Sunday, 10 March 2013

Macaroon Misadventures

In January I bought a couple of recipe books in a sale for 99p each, one on macaroons and one on whoopie pies.  I fancied giving them a go and even invested in a new silicone piping bag from Lakeland to help the process.

Since then the books have sat on the shelves and the bag in the cupboard, with me not finding the time or inclination to use either, but this weekend I decided to give it a go.

I wanted to make some sweet treats for my mum for Mothers' Day and thought that a few macaroons in a nice bag/basket with ribbon would be just the treat.

At the same time as buying my silicone piping bag I also bought some Star Kay White extracts as they were on offer, Lavender, Rose and Lemon.  I decided on doing some lavender and some rose.

I started with the lavender, I did not bother with the rose!

My macaroon technique definitely needs work.  I used the plain vanilla macaroon recipe in the book, but substituted the vanilla essence for my lavender essence.

I encountered a small problem before starting really, in that my scales are definitely not up to the job.  They are a cheap mechanical set that we have had for many years now.  At one point I did replace them with some very fancy electrical salter scales but these died after about a year and a half of use and I didn't bother to replace them, just pulling out the mechanical ones.

This was definitely a mistake!  Macaroons as the book tells me need accurate measurement to 5g intervals, not really achievable on my dodgy scales.  Never mind thought I, carry on regardless, it's close enough.

The first step is to blend your icing sugar and ground almonds together and then sieve into a bowl.  Here again I was less than confident in my achievement.  The recipe tells you to discard any large pieces of almond left in the sieve after blending and sieving. Fine, but I had an awful lot of almond left in the sieve.  I don't know if this is due to my blender not being sharp enough, my sieve being too fine, inferior almonds or if actually that is how it's suppose to be but it left me with a definite sense of unease.

Rather too much almond left in the sieve
The meringue mix part I managed fine, I can do meringue, but then came the folding in of the dry mix.  This is a definite goldilocks moment, too little folding and the mixture is too thick, too much folding and the mixture is too runny.  You have to get it just right.  Did I?  No, of course not.

The mixture was far too runny, it just poured out of my piping bag, which combined with my limited piping experience led to very uneven 'puddles' of mix on my baking sheet.
Not exactly perfectly formed round droplets - It's not just perspective that
makes the one in the front look bigger!
So far not a resounding success  but I persevered  just get them baked, they might come out okay and anyway, looks aren't everything!

So into the oven they go, at the temperature instructed and with the door ajar as it's a gas oven and apparently this helps.  I check them after the suggested few minutes to make sure they are not cooking to quickly.  They are already brown.  Gone is the lovely purple shade they are a dirty weak coffee brown.  Poot.

So I turn the oven down slightly and put them back in to finish off, although really by this time, what is the point?!

Brown topped macaroons :(
Once cooked I left them to cool on the tray for 10mins as instructed before removing and leaving to cool fully on a rack.  Well I say removing, I removed half of them.  Half of each of them that is, a large portion of almondy goodness stayed firmly attached to the baking sheet.

Purple inside left behind on the tray
Quite disgruntled by this point, I scraped a little of the sheet to taste, after all nobody's perfect and while presentation makes all the difference really it's the taste that counts.

Oh dear.  Apparently switching lavender essence for vanilla essence on a 1:1 basis was a big mistake.  Instead of the light, delicate floral taste I was expecting I got a mouthful of soap.

So there you have it, they don't look good and they don't taste good either.  A definite failure or as I'm choosing to think of it a 'learning experience'.

Things I have learnt and will do differently next time:
1. Invest in a new more accurate set of scales
2. Mix one turn at a time to try and avoid over doing it
3. Practice my piping skills before attempting
4. Bake lower in the oven

If anyone has any other tips or suggestions for me I'd love to hear them, so hopefully next time it wont be such a disaster!


  1. I wouldn't put yourself down. They look rather complicated and I'm sure they still tasted great.

  2. Love macaroons but total rubbish at making them myself.

  3. At least you gave it a try! I am always to scared to even try baking!


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