Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remember What I Said About Conquering the Macaron? Well, Forget It.


Last week, I had felt a sense of deep accomplishment and satisfaction when I made macarons that turned out perfectly.

That feeling was short-lived.

I wanted to make some macarons for a BBQ that a couple at church was having this past Monday for Memorial Day.  Instead of the chocolate, I wanted to re-create the vanilla macaron from Bouchon Bakery that I love so much.  There was some buttercream left over from the wedding cake I had made and wanted to use it up anyway.

I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe that she had written for the LA Times for Easter.  This was a little more advanced than the chocolate.  The chocolate macaron you just whipped the egg whites by itself but with this basic Parisian recipe I had to make an Italian Meringue.  Italian Meringue is whipping egg whites with sugar (and a little water) that's cooked to 240 degrees.  This was tricky because I don't have a candy thermometer and even if I did, the quantity of sugar was so small it would have been hard to even stick the thermometer in and try to get an accurate reading.

There was a trick that I was taught in school to be able to tell what stage the sugar is at  by spooning some of the boiling mixture into a small bowl of water.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos for this.  But I found a site that describes this very well.

I followed the recipe to a T except for the second and third sheet pan of piped macarons.  The first pan I double panned it and opened and shut the oven every 4 minutes.  Turned out ok.. except the bottom was still underbaked.  So the next sheet pan I didn't put the second sheet pan underneath it and I got HUGE cracks.

Cracked 2

Too much heat too fast.

So the next pan, I put it in with a second sheet pan underneath, then took it out after the first 4 minutes.  I still had issues with it underbaking on the bottoms but I think this time around it was because of the Silpat. The Silpat was too thick and the bottoms needed lots of direct heat to form a crust.  So use parchment paper.

Macaroon Tops

They tasted great despite the cracks but I was so angry!  There I was, thinking I had more or less mastered this little cookies.. then BAM!!  A huge slap in the face and those stupid macarons laughing in my face.

Macarons 2
In the end, it wasn't a complete disaster but it just... sucked.  It always sucks when things don't go perfectly the way you imagine.