Daring Bakers October Challenge – French Macarons


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S of Baking without Fear. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I’ve always been extremely curious about these cute little cookies.  I feel like I’ve been deprived because I’ve never had pleasure of eating a ‘real’ one.

My first experience (and last, until I made these macarons) eating meringue cookies was when I was about 6 years old. My mom made these amazing meringue cookies that has butterscotch chips melted into the mixture. I remember sneaking so many cookies that I got so incredibly ill I developed a taste aversion to both meringue & butterscotch chips.  A couple years ago I took a psychology class and we happened to be talking about taste aversion and the only thing I could think of was these terrible cookies that still make my stomach turn when I think of them.

Knowing that these cookies would be a slight challenge for me, I  was sure to do my research. I read different recipes, watched videos on piping techniques etc. When it finally came time to make the cookies I thought ” I’m so ready for this. My macarons will put others to shame!”

What a disaster!

Problem # 1 The recipe indicates that you can make your own almond flour, but you have to add at least some icing sugar so that the almonds don’t cream into a nut butter.  I wasn’t really thinking so I added 2 cups of whole blanched almond and a cup and a half of icing sugar to the food processor.

It became problematic when I started thinking about the propotions- did 2 cups of whole almonds equal 2 cups of almond flour? Was I supposed to measure the mixture of ground almonds & icing sugar as “almond flour” and add extra icing sugar?  I wasn’t really sure so I just went with it and dumped in the rest of the icing sugar and figured that this could be the right amount.

Problem #2 I think I overmixed the eggs. Remember I have a taste aversion to all things meringue, so I don’t go down this path very often.  The eggs were dry and I ended up with a gloopy purple paste.

I figured, “why not just bake them anyway?” They came out of the oven and immediately into the garbage can as  flat sticky purple pancakes.

But I wouldn’t let the disaster defeat me! I went and purchased ground almonds this time, measured out the right amount, along with the icing sugar and felt pretty confident with myself.

Again, I probably over beat the eggs… but didn’t actually figure this out until I mixed all the stuff together and tried again.  These macarons poofed up a bit, but developed a crinkly gingersnap top and didn’t look anything like the smooth shelled beauties I’ve seen everywhere. To my dismay they didn’t even form feet! No feet, no smooth top, basically nothing you’d hope for in a macaron.

I decided I had to at least taste the cookie to see what all the fuss was all about.  Luckily, I didn’t start retching and gagging, but I didn’t love the way it tasted either. I’m hoping this has to do with my lack of skill rather than the actual product because they’re so darn cute!

I will not give up! I’m going to do more research to find another recipe. I probably won’t make them for myself to eat, but I can’t let this be my one and only macaron making experience.

Not good…. not good at alll….


2 thoughts on “Daring Bakers October Challenge – French Macarons

  1. Well I think the last batch isn’t that bad at all you have shells and have feet that are trying to develope so I think you got about 70% there. I think Helen of Tartelette’s recipe is the best if you want to try again. Those last ones are quite reasonable. Remember the Daring Bakers’ is about the journey and not so much about the end results and you successed enormously. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  2. I think your macs look really tasty, and that’s all that matters! Great write up explaining your process and problems encountered. You should try Helen of Tratelette’s recipe..pretty foolproof 🙂 Worked very well for me.

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