The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S from Baking Without Fear. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. Before joining the Daring Bakers, I would think of a sweet, chewy coconut cookies when I hear "Macaroons" but in reality this is a classic dessert - the French Macaron - and it has nothing to do with coconut.
French macarons/macaroons are meringue "cookies" that are sandwiched with a filling - like a chocolate ganache or jam or something. I've never seen one of these in a bakery before (or maybe just never knew what they were if I had) and have never had a real macaroon, but I was excited to try this recipe because I loooove meringues and especially with chocolate. Yum!
The recipe is relatively simple. Unfortunately I had to purchase a $12 bag of almond flour (I guess I could have ground my own but almonds are pricey anyway) but after that the ingredients were easy to find - room temperature eggwhites (5) and a little sugar, plus powdered sugar and any flavoring for the meringue and fillings that you can think of. I started out by whipping the eggwhites to soft peaks and then adding the sugar. Then they were whipped to stiff peaks and I wisked the almond flour and powdered sugar together.
I think the next step must have been where I went wrong - I must have folded the flour mixture into the too roughly even though I was trying to be gentle, or maybe I took too long. I noticed the eggwhites had lots a lot of their fluffyness and this was obvious once I piped the cookies onto the parchment and silpat.
Needless to say, I sorta botched this challenge - my macaroons were flat as little chewy pancakes. However they were still tasty and I made up a quick ganache out of cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and peeled the flat macaroons off the parchment and made a few sandwiches. I found the silpat was worse at releasing the meringues than the parchment paper was. The Husband liked them too so at least I had one happy customer but now I will have to try the recipe again or try to find a real macaroon somewhere in the area. Thanks to Ami for a great challenge, and I'll try and do better next time! :)