Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Macaron Madness!

Bite-sized tea-time treats

I'm obsessed with the baker's arch enemy - The Macaron!  Notice the spelling - one 'o'.  The single 'o' spelling of macaron is normally used to describe the french confection of two meringue and almond discs sandwiched together with buttercream, ganache or jam.  Macaroon, however is known in England as a coconut or almond small baked confection.

You do get more than that in each pack, I've just eaten half the pack!

It appears that these dainty and colourful creations (french macarons like Lauduree or Pierre Hermes) are popular in blogosphere at the moment as well as being a hit outside in major cities all around the world.  They are made from sugar, icing sugar, ground almonds and egg whites and are exceedingly difficult to get right.  I've gone through a craze of sitting up late at night reading blog after blog about macarons, the best recipes, different fillings, flavours, what went wrong......  Now I've never even eaten one of these pretty pastel coloured confections but I must make some!  I tried.  I failed.

I heard Waitrose were stocking these in packs of twelve to buy (where I heard that I forget now, too many blogs, too many sites!), so off I popped to the shops yesterday (it was wet and drizzly too) in search of these little treasures.  Nope.  My local didn't have these on offer but I did find the English equivalents, both the Coconut and Almond Macaroon. 

Soft chewy centre full of almond flavour

Moist sweet coconut - for the exceptionally sweet-toothed!
My fave has to be the Almond Macaroon.  Looking like a crunchy cookie it's deceptive as you bite into that crisp exterior that gives way to a soft chewy centre with a flavour reminiscent of marzipan but less dense.  It's usually has a thin edible rice paper sheet lining it.  The coconut cousin however, is a much, much sweeter affair.  A rough, rocky lump of lightly browned coconut which is very slightly moist in the middle, like eating a Bounty Chocolate bar without the thick chocolate covering.  I now recall making these coconut delights when younger.  My mum said I was never to make them again as they were far too sweet.  Afterall, it consisted of mixing egg white, sugar and desiccated coconut together before dropping rough heaps on a tray to bake.

Dense chocolatey gooeyness

So, what went wrong with my macarons?  Well, I saw a chocolate macaron recipe and thought the bitter chocolate would take away the sweetness of egg whites and sugar.  I anticipated a fail and so split the recipe in thirds.  On mixing the meringue with almonds, cocoa and sugar I knew something was wrong.  The mixture was far too dry.  So I quickly whisked up another egg white to combine with the mixture.  Maybe I got my sums wrong when scaling down the recipe?  I checked if I was being a scatter brain.  Nope.  I guess it may be down to the eggs being on the small side (they're from our own hens) or me getting the method wrong.  The mixture still seemed thick and it didn't make me think of flowing magma like other blogs described.  I won't use the words I thought the lumpy brown mix looked like, never-the-less, I dropped blobs on a baking sheet to bake anyway and wished for a miracle to happen.  Hmmm....well, they kinda cooked.  They aren't right at all.  It's deep dark and chocolaty but not crisp and chewy.  Just moist and gooey.  Actually, I think I've invented chocolate flavoured marzipan as that what it reminds me of.  Ho-hum.  Back to the drawing board and I will summon up the courage to try making these elusive babies another time. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Ellie! Was inspired by your Red Devil Macaron! That's put the macaron monster in me! I'll prob whizz the almonds in processor next time, age the egg whites and use them by weight opposed to no. of whites to hopefully eliminate any problems. :0)

    ReplyDelete