Macarons

Macarons

Champagne_Glass_Image_courtesy_of_eyehook_com“They have feet!” I tweeted excitedly, after peeking at the rounds of macaron batter in the oven. And it all went downhill from there.

I would love to say that the cute little macaron at the top of this post is now sitting patiently in my pantry, waiting to be picked up and shared with a host of friends. But it sadly isn’t so. That picture is from my first macaron attempt last November, an exercise so highly anticipated and intense, I had to find something else to do to channel my energy, like vacuuming, while the batter was in the oven making its way to divine, Parisian perfection. I followed this French recipe to the T, and with the cute shiny orbs emerging from the oven, I felt rather chuffed! “Now, that wasn’t so difficult!” I thought, “I’ve mastered macarons!”

Well, there’s nothing like speaking too early about success with one of the most temperamental and unpredictable French pastries on the planet. Armed with the memory of that achievement proudly tucked in my back pocket, I revisited the recipe today, confident that I was on familiar territory. Little did I realize that my beginner’s luck was slowly but surely vanishing with each step – sieving the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar (twice, as Kuidaore advises), making the syrup, whipping the egg whites, adding the matcha powder and incorporating everything into one thick batter. I thought the batter was a tad sticky and heavy at some point, but forged on, confident in the words behind my last success. I piped out the rounds, left them to develop a skin, then placed them in the oven, where they grew their feet and started aging into wrinkled green tea prunes, like this:

DSC_0247_2

Like the after effects of a nuclear explosion, cracks and wrinkles started to appear on each shell, turning them into tectonic plates of sticky, clumpy meringue. I have never felt more cheated by a bunch of ingredients than this combination of egg whites, almonds and sugar.

It is disappointing that the last post of a month-long dessert marathon is about a failed macaron attempt (and there are enough posts about this subject to make a book), but it marks the beginning of my quest to make the perfect macaron. I read a quote recently that said that you need to be somewhat obsessed with your subject to be a good blogger, and for food bloggers, I’d like to term it the Macaron Effect. Because one day, one day, I will produce tray after tray of these perfect Parisian cookies, each replete with their aura of French aloofness and Coco Chanel-chic, enough to bury this day deep in the pages of macaron-making history.

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17 Comments

  1. Z

    That’s the spirit! Don’t give up!

    You can attempt as many times as you like and I bet that M will give his utmost loving support in eating anything that you bake, and loving it! So who cares how it looks as long as it’s gastronomically enjoyable! =)

  2. Felicia

    Awww… I saved a recipe that I think could hold the key: you may need to AGE the egg whites.

    It’s from someone that’s not a prolific baker, and it was her first attempt, so I assume that’s what made the difference.

    Check it out here: http://bit.ly/9byj2

    Keep us updated if you go for Round 2 with these!

  3. SamChia

    Hey Danielle, I’ve been peeking into your blog ever so often, and just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading it. Excellent writing & lovely photos! And to let on that while you are on your quest to make the perfect macaron, I have been on a quest to find the best macarons in Singapore. However, none have come close to Pierre Herme’s (IMHO he makes the best macarons in the world). And the closest Pierre Herme shop (to Singapore, that is) is in Japan! Persevere in your quest, and keep telling us all about it! 🙂

  4. Aww you guys are so sweet!

    Veggie Girl: She’s one of my icons too – way too chic for words

    Felicia: Yes my egg whites were aged, I think the problem was in the beating and mixing. Round 2 coming up!

    Sam: Thanks so much for stopping by and glad you enjoy the posts 🙂 Wish I was helping you taste-test the best macarons in Singapore, but will have to make do with recreating one here. Am with you about PH’s macarons – how about opening a franchise? 😉

  5. lynette

    wah lao Danielle, you remember how I was had the obsession too, to make the perfect macaroon. So crazy.
    Did you leave the egg yolks overnight?
    Anyway, congratulations for accomplishing the quest of 30 day desserts!

  6. Lynette: Yes I remember that phase! The egg whites here were leftover from an ice-cream making batch, so definitely aged.

    Anna: Could it be the texture of the matcha powder I wonder. I sifted it into the egg white-meringue mixture but I think it was the incorporation process that ruined this batch.

    Felicia: I’ve read the same advice too, but my oven’s pretty mild so leaving the door ajar would let too much heat escape.

    Coleen: Thanks for your kind words – the cookie definitely tastes better than it looks 🙂

    Audra: Thanks!

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