Legally Blonde: The Musical
Because why wouldn’t they make a wildly popular movie into a musical in the early 2000s? Based on both the comedic novel and movie by the same name, “Legally Blonde” tells the story of Elle Woods, who gets dumped by her boyfriend, Warner, for not being “serious” enough for him. So she decides to work hard to earn herself a place at Harvard Law School, where Warner is headed. When she gets there, she struggles to fit in socially and academically. But she works hard and gets herself into an exclusive internship, helps win a major case, and discovers that Warner was a loser anyway, and she can do way better.
On the surface, Elle is seen as light, airy (or airheaded), and simple. But as we learn throughout her story, she is anything but. She’s complicated, and there is so much more to her than pink clothes and accessories, toy dogs, and fabulous blonde locks. I immediately went to the idea of making a French macaron in her honor. This dessert is light and airy, but it’s complicated to make. And since Elle loves her pink, I decided on a raspberries and cream flavor profile for them. They are delicious, and I’m ‘positive’ you won’t be able to stop after just one.
Making a Macaron – What? Like it’s hard?
French macarons (which are a completely different dessert from a macaroon) are perhaps one of the most technically complicated desserts to master, especially for an untrained home baker (like me). But you can do it. It may not be right or perfect the first time, but once you get a hand of the technique, it’s really rewarding when you can serve them up.
I have found that there are 3 Ps to baking perfect macarons: Preparation, Patience, and Precision.
Preparation: Plan in advance. Measure your ingredients before you start any mixing. Trace out your target circles on your parchment paper before you begin. Prep you pastry bags. Let your egg whites come to room temperature for a few hours before beginning. The more you prepare the easier the process will be and the more precise you can be in your timing along the way.
Patience: Have I mentioned yet that this recipe, like all macarons, takes time? You must be patient. You can’t rush this process. If you try to whip up your meringue too quickly, the egg whites won’t properly inflate. If you don’t whip up your meringue until it gets to stiff peaks, the cookies will not come out properly. If you don’t mix the meringue and the dry ingredients until you can perform the figure 8 ribbon fully, they won’t come out right. If you don’t let the cookies sit on the tray until they are smooth, they won’t rise properly and have the signature feet. Get the idea? Take your time.
Precision: Accuracy counts in this one. You don’t want to over whip your meringue, so once the stiff peak form, stop beating the egg whites. You don’t want to over mix the dry ingredients into the meringue, so when you pass the figure 8 ribbon test, stop. You want your macarons to be uniform in size, so you’ll want to pre-trace the circles with a target – this will make matching the cookies to make the sandwiches much easier.
If you can pay attention to the 3 Ps, you’ll get them right every time.
Also, I don’t recommend making any meringue-based dessert on a humid day. The humidity will mess with the egg whites and they will not inflate properly. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration by assessing the temperature and humidity in your kitchen before starting this recipe.
1. Separate your eggs and let the egg whites come to room temperature (over a few hours is best). While they are coming to room temp, I highly suggest measuring out your other ingredients as much as you can so they are ready the moment you need them. During this time, you should also trace out your macarons on parchment paper for your baking sheets. We have a great template that can help you insure your macarons are uniform in size and have enough distance between them for baking. You can download and print it. For best results, place a dot in the center of each circle (around where the chef hats meet in our logo) and use that as your target when piping.
2. Combine the almond flour and confectioners sugar and pulse through the food processor. Then sift the dry ingredients through a sifter with either a blade or a mill crank twice (this will insure your dry ingredients are as fine as possible). As you are sifting, you may get to a point when about a teaspoon or so of the dry ingredients just won’t grind down enough – discard that teaspoon or so (if it’s more than a teaspoon or two, keep sifting – you’re not done yet). Set aside.
3. When your egg whites have come to room temperature, beat them using the whisk attachment on your mixer on a low speed (you’ll slowly increase speed throughout the creation of the meringue) until they are frothy and no longer translucent.
4. Add in the cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and raspberry extract. Continue to mix, slowly increasing the speed. While mixing, begin adding in the sugar in small additions, waiting to add the next addition until the previous is totally combined. Continue beating until stiff peaks are formed. Once you’ve reached stiff peaks, STOP.
5. Add in the food coloring (be sure to use gel food coloring as liquid can dilute your meringue). Mix in only enough to fully incorporate the color.
6. Fold in half of the dry ingredients. After there are mostly combined add in the remaining dry ingredients and continue to fold until the batter reaches the consistency of lava. You’ll know the batter is ready when it passes the figure 8 test . The figure 8 test means that you can take a portion of the batter and slowly draw a figure 8 in the bowl with the dripping batter without the ribbon of batter breaking. If it breaks, it’s not ready (watch the video above for more details). Once it passes the figure 8 test, STOP.
7. Fill your piping bag (or bags if you have smaller ones) and cut a very small opening (no tip is needed as they are going to flatten out as they rest). Aim for the dot you’ve placed inside each circle you drew on your parchment paper and pipe until the circle is filled. After you have piped a full tray, drop the tray on the counter 2 – 3 times to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Allow the shells to sit for about an hour until they have set, the tops are smooth and not tacky to the touch.
8. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Bake 1 tray at a time for 12 – 14 minutes. All ovens are different, so if you find that your shells are burning, or coming out hollow, try lowering the temperature at 10 degree increments (but if you do, you’ll need to add about 2 – 4 minutes of cooking time for every 10 degrees you drop the temperature).
9. Let cool on the tray for 2 – 3 minutes, then use the parchment paper to help you gently peel the shells off of the tray (see video for visual reference), and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. Place every other one bottom side up to make piping and closing the sandwiches easier later on.
10. Make buttercream filling by mixing together butter and confectioners sugar, adding in vanilla extract, and slowly adding milk until desired texture is achieved. Fill into a piping bag (no tip needed) and pipe onto the cookies that are facing bottom up.
11. Gently close the sandwiches by placing the remaining cookies on top of the ones that have the filling on them. Be delicate and don’t press the tops on too hard as you may accidentally crack the bottoms. Enjoy!
Yields approximately 30 macarons. Approximately 67 calories per macaron.