When I was editing the photo up there, and trying to think of what text to put up—which, by the way, can take as much as an hour. I’m not kidding. Apparently, adding clever text to a picture is often beyond my realm of ready wit. That’s why a lot of the time it only says the name of the food. Anyway, when I was trying to come up with what I should write there, only one phrase came to me: “think pink.” As cliche as those words are, my brain would not let go of them.
I knew that by adding those words to the picture, I would have to write about different things than my usual jibber jabber about my kids, or why I used cardamom in a sauce instead of just vanilla. I knew that by writing “think pink,” I knew I would be encouraging discussion about what the color pink means to you. The first (and obvious) thought I jumped to, was that people would think of breast cancer research. Cancer is something that has not avoided our family. However, I am relieved to say, that at least for now, breast cancer has passed over me and my loved ones, and for that I am grateful. It does not diminish how much respect I feel for women and men who have suffered as a result of this disease. Their courage is an inspiration to me. When I put myself in their shoes, I want to hug my kids a little tighter, and steal kisses from them more often.
Then I thought of my daughter. Pink will always be her color. At least for me, anyway.
When I was a child, my brother would instruct me on all things pertaining to life, success, love, and happiness. Had my mother been aware that a seven-year-old was having free reign advising a four-year-old, she may have intervened before he filled me in on the reality of Santa, or (when we were a few years older) the miracle of life explained with skin colored silly putty as visual aids. Among my brother’s vast wisdom, was the notion that all things girly were stupid. That included ballet, Barbies, girls’ bikes, and most of all: the color pink. Of course, I love my brother, and it’s more fun than anything else, to reflect on his profound influence on my shaping character, but when I had my own daughter, I promised myself that nothing would interfere with her comfort in expressing her femininity. Even if that meant nudging her a little (Insert angry shouts here). She is sandwiched between two boys, after all. I figured, if she wants to hate the color pink, she has her whole life to decide that. But I wanted her to start out by knowing it was okay to be as girly as she wanted. I wanted her to feel safe in knowing that being a girl is beautiful, and never something to be ashamed of. That it’s okay to like wearing fingernail polish (she hates it though—scrapes it off within a few hours. Just like her mom), and it’s okay to like dresses, and lace, and princess movies. I want her to be happy, knowing she is a daughter of God, well-loved by Him, and by her own family.
So what about you? What does the color pink mean to you?
1 cup almond flour (or 1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 egg whites, left in an open container overnight in the refrigerator, or for 2-3 hours at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-2 drops all natural strawberry flavor
1-2 drops pink food coloring (all natural, if possible)
1. In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together almond flour and confectioner’s sugar, until finely ground. Sift up to four times (or whatever you have patience for). In a separate bowl (one that is scrupulously clean and free of grease—preferably not plastic), beat the eggs with an electric mixer to form soft peaks. Gradually add the granulated sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and dissolved. Beat until thick and glossy, 2-3 minutes. Stir in strawberry flavor and food coloring.
2. Add in about half of the almond mixture to the egg white mixture. Do not fold the two mixtures—stir it as you would stir a brownie mix. Add in more of the almond mixture as necessary to achieve a thick, glossy, grainy mixture. If you tilt the bowl, the mixture should slowly slide down the sides of the bowl. Or, scoop up some of the mixture and let it fall back into the bowl. It should fall in a thick ribbon that holds its shape on the surface of the mixture for a second or two, and then slowly “melts” back into the bowl.
3. Fit a large pastry bag with a round tip, fill with the mixture, and pipe 1 inch circles—2 centimeters apart—on 3-4 Silpat lined baking trays. Allow the macarons to set out at room temperature for 2-3 hours (this drying process is crucial, as this is what creates the smooth top, and the characteristic ruffled foot on the bottom of each cookie half). Set the oven to 250 degrees. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp but not brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheets. Gently twist each cookie half to release it from the baking sheet. Fill cookies with strawberry buttercream filling.
Strawberry Buttercream Filling:
3 large strawberries at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 drop pink food coloring (all natural, if possible)
In a food processor, pulse strawberries until pureed. Add in butter and vanilla, and about 2 cups of the sugar. Pulse until well combined. Incorporate cream. Add in small amounts of powdered sugar, pulsing after each addition, to reach the desired consistency. Add in food coloring. Frosting should be smooth and soft, yet hold its shape.