So there's this treat that my Mom makes for Christmas that I adore.
And by "adore" I mean I've snuck it out of the freezer where she stores it after making it ever since I was a kid.
(And, yes, I still sneak it out of her freezer as an adult.) (But so does my Dad!) (Anyway)
So Mom makes it around Christmas, and once, when the stars aligned and I used my special eyelash batting powers, she made it for my Birthday. I love the stuff.
This Christmas, she made an extra batch the week before New Years and then gave most of it to me to keep it from Dad's belly (her words, not mine) and I hoarded that stuff like Scrooge McDuck.
And then I had an idea. Why not try to make it myself? And then if it tasted ok, take some to my parents as a nice surprise and thank you for always making it for us. And then I'd have an endless supply of my own! (And by "endless", I mean, I could keep making more if I learned how.)
So I googled "Scottish Macaroon" and printed out the recipe.
I've helped my Mom make it before, so I knew the basics of the final stages, but all I really knew was that it involved potatoes (as weird as that sounds) and some kind of magic.
Because I wanted to surprise my parents, I didn't want to call and ask them for help, and because I've also helped my Mom make potato scones (my other favourite Scottish food) I bought five medium potatoes, cut and peeled them and boiled them up. I figured I didn't want to make too small of a batch.
Now, if anyone knows about making macaroons, you're already laughing, but I didn't know.
So I glanced at the recipe at this point and noticed that it said you only needed so many ounces of potato, but I figured they were being modest and I wanted a big batch. I also noticed that the recipe called for close to four times the amount of icing sugar (yup, that's the basics, potato and icing sugar, really) but I kind of shrugged that off too. Probably because I'd seen my Mom making this stuff so I felt like I knew what was involved.
The recipe was decent and warned that when I added the icing sugar the potatoes (now mashed and cooled overnight) would get watery. This was the weirdest thing when it happened.
And is also when I started to worry.
Because suddenly the modest bowl of mashed potatoes I'd made was a soupy mix of potato sugar soup that was threatening to overflow the bowl. And it wasn't anywhere near the "dough like substance" I was supposed to be aiming for.
I kind of wanted to call my folks and just ask, but instead, I figured maybe I'd used too many potatoes and so I dumped half of the mixture down the toilet (insert sad song here for loss of potential macaroons.)
One bag of icing sugar in and nothing changed.
I called my Dad.
"Dad, can I have a private conversation?" Dad usually uses speaker phone and I wanted to at least surprise Mom. He went into the other room.
"I'm trying to make macaroon and all I have is a potato soup bowl!" I started laughing. "The bowl's going to overflow and I've already thrown half of it away! What do I do?"
"Well, you probably had too many potatoes, but just keep adding icing sugar and it'll firm up."
(I was finding the whole thing hilarious, but I also really wanted to figure out how to make these things!)
I emptied the other bag in and held my breath as the soup turned to something less soup like but still not entirely stiff.
I figured I'd gotten the "dough like" consistency though so I went ahead and toasted the coconut (while trying not to spill coconut all over my oven while also not burning said coconut or my delicate spoon holding hands.)
I manipulated the macaroon into the sort of rectangle like shapes they're meant to be, and I knew I hadn't gotten the consistency right but I figured it might still be ok. I stuck the bars in the fridge for a while to set more and melted the chocolate.
Now, I hadn't used all of the mixture, but I'd run out of cookie sheets to put the bars on so I just set the rest aside for now.
I wasn't sure how best to melt the chocolate because I didn't want it too hot, but I also wasn't sure how runny it should be.
Or even if I'd bought the right kind of chocolate.
But I melted it anyway, got out the bars and started to coat them.
At which point, the already rather soft bars started to melt with the heat of the chocolate and stretched out while I was holding them, caked in blobs of chocolate that wasn't melty enough as I then dipped it into the toasted coconut and set them on wax paper to dry.
I limped my way through the two sheets worth of bars before I ran out of chocolate and decided that the rest of the mixture could just head off into the garbage with a salute and a prayer.
I put the slightly unattractive but generally complete macaroons into the freezer and the next day I packed them up and took them over to Mom and Dad's.
They were pleased, and surprised, and declared them good enough to eat (which they did) and when I told them my ridiculous story my Mom asked me how many potatoes I'd used.
"Five? Six?" I answered.
"Victoria! That's enough to make potato scones! For macaroon, all you need is a tablespoon's worth or so!"
That explains a lot then, doesn't it.
So I'm going to try again this weekend, that's how determined I am to have an endless supply of macaroon at my fingertips, but this time I'll just get one potato and see how that goes.
But if anyone ever needs potato icing sugar soup?
I've got a great recipe!