French Macarons: My Personal Baking Mount Everest

A few weeks ago, I went to a French macaron making workshop at Dessert Truck Works at the Lower East Side.  Tucked away on Clinton St. and E. Houston, it’s a cute little space with a laid-back but cozy sitting area where patrons can enjoy desserts with cups of coffee or tea.  Within the same space is the area for the workshop.

Their name on the wall by the entrance.
Work area.

The workshop was very helpful and I took away a lot of knowledge when it comes to making these little suckers.  I went to the workshop because my first attempt at making macarons a little over two years ago resulted in this mess:

Macarons are very fussy and require a lot of patience if you’re ever going to get them right.  A lot of patience and trial and error.  Today I attempted making some on my own, and they did not turn out the way mine turned out at the workshop (which were perfect if I do say so myself!), but they turned out much better than the little monsters above:

Macarons, attempt #2 at home. – baked at 300F, 12 minutes (6 min, rotate pan, then another 6 min.), dried for about 1 hour.

The recipe at the workshop said to bake them for approximately 7 minutes at 300°F , but I have a feeling you need to adjust according to the idiosyncrasies, quirks and temperament of your oven at home.  I got mine to look like this after baking for 12 minutes at 300°F.  I also have a feeling that I should have dried them for longer than an hour, and the meringue may not have been stiff enough.  Next time, stiffer meringue, longer drying time.  The “shell” was a little too thin, but I was happy to see that they had feet, or pied (pronounced peeh-YED) — the ruffle around the edges that you see in the picture above.  Apparently, getting this ruffle to appear is one of the trickiest achievements in baking, so I’m glad I was able to get my little macarons to grow them.  I think it has to do with the drying of the batter and the way the batter was mixed.

I’m going to try making them again perhaps next week.  I have to age the egg whites first.  For those who are curious, this recipe used a Swiss meringue technique.  The meringue is, I think a crucial part in macaron making — the first crucial part that comes before the other crucial parts.  Macarons are incredibly hard to get right and that’s why I call them my baking Mount Everest.  It will be quite an achievement for me once I get to make perfect macarons.  I’m pretty happy with the way these turned out, considering this was my first try at making them without the supervision and moral support of the instructor.

I’m pretty excited at experimenting next time with the next attempt!  I can also see why making macarons can make a person obsessive, trying to keep track of what went right, what went wrong and why, why, why?!  But it’s all part of the fun.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, and then you have to make adjustments.  And then once you find your groove, you stay with what works for you.  Until you have to make adjustments again.  A lot like life.  🙂

One thought on “French Macarons: My Personal Baking Mount Everest

  1. YAY! I made them successfully – but only once 1 out of 4 tries. I got an oven thermometer, which clued me in: my oven temperature is off by a LOT! I’m not quite ready to try making these again but would love to see your recipe once you post it!

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