27 October 2009

Daring Bakers: Claudia Fleming's Macarons...or is it macaroons?

Recipe: Macaroons
Recipe origins: Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy TavernHostess:
Ami. S of Baking Without Fear

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.

Hosting a Daring Bakers' challenge is not an easy thing. Trust me, I know.

There's a wide range of abilities, experience and attitudes. From those who've never stepped foot into a kitchen (I could comment, but I won't) to those who probably own a professional kitchen. From those who try and keep to DB origins and follow a recipe exactly as written (unless there are financial, ethical or health reasons that force otherwise) to those who think of themselves as the sparkliest snowflakes of all, believing rules do not apply to them and will present a chocolate sponge as a completed challenge when the host called for a lemon meringue. metric vs Imperial, weights vs. volumes...it can be quite the tempest in a teapot.

Whenever I've come across a recipe I wasn't sure of I've done my best with it and have tried to post an accurate account of my adventures. Sometimes they are straightforward and produce fantastically tasty treats, sometimes as convoluted as Suicide Squid's origin story that sometimes produce the same fantastically tasty treats...but sometimes not so tasty treats.

When the results are good, they are very good. When they aren't, well, I try not to be unduly spiteful...quite honestly, I don't know how succesful I am at the not being unduly spiteful part.

So when it came to this month's DB challenge...well, I wasn't sure what to expect. Partly because I didn't know if I was making macarons...or macaroons. The write-up said "macaroon" but as the accompanying photos didn't look like the coconutty mini-mountains, and looked like a cross between 19thC nightcaps and happy little jellyfish, I assumed they were macarons.

Semantics, yes...but it's important.

Anyway...I've never made either before. I've eaten macaroons. I've never eaten a macaron.

I'm going on blind faith that whatever this recipe produces is a macaron.

The batter came together well enough, I suppose. I was a little concerned after the first third of the whites were incorporated as it just seemed too crumbly. By the final third, it looked good.

Which was probably the last time it actually looked good.

The first baking seemed okay...they were round and poofy, but rather lacklustre.

By the time the oven came to temp for the second baking the round, poofy lacklustryness collapsted into themselves...they kind of looked like a beanbag chair that lost the essence of being a chair.

When I took them out of the oven...they looked...rumpled. Like punching bags that had been punched one time too many.

Not all of them turned out--and that is, I think a fault of Beelzebub--of the 20 blobs (I scaled the recipe down to 40 per cent), 10 had charred bottoms: a hazard of using a stove possessed by the spirit of a lazy food-hating daemon who'd rather see me reliant upon big-box processed microwavable fud than...well...bake.

I will say of those that survived the baking process, most of them had the little feet or jellyfish skirt that I've seen in photos. For that I'm rather tickled.

So that left me 10 blobs, enough for five sandwich cookies. Given there's only one of me, five cookies are absolutely fine. Part of the challenge was to fill them and quite honestly, I wasn't very imaginative and reached for the last of the raspberry jam. Almonds, raspberries--very Bakewell Tart-like.

What did I think? Well, I'm not sure if they came out as they should. I'm also not entirely sure of the texture. I thought they'd be light and crisp not light-ish and chewy.

I've read a few Tweets by more experienced bakers than I voicing concern over the recipe, so maybe they're a better judge of this recipe than I.

But I do know I want to try my hand at macaron-making, but perhaps with a different recipe.

Click here for a list of participating Daring Bakers.


I'm a quill for hire!

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Sugar Daze said...

Hi Jasmine,
Great job! Mine were an utter failure! I live in France and can tell you yours certainly do look like what they should - and yes, the texture is usually a little chewy vs. light. People in the US tend to call them macaroons which always makes me think of the coconutty ones too so the confusion is not solely yours!

peasepudding said...

sounds like a great adventure making macarons! I love your description of the jellyfish skirt...hee..he I had a few of those too, they looked rather cute and cute wins hands down any day!

glamah16 said...

Poor Beelazabob always gets the blame, but not this time! But hey you actually got feet. That's huge. Great post and references.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

jasmine you have feet and they look really nice. kudos for making your very first macarons!

Lauren said...

I like you have never eaten or made a macaron before this months challenge, and I have to say you were more successful than me. At least yours had feet, and they look like they tasted great!

I also found it hard to be creative with my filling when the macaron was less than I'd hoped for. I am going to try some of the other recipes for macarons and hopefully I'll get one that looks like the pictures :)

Y said...

They may be rumpley but they still look good to me. I'm more a fan of "macaroons" myself. They somehow seem less sweet than macarons, even if a recipe comparison might prove that statement to be completely untrue.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

I actually ended up using a different recipe, with great success. I feel naughty, but just didn't want to waste all those ingredients! And time!

Yours actually still look very appetising :) Nice and rustic!

Lauren said...

You write so beautifully. I loved reading the post & your macarons look delicious!

maybelle's mom said...

lovely post even if you weren't happy with the results. Try Tartelette's recipe I say.

Eva said...

Yours look pretty good to me! Mine were a complete failure.

Anonymous said...

I too had not so pleasant results. Still, they taste great! Keep trying!!!

Valérie said...

I never thought of comparing macarons to jellyfish... I'll never look at them the same way again! But yours really look quite nice, they developped a good foot! As for the texture, it depends: macarons can be crispy, but usually the filling will make them chewier after a day. Do keep us posted if you end up trying another recipe!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

They look so good and they are pretty.

Dharm said...

Great Job on your first macarons! They have feet and thats a success...!

Audax said...

I think you did a good job on a very difficult challenge and you did get feet. It is so hard when you don't know what to expect, Well done. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...

Jasmine - You are too funny!

My first batch turned into the incredible macblob. That's when I discovered I needed to let them air dry for a while after piping. Mine turned out okay, but never made that totally smooth appearance. Ah well, they were pretty tasty going down.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go