Back in January when I was asking on Twitter about who might be interested in doing some guest posts, Tiffanie @ Mostly YA Lit contacted me with a couple ideas she had – one of them being to tackle making macarons. I had actually thought about doing that as well and so we decided to collaborate since I had taking a cooking class in Paris last year, and Tiff had the kitchen equipment to make it happen!
So we planned to get together in March (which you may have seen some teaser-tweets from us that one Sunday) and attempt this tricky feat. To start, I found the recipes that were sent to me after our Paris macaron class and based our shopping list on that. Tiff laughed at how organized I was being but you totally have to be! Everything about making it is so weight/time/etc. sensitive that you gotta be prepared! 🙂 Which we would soon realize…….
So on the previously-mentioned Sunday, I headed over to Tiff’s place just after noon – figuring we should get started the earlier the better to give us as much time as we’d need. Upon arriving, I found Tiff setting up a French-inspired snack of fruit, cheese & crackers to give us sustenance. Yum! After that and tidying & prepping the kitchen for our baking adventure, we were finally ready to go at probably around 1:30pm.
Based on the steps we did in my class, we made the ganache (inside filling) first. We made a “jam”-type one of raspberries and a caramel one. After that was done and cooling in the fridge, it was time to tackle the macaronage (the batter for the outside shell) As I recall from the class, the shells were the tricky part and boy am I glad we did the ganache first! Tiff had been saving egg whites throughout the week, as per the recipe, and boy was that a gross goopy mess. Worst part was that we then had to sift them. Through a sieve. And that goopy mess did NOT want to go through those tiny holes. I’d go so far as to say that we were sort of on a roll for a while up until this point. After probably 45 minutes – no joke – we finally could move on to the next step. At this point, Tiff decided we were in much need of a drink so she mixed together some delicious fruity alcoholic beverage for us!
It was at this next step that we got into some confusion. For Tiff follows a Toronto-area blogger who has made these countless times and does them in a very different way. However, I wasn’t sure if we should start switching up the recipe now when we’ve purchased all the ingredients and gone this far with the Parisian recipe. Hence our first major epicfail when our meringue was looking like lumpy & grainy batter rather than fluffy meringue. So Tiff asked her fiancé if he could go out and get us some more eggs. 😳 At this point, we didn’t bother going through 45 minutes more of straining the egg whites since it was probably hitting the 4 hour mark. We separated the egg whites & egg yolks (Tiff has probably enjoyed a lot of egg yolk scrambled eggs over the next week!) and resolved to just keep going. If it still didn’t set properly this second time around, we’ll just keep going with the recipe since all the dry ingredients were already mixed and waiting for the meringue at this point. It would have gone to waste anyway, so we may as well keep going.
This second go wasn’t as bad as the first time but still not quite the consistency we were looking for. Nonetheless, we pushed on through and separated them so we could mix two separate colours. This was at least a bit reassuring because once it was mixed together and the colour was in, it looked a lot more familiar to how it should be. The piping part was my favourite and Tiff was surprised to realize it wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be.
So after a long 7+ hr day of standing in the kitchen, our frustrations with the finicky process and Tiff’s intermittent declarations of “omgihatethisthisistheworst”, our macarons surprisingly didn’t turn out that bad. They rose a bit in the oven but when we took them out to cool, it sunk down a bit. We think it might have needed to stay in the oven a bit longer, even though we already kept them in a bit longer than what the recipe called for. We also had a lot of ganache left over – not realizing that since we split the shell’s colours, we’d only need half the filling rather than doing the full recipe. Even still, our batter didn’t yield as many macaron shells as we had in the class, strangely enough.
And how did they taste? Not bad! They were a bit flimsy and chewy, but overall for a first home attempt, they weren’t a complete fail! Thank you to Tiff, Evan & cats for having me at your home on a Sunday afternoon!
Some learnings from all of this:
- You’ll go through a ton of bowls, utensils, pots & pans
- Strain your egg whites before it’s been sitting in the fridge for 4-7 days! Get ’em before the goop solidifies too much!
- Timing & measuring exactly is key!
- Oven times vary. You’ll probably go through a few trial & errors before finding that “sweet spot” of a time – without having to open & close the oven door too much.
- There are several different ways to make macarons and is best to decide up front and stick with the one method the whole way through. Some recipes end up overlapping so it doesn’t quite work taking a bit from column A and taking a bit from column B
and remember – THIS is a macaroon. It is NOT the same as a macaron. 😎