At the ripe, old age of 26, I have officially decided that I have enough stuff to last me until I die. Don’t get me wrong, I love buying stuff and intend to keep doing it, but I have reached the point in my personal evolution where I really think about stuff before I buy it. Like, do I want this cardigan bad enough for it to collect dust on my bedroom floor? At this point, the answer is still usually yes, but at least I’m thinking about it, right?
Because my friends and I have all acquired this mentality, most of us have decided that, instead of gifts, we would get each other experiences. For the past few years, our presents for Christmases, birthdays, and any other holiday have been paint nights, concert tickets, vacations, and anything else we can think of that we’d like to do together. I think it’s a great way for us to make memories together, and memories don’t take up any space in my already-crowded room!
This year, my friend Rachel and I decided to do a macaron-making class for our joint presents.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with macarons, they’re a French cookie with a softer filling surrounded by two cookies made of light, delicate meringue. They can be any color, but they are usually colors representative of their flavoring. Ever since Rachel and I first saw them, we were obsessed because they reminded us of pretty patties on Spongebob. So of course, we had to make purple macarons because of this guy who enthusiastically tells Spongebob that he’ll try a purple pretty patty because purple is his favorite color!
As with most activities that we do, the class went horribly awry…and was subsequently way more interesting than necessary. After the class, I asked Rachel if she thought this would make a fun blog post, and her response was “Yeah, write about all that could go wrong in a macaron-making class.” So here we go!
You could be the only group in the room without a Kitchen Aid
When we signed up for the class, we saw that they would split the class into groups of 4. Rachel had hoped that we would be able to be alone in our group, and for better or for worse, she got her wish. With only 13 people having signed up, we had 2 groups of 4, one group of 3, and then me and Rachel. We were excited to have our entire station to ourselves, until we realized that we were the only group without a Kitchen Aid mixer. We had a hand-mixer with no bowl. When the chef instructed us to start mixing our ingredients together, I wasn’t sure if she wanted us to start mixing our ingredients on the table or what, but we were definitely not prepared. With a tall Kitchen Aid bowl just out of our reach, we asked for a bowl to use to mix our ingredients together. Instead of giving us the unused bowl directly in front of us, they gave us a salad bowl. What could possibly go wrong?
Your hand-mixer (since you know, they didn’t give you a Kitchen Aid) could break
It is safe to say that right off the bat, Rachel and I were behind the other groups. After waiting for a bowl and beating egg whites with a hand-mixer, each step of our baking process seemed to have some sort of setback. As Rachel and I tried to get our meringue to the right consistency, we seemed to only get further behind. It was slow-going and we were starting to get splattered with some raw egg, but we were determined to catch up.
Then the slamming started.
Just as our nervous energy started to peak, people started to slam their cookie trays onto the counter to bring the air bubbles to the surface of the cookies. While most of the groups had finished piping their cookie pieces onto their trays, we hadn’t even gotten our meringue to the right consistency! One of the chefs came over to help us.
She took the hand-mixer and bowl from us and tried to get us caught up to the other groups. As she worked with the mixer more quickly and more confidently, some meringue started jumping out of the bowl. I laughed, always amused when things go a bit wonky. I only had a few seconds to revel in this silly little mishap, however, before meringue started spraying EVERYWHERE. The chef, Rachel, and I were suddenly covered in meringue. We had it all over our clothes, our faces, and our hair. There was plenty of meringue on the table, too, that we would need to wipe up before we could continue working. The chef struggled a bit more with the hand-mixer before being able to turn it off and pull it out of the bowl, revealing that one of the wires had snapped off on one of the whisks.
The entire group started at us in disbelief. No worries, guys, this sort of chaos is totally normal for us!
If we thought our nerves were shot before, we were completely frazzled now. Nevertheless, it was time to pipe our cookies delicately onto the tray while everyone slammed their trays around us. Perfect.
The first piping bag could break
My unsteady hands added our meringue to the piping bag, and I vowed to get us back on track. I started to squeeze my first cookie onto the sheet and heard Rachel call my name loudly. I stopped and pulled away, wondering what could be going wrong now. I looked down on the cookie sheet and saw two piles of batter. The first was where the cookie should be…and the second was next to it, having come from a hole in the side of the piping bag. I looked at the chef regretfully, she laughed and offered to transfer our batter into a new pastry bag. I enthusiastically accepted her help since I didn’t want to wear more of the meringue.
The second piping bag could also break
Okay, one piping mishap down, and I was ready to start piping like a beast in an attempt to catch us up to the rest of the class. I squeezed my next attempt at the first cookie onto the sheet. Perfect shape, perfect size. Then I removed my supporting hand from the piping bag to find it covered in batter. Yes, our second piping bag had a hole right down the center. We couldn’t believe our luck. At this point, we were already preparing in our heads how we would tell this story to all of our friends. The chef exasperatedly put our pastry bag inside of another pastry bag so not to risk another tear.
The third piping bag could break
So this didn’t happen to us, but in theory, it could have. If this happens to you, I’m not sure what you should do. Request a refund? Go home and stay in the house for the rest of the day? Cry?
I feel like I should give a quick reminder here that the entire time this was going on, people were banging their cookie trays around us. On the bright side, I got the opportunity to bang our trays on the table with a resounding slam, and even the people around me commented on how intense the look on my face was. It was a nice stress reliever.
The people next to you could be the worst
Rachel and I, two people with very little tolerance for others in general, were surrounded by people who could not seem to help getting on our nerves. The woman next to me kept invading my space. Even if she could CLEARLY SEE WHAT THE CHEF WAS DOING ON THE ABOVE MONITOR, she felt the need to lean over and try to see. Towards the end of the class, she made some sort of joke and turned to me to see if I would laugh.
WE ARE NOT BONDING OVER THIS, MA’AM.
Rachel’s neighbors were even worse. Making jokes (or not?) about how “refined” their palettes were, they complained when the cookies made by the chef were too large, especially compared to their “perfect” cookies. I’m sorry, you’re mad because your cookie is too large? There are some things in life that you do not want to be large…like kidney stones or spiders, but cookies?! The larger the better!
All in all, Rachel and I had a blast and definitely would go back to a cooking/baking class, but now, we’ve learned to insist on using the Kitchen Aid and double checking our piping bags. What can we say? At least going out with us is never boring!
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/