Ever since my dear friend Leslie came back from teaching English in France for eight months (isn’t life hard?) she’s been dying to perfect French pastries (and I’ve been dying and begging her to let me be her guinea pig). So on a hot summer night, four friends spent hours cooking and baking and drinking wine, laughing and loving every moment. For dinner we had salmon pasta, one of Leslie’s favorite dishes from her travels to Italy and one of my favorite dishes to make. For dessert, Laura rocked pain au chocolat, Deborah wowed us with adorable palmiers (“elephant ears”) and Leslie was on a mission to have the third time be the charm for her macaroons. As she peered into the oven to check on her babies, something magical happened: the stars aligned, and we heard Leslie exclaim, “I see the foot! Quel succès!” No, a real baby wasn’t being born. But as any macaroon baker knows (and I learned) the foot, or the crackly, puffed second layer, is the key to macaroon success (no matter how much we reassured Leslie that we indeed would eat the macaroons with or without feet). Needless to say, they were magnifique! So billowy and full of chocolate hazelnut deliciousness. Move over cupcake shops – I think it’s time for the macaroon’s 15 minutes of fame.