Well… conquered in the sense that I finally got around to making macarons but there’s certainly room for improvement. Luckily I can pretty much work out what I need to do next time, and oh yes… there will be a next time.
Anyhoo. I decided to go with the basic recipe provided by Gourmet Traveller mag and forbade myself from comparing it to other recipes (I think that was where I failed miserably with fudge – too many cooks!). I figured that based on the final outcome of my first attempt, I could do some further research later to finesse the process.
So the egg whites sat on the top of my fridge to age as required however I was reassured by Almost Bourdain that you can safely use egg whites straight from the fridge. Given how amazing her macarons turned out, I won’t worry too much about this process in future perhaps. I followed all instructions dutifully and even though I felt mild panic that the mixture wasn’t ‘magma-like’ enough, I moved on to piping.
I don’t pipe so often. Therefore I only have a generic set of piping nozzles and none of them were 1cm plain nozzles. Retrospect being a wonderful thing, I wish at this point that I did read other people’s recipes: Almost Bourdain noted that she didn’t bother with a nozzle at all and piped lovely round dollops. As I had limited time (and really, no one should not have enough time when making macarons!), I went ahead and used a 1cm star nozzle and did my worst. Actually, my piping skills aren’t bad.
I was encouraged by the fact that once piped, my macarons didn’t spread all over the place. They generally maintained their shape and size. I let the macarons sit for four hours to form a surface crust and went off to dinner (I had a lovely rump steak with Monkey Gland sauce at our local African steakhouse if you must know…).
Back home and after battling a few trainers in the snow (Pokemon, relax), I got the oven fired up and ready to toast my lovely round discs. After ten minutes, they were ready to be scruitinised. And lo! They came out pretty good. Sadly I think my choice of piping nozzle wasn’t good as some of the discs had the lines still visible but I think that can be easily remedied by not using a nozzle at all and ensuring that the macaron’s have a little rise in the centre to get that cute puffiness. All in all though, my macarons had ‘feet’, a crusty shell and was sticky in the middle. Ticks all the boxes!
I was probably too focused on the macaron’s shell that I didn’t give the ganache much thought. The recipe called for raspberries but I only had blueberries in the fridge. I also only had Green & Black’s white chocolate in the pantry which, while rich in flavour, is addled with highly visible bits of vanilla bean. Undeterred, I made up some ganache with the ingredients on hand. The result was subtle but did the job of being a good mortar for my lovely shells.
So lessons learned? No nozzles for piping and I probably need to invest in a better food processor to try and get the almond meal finer. Also, it has been soooo long since I actually ate a macaron (Lindt Cafe’s in Sydney) that I forgot how bloody sweet they are and my ganache didn’t help. Blueberries are lovely but lack the tartness of raspberries which you really need to cut through the excruciating sweetness. I would also next time properly process the blueberries into a puree before adding. There’s only so much the term ‘rustic’ can cover before it’s just plain laziness.
I would definitely be keen to try again but I will most certainly scour the net for as much information as possible. Watch this space!