Chocolate Macarons
Baking, Food

my first attempt at macarons (and a pretty good one at that)

Within the past few months, my coworker has started display something like an obsession with macarons. She finally ordered some online, but didn’t particularly like the citrusy flavors.

So, when her birthday came around last week, it was pretty clear what special treat I needed to make for the occasion. There was just one problem. I’d never made macarons before.

They always seemed so difficult! There was something intimidating about their simplicity. So uniform in size and shame, so precise in their airy texture. Surely if this was attainable by the amateur baker, more people would be making them, right?

But I had nearly a bag of almond flour lying around looking for purpose in life, and Rose had a macaron obsession, so it was time to get over my fears and find a good recipe. Rose mentioned that she liked chocolate (atta girl), and what should appear on my Pinterest feed after that but this recipe for chocolate macarons.

As you can see, mine look rather different from the pictures with the recipe. Part of that might be the bizarro lighting in my kitchen, but I imagine we also used different types of cocoa powder. I was using natural cocoa powder — next time I think I’ll try dutch process, which may also provide a darker color.

I differed from the recipe rather considerably at some points, although not always intentionally.

For one thing, I noticed that granulated sugar was called for in the ingredients, but then never mentioned in the directions — at least I couldn’t find it. I added it in with the egg whites, which seemed to be right.

I also used semi-sweet baking chocolate instead of dark chocolate for the ganache, simply because I had some on hand. It was still very good, but it stayed pretty runny until I put them in the fridge. Next time I will either use less cream or use a less melty chocolate.

Baking chocolate and chef's knife
I used to dread recipes that called for baking chocolate because we only had these super cheap, dull knives, and it could take me a full hour to chop the chocolate. I bought myself a nice new knife set when I moved, and it only took a few minutes this time!

The biggest difference, perhaps, was that I did not place the baking trays on top of another baking tray. I think it’s important, and I would have done it, but I still had batter left over after I’d piped the macarons onto 3 different baking trays, and that’s all I have. The macarons on the top did fairly well both times, although they didn’t get as puffy as I would have liked, but the macarons on the bottom rack burned and cracked.

The most successful tray of macarons
My most successful batch, with feet on the bottom and very few cracks on top.
The not-so-successful macarons
My least successful batch. No feet, lots of cracks, burnt on the bottom.

It also turns out that I am completely unable to pipe a circle. I mean, I’m not great at it with a pencil either, but with a piping bag — forget about it. Next time, I will trace circles onto parchment paper so that I have a guide. I think it’d be really fun to play with different shapes, too! I can just imagine hearts for Valentine’s Day or little stars for the 4th of July.

Even though my first macarons weren’t the perfectly uniform specimens you see from the professionals, I feel very encouraged. They were reasonably pretty to look at, and more importantly, they tasted amazing. I definitely will be making macarons again, and I’m sure that with practice, they will start to look as good as they taste!


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