Sunday, January 10, 2016

Macaron Madness: 10 Batches in 2 Weeks

Everybody describes making macarons as difficult.  Everybody also has a set of rules for making macarons: the egg whites must be aged! the egg whites must be at room temperature! you must sift the powdered sugar and almond mixture at least three times! the French meringue method is better!  no, the Italian method is better!

I took two week off work for the holidays at the end of December and made lots of plans, of which I actually did none. What I ended up doing was lying in bed and binge-watching the Great British Bake Off.  This is a fantastic show and I recommend that anybody who is into amateur baking should give it a try.  It is literally just about baking, and the judges' comments are very helpful.  One contestant made a quick comment while making macarons, which got me thinking about how all of my macarons came out perfectly in DC and failed miserably in SF.  So I decided to fix the problem.

An important point to know is that macarons (mah-kah-rohns) and macaroons (mah-ka-roons) are not the same thing.  They're derived from the same word which is why the names are similar, but the cookies are not:

This picture is supposedly from I Do Believe I Came With A Hat but I got it from this Pintrest page.
If you're Ashkenazi Jewish like me, you are mostly likely unfortunately aware of macaroons because they don't contain any flour and are commonly served as dessert during Passover, straight out of the Manischewitz tin.  They are terrible.

Macarons, on the other hand, are small sugar bomb sandwiches that have a softer filling and a crunchy outer shell of meringue.  It's these shells that have the reputation for being so difficult to get right.

This blog entry is a little bit different from the others.  It only has one recipe and details all of the various things I did to get these suckers to come out right.