I kept seeing all these lovely photos of a kind of French cookie called "macarons." At first I had trouble finding recipes in English, but I continued to look and found a couple. The cookie is essentially a meringue with lots of ground almonds. The most common filling seemed to be a butter cream, something I'd never tried either.
I didn't have ground almonds, but did have ground hazelnuts, so rather than go to the store, I decided to use them. One recipe said to leave the eggwhites at room temperature overnite to thicken them, so that's how I began. The recipe called for 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar plus 1 cup finely ground almonds and 3/8 cup egg whites, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt. Problem was that I'd left two eggwhites out overnite and that was just short of the 3/8 cup. So I took 5/6 of the other ingredients.
I beat the egg whites, added the sugar, and beat until I had stiff peaks. Then I dumped it into the bowl with the powdered sugar and ground hazelnut. It did not get to the consistency of "molten lava," like it was supposed to, but I continued. It was a bit stiffer than that. Could have been sloppy measuring on my part.
Didn't have one of those pastry tubes to squeeze the batter out so I just dropped it in circles on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and tried to flatten it some. Let it sit for two hours to form a skin on the top, then baked them at perhaps 325 for about 10 minutes.
While they were not smooth on top, they did puff up as they were supposed to and were crunchy onthe outside and soft on the inside. And they tasted good.
I then went on to make French butter cream--which someone else said was really Italian butter cream. I made only 1/3 of the recipe, since I just wanted it for filling the macrons like sandwich cookies. So I used 1/3 cup sugar, 1 T corn syrup, 1/6 cup water, 1 egg, and a pinch of salt. And butter.
I boiled the sugar corn syrup and water and poured it over the eggs while beating. So far so good. I cooled it a bit to lukewarm--which it really was already. Then I beat it and tablespoon by tablespoon added butter. I was supposed to add 1/3 pound!! But the stuff thickened up and almost curdled after half that, so I stopped.
Spread the stuff on one cookie and put it together with another. Kept them in the refrigerator. They look a bit rough, but they taste great--perhaps a bit too sweet depending on my mood. And they've kept nicely for a few days.