I think baking should be relatively hard. Well, maybe not hard, but good baking should be a skill. Something that you’ve practiced and tried to perfect. Something that’s taken time and you’ve put love into. But y’all, baking shouldn’t be THIS hard. Macarons are a bitch.
Here’s the rub. I’ve made these before. I would even go as far to say that I’ve made them well. There is a woman at my husbands office that always asks him to NOT give her a Christmas gift…just bring some Macarons. To make matters worse, these are my daughters favorite cookie. She’s been asking for weeks if I could throw a batch together.
Sure, no problem! “Throw a batch together” she says.
Stupid stupid cookie.
For reasons that escape me now, I decided to try a different recipe. I had bookmarked a macaron recipe on Allrecipes some time ago that was different than the one I usually use and the comments seemed quite positive. Not being one to assume I’ve got everything figured out – I decided to try it out. Rookie Mistake. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The recipe:
3 egg whites
50g caster sugar
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds
The process, on paper, is simple enough. Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour into a bowl. You want this mixture to be as fine as possible. Set that aside. In a mixing bowl, mix the room temperature egg whites to a soft peak stage, once there, start adding the sugar slowly until you’ve reached glossy stiff peaks.
Now comes the hard part. You have to put those two things together. Take the egg whites and mix them into the sugar/almond mixture. It’s a delicate balance. This is called ‘macaronage’. Which I personally think is a snooty word.
You don’t want to under mix – it’ll be too thick and lumpy. But for the love of God – don’t over mix either! It’ll sort of ooze into each other. How do you learn the correct consistency? Screw it up A LOT of times until you get it right. Might I suggest you take a good six months of your life and practice every weekend until you’ve cleaned out the local grocery store of almond flour and when your husband walks into the kitchen and sees you crying on the floor he simply shakes his head and walks out.
Once the correct consistency has been achieved, pipe onto a silpat or parchment paper, bang the cookie sheet onto the counter a few times to push out any air on pockets and then leave on the counter to form a skin. This can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Once the skin has been formed, bake at 285 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Oh for the love of everything that is good and holy….What a trainwreck! The consistency was WAY too thin and despite my efforts to fix it…It all went to pot.
I mean, seriously, it was an unmitigated disaster. I couldn’t even pull the ol “well they look like hell, but taste fine” trick. Straight to the trash.
Not willing to accept defeat, I went back and DID IT AGAIN with the recipe that I’ve used before, and while not terrific, and sort of ended up looking like nipple cookies…They were salvageable.
Here’s an interesting thing I learned. Trying to make macarons during high humidity is never a good idea. Well then it’s a good thing I live in Virginia and it’s freakin’ July!
Any cookie that has feelings about the current season is an asshole.