Husband (giddy): yay...macarons! What kind?
Me (matter of fact): they are filled with mascarpone and a bit of membrillo left over from the shoot the other day.
Husband (amused): did you make them for Valentine's Day?
Me (in my best Mrs Patmore impersonation): why on earth would I do that?
Me: well you know what I mean. We don't really do Valentine's Day here so I did not make them for that. Specifically. I made them for you. Specifically.
Me: dude! It's been 14 years we haven't cared much about that cheesy holiday and "awkward!-I forgot-a-card" day. So why push my buttons about it now?
Him: no reason. I just love seeing you scrambling...and I like to push your button. Specifically.
Fast forward to this morning. I did get him a card. And he did give me one. We were both at the grocery store yesterday and stopped by the stationary. I started flipping through the fun card and one made me giggle. So I got it. He did the same. They were fun cards. They made us giggle. And that will be the extent of our Valentine's Day (he's got a gig tonight).
I am not going to be the one whining about all the pink hearts and red cupids. They might burn a whole through my skull today too but I might have gotten softer in the last few years. Indeed, I am pretty sure I don't dislike V-Day. I don't like it either. I hate the pressure it adds for people in new relationships or in rocky ones. I like that it can give someone the wings to make a first step or to get someone out of the dog house.
Why doesn't it phase me more than that? We are happily and giddily married. We don't wait for February 14th to extend a nice gesture, to add a nice words, to exchange a card (I often tuck one in his bag before work). But I dig the idea of an extra hug, an extra "I love you" and a extra kiss. Most of all I like the idea of taking an extra minute to be grateful for my husband's love and generosity towards me and my family.
Similar to Thanksgiving, we don't wait for that day in November to be thankful for the things we have and enjoy, for the people we love and who love us back. Just like on Thanksgiving, today I said an extra "thank you" to Bill for the wonderful person he is to me. I did it yesterday. But I might forget at some point some day next year, next week. And I'd be silly to pass on an extra hug today. Anyday.
It does not have to be a dozen roses, a fancy card or a box of chocolates. Or it might. Whatever makes one feel and be a little extra kind today. I can rally behind that.
An extra bit of kindness had never hurt anyone. It would probably make the world go a little rounder too. So here is my virtual extra hug and "thank you" today for your love and generosity towards this blog and what I share with you.
Membrillo Mascarpone Macarons:
Makes about 30 macarons (depending on size)
Notes: I can't post the exact recipe used for the membrillo (a.k.a quince paste) used to fill these macarons since the recipe is from a book not yet published (next Fall).
But I would direct you to Simply Recipes post on membrillo which I have made several times with great success.
For the macarons shells:
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
90 gr egg whites (use egg whites that have been preferably left 3-4 days in the fridge in a lidded container)(explanation here)
50 gr granulated sugar
Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Sift if desired (helps keep the shells smooth in appearance).
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.
Add the nuts and powdered sugar to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to dry their shells.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 280F.
Bake the macarons for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.
Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store the shells in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks (longer and the sugar starts to seep out which makes them sticky). Fill the macarons and let them mature in the fridge at least 48 hours prior to eating them.
For the membrillo:
Follow recipe on Simply Recipes.
For the mascarpone filling:
8 oz (210gr) mascarpone, at room temperature (or substitute cream cheese)
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Prepare the mascarpone filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and the heavy cream and whisk until all the ingredients are incoporated.
Assemble the macarons:
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe a dollop of cream onto half of the macarons. Top with a square of pate de fruits and another macaron shell.