Sunday, February 7, 2010

epic fail: macarons

I hadn't really adopted the trendy phrase "epic fail" yet... in fact, I was actively avoiding it even though I like the word "epic." And then I tried to make macarons this weekend. No, not coconut macaroons. Macarons, the delicate crisp and delicious cookie that Helen of Tartelette is known for. I've been reading about these curious French cookies all over the web - someone even said macarons are the new cupcake! But everyone says they are finicky and tough to get right. And, when my newly adoptive blogger posted about them, I had to give them a shot.

You heard right, Baking Therapy was recently adopted through a wonderful program called Adopt-A-Blogger. I found Dine & Dish a while back, started following Kristen on Twitter, and when she tweeted a call-out for newbie food bloggers to sign up for the 4th edition of Adopt-A-Blogger, I responded immediately. I crossed my fingers and was paired last week with a "veteran" blogger for guidance and a 3-month mentorship - yay! Her name is Deeba, she lives in India, and she's Passionate about Baking.

Here's a 'lil info about Deeba:

"I've been in India all my life, born and brought up here, and I love it. It's a world apart from all yours, and sometimes everyday baking life can be a struggle. We have unannounced power outages, and basic baking ingredients are all we get off shelves. Chocolate chips are on overseas shopping lists, and they jostle for space with bundt and tart pans, candy thermometers, spatulas, cream of tartar...the list is endless! But in the midst of all this mayhem, I love it. I love the challenge of baking with limited ingredients, and love experimenting, pushing my limits.

I am ambitious as far as blogging goes, am addicted to it, enjoying it thoroughly. It has enriched my life beyond belief, put me in touch with beautiful and fun foodies, made me a Daring Baker, and made me look at the camera with new eyes. I have learned that there is more to 'macro' than what I learned in university while doing my honours in economics, and this is certainly more fun! The camera is my best friend, and has escaped many a threatened falls into curries and cakes. I love it! I have a long way to go, and want to write cookbooks, improve my photography skills, learn to make macarons like French pastry chefs...aah I love this life!"

She's already given me some great advice so hopefully you'll notice changes for the better in the coming months. Oh, and be sure to check out her blog for her latest tasty creations.

Back to the macarons. I set some time aside this afternoon and "aged" a few egg whites to get the process started. I found step by step directions from Tartelette's Helen and mixed them with a chocolate macaron recipe by David Lebovitz for my first attempt. Were they pretty? No. Did they look like little turds? Yes. But, they did grow "feet" (which I understand is a difficult thing to accomplish) and they did taste great.

So for my first attempt I guess I shouldn't label them an epic fail. Maybe just a considerable fail. But, having enough powdered sugar for the recipe and using a pastry bag instead of a ziplock with the tip cut off (I know. How does a Baking Therapist not own a pastry bag??) may have helped the cause. Here's hoping we can convince Sweet Tartelette to leave gorgeous Charleston, SC to host a NYC macaron workshop (accompanied by a Manhattan Sugar Coma tour, of course)!

French Chocolate Macaron Recipe
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup powdered almonds (about 2 oz sliced almonds, pulverized)
3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone).

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch circles, evenly spaced 1-inch apart.

Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then bake them for 15-18 minutes (mine only took 13-15 minutes). Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Spread ganache or filling on the inside of the macarons then sandwich them together.


Anonymous said...

i think they look very cute. :)

chelsea rebecca said...

haha this is too funny!
i love the phrase epic fail!

hey, i'll take yours any day because they are giant!! so you can't go wrong!

kate said...

those look so tasty & gorgeous!

Jasmine said...

They look great for a first attempt. Don't be too down on yourself... I have heard that chocolate are the hardest to get right - maybe a vanilla flavour could be easier to perfect?

My problem was the opposite - my disposable piping bag came with only one round tip, which was tiny. When I was piping out the mixture I could only think that it was going to be a disaster. But it actually worked out well, not quite perfect but great for a first attempt and tasted delicious!

Amy said...

I'd still eat them! I think they look really cute.

Making macarons is on my 2010 to-do list as well. Am going to try to use the recipe from Lauderee in Paris...but am a little intimidated if a baker such as yourself had a bit of a hard time! Eeek. Oh well. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Pilar Mustafa said...

These look AMAZING! You must make these for me sometime. Heart you

Beth said...

Chelsea - they were HUGE. Like, crazy huge ;)

Kate - Thanks for the comment!

Jasmine - Thanks for the advice, I'm going to try the vanilla favor next. I checked out your blog and yours looked perfect! Jealous!

Amy - They are a feat to conquer, for sure. Worthy of a 2010 to do list!

Pilar - I'll make 'em for you anytime, love :)

Generic Viagra Online said...

WEll thanks for the recipe, I'm gonna be careful about this, I don't really want to scrub up hahaha

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