During the month I was in Paris over the summer, I did not eat a single macaron. I saw them in various patisseries, and although I didn't know what they were, I thought they looked very dry and artificially colored and not worth my time.
    Then I came back to the States, started a recipe blog, and discovered that macarons, the weird looking cookies I had dismissed with hardly a second thought, were all the rage in the food blogging community. People were really going nuts over them: going to extreme measures to find the best macaron in their area, calling them the next cupcake, baking batches and batches to find the perfect recipe.
    "Peh," I said. Trends. Fads. Insanity. Why would I want to take part in any of this?
    Why indeed? I guess something in all that noise about macarons piqued my curiosity. All I can say is that when I found myself with a spare egg white a few days ago, macarons were what crossed my mind. Convenience really had nothing to do with my decision to jump on the macaron bandwagon; the cookies are famously difficult to master, and for me they were especially labor-intensive. Since I lack a food processor, I ended up grinding my almond flour by hand with a rolling pin. I also decided, foolishly perhaps, to beat my egg whites by hand. For some reason, I really have a problem with using an electric mixer. It just feels wrong to me.

    Because I had just one egg white to use up, my efforts only yielded three macarons. Next time, I will want to make more, to make the process more worthwhile. And there will be  next time. I must admit, I misjudged macarons. Beneath their crackly shells, they have a wonderful chewy texture. They are very sweet, but that doesn't bother me. My macarons were not perfect-they were on the flat side and they stuck to the parchment paper pretty badly, but they were good enough to make me want to try again. This first time, I kept it simple with a plain macaron recipe and a chocolate peanut butter filling.

Macarons-recipe adapted from hungry rabbit

*makes 6 macaron sandwich cookies

1/2 cup very finely ground almonds
1 cup confectioner's sugar
a pinch of salt
2 egg whites, room temperature
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the almonds, confectioner's sugar, and salt. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar, and beat until the egg whites hold stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. (Note: I did this by hand with a whisk, but I do NOT recommend it unless you're looking for a serious arm workout)
Add vanilla to the whites. Gently fold in the almond mixture.
Flip the batter gently with a large spoon in the bowl about 12 times to achieve a shiny crust on the finished cookies
Pour the batter into a piping bag with a large tip. Refrigerate 20 minutes, while preheating the oven to 375 degrees F.
Pipe the batter in circles about 2 inches in diameter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Try to make the circles roughly the same size, since you will be sandwiching them later.
Rap the baking sheet on the counter a few times, to help form feet on the cookies
Bake about 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes before gently peeling them from the parchment paper.

To make the filling: Microwave about  1/4 cup chocolate chips in a small, microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. They should look glossy but hold their shape. Microwave another 30 seconds if the chips do not look glossy.  Add about 2 tablespoons each of peanut butter and confectioner's sugar, and stir to mix. Stir in 2 tsp skim milk.

Assembly: Spread a spoonful of the filling onto the flat side of half the cookies. Stick the flat side of another cookie onto the filling. Ta-da!