Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hot Chocolate Macarons with Hot Buttered Rum Filling - Giant Thanksgiving Balloon Memories - A MacTweets Challenge

Growing up right outside of NYC, I have been watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or attending it in person for most of my childhood up through my 30’s. I also lived in NYC for 12 years, mostly downtown. Every year, the night before Thanksgiving, I would make the trek uptown at 11PM to 81St and Columbus to meet friends to watch the progress on the inflation of the giant character balloons for the parade. For me the balloons symbolize many fall seasons. Every year, as I walked around and visited them it was like reconnecting with old friends. No matter how old I was, I would greet each one.

"Hello Pink Panther."

"Oh Snoopy, so wonderful to see you.."

"Underdog, you look as handsome as ever!"

"Hi Clifford. Hi Kermit. 

"Spiderman! Superman!"

This was mostly a neighborhood event with local residents and a few of us living more south, north or east milling around in a festive mood. It was romantic, fun, nostalgic and exciting. It was one of the things that made you think “I live in the greatest city in the world!” 

Kermit's Fingers
After our walk through, we would congregate a local bar or restaurant to drink a cognac or a Mexican or Irish coffee together before going our separate ways back to our apartments. What a wonderful way to kick off a four day holiday weekend.

Scooby Doo's Head
Eventually, for a few years I lived on the upper west side, right near the Museum of Natural History. The balloon event was right down the block. Although I missed living downtown, I made the most of my new location by hosting balloon viewing gatherings for a few of my friends.  I would serve hot chocolate (peppermint schnapps and marshmallows optional), hot buttered rum and hot apple cider and an assortment of delicious snacks to nibble on.

Everyone would meet at my place about 9:30pm, have a drink or two, nosh, mingle and then with refilled mugs in hand, we would bundle up and stroll around the neighborhood to observe the progress of the balloons. We would hang out until about 1:30AM. It was incredibly special.

Then I moved to LA and then to Germany after that. The first Thanksgiving I was able to spend in NYC again was many years later. That year I was so excited to visit my dear old rubber friends. I arrived at 10PM, way early for the event but, like I said, I was excited. Expat come home excited.

Smurf under wraps
As I was making my way over to Columbus Ave. from the east side, I saw bleachers on Central Park West and a TV truck from a major network with a big SIGN promoting the inflating of balloons. The streets were packed with hundreds of people.


I rounded the corner, fighting my way through the crowd and was stopped by a policeman in front of a barrier. I then saw there were barriers all around the balloons and no way to get through.


Mr. Policeman told me the balloon blow up observation closed at 10PM and that I would not be allowed to go through.


I was about to scream at him, ” I live here!”

Then I remembered I didn’t anymore and slunk away sad and disappointed.

I don’t want to turn this into another rant on how disgusted I am about what has happened to NYC. Everything that was cool and organic and spontaneous has been turned into an event to be marketed and sold. It’s just gross and so not what NYC is about. At least my NYC. There is even a "Ballon Inflation Ceremony" now with performers and everything. Ugh.

OK. I am bitter. No doubt about that. This year I once again find myself in the city for Thanksgiving. On that evening before I will be at the Met seeing Carmen with Dr. B and even if the opera ended in time,  we would have to hightail it over there fast after the last Bravo in order to get a glimpse before balloon curfew.

No thank you.

However, the memories of those Thanksgiving evenings were sweet. And I am so glad I had them. Let those crowds push each other past the balloons and scurry out before the 10PM witching hour.

I'm done.

The thoughtful and creative Jamie and Deeba over at Mactweets asked us Mactweeters to come up with a Macaron based on what Fall means to us. Those balloons were always my favorite fall memory and they symbolized the season for me.

Snoopy's Goggles
My best fall memory is walking around those magical crisp November evenings holding mugs filled with steaming seasonal deliciousness gawking at those giant half inflated balloons under their nets. The excitement of the parade was only a few hours away, the Thanksgiving feast soon to be savored and a luxurious long weekend stretched ahead filled with family and close friends.

So to commemorate my extinct piece of NYC neighborhood cool, I take you now from the bitter (me) to the sweet (macarons) and offer up Hot Chocolate Macarons with Hot Buttered Rum Filling.

Hot Chocolate Macarons with
 Hot Buttered Rum Filling

For the shells I used David Lebovitz's French Chocolate Macaron Recipe. My only change in his recipe was omitting the 3 tablespoons of cocoa and substituting it with Nestle's Hot Cocoa Mix. I admit I was a bit fearful that this would trash the whole recipe but it worked perfectly. I had no problem getting feet (I can't even believe I just wrote those last six words.) And they really tasted like hot chocolate!

For the filling:

Hot Buttered Rum Buttercream


  • 1/2 stick butter - room temperature
  • 3+1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup (depending upon consistency) Heavy cream


  • Beat butter until creamy
  • Add rum and one cup of the sugar
  • Alternate adding the rest of the sugar with the cream. Adjust to desired taste and consistency.

Also a reminder...

Today is the last day to enter to win the To Romance, With Love cookbook package giveaway.

For details click HERE


  1. I love Macarons! When I was in school in Paris, I would treat myself after class to few macarons from LaDuree - - yours look just as wonderful! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. I was right there with you (in spirit) wandering around watching the huge half blown up balloons, what an awesome memory & how crass your NY has disappeared into marketing ploys. Tsk Tsk
    Nics Macs though :)

  3. David Lebovits' French Choc Macaron was the first recipe I attempted which failed miserably haha...of course, I didn't know then what I know now (or so I think)...

    yours look so good, I may just brave myself to try it one more time! :)

  4. Rum = yum! Good idea adding the hot chocolate to the macaron mix. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I am totally trying your buttered rum buttercream (seriously, like, right now!) Sounds amazing! It's so funny you did a hot chocolate mac shell (your comment was above mine on MacTweets, and I did "hot" chocolate filling - totally different thing though!)

    I'll let you know how your buttercream comes out on this end :)

  6. Thanks everyone! @Shea Please let me know how the buttercream turns out.

  7. Love the story behind the macs. What a fun flavor!

  8. How gr8 we made hot chocolate macs..but diff yr perfect Macs!

  9. yum, I'll take any macaron with rum in it. Actually I'll take any macaron :) They look fantastic. Lovely story too.

  10. Ah, a NYer after my own heart. I never got to see the inflation--I was too young to be out that late before it changed. But, I went to the parade every year with my Grandpa. Back when they flew the balloons high. Back when we would place our bets on which balloons would make it to the cameras in one piece and which would be missing hands or feet. I miss those days. Here's to good old NY nostalgia.

  11. Nostalgia brings out the best in most of us, like it did here with you. I'm sorry you had to go through the not-so-nice experience, but turning bitter to sweet seems to be your strength! Way to go, you mad girl...I can here expecting magic, and I found it! Sorry I'm ever so late, but this month has been filled with madness for me!

  12. What perfect macs and you have indeed captured those crisp fall days followed by hot buttered rum! Oh and what they've done to the parade among other things is indeed so sad! I grew up watching the parade on tv and I miss it but I guess it is better left to memories. Perfect Fall Mactweet Macs!


Thank you for your comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!