December 9: Deconstructed Cherry Macarons


French Macarons

(from The Tasty)


  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and process on low speed, until extra fine. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  4. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a spatula to gently fold until combined. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up.
  5. Transfer the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
  6. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  7. Pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch (3-cm) circles, spacing at least 1-inch (2-cm) apart.
  8. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles.
  9. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry to the touch.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
  11. Bake the macarons for 17 minutes, until the feet are well-risen and the macarons don’t stick to the parchment paper.
  12. Transfer the macarons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

So I like to keep it real with all of you. I’m not a professional baker. I’m a writer. And since I’m not a professional baker, sometimes, a little batter must fall.

Yes, there was a baking fail. And that’s okay. Because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And a variety of other cliches about things not going right.

I made the exact same recipe from last year, the exact same way, and the results were not the same. Here’s a pictorial account of my cookie for the day:

And after doing everything right, this is what I got:

Macarons with feet that were too big. They still tasted great, but looked hideous.

Which is when I invented the Deconstructed Macaron. I tell ya, if this was a real thing before I coined it, you’d be paying double for one at your local bakery. It’s like when the Cronut was invented. Or penicillin.

Instead of going into the center of my misshaped macarons, the buttercream I made (butter, powdered sugar, cherry juice, cherry butter) got ladled (yes, ladled) on top.

And though they are ugly–and they are–they are still delicious. But make no mistake; they are ugly. Not even this Spode Christmas plate could pretty them up.

But that’s okay. You heard it here first. Deconstructed Macarons were invented in 2019 by a writer in Chicagoland!

December 2: Swedish Butter Cookies


Today I made this wonderful recipe from my friend Michele, that she shared with me a few years ago. I have a lot of work to catch up on today, so I needed something that wouldn’t take a lot of time. Swedish butter cookies are pretty quick while also being impressive. When I put the cherry on each one, my daughter saw them and said, “Oh yeah! I love these kind!”

The dough is a standard butter, sugar, vanilla base, with an egg yolk instead of the whole egg. The egg white is kept for later, when it needs to be whipped. Once the flour and half-and-half is incorporated, it should make a ball in the mixer. For me, that generally means it all congregates on my paddle attachment and brings the top of the mixer down with a big thud. 

I whipped the egg white in a tiny little bowl with one whisk attachment of my hand mixer. I also chopped a 1/2 cup of pecans with my old Pampered Chef chopper. I ended up needing more, because I wasn’t being stingy with the pecans. 

I like to dry the maraschino cherries a bit, so the juice from it doesn’t stain the cookie. I also like to swat the little girl that keeps stealing maraschino cherry halves from my bowl when I’m not looking. You dip a dough ball in the egg white, and then the pecans, and put it on a cookie sheet. When the tray is full, put half of a maraschino cherry in the middle of each cookie, pressing down slightly.

Into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes they go. Keep an eye on these. A few years ago, I burnt a batch of these because I got distracted by a cool looking spider that I wanted to take a picture of. I got the picture of the spider, but at the expense of a tray of cookies. It was a sad day. 

I love these cookies, and they look so pretty with the cherry in the middle. Truth be told, I love maraschino cherries, and I always think about the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall has a coworker that does all this crazy stuff, including eating a jar of maraschino cherries for money. I never understood that, because I’d totally do it for free. And maybe actually have. 

Swedish Butter Cookies(

(courtesy of the fabulous Miss Michele!)

  • ½ lb. butter or margarine (2 sticks)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (save whites to whip)
  • 1 T. half & half (I always use milk)
  • ½ t. baking powder
  • ½ c. chopped pecans
  • 1 bottle maraschino cherries

Cream butter, add sugar; add egg yolk then vanilla and mix well.  Next, add the flour with the baking powder mixed in.  Alternate adding the flour with the half & half.  Form dough into little balls the size of a walnut.  Whip egg whites stiff.  Dip dough balls into whipped egg white and roll in pecans.  Place a half of a cherry in the center and push it down lightly.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-20 min. in a 350 degree oven.  Watch them so they don’t over brown.  Yum, yum, yum!