What's the French Word for FAILURE?
I am NOT a baker. I may be DARING. But screw that baker part. I'm a cook goddammit.
I hate that I allowed this challenge to f*ck with my head. I over psyched myself from the beginning. I got scared. Over what??? A few egg whites, some nuts and sugar?? WHAT THE FUCK?
I watched an excellent video on how to make macs about eleventy gabillion times. I read that damn forum and looked at photos for the entire month. I read and REREAD the recipe a 100 times. But nothing helped me. I was doomed from the start.
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.
Ami, you know how smitten I am with you.. always have been, so please take no offense. But uhmm... Claudia? Claudia can bite my ass. I hated that recipe.. and it hated me back with a burning white heat of a 1000 suns. I didn't even take photos of it - and ya'll KNOW how much I love to embarrass myself. It was that bad. :(
Yanno, this ain't my first rodeo. I made macs years ago with my Guru! The first time she came to visit. And although she did most of the work, she taught me well - she showed me the correct way to fold. She showed me how to grind the nuts and the sugar. But, that was a long time ago, and even if she hadn't done most of the work herself, if I had done it all.. I still would have been just as lost this time. It was just too long ago.
But I was inspired by ya'll. Like I am every month. I knew the exact flavors I wanted to make and I was ready to DO THIS again. On the few days I was home on vacation, I woke saying "Today I make macarons!" And I knew which recipe I wanted to try next.. but then I'd find an excuse not to torture myself and I wouldn't make them.
So, obviously, yesterday was my DO OR DIE day. Actually Sunday was, but I ended up taking an improptu nap. Hey, it was the last day of my vacation - DO NOT JUDGE ME.
After a chat with my sister, Veronica.. who makes the dreamiest macarons, I felt like I could not only make her recipe, but end up with 48 perfect macaron shells. It was her video that I watched over and over again, her voice I listened to.. her technique I felt I could replicate. Yeah. No. Another failure, but by far, not as epic as the first try.
I know exactly where I screwed up. I knew exactly when I screwed up. It's all about the f'n "magma". I overbeat this batter. Frankly, this batter had every right to report me to the authorities and take a bed at the nearest women's shelter. Seriously. My "magma" turned out more like a slightly thick version of muddy river water in like a nano-second. Oh it flowed alright.. but nothing, including several hundred bags of sand, was going to keep this stuff in place.
I decided to look upon them as if they were "multi-tasking". After I piped several circles, I watched them splooge into each other. But at that point, after I wiped away a renegade tear from my cheek and then sucked down a few glugs of a bottle of Jack Daniels we keep in the house for guests.. I turned my back on my over beaten and abused macarons. I left them to splooge and "dry" at the same time. I threw up my hands and screamed "UNCLE" (but it was more like "YOU FAH-HAUL-AKIN IZEHOLES"). I fully expected to return in 40 minutes and find one giant rectangular mac, threatening to escape the sides of the jelly-roll pan it rested on.
During that 40 minutes, I pondered how this could have happened. What amazes me is how many times I sucked in that video. I knew I was going to stop beating the batter at the exact right time (Magma time!) because I had watched the video so much that surely by osmosis alone, I would know when.
OHMYGOD don't even get me started on the 2nd panic attack when my nuts wouldn't grind down small enough. I was so careful! I ground, I sifted, I ground some more, I sifted some more.. and I still ended up with 107 (ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN) grams of almonds that were way too chunky. Finally, I called Veron back.. "what do I do??" I said between a hiccup and another slurp of my new best friend, Jack. She suggested I grind them in small batches in my coffee grinder. Bless her. That worked.
I also ground down the Canadian Vanilla Maple tea I used to hopefully get a good maple flavor in the shells. I ground down what was already miniscule pieces parts of tea and natural and/or artifical flavors into powder, for crissakes!!! And the top of my wee coffee grinder has a hole in the plastic, so I had to keep the palm of my hand slammed down on it and regardless of how long I waited for the contents to settle back down, I still inhaled a tiny poof of powdered vanilla maple tea! That stuff could have been asbestos laden - but I took one for the team so my maple flavored macs with cream cheese and BACON filling would be THE BOMB.
So as I'm replaying all of these extra steps I took to make sure my macs would come out beautifully.. it all came down to one stroke. One paddle of the pud too many. Over confidence at it's finest. I left my zen place and lost my concentration and that one extra stroke of my spatula turned all of my hard work into... muddy river water.
And here is what I got for my efforts.. they've got feet alright. But barely breathe on one and you'll watch it implode. The first batch wasn't baked long enough, so they ended up being a huge mass of tissue thin crackly crust and ooey gooey innards that stuck to anything they touched. I now know what to do if I can't find the super glue when I need it. No running to the store, I'll just underbake a batch of macarons! You could build a bridge with that stuff!
You'll also notice that apparently, I can pipe a perfect Thresher Shark, but cannot pipe a simple circle to save my life.
The 2nd batch was a bit better.. I baked them for a few minutes longer and they popped right off the paper, but they were still really thin and the tops crack really easily.. like move your finger 1/16th of an inch over them and they crack.
Oh and they don't taste of maple. Not in the slightest. They are just nutty and sweet. Just like their maker! If you can compare batshit crazy and grumpy to nutty and sweet, that is. :P
So I decided to flavor the cream cheese with maple syrup instead of powdered sugar. At first taste there was no maple, but after it sat in the fridge for a while, the maple finally came through - thank the baby Jebus. I added crumbled applewood smoked bacon to the mixture, leaving some out for "garnish" - cuz we all know how fancy pants I am. Some I just lightly brushed with maple syrup and sprinkled some extra bacon on top.. some I left plain.. and some I rolled the edges in bacon. Those, I think, were my favorite. At least, that's the only one I've actually tried and AT THE VERY LEAST I was RIGHT ON with the flavor combo. The filling wasn't too sweet since the cream cheese leaves you with a nice tang. And the bacon.. well.. I dunno, kids.. roll a fresh cat turd in bacon, and call me to dinner. You just can't go wrong with crispedy bacon.
So there ya have it.. another long ass story of yet another catastrophe in my kitchen. But I'm semi-happy with them, if for the taste alone. And they've got feet. God bless them, they've got feet.