The Great Macaron Disaster

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes you plan for one thing to happen, and instead you end up spending over four hours on one baking project, wishing you’d never even heard of blueberry lemon macarons.

I suppose I should start at the beginning.

Two weeks ago, I held a tea party for the ladies I work with, and it went very well. We had a blast, eating a ton of great food and enjoying some great time together just chatting. In preparation for this tea party, I created a menu of food I wanted to make for the party, and designated certain foods off to my friends. The recipe I was most excited about were the macarons. I was planning on making blueberry lemon and chai salted caramel macarons. I wasn’t too worried, and I suppose that was my first mistake.

The recipe I was following was one off of Pinterest, and can already hear some of you sighing and rolling your eyes, telling me Pinterest is a terrible place to get recipes as you can’t trust them. My response to this is that I’ve never had a problem with Pinterest recipes before, so I assumed it was safe. (Pardon the D&D reference…) The plan was simple: double the recipe and end up with enough macarons to keep everyone content for weeks on end.

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First was the lemon curd filling. Pretty simple, or so the video-recipe said. It required whisking a couple ingredients (blueberries, egg yolks, butter) over a double boiler until the mixture thickened. The recipe said it would take approximately 15 minutes to thicken, so I stood at my stove, whisking away for 10, 15, 20, 35 minutes. Still the mix wasn’t thickening. My arm was hurting and I was getting frustrated. Chesh could see my frustrations and came over to whisk for a bit while I took a break. 15 minutes later I was fed up. I pulled the mixture off the stove, stuck it in a covered bowl, and put it in the fridge. Everyone would have to be ok with runny filling.

Next came the macaron shells. First were the egg whites and sugar, whipped until the egg yolks had turned frothy. I grabbed my bowl of egg whites from earlier, and though to myself, “Self. There seems to be only two egg whites in this bowl. But I need four since we’re doubling the recipe. Shouldn’t there already be four egg whites in this bowl?”

If you know your way around a kitchen, you might have realized my mistake by now. Instead of putting in four egg yolks (doubling the recipe here, folks) into the filling, I’d only added 2. No wonder it hadn’t been thickening.

I now had a choice to make. Do I pull out the mixture that I’ve already sealed into the oven and add the two missing egg yolks? Or do I let it go and move on? If you know me, you know that I’m not very good at “moving on”. So I pulled out the filling, set up my double boiler again, and added in the two egg yolks. Fast forward to 25 minutes later, the mix was only slightly thicker, but still nowhere thick enough.

At this point my frustration levels had tripled and I was so completely and utterly done with blueberry lemon curd filling, that I stuffed it back in the fridge and swore to never do it again.

The mixing of the macaron shells was uneventful. Everything placed in the bowl in the right order at the right time, with no mess-ups, spillages, or crying-fits. I folded in in the sifted ingredients carefully, added flavor, color, and stuck it all in a piping bag. So far so good.

One thing I should mention is that the silicon mats I had purchased for the macarons ( 2 weeks prior) did not fit my baking sheets. They were too big. WAY too big. I’m talking flopped-over-the-edges-creating-a-bowl-shaped-surface-instead-of-a-flat-one. As I started piping out the batter, I realized another problem: I had too much batter and not enough pans. So much for a double batch. I scrambled to find more pans, and lined them with parchment paper hoping that might do the trick.

I let the macarons rest. Like you’re supposed to. I banged them on the table to get the air bubbles out. Like you’re supposed to. I stuck them in the oven. Like you’re supposed to. Two of the three pans burned and cracked while the third remained fine. Sigh.

Totally normal pan, they look LOVELY.
Totally dead, cracked, and burned on the bottom. Gross.

As you can see, total disaster. I had 20 macaron shells that turned out ok, meaning 10 completed macarons. Both pans were placed in the oven at the same time, and both were baked on silicon baking sheets on the SAME RACK in my oven. I still have no idea what black magic did this….

After taking the pans out of the oven and staring at them for entirely too long as I tried my hardest not to hyperventilate, I decided to give up and go to bed. Sometimes, that’s the very best you can do.

The next morning I assembled the macarons. The filling was gloppy and sad and not thick at all. The sandwiches looked like some AMATEUR had tried to make them…. I focused the rest of my morning on spinach puffs and cranberry brie bites, which turned out so beautifully that the agony of the previous night was soon forgotten.

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The completed 10 macarons.

Here’s a look at the finished product, all plated and lovely looking. As a side-note I should probably mention that the macarons were delicious. Divine holy pieces of happiness filled with the most DELICIOUS (yet non-thick) blueberry lemon curd I’ve ever tasted. Everyone loved them.

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What’s been your biggest food disaster? I’m curious to hear what your experiences have been with macarons. Also, I hope this doesn’t dissuade you from trying to make your own macarons. I plan on trying that chai salted caramel recipe this weekend, and I promise to let you know how it turns out. I think the key is not getting too ambitious, and maybe not doubling your batches.


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