Time to ‘fess up! For the past few months I have been obsessed with macarons. God help me!
I love to eat them. I love the color they add to my dessert table. I love the perfect macaron with its delicately crunchy exterior and soft and chewy interior. I love the little feet that only a perfect macaron has. I love how many variations you can try with the same basic recipe. Have you tried macaron flavors like: pistachio, caramel and salt, raspberry, lavender, chocolate….the list goes on and on? You can pretty much think up the perfect macaron for any holiday or special occasion.
Sadly, these are very expensive treats to buy. Usually priced well over $2 per piece, it will hurt your wallet if you try to buy macarons for your next party. So what can you do? Making them yourself at home sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Not quite. I have tried making macarons over 5-6 times now. I have followed various recipes from the internet. I have even watched how-to videos. All to no avail. :-(
I was just about ready to give up figuring out the elusive secret behind this tricky treat.
Then I heard that Chef Emilie was teaching a macaron making class at Staples High School (part of the Westport Continuing Ed program). I decided to sign up and give it one last chance. Man! I am glad I did. Chef Emilie in her naturally patient yet enthusiastic manner explained all the rules that one MUST follow when it comes to making the perfect macaron. I learned that even a couple of grams of difference in the measurement of ingredients can drastically impact the final result. For instance, all the recipes I had followed until now would give me a count of egg whites but Chef Emilie explained that since the eggs can vary in size, it is wise to measure the egg whites by weight and not by count. They say baking is an exact science – so of course that makes total sense to me …. especially when it comes to making delicate confections like these.
We learned what the egg whites should look like and feel like when whipped. We saw what the batter should feel like before we start piping it out onto the cookie sheet. There is a technique to piping this batter on the cookie tray. Chef Emilie taught us what consistency to look for, and how the cookie should feel to touch before it goes into the oven. There is even a technique to handling the cookies when they come out of the oven. As she demonstrated each of these intricate details, I realized how many mistakes I was making when I was simply following online recipes. I also realized how important it was for me to see this being done in person and to actually do it myself with the expert standing next to me!
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