My Artpop Could Mean Anything: A Story of Baking

Friday, May 16, 2014

Macaron - pronounced MA - KA- RON (burgundy) not MA - KA- ROON

Macaroons are something else. I  knew this after doing a quick Google a couple years ago.  I knew this the day I walked into a cafe near Summerhill (I used to live on the dividing line of Yorkville and Summerhill, ok), so this was back in the day when I did such things (now I only walk into cafes called "Starbucks" and they are situated downstairs in my place of employment and they lack rich wives and old ladies with designer sneakers).  I walked in, was overcome by shame at my horrendous French accent and suddenly said: "two macaroons please".  wtf?  I know they are not macaroons.  I know what a macaroon is.   I was promptly lectured by the young man behind the counter, who did a quick 'lil sigh and advised me that they are not macaroons!   "Everyone always calls them that!" etc.

*side note* my friend, who we shall call "Perry", just sent me a message with an attachment, that says "this dog looks like you".  Is it odd that I wasn't offended and only want to see how cute and charming this dog is?!  Let's find out.  Here's the dog in question:

Source: one of those Buzzfeed lists
Let's analyse this.  Sometimes I make ugly faces (I made one the other night, and the bf made some sort of comment about how he hates everything in the world when I make those faces), so I can see where "Perry" is going with this.  This dog is blonde though, and I am not.  This dog does look awesome though, so I'm going to go with it and just accept this likeness.

Right - so, the other day I decided I was going to attempt to bake something that I'd previously thought would be extremely complicated...MACARONS.  I was instantly uplifted by the fact that the basic macaron only has four or so ingredients, but them I noticed that the instructions looked kind of complicated.

The link to the recipe I used for my main batches is at the bottom of this post, and it's the one I chose as it had the best descriptions of what needed to be done - but let me go ahead and tell you how this went.

I bought some eggs, bought some almond flour after wandering the aisles of Metro for 30 minutes, bought some icing sugar, and prayed my mom had granulated sugar waiting for me at home (she did).  I bought a large mixing bowl, browsed at the pyjamas (at some point I had transferred to Walmart) and wondered if I could just go ahead and buy some Walmart PJs and call it a day, didn't buy the PJs, wandered to the cookie aisle, was sad to see they didn't have any S'mores Ritz Crackers, wandered back to their 'baking' section, went back to Metro and bought those piping bag thingers and I think that's it.

Here's what you have to do/here's what I did:

-I did not age my egg whites.  The thought of aging anything made me feel impatient, plus this recipe said I didn't have to, so I didn't do that.
-I did secure the use of a kitchen scale, which is a vital component of this task.  YOU MUST HAVE ONE.
-I measured out the egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar, and wheat flour, all in separate bowls.
-In a large bowl, I sifted together the icing sugar and the almond flour.  By 'sifted', I mean dropping half in without any sifting involved, and for the remaining ingredients just smashing a knife into the sifter because everything was just sitting there.

*Side note* about 40 minutes ago I went to Tim Horton's with my friend, who we'll refer to as "Grace" to keep her privacy intact.  I bought two cookies, and we made a pinky swear that I wouldn't eat them until 3pm. I'm a maniac pig with no self control :(  so she made me do that.  I asked her just now for those cookies (2:40pm) and she flat out denied me them.  I don't know what kind of monster this person is, but I am not here for this.

-Ok after that stuff was sifted, I put that bowl aside and let it think about what it did.  Is 'sifted' a real word?
-In a large bowl, I threw in the egg whites and the granulated sugar.   If you're one of THOSE people (coughgracecough) that has a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, you can use that too.  I would actually recommend it highly.
-For the next ten minutes I whipped dem whites 'n sugars into a delightful meringue, my hand was shaking in the end but watching that sludge turn into a soft white cloud was enough to make a grown man cry into that bowl of meringue.
-I was advised that you can tell when the meringue is ready, because it sticks up and clogs the whisking device.  It did that.
-After that, I 'folded' in the rest of the ingredients.  I was really concerned about this part, because I don't understand the difference between folding and just mixing like a maniac, but I did what I assumed was folding.  This is the hardest part IMO, because the batter has to be just right before you pipe it onto your baking sheet.


The first time around, I didn't mix it long enough.  When I was piping out the blobs onto the parchment paper (another must), they looked like sad turds belonging to a sad chihuahua!

Here is what they looked like after their time spent in the oven:

Oop @ me.  They do kind of just look like accidental meringue cookies, though.  CoOkIeS fTw.

Another angle:

Haters are probably real macarons, that are not even in the shapes of accidental hearts

Macaron fail!!!  After a wave of panic washed over me,  I did a quick Google and discovered my issue was undermixing.  Time to FOLD some more.

Some more folding was done, and this is what the blobs looked like when squirted out of the bag for round 2:

No turds!  These ones look more like artblobs, which is what I wanted.
NOTE: I did four batches, and batches 1 & 3 were baked on a single baking sheet (the rectangular kind).  Batches 2 & 4 (aka the ones that turned out), were baked on two pizza sheets, one on top of the other.   I believe the single baking sheet for batches 1 & 3 is partially responsible for disaster.

Batch 2 provided one of the great moments of joy in my life, behind eating cookies and putting stickers in the World Cup Panini sticker book: LOOKING INTO THE OVEN AND DISCOVERING THIS ROUND HAD FEET.

Feet - a hideous term used to describe the weird looking part of the macaron.  The part that looks like it exploded a bit.

See what I mean:


I took this as a sign of great success, threw my window open and flew into the sky with one first raised!

But then batch #3 happened....

wtf bro!

I had accidentally created some emo-cookies, ones whose shells are not even just cracked metaphorically.  Like the turds from round 1, these were completely edible, but I feel like eating a failed macaron is liked eating processed cheese.  Not as good as the real thing, but still really damn tasty!!!!!!!  What

After the great dissapointment of round 3, I sat down and quickly wrote another Haiku to express my feelings.  It's hard to go from a great high to a great low in the span of 20 minutes.  I did some internal reflection and Google research, and can only conclude that my pan was at fault for this round, considering I used the same batter.

I've entitled this poem "Failure In the Oven"

Through the door you went
Baked in hell's hot furnace, oh!
You are dead to me.

I don't even know how to write a haiku, tbqh.  My despair was short lived, however, since 20 minutes later my oven gave birth to round #4:

Return of the feet (it is), return of the feet (come on), return of the feet (oh my god)

After letting these things cool, you can put whatever you want in between them.  I think.  I had great aspirations of making my own ganache and buttercream icing but that idea was quickly dashed to the ground, I wanted to go downstairs and watch Roswell.  You can toss some Nutella in there, some jam, one point I threw some caramel and coconut on them and called it a day.

Here are ones with store-bought icing in them:

 The next day, I was feeing ambitious again and decided I would try to make colourful ones, and chocolate ones.  I had to find some super kewl powdered fool colouring, which I found at Bulk Barn for an exorbitant price.  I had no idea how much to put into the batter without ruining it, but I was eventually able to turn it a sad pink colour.  I had blue powder too, but that will have to wait for another day.

The chocolate recipe I attempted (also below), was tricky - there was much less batter that turned up to party (compared to the first recipe I tried), and no matter how much I FOLDED it just wouldn't get runny enough.  I had a feeling I was doomed, and sure enough, here is the result (on the left):

What kind of puckered mess?!

The pink turned out ok, but I would like a less insipid pink next time.  The chocolate looked like a bumhole, but they tasted good so that's OK.

Here is the recipe that I used for the plain macarons:

And here is the recipe I used for the cocoa macarons (turns out they likely puckered due to the oil content in the Cocoa Powder I used):

Samoa Macarons

Thank you for going through this macaron journey with me.  I have about 5 bags of almond flour at home, so I will have to do more baking and share with you whatever puckered mess comes from that.

I strongly encourage those who are interested in making their own, to just go for it and give it your best!!  Your uniqueness is what makes you beautiful!  Live each day one day at a time and never look back!  

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