As the COVID-19 pandemic expanded around the world, I had to stay at home for over six months. During that time, I quickly got bored and decided to try out some new things to do. Since I have lots of spare time nowadays, one brilliant idea crossed my mind: baking. When COVID-19 broke out, the number of people doing baking increased dramatically, which is reflected by the huge increase in baking videos on YouTube. Moreover, many celebrities, such as Selena Gomez and Emma Chamberlain, are now frequently posting their own cooking videos. Sufficiently motivated by them, I bought all the cooking supplies I needed.
Out of all the desserts I could make with my cooking supplies, I chose macarons. Macarons are colorful, sweet, smooth-textured cookies that originated in the 16th century and became popular during the Renaissance. It is believed that Catherine de Medici, a former queen of France, brought over Italy's macarons to France. Over time, different regions in France adopted their own unique recipes. However, the macaron that we know today is said to have emerged in the 19th century, when La Maison Laudree started making macarons in Paris.
|[Picture of macarons at a local macaron store. Photo courtesy of Minji Kwon]|
Unlike other desserts, which take about an hour to make, macarons took almost three hours because I had to prepare additional butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, egg, salt, almond powder, and granulated sugar. Although I was worried that I might fail, after rewatching some YouTube videos, I was sure that I could make a decent macaron on my own.
|[Cooking supplies for macarons. Photo courtesy of Minji Kwon]|
With my ingredients ready, I started by cracking the egg and putting the butter, powdered sugar, almond flour, salt, and egg whites in a bowl. Gradually, I added granulated sugar and vanilla extract. After mixing these around, I piped the macaron batter onto the parchment paper and let the macaron shells dry for 30 minutes before putting them into the oven. Meanwhile, I made the buttercream with vanilla extract and sugar powder. When the macaron shells were ready, I transferred the buttercream to a piping bag and added a dollop of buttercream to each shell. Boom! With the buttercream between the macaron shells, my macarons were complete.
|[Baking macaron shells. Photo courtesy of Minji Kwon]|
To make the macarons unique, I added pieces of biscuits and chocolates to the buttercream. The visuals and taste both turned out great, so I shared my macarons with my family.Although making my macarons and researching the macaron’s history was entertaining, there were some trivial challenges involved. For example, gradually adding the ingredients took a lot of time and effort because I had to add them little by little and mix them three separate times, which caused some parts of the mix to spill over. I realized that I should use a larger bowl next time. Moreover, some of the macaron shells got stuck to the unoiled parchment paper, causing some edges of the macaron shells to break apart; and me to fail to create perfect circular-shaped macarons. Lastly, I had to let them sit for one whole hour, which took a lot of patience.
|[Finished macarons. Photo courtesy of Minji Kwon]|
However, through this activity, I explored many ways of making creative macarons. Although I encountered some trivial challenges, I am pleased with my overall baking experience. While making macarons started from my simple effort to avoid boredom, I am ready to make more tasty macarons based on my previous mistakes. Therefore, in addition to learning how to bake, I also learned the valuable lesson that I should always reflect on my mistakes and strive to make better macarons in the future. Watching my family members enjoying my amateurish macarons, inspired me to later add more designs and flavors to gain more confidence. This experience was valuable to me, and there are indeed no limitations to my ability to make more delicious macarons.
To sum up, through making macarons, I came to realize how difficult yet engaging baking is. The macarons I made do truly feel different from the macarons that I have bought at the store. Amid COVID-19, many fundraisers are being held to support workers and patients. To add more meaning to my baking, I thought it would be nice to marketize my product to participate in such fundraising. Unfortunately, however, judging from the quality of my product, I decided not to. Instead, I decided I would practice my baking to make a better product next time. Though I do not believe I can sell my macarons, for those who already have good baking skills, it is an excellent way to entertain yourself while also contributing to a good cause. Why not try baking your own macarons and sell them for a worthy cause?
Junior (Grade 11)
Seoul Scholars International
Minji Kwon firstname.lastname@example.org