Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making Macarons - My 3 attempts at mastering the art

        These are delicious little bites of heaven. The first time I had my experience of a Macaron was from the Lindt Cafe at Cockle Bay while on a "date" with Ryan a fair few years ago, I instantly fell in love with them. Since then, especially recently, they have grown in popularity and with the appearance on MasterChef it seems they are popping up everywhere. I've always longed to make these and after seeing the contestants make them on last year's MasterChef and seeing them pop up everywhere on the bloggesphere I thought I would give them a go. It would be the ultimate accomplishment if I did it successfully. For the non foodies they are not to be confused with the Macaroons.

        So the beginning of January this year marks my first attempt. Total failure. I didn't really follow the recipe to the core and I used ground hazelnuts instead of almond meal because I had it sitting in the cupboard and thought I would aim for hazelnut macarons, for a first go I was very silly to do that. I can't even remember which recipe it is that I used. The batter was quite runny and spread all over the place, I probably didn't beat the egg whites enough.

        When baked they kind of domed up in the middle so you have a bit of a hollow crater in the middle of the biscuit. Alot of them also stuck to the baking paper.

        I attempted to make some kind of hazelnut ganache but that failed too so ended up sandwiching them with Nutella. They were really chewy and tasted great, but they looked absolutely flat and uninspiring. I ended up using some to sandwich my cinnamon toast ice cream (blog on that later).

        I was not going to give up that easily. I tried again at the end of January to try and master the art of baking Macarons. I studied numerous recipes, blogs, info sites etc on all the must and must nots. I compared many recipes to see which one appealed to me and also looked to be a sure winner in producing the ultimate macarons, frilly feet and all. The two blogs/recipes for Macarons that stood out at the time to me were EatShow&Tell and Not Quite Nigella, my Macaron recipe was somewhere in between these two. So I set about preparing myself for these Macarons. I seperate some eggs the day before and leave them out reminding Mum not to put them in the fridge and not to chuck them out either. I make sure that every component is carried out precisely, from the beating of the egg whites, to leaving the piped batter to dry out and develop a "skin" before baking.

       You would not believe how excited I got when I saw the sight of these in the oven - "They have feet!!"

        I decide to bake one tray at a time, I excitedly pull my first tray out and put my second tray into the oven. I kept staring at the oven and the Macarons don't seem to be rising. After a long long time exceeding the recommended cooking time I pull them out. The surface dried out but the biscuits didn't even cook, even if they didn't rise but at least cooked I would have been happy eating them. I was utterly disappointed! I think it had something to do with the oven being open and the temperature changing after the first tray was taken out.

Not to worry, I still had a tray full of perfect Macarons to fill!

        I love the chocolate peppermint combination so thought I would make chocolate macaron shells with a peppermint buttercream filling. They were so yummy!

        After my second successful attempt I thought I would give it another go. It's about a month later and I am in the mood to make Macarons. I did these after work one day though which was a big mistake as I didn't really have enough time to dry them out (I could have left them longer but it would have meant baking these at like midnight). You can see here that they still look fairly glossy on the surface.

        My oven was probably on a little high aswell because the biscuits came out quite golden brown (still chewy on the inside though). They also dome up and don't really have the feet, at least they domed up well. Though the perfect Macaron is flat on top and has the frilly feet.

        I have some leftover buttercream in the fridge so decide to to a vanilla bean buttercream and peppermint buttercream again. They go really well with the vanilla shells.

        After knowing how hard it is to make I am more than happy to pay an average of $2-$2.50 a pop for one of these. I like having a mixture of flavours to eat. What's so good about them? The crispy exterior and soft chewy interior of the biscuit sandwiched with a delectable filling which usually adds a contrast to the shell and the endless array of different flavour combinations available out there. If you havn't tried one of these yet I suggest you go out there and try them, though there are some duds out there so beware of inferior quality.


Amy @ cookbookmaniac said...

These are heaps cool. Good on ya for giving them a go. The choc and mint macarons look fantastic! The boy loves all things choc and mint. I reckon he'll drool when I show this to him.

OohLookBel said...

Go Angie! Your macaron efforts are stellar (that's from someone who thinks they're more trouble than they're worth...)

chocolatesuze said...

macarons make life worth living :D

Betty said...

what a great effort well done on getting "feet"! :)

cyberiagirl said...

They look tasty, dome or not! I'd like to cook macarons... but I'm not good at finicky things so I guess I'll just have to buy some somewhere. I agree that the price makes sense considering the difficulty factor. :)

foodwink said...

Fantabulous effort, Angie!

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Amy: Thanks! Hehe he might demand you make some if you show him =p

Hi Belle: Thanks! Yeah, I don't know if I want to do them again but am glad I did try.

Hi Suze: Haha yes... and I will gladly pay for them!

Hi Betty: Thanks! Hehe yes the feet make or break it I reckon =D

Hi Rachel: Oh I dislike finicky things too! Well when it comes to cooking anyway but sometimes the effort gets rewarded =)

Hi foodwink: Thanks! =)

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Wow - well done! These look great. You are better than me - I'm still yet to attempt my own, although I'm not game with a faulty oven that doesn't cook under 200C. That's my excuse for the moment anyway! lol

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Helen: Thanks! Hehe oh I hate dodgy ovens! Even though we have a new one now it heats unevenly so am never quite sure what will come out when I open the oven door =D Hehe I am sure someone will kindly open their oven door for you to make macarons ;)

tammy said...

It is unbelievably so fun watching you cook! I absolutely love macaroons so maybe one day I'll be able to master it like you have :)

foodie-central said...

Hi Angie - They look yum! Have always wanted to make some but I just don't have the patience..

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Tammy: Thanks! Hehe oh I wouldn't say that I've mastered it haha one and a half out of three goes aint bad though. I am glad I gave it a go.

Hi Daphne: Thanks! Yeah patience is something I lack aswell but I think determination pulled me through =D