I made macarons this week for the reddit 52 weeks of baking challenge. The task? Bake for an allergy or dietary restriction. I knew I needed to get better at making macarons.
But wait. Is it macaron or macaroon?
Lots of people get confused about the two. While both are flourless cookies, the macaroons I remember from my childhood – the post choir practice snack at the temple – were dense, heavy on the coconut, and very sweet. These ube macaroons are an example. So very different from French macarons.
About a year ago, I made cocoa macarons for the first time. They stuck to the silicone lining in my baking sheet, had hollow centers and no feet, and looked horrible. Filled with a chocolate frosting they had delicious flavor, which friends reassured me was the only metric.
That’s why I’m the uglyducklingbakery, right?
A month or so later I tried again with caramel buttercream-filled macarons. This time they baked through, but the centers were still hollow and they had no feet.
I share these with you as proof that people aren’t always perfect on the internet.
What was I doing wrong? Did I overbeat the egg whites? Fold them in too aggressively? Wait to long for a skin to develop? Was my oven too hot? Was my oven too cold? I gave up. There are so many other things to bake that aren’t as frustrating.
But then I joined the reddit challenge, and this week rolled around. I knew I would try again. I’m not the kind of person to give up, and I’m doing the reddit challenge to learn new baking skills. Never stop learning.
A supportive friend recommended I join the Everything Macarons Facebook Group. You know how some groups are nominally about one thing, but everyone goes off topic? Not this one. Everything about Everything Macarons is … macarons. All macarons. All of the time.
The group gave me a starting place for this week, which was the basic recipe from Indulge with Mimi. I followed the instructions. This recipe made me whip egg whites by a hand mixer instead of my stand mixer. It took a long time. I turned the bowl upside down over my head to confirm that they had reached firm peak stage.
That’s how they do it on the Great British Bake Off. That’s how you tell, right?
They developed a skin much more quickly than macarons in the past, and I baked them on parchment instead of a Silpat. They had feet!
I don’t know which, if any, of those things made the difference. They’re far from perfect. But, without a doubt, filled with a peanut butter buttercream, they are delicious.
Do ignore the colors. The kiddo likes her colors.
I still need to work on my piping skills to get better rounds and flat tops. But whether it’s macaron or macaroon, I’m confident that I passed this challenge.
On to the next one!
If you want to share tips, questions, or frustrations with making macarons, please feel free to comment below or tag me on Instagram.
Make some easier cookies from the recipe archives.
Join the uglyducklingbakery family.
Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Next week: quick breads