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.
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.
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.
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.