Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Monday, October 26, 2009

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.


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Comments on "What's the French Word for FAILURE?"


Blogger Caribbean Dreamer said ... (10/27/2009 10:20 PM) : 

At least yours had feet and got filled! Mine filled my trash can LOL


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10/27/2009 10:42 PM) : 

I am crying! I am in pain!!! I can laugh no more!!!!
LOVE LOVE LOVE the flavor combo!!!
Now perhaps this is because I am a guy but that is not a Thresher Shark my dear, it is.........


Anonymous veron said ... (10/27/2009 10:51 PM) : 

This is not a failure! They look exactly like macarons. Thin shells, maybe the oven was not hot enough and also you can try drying them longer.
If it makes you feel better I had a couple of cracked shells today :) And sometimes I do get those tails, you wouldn't like to know what my hubby calls them...he.he.. You did great sis- the macarons got feet - that in itself is an accomplishment! Thanks for this hilarious post. :)


Blogger Peabody said ... (10/27/2009 10:51 PM) : 

Way to add the fancy pants bacon...nice touch. ;)


Anonymous Jason Sandeman said ... (10/28/2009 12:16 AM) : 

This sounds like what would happen if I ventured to make macarons. Luckily, I have a pastry chef that will do it for us. I can feel your pain though.


Blogger Audax said ... (10/28/2009 1:26 AM) : 

Well I don't know what to say LIS you are way too harsh on yourself nobody gets perfection very time and that last batch looks fine to me. Your posts always make me laugh so hard. Well you succeeded in doing the challenge congrats. In the Daring Bakers’ we are more interested in the journey of the challenge not so much the end result well done. Cheers from Audax in Australia.


Blogger Aviva O'Byrne said ... (10/28/2009 1:43 AM) : 

Oh I like you. You're funny. I too indulged myself in the drink for this project. The first batch ended up in the garbage so I wouldn't touch this recipe again until the last minute. Wine was the helping hand I needed and it worked out ok. I love the bacon idea despite the fact that I don't eat the stuff much. (wasn't raised with it) I recently went to a bakery in Chicago that was getting a lot of press for their chocolate covered bacon. Decided that I must be missing out on something.


Blogger Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said ... (10/28/2009 1:45 AM) : 

When I made this challenge recipe (which, by the way, I too, HATED it) and mine were a complete disaster, I wondered if Lis was having the same problems and if so, I just knew that your post would be a good one. It was. And I'm sorry it was so frustrating. Believe me, I've been there too. :) I still think your last pics look great.


Blogger Kelly-Jane said ... (10/28/2009 4:30 AM) : 

Ah, you are too far hard on yourself! I think they look yummy - I'd come and help you eat them if I lived near by :)


Blogger Deeba PAB said ... (10/28/2009 4:54 AM) : 

Oh you cracked me up...UNCLE...oh dear, I'm ROTFLMAO! You poor thing! Guess what, I've been there, done that. I tried 6 times in a single morning, 1 egg white batch a a time, and I finally found feeton my 7th attempt!
Well, actually you got feet too! CONGRATS!!


Anonymous MandyM said ... (10/28/2009 6:22 AM) : 

LOL! Lis.... *sigh* Why did I begin to read this while drinking a cup of coffee? My laptop was almost bathed in it.
Considering the flops, your flavour combo sounds really damn fantastic and those macarons look good to me :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10/28/2009 7:23 AM) : 

At least they look like Macarons and they found their feet, mine are still looking for theirs!! One day day!!


Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said ... (10/28/2009 9:01 AM) : 

i think many had issues with this recipe - and listen you still have feet so they are macarons. hugs!


Blogger Valerie Harrison (bellini) said ... (10/28/2009 9:39 AM) : 

It seems that this was quite the challenge, but your got off your butt and on your "feet" to make make macarons.


Blogger Lisa said ... (10/28/2009 9:45 AM) : 

Great post. I think they look good. You had feet! I didn't love the recipe for this challenge either. Perhaps I'll give it a try again in the future with another recipe, but I doubt it.


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (10/28/2009 11:00 AM) : 

Nutty & sweet wins the day especially when you've got feet!
I'd been looking forward to a macaron challenge, now I'll have to do it on my own one day.


Blogger Rose said ... (10/28/2009 12:30 PM) : 

HAHAHA I love your posts! Pipe a perfect Thresher Shark LMFAO!!!


Blogger Karin said ... (10/28/2009 2:37 PM) : 

This post is hilarious!!! OMG...but at least yours looked better then mine. I gave up after the second try. That almond flour crap is expensive and it broke my damn food processor!! Good stuff!!


Blogger Lauren said ... (10/28/2009 2:37 PM) : 

No! Yours look absolutely perfect! They actually have feet & came off the sheet. Thats a winner in my books =D.


Blogger Jennywenny said ... (10/28/2009 3:36 PM) : 

Ha ha! Yours came out better than mine! You're not a faliure because you made us all laugh loads, not to mention managing to get actual feet on your macarons!


Blogger astheroshe said ... (10/28/2009 4:10 PM) : i have said on other blogs, to me the recipe is flawed. Failure, is not always technique.

I made them a second time with a recipe i got from a professional pastry chef, and they are perfect!( and better) , than the orig. :)

Happy to share if anyone is interested....


Blogger Dragana said ... (10/29/2009 2:02 AM) : 

I just love you Lis! Your funny accounts of DB challenges always entertain. I think they turned out great in the end and I'm sure they tasted wonderful!


Blogger Dharm said ... (10/29/2009 9:29 AM) : 

Your posts are always so honest and so funny too! I'm sorry they didnt turn out like you wanted them too. But the Shark is really nice... The second batch of photos looks pretty damn good so why are you getting your knickers in a knot??!!


Anonymous Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said ... (10/29/2009 10:28 PM) : 

HAHA, Lisa, I can feel your pain!! They actually look totally cute, though -- no one has to know they're a bit, erm, fragile :D


Blogger Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said ... (10/31/2009 8:16 PM) : 

You are too funny! I hear and feel your traumatized mac-plight. My first batch turned into one giant mac-blob. I guess we're mac-vivors.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go


Anonymous Tanya said ... (10/31/2009 11:46 PM) : 

I think they look fab! Your post is HILARIOUS! I tried pate a choux for the first time today and they didn't turn out so hot either...whatever! Great post :)


Blogger Dewi said ... (11/01/2009 3:38 AM) : 

Oh no, but it happen to some of us as well. So, don't be too hard to yourself. At least many of yours look pretty presentable, right?


Anonymous Lisa said ... (11/01/2009 7:45 AM) : 

Lis, due to getting my challenge ready, the failed pumpkin nauseum, I've been leaving blog comments to late late night when I have some time. I could not wait to get to yours..I was literally excited, like I am for the Yankees in the World Series right now :D

OMG, this one was better than ever. Personally, I think your maple, cream cheese bacony goodness macs are heavenly, and I'm drooling. Who cares that one has a shlong protruding from it? LOL

BTW..the pumpkin filling recipe I used is on my blog at the end of Claudia's asthetically unpleasing method. I need to order some of Veronica's macs, pronto!

Finally, now my girl crush has multiplied like horny bunny families. I must marry you now, no questions asked! :P :P


Anonymous kellypea said ... (11/01/2009 8:17 PM) : 

You are definitely nutty and sweet. Yes, you are. And HILARIOUS. Sorry, but it's true. And Lis, I have to tell you, my macs look pretty much the same. Flat on top. Little feet. That's why I stuffed 'em with lots of creamy stuff. And my hopes of eloquently drying egg whites in the fridge so I could tackle the real recipe today was no contest for lazing around. No macs coming outta my kitchen today. Nope.


Blogger Mary said ... (11/03/2009 10:09 PM) : 

I definitely think you're nutty and sweet! And I hang my head in shame that I forgot completely about the DBs for the entire month of October. I love reading your posts though. Maybe I'll get to Novemebr's challenge...


Blogger Gabi said ... (11/04/2009 2:32 PM) : 

Oh Lis -How I love you and worship at the feet of your macarons ;0
You just fill me with delight- let alone maple cream cheese and bacon -a flavour combination worthy of the gods.
Someday I may recover from the busted gut suffered while reading this post but I'm not sure. I do miss baking with you and the other DBs- save some JD for me...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/07/2009 10:12 AM) : 

Awww, that Thresher shark is awesome - could pass for a Blue whale too (childhood favourite). Lady, you're piping skills are great...and LOVE the idea of Canadian Vanilla Maple tea, yum! I laughed SO hard at the part about the hole in your coffee grinder - that sounds like my house, tee hee, you ROCK :)


Blogger Lori said ... (11/08/2009 8:34 PM) : 

You kill me. They are not that bad and really they still taste good even though they are not Tartelette macarons. And you did get feet too! I had similar problems with mine. Next time, chant I am baker, hear me roar!


Blogger SallyBR said ... (11/09/2009 6:03 PM) : 

Honestly, if I laugh some more I'll get cramps in my abdominal muscles, and I'm not kidding...

some parts I had to stop to catch my breath, I know this must be painful to go through, but you tell these stories like no one else!

I am NEVER EVER attempting to make those, but I'm sure glad you did!


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