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.  Gradually add the granulated sugar during this process, being careful only to sprinkle in a bit at a time.

Step two:  Sift almond flour and confectioner's sugar together.  Add vanilla and half the dry mixture to the whipped egg whites and gently fold in with a spatula.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients the same way, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

Step three:  Fill a pastry bag with a round tip, and pipe out cookies about the size of a half-dollar coin.  It helps to hold the pastry bag at a 45 degree angle so that you don't get a little nub on top of each cookie.

Step four:  Let cookies rest at room temp for about 10 minutes, then bake at 325 F until set.  The length of time will depend on the size of your cookies and the temp of your oven, so just keep watch on them and you'll be fine.

Step five:  Allow cookies to cool completely.  Pipe a small amount of fruit jam (I used raspberry) onto one cookie, and sandwich it with a cookie of similar size.

If you're feeling extra nice, make some extra and share them around!


  1. That's amazing! Bakers are usually famous for being grumps. What is his secret? Could he have a split personality?

  2. Those are truly the most beautiful macaroons! Mine are usually so flat. I can't wait to try your recipe.

    When I make mine, I add sifted cocoa and orange zest. I got that suggestion from the chef/owner of Village Bakery in Lawrenceville, NJ.

  3. Hi, my name is Kinzie and I am friends with Hillary. She has pointed me in the direction of this blog a few times to read about various culinary events (macaroons, pumpkin pie) and I love the pictures and the descriptions every time. So I hope it's alright, I'm going to add this blog to my reader. I love reading about food, especially since the kitchen has a toaster oven instead of a real oven and two small hot plates instead of a stove. This blog will help me dream about the days when I can cook for real again!


  4. Bring back the pretty logo.

  5. Wow...these look so cute....perfect! I wish I can have some!



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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009