Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heaven knows I can't make macarons at home

If you've come here looking for macarons -- the Daring Bakers October challenge -- well, have a look!


They're gorgeous. One is dark chocolate and one is olive oil and vanilla with a white chocolate ganache. They were delicious. Crisp, creamy, subtly flavored and absolutely perfect. And neither of them was made by me.

In fact, neither of them was made in this hemisphere -- they are products of the delightful La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe, a shop located in The Rocks in Sydney, Australia. I enjoyed these macarons there in early September with Mom and the entire Nott clan (even little Madeleine, just born two days ago, was there in utero while her mom snacked on an apple tart). And it's a good thing I enjoyed them then, because heaven knows I can't make macarons at home.


I tried, oh I tried. I was so excited about it, too: I chose my macaron flavors based on the delicious chocolates we sampled at another Sydney-area sweet shop, Josophan's Fine Chocolates. I made four batches of macarons, each time (futilely) refining my method in hopes that the recipe would work. First I made chocolate filled with a semi-sweet ganache spiked with ancho chili powder. Then I tried chocolate filled with a delightful pistachio creme that Husband and I found on our travels through Little Italy in the Bronx. Then I made a macaron flavored with fresh lime zest and dried basil leaves, filled with chocolate ganache. Finally, a saffron macaron filled with a white chocolate-honey ganache.



I wanted them to work so badly. So so badly. I've always wanted to make macarons and I foolishly believed that there was no recipe that I couldn't make work. Well, Dianne: meet Claudia Fleming's macarons. Claudia Fleming's macarons, this is Dianne. She will be failing at you today.

My "macarons" never developed the trademark "feet," meaning, the little ring at the base of the cookie where the batter has risen, lifting the smooth top of the cookie into a perfect little dome. Come to think of it, my tops weren't smooth, either. And my confections were nearly impossible to extract from the Silpat in one piece. The result of my day-long effort and sad waste of several expensive ingredients (including saffron, argh!) was a stack of demolished little sticky, grainy discs that in no way, shape or form resembled macarons. There was cursing. And wailing. And gnashing of teeth, rending of garments.

(Saffron "macaron" with white chocolate-honey ganache)

(Lime and basil "macaron" with chocolate ganache)

Then Husband reminded me that they still tasted good. And I checked the Daring Bakers' forum to learn that many other bakers had similar issues with this recipe. So I talked myself off the ledge. Instead of using the challenge recipe, many of my fellow in-the-know Daring Bakers turned to one of Tartelette's many macaron recipes. I will undoubtedly do the same the next time I attempt these little devils.

And there will be a next time; the macarons must not win.


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You will notice I'm not including any recipes here. I don't feel right posting a recipe that I couldn't make work. If and when I do master macarons, using a different recipe, I'll be sure to write about it here. In the meantime, my only suggestion is to get yourself to a patisserie for a macaron, stat. Because they are really freaking good. When made correctly.



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.

22 comments:

Memória said...

I'm sorry that they didn't work out for you. At least you are familiar with the process of making macarons. I think that part is just as exciting. When I saw that you used saffron, my mouth dropped. I would have waited until a successful batch before using that expensive stuff haha. But I'm cheap like that...or er...frugal. ;)

Anyway, the flavors sound super interesting. I love the idea of adding lime zest. YUM!

Dianne said...

I made the saffron batch last, by which time I was *sure* I was going to it get it right! Famous last words....Anyway, it was only a tiny pinch of saffron, so it wasn't too terrible.

Thanks for your comment!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Hilarious post! I do recommend Tartelette's recipe, as it seemed to work much better for me!

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Hi Dianne,
I am joining you in macaron failure. I couldn't get this recipe to work either. Despite all my determination and high expectations. I don't think yours look half-bad. I'm not going to let the macarons beat me out either. We'll have to compare results on our next go-round! ;)
x Cat

Wic said...

yours look great. take a look at my little Macaroons and you will feel so much better.

Loie said...

Don't lose heart! As your husband pointed out, it's the taste that matters and you did some awesome experiments! Daring Bakers is all about having a go, so you did well! :)

zorra said...

Honestly first I also wanted to use Helen's fool-proof recipe, but then unfortunately I did the original one. Your Macaroons look not so bad. ;-)

Audax said...

Well at least you give it a great effort try Helen's recipe it is easier. Bravo on your attempt. Will try those macarons at the rocks. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Rosemary & Garlic said...

You crazy daring bakers... At least you tried it.

Tracy @ Sugarcrafter said...

I'm so glad you posted this; I feel much less alone, haha! I couldn't get this recipe to work for me, either!

Rochelle said...

Your green ones looks perfect!

Dianne said...

Thank you all for your nice comments and, in several cases, commiseration! It is all about having a go...and the taste is all that matters.

Cat, if you make them again, definitely let me know. I'll cheer your success loudly!

Audax, the macarons at La Renaissance are very yummy. The day I was there they were out of the salted caramel variety...those sound so delicious I think it warrants another trip down under!

Rochelle, though I would like to take credit for the green macaron, that one was baked by La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe in Sydney...not by me! I think it will take me years before I get that good (if ever). :)

The Blue Morpho said...

Dianne: I'm with the 'taste is what matters' camp. I'm a decent baker, but with REAL chefs around, I much prefer being one of the eaters! No reason to waste a yummy macaroon, I say. I'll also say that I hadn't realized macaroons were so complicated. The only ones I've seen are lumps of coconut with some kind of glaze. You've opened my eyes to an entirely different world of yum.

Cheers
The Blue Morpho
www.anxietyland.blogspot.com

robert said...

I'm amazed at the comments. sometimes failure turns out to be success. Happy Birthday. Love You

6p01053695af5a970b said...

Yes, omg who cares these sound sooo yummy. Having a good time trying right? Keep trying :)

Dianne said...

Dad, you are wise. I am amazed at the comments, too!

Thank you, and I love you too.

ARLENE said...

Oh, the horror! the horror! When I try my hand at macarons for Christmas, I will look to Tartlette for a recipe. Glad they were delcious.

Dianne said...

Thank goodness for Tartelette!

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey Dianne: Should have done my research up front. I.e. macaron vs macaroon. Dear God I am a complete moron. But what this means is that I have never had a macaron. These cookies are totally new to me. This is amazing, since I do love cookies so very much. My life is clearly not complete.

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

However your macarons turned out, that lime one sounds delicious! I love citrus in sweets :) Well done, no doubt you'll defeat the macaron!

Dianne said...

Jen, you have to try a macaron. Clearly your life is not complete! Macaroons are really good, too, but totally different from the macaron. If I could bake them, I would make you one. :)

Karen, thanks! The flavor in that lime one was really good, even if the macaron didn't "work" as it should have.

Lauren said...

Well I think your macarons look fabulous! You did a wonderful job on this challenge =D.