Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Daring Bakers: October
Wow. I can honestly say that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a challenge indeed, the most difficult one I’ve ever done – yes, even more than last December’s Yule Log! I always knew it would come up at some point, but I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner. This month’s challenge was Macarons. The delightful French sandwich cookies that are notoriously difficult to make, and something that I had never attempted before. I can’t say that the journey was easy, but it was definitely a learning curve, and I’m really glad I persevered and finally managed to make macarons.
From the beginning, I had serious problems with the challenge’s given recipe, and from the sounds of things on the forum I wasn’t the only one. After three complete failures following the recipe to the letter (and a lot of wasted eggwhites!) I decided to try Syrup & Tang’s recipe that used the Italian meringue method. This worked for me first time, and it was the best feeling to finally see that my macarons had feet!
Thinking up flavour combinations was the most fun part of this challenge, after seeing so many interesting ones posted on other blogs over the last few years. I decided to try my luck with the classic combination of Peanut Butter and Jelly flavour. I swapped out half the almond meal for ground peanuts when making the shell with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top, because I like my peanut butter crunchy. In between, I made a strawberry jelly disc. I really liked the combination of flavours and textures.
I still need a lot of practice with folding, piping and judging the baking times on my crazy oven, but this is a great first step to help me overcome my irrational fear of making macarons. I really look forward to experimenting further with flavour combinations and working on the technique in the future! 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.
I won’t publish the recipe I used, but it’s here on Duncan’s blog Syrup and Tang along with many other helpful tips about making macarons.