Sunday, February 15, 2015

Macarons at last

At Christmastime my husband appealed to me to stop making macarons. Or rather, to stop trying to make macarons. I was not successful, batch after batch, and he was tired of seeing both the kitchen and my nerves in a perpetual state of disarray. I started Googling "macaron fail" to make myself feel better.

But finally, I have succeeded.

Vanilla-mango macarons. Success.

There are a hundred different ways you can mess up macarons. In December, I suspect my main mess up was trying to "cheat" by using egg whites from a carton. For a real baker this mistake might have been obvious. I am not really a real baker. Of course, the problem isn't just the macarons. I always have problems making meringue, the first step in macaron-ing. I'm using an old hand beater, rather than a fancy stand mixer. It takes at least 10 minutes longer for the whites to form "stiff peaks" than any recipe I've ever used calls for. Some say ageing the egg whites is critical. They also need to be room temperature, which in Canada this time of year can still be rather cold - so I put them on the counter for hours. 

But the meringue isn't the only finicky part. Watch what kind of colouring you add to the batter, as some claim that liquid food dyes change its consistency. I've seen a video stating that you need to blend the dry ingredients in very vigorously, so as to remove the bubbles. A magazine article notes that the batter should flow "like lava" (like I have seen lava to compare!). And if you make it through all those steps without error, you can't forget to leave the macarons out for at least 30 minutes before baking, so that they form a skin and the signature "feet" appear on the bottom of the cookie.

So now I've annotated my recipe with all of the above reminders. For the filling, I used mango jam that I canned in July using Pomona's Universal Pectin (an amazing product that isn't sugar activated). They were tasty cookies, if very sweet. I might have had too many to celebrate.