Monday, April 19, 2010

Chocolate Macarons

Two weekends ago, I made something I'd been dying to make for a long time - Parisian macarons. (Read about the difference here) Even though macarons have been popular for a long time, I'd never heard about them until sometime last year. I made a mental note to visit some local bakeries that sell these, but I never got to try them until I went on vacation to South Korea last August. They were sold at the food section of high-end department stores, and on one of my trips to these stores I finally decided to try an assortment of flavours.

Doesn't the assortment look pretty and inviting? Unfortunately I didn't like all of the flavours, especially the more unusual fruity ones. However, I recall loving the "safe" flavours like chocolate, coffee, and orange.

Since macarons are too pricey to purchase regularly on a student budget, I decided to make my own. I know that they can be tricky to make, so I made sure to read up on the different techniques, as well as little tips that would make a difference. For my first macaron experience, I decided to choose a flavour I love, which is chocolate. (What else, really?) I found a simple and seemingly foolproof recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. I made sure I read up on lots of macaron-making tips, and I found a great post with helpful step-by-step pictures here. Also, a few months ago, I had put in a request for I Love Macarons at the public library, and the book came to me right on time. With so many resources to turn to, what could go wrong, right?

I wish I could say following instructions carefully will guarantee successful macarons! Let me present you with the pictorial evidence of my creation:

OK, that does not look so bad for a first-timer, right? I was so excited that they had feet! Actually, those macarons above were from my "good" batch, which had a chance to dry properly before I popped them in the oven. The first batch I made looked more like this:

Needless to say, that first batch was not successful, with cracks everywhere and no feet. They looked more like double chocolate cookies than macarons! I analyzed these two batches for the taste, and I noted that the edges were a little too crunchy (too long of a baking time?), but the insides had the right amount of chewiness, and the chocolate flavour was good. The ganache tasted good too, although I should have waited until it was firmer before using it. Obviously my macarons failed in the aesthetics department; I definitely need round tips (I only had star tips which were useless in this case, so I used a plastic piping bag without any tips) and I need to work on my piping skills. And I should probably let my future macarons air dry properly so I can get those pretty little pieds forming. I'm not sure if there was something wrong I did while whipping the egg whites or folding the dry ingredients in, but next time I will definitely be more careful.

Meanwhile, here is the recipe I used. I trust David Lebovitz's recipes; even though my macarons did not look pretty, you can bet that they still tasted great. I can't wait until my next macaron adventure!


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