Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust
This post chronicles some of my attempts at the infamously tricky macaron. It starts from attempt No.2, since there were no pictorial records of attempt No.1. In fact, till today, I am still trying to wipe the horrific experience of No.1 from my memory. It was a horrific puddle of hardened green goo caused by all the piped shells deciding to join hands and go on strike together, a nightmare to scrape off the naked baking tray (I had not discovered the wonders of silicon-lined baking parchment at the time).
No.2 below was just slightly better, the shells were lumpy and wavy, only half of them cracked and collapsed from not being rested long enough, a good number left their innards on the baking paper during removal, the “pied” were stumpy and minimal. But at least they were shells.
No.3 gave me the other end of the spectrum of macaron problems. The meringue was broken from overbeating, the batter was undermixed and then the piped shells were over-rested, so half of them had no pied as the shells were stuck to the parchment after resting for so long. These few baby pink macarons were those I salvaged from the batch. You can see how rough the tops of the shells are from the broken meringue.
No.5 made me do a little leap of joy and shout whoopie! I had emptied a bag of Earl grey tea leaves into the batter and the shells turned out quite nicely.
On the same day I baked No.6 and 7 as well. These saffron shells were colored by the most expensive spice in the world. Either I was having a really good macaron day or I had found the perfect macaron recipe.
For lucky No.7, I added some Valrhona cocoa powder. Guess I was feeling decadent that day, first saffron and then Valrhona. Perhaps due to the cocoa butter, the tops of the shells came out just slightly wavy but still smooth-ish.
Attempt No.8: Matcha Macarons
Attempt No.9: Kumquat Macarons
Attempt No.14: Nutella macaron pops
Attempt No.15: I tried to experiment with creative ways to colour macarons. I dipped a wooden skewer in some red food gel and inserted it into the piping bag before piping the shells. This lent an interesting swirly red design to the shell that didn’t affect the final bake either.
Attempt No.20: Bergamot Macarons
Attempt No.21: These had super high feet! An idea struck me to flip the baking tray upside down and pipe the shells on the bottom to bake instead. The result is superhigh pied, which were lovely and impressive when packed in a little black favour box.
Attempt No.24: Coffee Caramel Macarons. Had a girlfriend over to bake together. By then, I’d already learnt the Italian Meringue method and was growing quite comfortable with this method. It’s so much more stable and forgiving than the finicky French. However, for the benefit of showing my girlfriend an easier way, I used the French method. Shows I haven’t lost my touch for the French method yet, these turned out quite nicely. I sprinkled some espresso granules on the top while the batter was still wet.
Out of curiosity, I bought a silicone macaron mat. These are nifty little tools for beginner bakers or if like, me, you have terrible piping skills. It didn’t turn me into Paula Deen but it wasn’t that useless a buy either. Read somewhere on the Web that silicone macaron mats and French meringue are best friends, so piped a small amount of yellow French method batter on these. They baked okay! Took a few more minutes to be done than those baked on parchment due to the thickness of the silicone, but there were no cracks at all and the pied were high and frilly all around.
My macaron journey continues… Check out my other posts in Macarons to see more of my macaron adventures!