I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Doomed Macaroons

If this post weren't mandatory, I'd just as soon forget all about my latest Daring Baker Challenge episode. Just sweep it right under the rug along with the rejected crumbs that my dog refuses to snort up from the kitchen floor. But, I suppose being accountable allows us to learn from our mistakes and helps others to learn as well.

Here's what I learned from this month's challenge:

(1) I won't be buying almond flour again anytime soon. At least not until I get a pay raise or win the lottery. $11.50 for a pound of flour is for the rich and famous, not the nearly destitute and barely remembered.

(2) My macaroon making/baking skills stink.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I was excited when I saw this month's challenge ~ I've spent alot of time admiring Helene's absolutely gorgeous macaroons and seeing as how this recipe only contained four ingredients, I figured it couldn't be too difficult (<--that's cocky Alison talking there and we all know what happens when she runs her mouth.)

Having never made macaroons before and not knowing what each stage of the preparation was supposed to look like, I'm not really sure what went wrong. My egg whites, having set out overnight, were room temperature per the recipe. I beat them into a nice stiff peak (I'm wondering at this point if I should have beaten them into submission until they gave me a stiffer, glossy finish like a traditional meringue?) I added my flour/sugar combination in thirds even though my sifter did not like having to deal with the $11.50/lb almond flour (did I mention that stuff was ridiculously expensive?!) Had I known it was a little too coarse to go through my sifter easily, I would have sifted before I started anything else and then added it because it took FOREVER. Maybe taking so long to sift and add was the culprit?

It had been my intention to do an espresso macaroon with blackberry filling inspired by a recipe I saw in the now defunct Gourmet magazine some time ago, so I added 2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the other dry ingredients and and tried really hard not to over fold. Heck, I don't even like to fold laundry so I don't think I over-invested time with this task either. I'm just grasping at straws here, people.

My stencils were drawn on the parchment paper and right up until this moment in time, I seriously thought I was breezing through this challenge.

And then....

Brace yourself 'cause it ain't pretty....

Are you ready?
My piped mounds of batter turned into oozing puddles of sludge. I knew I had a problem but didn't quite know how to fix it. I went ahead and baked the first batch thinking they were still salvageable. With the next batch I tried piping smaller mounds but that didn't help either. There were no "feet" that seems to be the signature trademark of a perfect macaroon. There was no Tartelette-like gorgeous cookies waiting to be filled.

It was mandatory that we fill the macaroons with our choice of filling, but honestly, I wasn't going to waste more time trying to salvage my poor, failed attempt at spending all day in the kitchen cookies. So without further adieu, I present my macaroons just before they filled my trash can.....

Despite my failure, I want to thank Ami of Baking Without Fear for presenting this challenge. I will eventually get brave enough to tackle the macaroon challenge again, but long after this memory has faded. And I'm sure if perusing food blogs is your thing, you'll no doubt see many, many posts of gorgeous macaroons from this month's challenge.

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Anonymous said...

Oh no! :( I'm sorry you didn't have good luck with the recipe... your intended flavor combination sounds wonderful, though. Good for you for finishing it out anyway. Onward to the November challenge!

Alison said...

I have just enough almond flour left to try the recipe from the Gourmet magazine that gave me the flavor combo idea, so I'm going to try it. It's totally different from this one....stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Lis said...

hehehe I feel your pain, sistah. Mine did the exact same thing. Only I live with a man who refuses to let me throw anything out.. so he got a baggie full of gooey crackly rejects (about 34 outta the 48 I made). Gah.

I'll stick to oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle and good old chocolate chip and bacon cookies from now on. Har!


Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Alison, this challenge was definitely a struggle! Try Tartelette's recipe -- worked so much better for me!

AND hey, sorry we've not met up yet! I actually called Amelie's in NoDa and found that they sell macarons -- we could have a macaron date sometime!!