Macaron

Macaron

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.

Let’s Bake

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.

Final Result

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.

Mystery Recipe

Mystery Recipe

So, I’m an idiot. Big time. Any home baker worth their salt would have looked at this recipe and immediately known what it was. I did not. I’ve had it sitting in the “what IS this, Grandmom?” pile. Just a list of ingredients with no title and almost no instruction. But I was excited to mix it all together and see if it would speak to me.

Do you bake? Did this immediately tell you what it was? Did you think “well yea, you are an idiot”? I know I should have seen it, but in my defense, my family does not really like cookies. It’s just not something they gravitate towards. If given all of the things I can and do bake – cookies are always the last choice. Unless it’s my chocolate chip cookie. It’s taken me years to work that recipe out – and I’m here to tell you that I make the best chocolate chip cookies. Ever.

Let’s Bake

The recipe as written:

  • 1 cup shortening (part butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Bake 400 degrees 8 to 10 minutes

I knew immediately that it wasn’t a cake type of thing. With so little liquid in this recipe, what thick batter could possibly bake in 8 to 10 minutes. Now that it’s all said and done – and from doing a bit of research on google – the cream of tartar should have been the thing that really hit me over the head.

The creaming method was the best way forward and I mixed up the shortening/butter and sugar and then added the eggs one at a time. Once that was done I added all the dry ingredients except the small amount of sugar and cinnamon.

Finally things started to click! Why would you list sugar in the ingredient list and then list sugar again? At least my light bulb turned on eventually! Clearly this is a cookie! I hollered from the kitchen “I’m such a boob!” My husband, hearing the word boob, of course comes running. He was pretty disappointed when he got there.

Accepting my defeat, I scooped them all out and rolled them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and baked for about 9 minutes.

End Result

Can I just tell you that I’ve never made a Snicker-doodle in my life? I accidentally made snicker doodles.

However, this is what I live for. I have a basic recipe that I can play with! This is exactly where I started about 4 years ago with my chocolate chip cookies – a simple base to play with and expand on. The Quest: to make the best Snicker-doodle ever! Big bonus points that the shell I start with is my Grandmother’s. These cookies are really good – but there is definitely room for improvement.

But still….what a moron I am. Even my sister, who admittedly, does not bake, texted back “well, yea. It’s a snickerdoodle….Duh“.

Pineapple Drop Cookies

Pineapple Drop Cookies

My mother tells me that this was my Grandmother’s favorite cookie. She also shared that Grandmommy used to make these for my sister and I when we were kids. I really wish I could remember that. The fact that she and I both liked the same thing makes me happy. However, these days I prefer my pineapple in a Pina Colada on a cruise ship.

You can’t get any easier when it comes to these cookies. Other than sifting the dry ingredients, it was pretty much a dump and mix. There was some guess work with what the size of the cookie should be, the baking temperature and for how long. My own little British Bake Off technical challenge if you will.

I ended up doing three batches of cookie; large, medium and small, and set the temperature to the all popular 350. The baking time ended up being around 15 minutes, but they come out super soft. How they were intended to be is a bit of a mystery, but I prefer softer cookies, so went with that. The smallest sized batch came out a bit crispier at 15 minutes.

These things are good! Like really good. Good enough to have a few packed in my lunch box for work today. The icing drizzle was my addition and not part of the original recipe – but for a cookie – I thought just a BIT more sweet was needed. And drizzling is just fun if I’m honest. It’s important to note that I packed these in an air tight zip lock last night and this morning they are a bit….mushy? I wonder if baking for a longer period of time is needed. And quite possibly my drizzle screwed up an otherwise perfectly fine cookie!

All in all – a damn good cookie!