I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I very rarely have total and complete disasters in the kitchen. Well, I guess I may when it comes to cooking, but very very unusual for baking. However, I have been quite humbled by this challenge....
I give you: The Daring Bakers' French Macaron Challenge!
my one lonely macaron
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.
She writes, in the introduction to the challenge:
Unless you’ve been frozen in permafrost for the past five years, you’ve likely noticed that cupcake bakeries have popped up all over like iced mushrooms. Knock one down, and three take its place. Much has been made about not only the cupcake’s popularity, but also its incipient demise as the sweet du jour. Since we seem to be a culture intent on the next sensation, pundits, food enthusiasts and bloggers have all wondered what this sensation might be. More than a few have suggested that French-style macaroons (called macarons in France) might supplant the cupcake. This may or may not come to pass, but the basic premise of the French macaroon is pretty tasty.
In the United States, the term “macaroon” generally refers to a cookie made primarily of coconut. But European macaroons are based on either ground almonds or almond paste, combined with sugar and egg whites. The texture can run from chewy, crunchy or a combination of the two. Frequently, two macaroons are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam, which can cause the cookies to become more chewy. The flavor possibilities and combinations are nigh endless, allowing infinitely customizable permutations.
I started making Macarons this summer, when I tried one my co-worker Teena made. It was so delicious! I couldn't believe I'd never tried them before (or tried baking them). I had really good success with making Pistachio macarons in July and even used them as garnish on my birthday cake in July.
However, I think the move to SC and the great increase in humidity may have had some effect. I made two attempts, neither of which was very successful. I ended up with a few good options, but then had major issues with my filling and was down to two macarons. THEN when I was getting ready to photograph these two lonely macarons, one broke :( (which of course meant I had to eat it.) So, I only had one to photograph.
I had so many ideas of options for macarons and fillings but decided on two kinds, both based on beverages. I wanted to do an Earl Grey macaron with vanilla bean white chocolate ganache and then an Espresso macaron with dark chocolate ganache. Alas, though, I only got the Earl Grey option done, and a pretty poor execution at that.
Earl Grey macaron with vanilla bean white chocolate ganache
I'm still not exactly sure what went wrong with my recipe.... I'm not even going to post it because of my terrible results. I do fully intend to figure out a way to fix it, however. I will say this, though, that to get the Earl Grey flavor, I ground (via a mortar and pestle) the contents of one Harney & Sons Imperial Earl Grey tea sachet. And I used another tea sachet to infuse the cream I used in the White Chocolate Ganache. The ganache was also a disaster, probably due to the fact that I used a greater ratio of infused cream because I wanted the added Earl Grey flavor......
My macarons failed to develop much for "feet" and worst of all, they all stuck horribly to the pan. With the second batch, I tried putting them back in the oven to see if they set further if they would come off the pan, but then I ended up forgetting them in the oven, and they turned too brown (plus still stuck to the pan). They also shattered really easily.....
I spoke with a couple of my Chefs from school, and it was recommended that I use a recipe with the addition of Meringue Powder and potentially age my egg whites further. I'll give those options a try and report back!
Overall, the mess-ups still tasted good, and I really do hope to make my duo of tea and coffee macarons sometime soon!