Failed Macarons

Neither my friend nor I bake, so I was slightly insane to suggest baking macarons. If you don’t know what macarons are, they are a sweet French confectionery that is quite difficult to bake properly. We followed the recipe guide here but we had quite a few limitations.

I should present my friend as the star of this show, as she did most of the baking while I sat around and did some prep work. So I (we?) present, (fail at) making macarons (the low-tech way):

Ingredients (for the shell):

3 egg whites (from large eggs), separated at least 24 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator
210 g powdered sugar
125 g almond meal
30 g regular granulated sugar

Ingredients (for the ganache filling):
150 g milk chocolate
1/3 cup of whipped cream
1/4 bar of unsalted butter

Equipment:

Kitchen scale
Food processor The blunt end of a wooden utensil and a plate
Hand or stand mixer with whisk accessory Chopsticks
Sifter or fine sieve
2 big stainless steel mixing bowls
Spatula We might as well have used our hands, given how terrible the spatula was
Pastry bag and round tip (1/2 to 3/4 inch opening) Plastic ziplock bag
Large baking sheets, preferably 2 to 4 of them
Parchment paper

Steps (in low detail):

Step 1: Separate egg whites and put them in a container to “age” for 1 – 5 days in the fridge.
– I’m pretty sure I didn’t screw this part up.

Step 2: Measure the icing sugar and almond meal and finely grind them together using a food processor.
– This is when the fun began. Since we did not have a food processor, and the almond meal we had was not finely ground to began with, we had to make do with what we had. Move to the next step.

Step 3: Sieve the mixture.
– Sieving and grinding the mixture came hand in hand. After mixing the sugar and almond meal by hand, we realised that the almond meal grains were not fine enough to go through the sieve. We didn’t have a blender or a mortar & pestle, so we tried a combination of alternatives. First, we attempted to use the blunt end of a wooden spoon. Grinding it that way didn’t work too well, so we hoped to be able to open a disposable Kirkland pre-made pepper grinder. However, we were unable to open it up without possibly breaking the whole grinder, so we moved to the next alternative. By placing a bit of the almond meal on a plate and using the flat end of a wooden spatula, we were able to slowly grind the almond into smaller pieces to go through the sieve. Halfway through the process, we gave up and used a sieve with wider mesh so the mixture could go through easier.

IMG_20130222_163437

Step 4: Whisk the egg whites and slowly add in the granulated sugar
Making macarons requires whisking the egg whites until they are white, dense, creamy and able to peak. If we had a whisk, this might have taken 2-3 minutes, however since we only had chopsticks, it took significantly longer. After around 20-30 minutes, we were able to finally make it into a relatively white and dense cream.

IMG_20130222_163452

 

Step 5: Fold the granulated sugar/egg white mixture while adding the dry mixture.
– Our spatula sucked, but we were able to get a relatively shiny and creamy (and not too undermixed) batter.

Step 6: Prepare the baking sheets and pipe the batter.
– There was something definitely wrong with the texture of the batter as we were piping it. That’s why we ended up making swirls instead of being able to pipe it out into perfect circles.
IMG_20130222_171659

Step 7: Preheat and bake for 14 minutes at 150°C.
– After 14 minutes, our sheels were definitely underbaked, but we didn’t notice this until later…

Step 8: Make the ganache! First cut up the chocolate and melt it.
– My friend microwaved the chocolate for too long, so there was layer of burnt chocolate at the top, which we had to scoop out.

Step 9: Bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Melt the butter and add it to the mix. Put it in the freezer to speed up the cooling processor.

Step 10: Pipe the cream onto the macarons.

The final result?

……

IMG_20130222_184016

 

Well, it’s not TERRIBLE for a first attempt with a lack of equipment, right?

Thoughts:
– Hey, we managed to somehow make some feet (the ruffle at the edges of the shell)!
– Although you can’t tell as well in the picture, the macarons were actually double the size of normal macarons
– The shell is overly sweet, and some are severely underbaked, which made the texture/taste really off
– I quite liked the ganache, although it was a bit sweet
– The burnt chocolate actually added a nice subtle tang to the overly sweet macarons
– Well…my mom liked them so that must mean something, right?

Next time, since we now have experience, we will manage to get some real baking equipment and improve on these macarons. For now, you can see the shame of these failed macarons.

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