veronimama bakes: the comprehensive guide to french macarons

Even though I have zero interest in starting a food blog of any kind, I love love love to bake, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m pretty proud that I’ve reached the point that I can whip up a pretty rockin’ last minute sweet without any recipe, using what I have laying around. This definitely takes a ton of trial and error, and a solid understanding of how different ingredients work. That being said, one of my favorite things to bake is French Macarons, which follow none of the basic rules for baking. These babies need a special touch, and everyone’s touch is different. There are hundreds of different recipes floating around, each claiming to produce perfect macarons, but if you don’t know your own touch, they aren’t going to work. SO! I’ve compiled all my trial and error with macarons, and done my best to add my own tips and tricks to the vast internet corner devoted to all the people crying on the floor next to their oven while they watch their hard work crack and melt. (been there done that)

These pictures are from my most favorite instagram to drool over…. JennaRaeCakes. These girls have mastered the macaron and make some of the most beautiful pastries I have ever seen.

I’m not even going to try to explain why these are the best cookie on the face of the earth because if you don’t already know, go eat one. Then come back. It’s undisputable that these are the most gorgeous, most perfectly delicate but packed with flavor, cookie.

They are also the most pretentious, difficult to bake, fussy to eat cookie ever, which is why baking them is a total hit or miss for me. Sometimes I’ll have three perfect batches in a row, sometimes the first one will suck so I’ll just get pissed off and give up, or sometimes it’s like every other sheet tray goes in the garbage. Totally unpredictable and almost entirely based on luck. My success rate has gone way up recently, I hope I’m finally getting the hang of it!

That all being said, when they work, they’re great. Like angels-bursting-from-the-heavens-and-singing-your-praises-great. Which is why I am obsessed with baking them. They’re manic depressive cookies.

If for some reason you think the thrill and anxiety of these sounds like your kinda thing, here is the recipe I use, with all my techniques and tweaks I’ve made for myself along the way. Continue reading

veronimama bakes: homemade eggnog!


After seeing the first Christmas tree on top of a car, one of the best seasons of the year kicks off…. eggnog season.

Usually I’ll spring for the pricey Oberweis eggnog the first time, and then buy the cheapy version the rest of the season. It gets to be an expensive addiction! This year, since I have a million and a half things to finish before Christmas and no time to waste, I decided I should take on the daunting task of making homemade eggnog. Seems easy, but adding cold egg to boiling milk is not for the faint of heart. Unless your faint heart loves scrambled eggs in your eggnog… homemade eggnog with bourbon  

I searched a bunch of recipes and mixed and matched the best from each one to make a custom recipe that I was happy with in terms of sugar, eggs, and bourbon. I found one that called for 2.5 CUPS OF BOURBON, and the entire recipe made 5 cups of eggnog. Do the math, thats 50% alcohol. NO THANK YOU.

I ended up with this.

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cinnamon sticks  –  or ground cinnamon works too
  • 3 tsp dbl. strength vanilla   –  Quick little note on vanilla. I swear by double strength Madagascar vanilla. It tastes SO good, leaves great flavor, and is way higher quality than grocery store kind. Worth the splurge.
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 egg yolks  –  Anytime I make a recipe that only calls for half the egg, I try to make something that uses the other half. For this one, I made French Macarons.
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces bourbon  –  You can use more or less, depending on how boozy you want it to taste. I hate the alcoholic sting but love the flavor, so I used 3 oz and made sure it cooked out.

Add the milk, cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring to avoid scorching or getting a skin.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla really well til they’re super creamy.

Here’s where you start playing with fire (not really). Somehow you need to get all your eggs into the boiling milk without making scrambled eggs. The way my mom used to do it is to use a ladle to add a little of both to a separate bowl, and whisk small amounts together. Then you add the warm mixture to your eggs and keep doing this, slowly bring your eggs up to a warmer temp. til you can add them straight into the milk. Time is not of the essence here, so go as slowly as you need to to combine them.

Once everything is together, add your bourbon and cook the eggnog til it starts getting thicker and you’re happy with the flavor. Feel free to add more nutmeg, cinnamon, or vanilla to find the taste you’re looking for. I’m so happy with how ours turned out, I’m thinking about bringing a few jars to Christmas to share.

I’m glad I tried it out this year because now I don’t have that preconceived notion that eggnog is impossible! Totally do-able, and so delicious.