Humans reaching for the oblong pod hanging from the branches of Theobroma cacao and producing a bar of dark 60% chocolate wrapped in golden foil must have been a gradual process. Trial after error, step after step, humans created these mysterious objects now mundane. Logically this must have been the way, but I still wonder. Who, after all, was the guy who said “hey, let’s put the grapes in that barrel” or, “I’m going to leave my rectangle of dried clay in the fire” or, “let’s just keep beating these egg whites.”
Silly, or ditzy, as it may sound, sometimes the final product seems so ridiculous I wonder if the origin wasn’t just as spontaneous. I’ll wonder what has possessed humans to create a new out of what is already whole. At these times, I’ll imagine a distracted individual beating a bowl of egg whites (because the yolks have mysteriously disappeared), until he or she looks down into the bowl and says “dang, well now that’s ruined, except maybe not because I’ve been hoping to lighten up that flour mixture.”
Or, maybe it was a lowly apprentice forced to whisk and whisk and whisk away at a bowl of egg whites for practice and punishment. Until the apprentice, having had time to ponder the frothing liquid, one-ups the master and makes macarons.
The explanation I find most likely is the one of curiosity. Macarons, like chocolate and bricks, are the outcome of the “let’s see what happens if…” thought. It’s a thought I easily identify with. Once, while on a work’s interoffice website I came across a tempting link. Just to see what happened, I clicked it. Several people and days later the outcome of that click had been undone.
Wanting to know what happens when…is why I made macarons — lavender flavored with earl grey ganache — last weekend. Originally, I thought that this was one cantankerous cookie I’d never made before, until the memories of three failed batches of hazelnut cocoa meringue attempted on behalf of my brother resurfaced. Darian, if you’d like we can attempt those again — this time I know what I’m doing.
Modern macarons are brightly colored in pinks, greens, and yellows with food dye. These should have been a delicate purple to match the dried lavender added to the macraonage stage. Though I tried, these are not that delicate purple. Depending on the lighting each cookie reflects either rosy gray or golden tan. There is a theory on why the many drops of red and blue food dye wouldn’t take. While making these I had the option of using up the organic, natural sugar thereby freeing up pantry space or using the white processed sugar that readily sucks up food dye. Theoretically. Ooh, I see a science experiment in my future — just to see what happens. These, I imagine are more rustic, more akin to the original — in the days after some person whipped up the egg whites but before they decided to turn them technicolor.