Sunday, April 8, 2012


{marcaron not macaroon, excuse moi}

I did it! I can check one thing off my list of things I want to do before I am thirty.

1. Make macaroons from scratch. Not the coconut-chocolate kind, I've made those. I'm talking about the fancy French kind. So tiny yet so intimidating.

Of course, the undertaking was not without incident. 

Jeff and Violet gave me the Miette cookbook for my birthday and I was excited to try it. It is one of the prettiest cookbooks I've seen. Everything in the book looks absolutely perfect. I do not, however, like the tone the author takes. She seems to be of the opinion you cannot achieve Miette calibre results without the finest ingredients and equipment, and she repeats variations of that theme throughout the pages of the book. Fine, I get it, to make elegant cakes it helps to have the best ingredients and professional equipment, but whatever happened to doing your best with what you have? 

I encountered more baking snobbery when I went to try to find a new tip for my piping bag. I asked a sales clerk what type she recommended for marcarons and she asked me if I planned on straining my meringue. When I answered no, she looked at me with pity. I could feel my blood pressure rising. When I asked her again, which tip she would recommend, she said she buys all her baking equipment online from France. What a ringing endorsement for the cookware shop that employs her. Annoying.

I ended up using the (obviously inferior) piping bad I already owned. For the record, it worked like a charm. 

The recipe required that I make my own almond flour, I had to pulse the almonds for 10 times longer than the recommended 30 seconds noted in the recipe (perhaps that is because my food processor is not from France). These macarons only have four ingredients. Basically you make an almond & powered sugar mixture and add stiff egg whites, the technique is what will get you. The next steps are painstaking, time consuming & finicky, but I wouldn't describe than as insurmountable. 

I've decided people who write macaron recipes are crazy -- are your egg whites fresh enough? are they too fresh? is it humid? (hello, I live in Halifax) are you in a good mood? (not after making macarons!). To these concerns I said, forget about it. I embraced the likelihood my macarons would not be perfect and tried to roll with the punches.

I stuck with the original recipe laid out in the Miette cookbook, but I opted for the chocolate ganache filling. The ganache was straight forward to make, although it did seem to produce an inordinate number of dirty dishes, something else I do not appreciate in a recipe. 

All in all I am quite pleased with the outcome. My macarons did not look like something you would see in a patisserie, but then again I am not a French pastry chef. I am just a girl in a decent mood, living in a humid city, with fresh-ish egg whites. Those things considered the macarons turned out well.

Jeff has put in a request for his birthday dessert, so I definitely have at least a few more macarons in my future.

{a lot of work for eighteen little treats}
{Miette macarons with chocolate ganache}
{served on my Grammy MacPherson's pretty blue plate xo}



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