This afternoon was an interesting one. Anyone who passed by our house could have been forgiven for thinking that there was some kind of domestic disturbance, with all the crashing, swearing, cries of anguish and general air of despair.
You see, I had 4 egg whites left over from the sables last weekend, and whilst I’d had every intention of using them to create a lovely, fluffy egg-white omelette with cheese and mushrooms, there were no cheese and mushrooms to be found as I’d neglected to go shopping this week.
Unsure of how long egg-whites last (even when refrigerated), so I was extremely eager to use them up today. I could have gone shopping, but after flipping through Shannon Bennett’s “My Vue” cookbook, found that the recipe for macaroons called for 4 egg whites! Why, if that wasn’t the call of fate, then I don’t know what is. Or, at least, that’s what I foolishly thought at the time…
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The first batch of macaroons left the oven looking just okay. I was disappointed about them not having any feet, but in all honesty was just glad that they hadn’t deflated.
I followed Shannon’s instructions to the letter. Whilst I’m usually a bit careless with my quantities (”Whoops, I spilt an extra 1/4 cup of flour in that cake mix…ahh, it’ll be fiiiine!”), this time I made sure that all my measurements were correct to the very last gram.
The macaroons came out of the oven and looked delightful (except for the lack of foot, which, after using some colourful sailor-speak for a few minutes, I accepted quite quickly), and as Shannon instructed, I left them on the tray to cool completely. Anxious, I was lifting up the parchment to feel the bottom every few minutes, and once I was sure that they were cold, I tried to pry them off the paper…
…and ended up holding just the shell, the complete innards of the macaroon left behind on the paper. “Riiiiight…” I thought to myself, “Let’s try that again”
This time, I eased a fingernail under the edge and ever-so-slowly started to lift. I noticed that the botom was coming away from the shell and sticking to the paper. In a fit of panic, I left the tray and ran to google to try and find a solution. One blogger recommended pouring a small amount of boiling water under the parchment and letting it slide under each macaroon, so I raced back to the kitchen to give this a try.
No luck, senor. The next one completely collapsed as I was trying to lift it, becoming nothing but wafer-thin crumbles of macaroon atop a sticky mound that felt akin to taffy.
At this stage, I got a little desperate, and got out a thin metal spatula. I rubbed some olive oil lightly around the tip with a paper towel, and edged it under yet another macaroon. I paused, cut out the piece of parchment around the macaroon, and slowly started to peel down around all edges, all the while gently using my spatula to try and lift it further up.
I managed to get most of it off, but a large portion slap bang in the middle decided it liked the parchment better than me and absolutely refused to budge. By now, I was tearing my hair out and venting my frustration with some extremely colourful language, near tears and cuddling Mr. Woofy to comfort my inner anguish.
“It’s okay mommy…I think they still taste nice!”
After returning to the google to search some more, I found a few other bloggers who’d made these little French delicacies, and noted their recommendations. One advised leaving them for up to 2hrs for the macaroons to develop a skin. I left one tray for 2 hours, but after that there was still no skin and they were still wet to touch.
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Another one said that the bowl should have been firmly tapped against the countertop to remove any air from the mixture. As it was a bit late for this since all the mixture had already been piped, I tried firmly rapping the baking tray firmly against the table before baking. These ones came out as flat as crepes.
At this point, with just one tray left and utter hopelessness having a hold over my heart, I chucked the last tray in and went outside for a cigarette or three. I zoned out, and by the time I remembered that I had something baking, they’d been in the oven for 30 minutes (the recipe said the baking time was 20 minutes). I raced back inside, grabbed the tray and pulled it out quickly.
It turns out that the problem was that they were underbaked! The last batch still didn’t have any feet, but I actually managed to remove 99% of the macaroon from the parchment. Egads!
Footless and a little flat, I’m just glad they were removed almost entirely intact!
Here's the tips
So what have I learnt from this little adventure into the land of macaroons?
1. If it’s something you’ve never made before, research and see what other food bloggers say about their experiences.
2. Use a little common sense. If a cake had not come away from the sides of it’s tin, I would have assumed that it was undercooked, but in my anxiousness I placed all my trust in the cookbook.
3. Maintain a sense of humour. A lot of these situations are a bit laugh-or-you’d-cry. Whilst I was (almost) crying while making these, even now I can look back at what happened and give a tired hoot.
4. Dress your battle wounds and prepare for another attack. As a comfort, I made another batch of sables today…which has left me with another 4 egg whites. Tomorrow is another day!