Tuesday, October 27, 2009

french macarons: a daring baker's fail


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

As you can tell my macarons didn't turn out. I've been making a list in my head of all the things that could be the culprit.
1. I did age my eggs... 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator... but the eggs themselves were super fresh. As in my husband went outside and pulled them out from underneath the chickens fresh.
2. I did let them sit until room temperature but it was a cold day. Maybe I should have nuked them for 5 - 10 sec to knock the chill off even more.
3. It was also a rainy day. So maybe the humidity played a part.
4. I did a terrible thing and omitted 1/4 cup of powdered sugar... i know that this was very wrong of me but i couldn't get past how sickeningly sweet to dobos torta was and i didn't want these to turn out the same way.
5. I kinda wished that they had puffed up a bit more. Maybe I should have beaten my egg whites stiffer?
6. The outsides were crispy but the insides were goop. I'm thinking that the oven i used cooks way too hot. (This is why I didn't fill them. They were inedible. Hopefully I still get credit for doing this challenge because I did work my a$$ off. And I don't have time to make more right now. I have a baby!)

Those are my best guesses. The sad thing is for a few minutes I actually thought that they were going to turn out. They developed feet and everything. I even danced around the kitchen when I noticed the feet. sigh. oh well. Such is life.

I will tell you that one thing I am learning from the Daring Bakers is that it's okay to try things you don't know how to do. And that it's okay to fail at those things. There is a lot of pressure in this world to be perfect even though no one is. I'm not perfect and I'm learning to be okay with that.

Well had my macarons been edible the plan was to fill them with a faux Devonshire Cream. And Possibly a fresh strawberry slice. So here is the Devonshire Cream recipe:

8 oz cream cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar to taste

Whip cheese until softened. gradually add cream until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar to taste.

And here is the macaron recipe copied from the daring baker's website:
Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

My batter was not going to make 10 dozen either. It was a lot closer to 1 1/2 to 2 dozen.
I do think that I will try this challenge again... one day when I have some time. I would love to learn how to really make these cookies if for no other reason than to try one. (unless anyone knows where you can find them in Fort Worth?)

And last but not least I thought I would share a picture I took of the Little One at the pumpkin patch. She's almost 10 months old now. It's amazing how time flies once you have kids.