This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was macarons. Not American coconut macaroons. Real French macarons made from almond flour and perfectly whipped egg whites. I had visions of flavors and fillings in my head. Honestly, I didn't sleep for two nights thinking about how I was going to make these. My first thought was to make Maple Macarons with Maple Buttercream filling. So, in a burst of enthusiasm I went at it.
Now, one of the things that people recommend is to age your egg whites. I guess this helps some of the water evaporate out of them that way your macarons rise well and aren't sticky. So, I cracked some egg whites and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator for two days. A day before I was going to make them I set the egg whites out on the counter. Unfortunately, my husband bumped the bowl and knocked out some egg white so I had to start all over again.
Anxious to get started, I didn't age the egg whites as long the second time. Maybe just a day. Then I got all my ingredients ready and started beating the egg whites. The problem, this time, was that I had a kitchen full of two kids and a husband so my egg whites quickly went from stiff peaks to over beaten. Plus, I used granulated maple sugar instead of regular white sugar and it just didn't incorporate into the egg whites properly. I should have just pitched the egg whites but I folded my almond flour and powdered sugar into the egg whites. I piped them in perfect circles but the batter was very stiff and did not flow together. When I put them in the oven they didn't puff up, they didn't develop any "feet", and they looked more like flat, colorless communion wafers.
Determined, I tried again. This time I didn't age my egg whites at all. I just let them get to room temperature and started in. I was very careful to not over beat my egg whites and I used granulated white sugar instead of the maple stuff. The batter looked so much more promising. It flowed better and had a sheen to it.
I put them in the oven and watched. No "feet." I tried cooking them with two baking pans stacked together. No "feet." I tried baking them at a higher temperature. No "feet." By this time I was out of macaron batter. This batch wasn't much better than the last but I whipped up a quick ganache and filled them anyway. They were yummy. Kind of like almond cookies filled with chocolate, a homemade Pepperidge Farm Milan cookie.
The good news is that there are a few recipes for macarons out there so I'm not giving up yet. I'm going to try some of the recipes that other Daring Bakers tried and used successfully. Keep an eye out. You may see a post sometime soon labeled "Macaron Success!"
P.S. To see a slide show of some really good macarons check out the Daring Kitchen website.