Saturday, May 8, 2010



Coins zipped securely in my tiny green and white plastic change purse, off I raced to school, excited shivers tingling up and down my spine as I headed into class. Third grade, fourth or fifth, I sat impatiently in my seat, squirming through the Pledge of Allegiance as I waited for my teacher to pull out her order book and call us up to her desk, one by one. I carefully placed my coins, quarters, dimes and nickels, each one so carefully saved and counted again and again, on her desk and handed her the paper on which was listed my order. Books. Lovely, wonderful, magical, delicious books. And then the terrible, excruciating wait would begin, how many hours, days, weeks before I would walk again into that classroom and spy the brown carton sitting on one corner of her desk, before she would hand me my treasures, before I could rush back home, pedaling as fast as my legs would go, and climb into my special reading spot up in the front yard tree or flat on my stomach on a towel in the grass next to the dog or curled up tight in a corner of the sofa and crack open a brand new book and plunge into a new, mysterious, far away world?

Every Sunday night for so many years, we would line up in front of dad as he sat at his wooden desk and count out the coins, placing them in our hands, money for school cafeteria lunches, rewards for good grades on report cards, trusting us to spend our money wisely. We knew that we could keep the money, save it for buying little pleasures, chosen treats, if we woke up extra early every morning and packed our own school lunch, tucking sandwich, fruit, snack cake into a brown paper bag and carrying it off with us to school. The quarters, nickels and dimes often found their way to the candy store, buying jawbreakers and lovely necklaces of tangy sweet pearls in pastel colors, bright red plump wax lips and Pixy Stix or Boston Baked Beans. But most of my money would go for books. In grade school we received a tiny catalogue once a month or so with the choice of books and I spent hours agonizing over my selection, adding up the prices and counting out my coins over and over again, scratching out one choice and replacing it with another. I wanted so many! Or the Bookmobile! Once a year we would arrive in the morning and see that big converted school bus, the Bookmobile, parked on the blacktop, a fascinating place, better than the public library because here whatever we walked out that door with was ours for the keeping, ours forever!

And when I couldn’t purchase a book, own it, call it my own, read it, savor it over and over again, I would borrow one or two. The public library was a fascinating, exciting place full of fabulous riches. Once a week after school or on a Saturday morning I would race to the public library on my bike past the honking gaggle of geese who lived in the tiny canal that fronted the building, I would push open the glass doors and step into this sanctum sanctorum, my Holy of Holies, cool silence only broken by the hum of the air conditioner or the muffled stacking of books, and a peaceful calm would wash over me, the calm of coming home. I would flip through the index cards or run my fingers across a row of spines, looking for colors or titles or anything that would jump out at me, beckon me, urge “Read Me! Read Me!” and I would. I checked out the maximum that they would allow, watch with pride as the Librarian stamped the card that lived in that slot glued to the inside cover of the book and then I would carry them home, my ticket to adventure.

I loved reading. Always have, still do. Books are Aladdin dens of treasures, secret, hidden worlds to delve into, a place where you can become anyone you choose. I always longed to be someone else and looked for like-minded souls in all the little girls I read about: Beezus’ pesky little sister Ramona in her overalls with her red wagon, tagging along behind Henry just when he didn’t need a shadow, getting him into trouble once again; or running away from home with dissatisfied, self-sufficient Claudia and her kid brother Jamie (!), armed only with a pocketful of coins, hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having that whole fascinating place to themselves at night!; or Fern, Fern, that little girl on that farm saving a tiny piglet from an untimely and unfair demise, raising him and learning all about life and death and friendship. But I really felt a sisterly connection to the Odd Girl Out, those awkward, ungainly girls, the girls who don’t fit in anywhere, the girls who desperately longed for a best friend and a place in the world. Ah, yes, did I know how they felt! And I loved those books the best and read them over and over again: Jane of The Moffats, clever little girl, the third of four children, as was I, raised by a widowed mother during the Depression years, a girl who had to be resourceful, honest and independent all in the ominous shadow of that “For Sale” sign planted in front of their dear, old house. Or Ellen Tebbits, easily embarrassed, constantly teased, getting herself into trouble time after time simply because of her own bungling and clumsiness and simply longing for that one best friend. And Elizabeth, self-proclaimed “loneliest child in the whole U. S. of A.” And, again, searching for the answer to all her troubles by finding a best friend. And she does. A witch.

Clumsiness, awkwardness, loneliness, trouble and outlandish, accidental shenanigans all seem the common thread through these favorite books of mine. Yes, sadly I identified with these girls. Yes, I dreamed of being The Little Princess, living in poverty up in her garret only to be discovered by an Old Indian Gentleman who kindly recovers my riches for me. Or Ramona, powerful in her peskiness, Jane or Ellen all dressed in beautiful pink dancing gowns and whirling gracefully around the stage. Or Elizabeth, finding the most intriguing best friend, solitary, odd and uncommon yet powerful in her knowledge. I escaped into this other world as often as I could, my nose always resolutely buried between the pages of a book and living out my rather strange and simple fantasies. Fantasies neither glamorous nor otherworldly, simply the dreams of a girl who felt herself awkward and out of place and who just wanted a best friend.

I still love these non-heroines, women who swim against the social and cultural tide, women who, despite every effort just simply cannot be other than themselves: clumsy, foot-in-mouth, far from perfect Bridget Jones, too clever for her own good, practical Elizabeth Bennet, quiet, self-effacing, Little Dorrit, tomboy Scout Finch asking too many questions and proper (“steady”), honest Fanny Logan watching the high-spirited, flamboyant cousins swirl around her in a dance of wild abandon and eccentric escapades. Or the elusive, mysterious, sensuous Rosa Saks and her aubergine toenail polish, inspiring men by her beauty and intelligence as easily as she drives them mad. I adore reading of women who go their own way, thumb their noses at the world, women who, we come quickly to understand, are powerful in their intelligence and singularity, women who never let go of their values or morality no matter their debauched, eccentric, wild sisters or friends, no matter they often feel shunned or lost or left behind.

I have created these gorgeous pink macarons in honor of each of these smart women, women with a wicked sense of humor, unusual, unique women. Whether young or less than young, no matter the age they live in, each one of these girls and women still fascinates me to this day, fascinates and inspires, for no matter how clumsy, no matter how unfashionably clever or out of sync somehow with the world in which they live, each of them opens her heart to love and friendship, the understanding of life and death, each one of them, in the end, is loved for who she really is, just as she is. My kind of women, indeed!

And hopefully we all end up with our own Mr. Darcy!

This month’s Mactweets challenge asks us to create a macaron inspired by our favorite childhood book or character. I have created the Girl Power! Macaron inspired by and in honor of the girls and women in these fabulous books, some of my favorites for both young and old (ahem!) alike. A delicate pink (though I must admit I was trying for a bit more pink) shell painted with egg white and dipped in flavored colored sugar filled with bubble gum and candy, melted Malabar or Carambar candies folded into a white chocolate ganache. Sweet and tangy with just something tart about it, a subtle bite, a dash of humor and so much Girl Power!

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Ellen Tebbits as well as the entire Henry & Beezus series by Beverly Cleary
jennifer, hecate, macbeth, william mckinley, and me, elizabeth and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford


The shells are made with the same basic recipe I used to make my Chocolate Macarons with Pink Praline Filling, my Blueberry Hibiscus Macarons, my Chocolate Espresso Sea Salt French Kiss Macarons, my Coffee Macarons and my Violet Macarons:

200 g powdered sugar
110 g finely ground blanched almonds
3 large egg whites, about 112 g
30 g granulated sugar
1 tsp powdered food coloring

Click on any one of the links about for full recipe and step-by-step how-to pictures.

Brush the tops and sides of the shells with egg white and immediately dip into colored sugar or candy sugar (like Pixy Stix) until coated. Turn upright and allow to dry.


100 ml (3/8 cup) heavy cream
125 g (4 3/8 oz) white chocolate
55 g (2 oz) Carambar candy or Malabar bubble gum*

* Although Mathilde preferred the flavor of the Malabar filling, the bubble gum was extremely difficult to work with, bits staying solid to no avail. It also appeared that in the cooling process some of the melted gum resolidified. It also left bowls and silverware with spots of gum and a greasy film that is impossible to eliminate, at least without a dishwasher. The Carambar, on the other hand, melted beautifully and produced a smooth, creamy filling although it really had to be chilled and even popped into the freezer for some time until it was firm enough to hold.

Simply place the heavy cream and the candy in a small saucepan over a low flame and heat, stirring, until the candy is melted and the liquid is hot. It shouldn’t be allowed to boil.

Chop the chocolate and place in a pyrex, metal or other heatproof bowl. Pour the hot pink cream over chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is smooth and well blended. Allow to cool a bit and then place in the refrigerator until chilled and firm. This may be best done the day before filling your macarons.

Pipe a dot of filling on the bottom shell of each pair of shells and sandwich together. If the filling isn’t quite firm enough just pop the filled macs in the fridge.

These were a bit too sweet for me (but Clem and Mathilde loved them) although eating all of that candy, the tart, flavored sugar, the Carambars, the marshmallows and other candy we had bought for the pictures, reading the bad jokes found inside each Carambar candy and putting on tattoos found inside the bubble gum (though JP took all the best!) brought me back to a joyous place long ago, brought me back to those afternoons in Florida eating candy, admiring my temporary Girl Power tattoos and curling up with a wonderful book!


The Cooking Ninja said...

Gorgeous Gorgeous! Poppet would happily pop it all down in seconds. :) Luckily she loves food and don't hid them under her pillows as treasures. :)

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I used to love the Ramona stories! Beverly Cleary wasn't it? And Charlotte's Web was definitely a favourite. My son loves the film that came out a few years ago with Julia Roberts doing the voice of Charlotte.

I love your pink macarons, that pink chocolate stuff looks brilliant and reminds me of the sadly disappeared Pink Panther chocolate that Aoife at Daily Spud recently reminded me about.

Not sure I'll manage my macs this month... I am flat out at moment!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Awesome Jamie - love them! Making mine *as we speak*

LoveFeast Table said...

We love it!! Pink-a-licious!! We think they would go lovely with our upcoming pink drink designed by our friend, Greg!! And, we definitely believe in a little girl power! :)
Cheers! Chris Ann & Kristin

LoveFeast Table said...

We love it!! Pink-a-licious!! We think they would go lovely with our upcoming pink drink designed by our friend, Greg!! And, we definitely believe in a little girl power! :)
Cheers! Chris Ann & Kristin

shaz said...

Oh how beautiful Jamie. Both the pretty pink macarons and the story of you and your bike and books. I had a bike too although we used to take the bus to the library every week. I still remember those pockets on the front of books, and the bit that was stamped by the librarian. Such wonderful memories.

You go girl!

Barbara Bakes said...

So pretty in pink! I think my boys would love this flavor. They're big fans of bubblegum ice cream. Thanks for the reminder of the Bookmobile. We had one that would stop on our street in the summer.

tspegar said...

i loved the bookmobile! i looked forward to that and, literally, had completely forgotten about it until i read your post. things never stay the same... do they? love this month's mac idea and can't wait to read the others... i will be posting soon!

s. stockwell said...

A rich and rewarding post if I ever saw one! You are such a fine writer and the macarons are spectacular.

Asha @ FSK said...

Ooh! what a lovely tale indeed and one that ends in gorgeous macs! Perfect Jamie!! Yet again, i bow to you :))

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Awww, so so pretty and girly! You are a macaron queen!



Bonnie said...

As I read your post I was transported back to my own childhood. Those books you mentioned were some of my favorites as well. We used to ride our bikes to the Carnegie Free library once a week to get new books. On the way home we stopped at a little bakery and bought a treat to eat on the shady lawn as we started reading our new books. We also bought books from the scholastic book company at school. What a wonderful post to go along with your beautiful macarons.

Half Baked said...

Wonderful post! I was the same way as a child. I remember not being able to sleep because I wanted to find out what happened in Arabian Nights or to Ramona. I don't think Charlotte's Web left my hand until it was completely devoured! Thanks for bring back those memories and posting such scrumptious looking macarons!

RJ Flamingo said...

Charming, Jamie! You have such a way with words - and macs! Must make mine this afternoon when hubs goes off to play!

shellyfish said...

Great memories! Scolastic book orders were the most monumental event at school!
Charlotte's Web is currently Guppy's favourite flim (the old cartoon from the 70s, which was my favourite when I was her age). Can't wait until she's old enough to read it!

Jamie said...

Ah thank you, ladies, for jogging the old memory! Yes! Scholastic book orders! Ah, those were the good old days!

Lora said...

First of all the macarons - GORGEOUS! And wonderful, fun flavors. Your beautiful story absolutely transported me. Ramona and Charlotte and I were total besties and I must have read A Little Princess at least 100 times. I also checked out the maximum allowed library books each weekend and couldn't wait to get home to dig into them. Love this post. Girl power all the way!

Elisabeth said...

Ce n'est pas le même parfum, mais la couleur est imbattable, et c'est plus maniable que le Malabar : la fraise Tagada. Pour citer un article récent dans Libé, "La fraise Tagada, c’était le mercurochrome de l’âme posé sur la langue et le bout des doigts."

J'ai également mangé des crèmes brûlées parfumées au Carambar : un délice.

Jamie said...

@Elisabeth: Merci! J'ai hesité devant les Fraises Tagada mais je n'étais pas sure. Merci pour la prochaine fois!

Ana Powell said...

Well done, awesome post.
Beautiful photos x

MeetaK said...

we do have the same heroines. swimming with the flow is easy - it makes us stronger when we swim against it once in a while! simply delicious looking macarons jamie!

MeetaK said...

oh and we do have the same taste in men - Mr. Darcy - swoon!

5 Star Foodie said...

The pink macaroons are so pretty, the white chocolate ganache filling is awesome!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Beautifully done! The little princess is one of my favourite all time stories. I must admit, i've never read the book, but i love the shirley temple movie. She says this line, "every girl is a little princess" and those are words which have stuck with me forever. I really believe that.
Your macs are totally fit for a little princess... like me :)
Have a wonderful weekend.
*kisses* HH

Happy Cook said...

They looks beautiful and i just love that gnache.
Happy Mother's day.

faithy, the baker said...

your macs are so lovely! pink is my fave color and i love how you presented it! Sooo pretty!

Cathy said...

What a fantastic macaron post, Jamie. Your macarons are an inspiration to those of us just starting that journey. Just getting ready to post this month's offering.

Mathilde said...

Malgré les petites difficultés rencontrées avec la ganache, les macarons étaient délicieux! tout le monde les a adoré chez moi! Merci encore Jamie pour cette journée instructive et très riche en calorie!
A bientôt!

astheroshe said...

I love your sugar topping..soo cute! Gives that macaron a different spin.

Aparna said...

Gorgeous and pink macarons. Here's to girl power, Jamie!!!

I love reading and only wish I could write like you do. :)You've got lots of my favourites on that list.
Still remember when our daughter, then 4, accused my husband and me of being bookworms. That was only till she discovered the world of books!! LOL
Today the one thing that can make her really happy is one more book to read.
One of our favourite past times, as a family, is to spend time browsing books in a bookstore! ;D

Françoise @ chocoparis said...

These sparkly macarons are simply spectacular! Your post was such a pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing.

ABowlOfMush said...

Aww these are sooo pretty and so much fun!!!

They're really gorgeous! :)

Nicisme said...

Love the macarons, great post Jamie!

Deeba PAB said...

You go sistah, you are just too good you know. The power of pink here is astounding! I can hear the pennies clink in the back of my head. Now I remember so man more books that I read, and yeah, girl power ruled!! Love this flood of pink!! Your macs are beautiful and perfect ... Gorgeous stuff!

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Oh so pretty in pink! Did you think of me when you were making these? Lovely post as always Jamie x

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh Jamie, no wonder we get along so well! I feel an affinity with that girl too! :D Wonderfully put I must say!

Jamie said...

@Mowie: Yes I did indeed, honey! True!

@Lorraine: Yes we do for all these reasons and more.

Mary said...

The macarons are lovely, Jamie, but I want you to sit down. You can't be The Little Princess. I am The Little Princess:-) How I loved that tale as a child. Your post today was quite special. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

lisaiscooking said...

I used to love our school book fair. I'd place a big order and then couldn't wait for the books to arrive! If only I'd had a platter of these lovely, pink cookies to nibble on while reading those books.

dining room table said...

Lovely. That is one word that would best describe your macarons! They are so adorable!

The Duo Dishes said...

This is talent right here! You never cease to amaze.

Cristie said...

I love the decor on the tops of your macarons- thank you so much for the tip on how to accomplish that!

I had a bike with a basket that I would ride to and from the library with a dear friend. Your post brought back some sweet memories. This entire theme, reading everyones posts has been so enjoyable. Thank you!

Mamatkamal said...

You're such a great writer Jamie! You make me feel like I'm right there with you, watching you makig those perfect pink macarons, admiring your work!
Lovely post, you're La Reine des Macarons!

Lisa Michelle said...

OMG OMG OMG, I feel like a kid in a candy store. In fact, you could be the inventor of macaron candy with those gorgeous babies! SO SO creative and beautiful!m I rememeber the bookmobile and how excited I would get when we could choose what we wanted. I can almost smell the library thinking about it, and hear the librarian telling me to 'shhhh' as I excitedly waxed on over the books I wanted to

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Gorgeous pinky, ladylike macs....and my son recognised what they were from the rows of piped batter. I fear I have to give Macs up soon.......hmmmm

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, I loved Ramona and Fern and "The Little Princess". I can also relate to your longing to fit in and your love of books. however, I must ask, can you frost my macarons with black frosting instead? That would make them absolutely perfect.


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