Day 4: Imperfect Chocolate Macarons

I’ll admit that after yesterday’s excitement over making a cookie that I had only previously ventured to buy from a bakery may have gone to my head a little. I should have waited a bit before attempting one of the most challenging cookie recipes to get right: French Macarons.

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Oh, macarons, who do you have to so very delicious and beautiful and difficult to make? I have attempted this madness once before, several years ago at Christmastime and I vowed then that I would never try them again. They were lumpy. The batter was difficult to pipe evenly. And I had a sore arm for days from the effort of all the folding and piping. It would be better to just buy them when I wanted one.

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I wish I had remembered that, but this week, I think I may have lost my mind a little. This is only the fourth or fifth incident that has happened to me this week that began with hope, but ended only in disappointment. Apparently, hope really does spring eternal, personally and in the kitchen.

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Ah, well, what can a person do except try to learn from the situation and move on?

So, here’s what I learned.

1. Just because a professional pastry chef tells you that a recipe is full proof, does not mean that it actually is, especially if you don’t follow the directions exactly.

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2. Looks aren’t everything. I dreamed of a beautifully smooth cookie, but got mostly lumpy, cracked cookies. Still, they tasted really good, according to the husband.

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3. Macaron batter has to be piped, not scooped. I did remember having trouble with the piping last time, so I thought I would try to scoop them. After all, they would be more uniform, right? Well, yes, they are all the same size, but they are also lumpy and cracked. The last pan that I piped looked better; still not smooth and shiny, but better.

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4. It’s probably best to try the recipe as written once or twice before deciding to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, like I did. Silly me.

My only consolation in all this is that they really did taste quite good. They are intensely chocolatey, the shells are crispy, and they are nice and chewy on the inside. I filled a few of these with some mocha buttercream that I had stashed away in the freezer.

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Everyone in the house who did not make them loved them. I am disapponted by the way they look, but I will say that these really are pretty easy, very tasty, and quite a treat. They have humbled me and it’s taken me about a day to come to terms with it, but I think in the end that it has been a good experience for me. So, if you get one in your cookie tin, please don’t judge it by its looks alone. Beauty is more than skin deep.

If you would like to try this recipe, you can find it here. Maybe it will work out better for you than it did for me, but if it doesn’t, don’t despair. They will be delicious anyway.

p.s. Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a tin of cookies! We got some wonderful snow yesterday. I love snow. I love how the whole world goes quiet when it snows. Do you like snow? What’s your favorite thing about snow?

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Posted on December 9, 2013, in Baking, Holiday, Recipe reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Love the cookies! They look so tasty! I love snow if I don’t have to drive in it! We got about 6 inches here and they are calling for more tomorrow.

  2. I think they look lovely and I bet they are heavenly!

  3. Anything that taste “intensely chocolatey” cannot be a failure.

  4. Even “lumpy and cracked” chocolate is good chocolate in my book! I agree with you – I love snow! It can transform a drab, colorless, post-fall, backyard into a winter wonderland!

  5. Karen Glotzbach

    That picture of the beaten butter (is that what it is?) is just heavenly. I am so drawn to “winter white” right now and that photograph just makes me swoon!

    Which brings me to snow… I am like a little kid when it comes to snow – I get so excited at the prospect of a good snowfall. The serenity and peacefulness of it just seems to center me somehow. I stop and revel in it’s beauty. I love the crisp, clean air that is present after a good snowstorm. The fact that no two snowflakes are ever the same just intrigues me… I love drawing them, catching them on my tongue and making snowballs out of them! I have been known to take a microscope out on to the deck to view them closer in all their crystalline splendor. Ahhhh….. snow!

  6. You can’t judge a book by its cover, right? When it comes to food, beauty is nice but taste is easy more important, in my opinion.
    Regarding snow, I just love it. I love how it looks like the world is covered by a fluffy blanket. I love how it seems to make everyone, including animals, more playful. It is just magical.

  7. well I sure never judge a cookie I make by how it looks, that is for sure!! these look pretty yummy!

    I love snow too! I was born in NE but then moved a bit and spent most of my years in AR – so I always say I am making up for lost time LOL I love how quiet it gets and the peacefulness of it. I love hiking in the woods after a snow – the birds are very active looking for food and about the time we are getting good snows, the birds have started getting really active in preparation for spring!

  8. I posted this under the wrong cookie.

    I am so glad that I read your post about not doubling the chocolate French Macaron recipe as I am getting ready to go into mass production mode for a cookie and beer competition! I have been using this same recipe, but only making it exactly as written, thinking I would make a larger batch later this week. The basic batch has turned out nicely. I used a piping bag and got a really nice looking cookie with no cracks.

    Learning from your mistake of multiplying the batch has made me decide to start baking a batch or two a day in preparation. I am planning on filling them with a chocolate ganache with some stout beer incorporated into it some how (still pondering, but will likely make a sugar syrup reduction with the beer).

    Merry Christmas.

  9. What yummy looking cookies. Not a fan of snow here, driving in it anyway.

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