Some months ago ( more or less at the beginning of this journey with my blog ) I tried, as many cooks do some time or another, to bake my first batch of macarons.
Yes, the infamous, delicate-as-a-baby french friandises, an authentic ability test for your cooking skills ( and, most definitely, for your failure acceptance skills too: a most underrated talent for sure ).
As many others, at first I felt very confident: how can that be so difficult?! Sure enough, it will just need a bit of practice and attention to the recipe instructions; it won’t be a problem, right?!
So, very carelessly I read the beautiful Helene Dujardin’s guide to macarons ( I’m sure you already know her wonderful blog, tarteletteblog.com, one of my absolute favourites ), and tried my hand at it; very diligently, I’d left my egg whites to age two or three days in advance in the fridge, to get the proper level of dehydration ( apparently, humidity kills these little ones ), and drew the almonds from my pantry ; I had a packet of store-bought whole almonds instead of the required fine meal, but, hey, that’s what food-processors and mortars are for, right?! I always tend to use whole fruits when I can, because I find meal to absorb an unpleasant plasticky flavour far too quickly, therefore I felt quite justified in using them: if it’s right for a cake, it’s right for a macaron, isn’t it?
Well, sure enough, if you’re very diligent, super-attentive cook, to start from whole almonds is much better in terms of flavour and quality, but you must really be careful when preparing macarons: the meal you’ll use must be very fine, not even a bigger speck is to be seen, or else they will collapse. And of course you must dehydrate them too, because once ground, they tend to release all their gorgeous butter: excellent to add moisture to a cake, but definitely not for the naughty macaron…
And, guess what?, I wasn’t so careful and attentive, of course! My meal wasn’t too fine, but I used it nonetheless.
While whipping the egg whites, anyway, I kept wondering what exactly Helene meant for ” dry egg whites “: when, exactly, a whipped eggwhite becomes too dry to be of any use in a macaron?
Of course, now I’ve learned it – the hard way: in adding the almond meal to the whipped whites, I figured out immediately with dismay what exactly ” too dry ” meant. At that point, I knew they weren’t going to be macarons at all. But I couldn’t throw all that goodness away, so I baked them nonetheless.
The result was quite fine and flavourful: thin, crunchy shells with a faint almond smell and delicious caramel taste; but of course they weren’t macarons. We gobbled them down nonetheless, though. No complaints.
Why this story? Because even failure can be productive, right? One cannot always obtain perfect results, and that’s no disaster. And of course, if ever you decide to make macarons for the first time, don’t be messy as I was!
And, of course, the photos were taken at the time, so please forgive their slight agoraphobic feel!
On another note, my new oven has arrived! Woohoo! I can’t wait to try it, maybe with a batch of chocolate chip cookies… Even if here it’s still summer, I’m beginning to crave the comfort of autumnal flavours…