I like to bake. I hate to fail. I take it personally when 1) I make something and it bombs (i.e. try #1 at caramel) and 2) when something is touted as too difficult to make at home for most non professionals. I also love it when I can conquer something that meets one of these criteria.
My brother is a worldly traveler now, and was telling me about the wonderfulness named french macarons (see below)
|These are what good macarons look like, and what are meant when macarons with one "o" is written. (These are NOT ones I made...I wish they were!)|
I learn something new every day.
He told me about a bakery in Brea that makes some great stuff, including macarons. After waiting a ridiculously long time for Farrell's Ice cream parlor in Brea, (happned to be just down the street from the bakery) we walked over to the bakery my brother recommended called Merely Sweets. I was not impressed with the cupcakes, but the salted caramel macaron....OMG it was divine! Conveniently, my brother had bought a book in France on making macarons and my brother graciously lent it to me the same day. Now I was armed with information, and an excellent sample of what a macaron tastes like. Of course I had to try to make them, right? How hard could it be?...
Well after researching last night, and this morning, and this afternoon, I decided that not only can they be hard to get right, there is a million ways to screw them up and very few ways not to. I had all the ingredients, most of the equipment, and a little time while kids were contemplating napping. I pulled out the book and the best website of information on troubleshooting macarons I found, and got to work.
Now, let me just say, that after all my research, right off the bat I knew there were things I was screwing up. I forgot to "age" my egg whites before I beat them...I intended to age them, I just got ahead of myself. So that is potential fail #1. When I piped them out onto my cookie sheets, which are well loved, and as such, they are scratched and warped. Potential (and confirmed) fail #2. I thought I was going to do just fine free-handing the circles, so I piped a whole tray of them...way to big. They spread more than I was anticipating...so much more that I ended up with one very large macaron. Definite fail #3. Not wanting to waste all the ingredients, I got another bag and scraped all the batter off the parchment paper and into a new piping bag. (Possible fail #4). I re-piped them, this time much smaller. Now I had separate, all though incredibly abstract circles of meringue. Time to let them dry for a bit. This went ok. It is kind of humid today, so it took a little while longer (potential fail #5). I popped them in the oven, baked for the prescribed time, and when they were done...to my surprise, SOME of them actually looked a little bit like the picture! I took a picture of the two best ones, which are filled with peanut butter and strawberry jam, the rest are not fit to lay eyes on.
I ended up getting about 10 filled cookies instead of 20, but hey, its better than nothing right? I think they were reasonably close...they had the "foot" around the edge, some didn't crack on top, and for the most part, they had solid bottoms. Now that I have botched one batch and have a better idea of the process, I look forward to trying again, this time, without doing fails #1-5.
I have to wait 24 hours to try them, apparently it makes them better if they sit first, gives them the crunchy outside and chewy inside. I will be trying them tomorrow (even though I snuck a taste of the shell, not bad), and I will post the verdict.
It is my goal to be a macaron making connoisseur, if only to say I can make them and do it well, and for my brother, since it is a dessert he can eat and enjoys (they are gluten free). Beware world, I will conquer these!!! (It may take several try's though...so watch for more blog posts about the adventures of macaron making).