Monday, January 24, 2011

For the love of a macaron

Since I am a very disciplined and regular person who is dedicated to the upkeep of myself and my things, I decided yesterday that even though it is Sunday today, I would go to the gym at 9:00 AM. (OK. Truth be told, in the last 30 days since I joined, I have gone ten. And I am going on yet another vacation to Goa on Tuesday and therefore thought that the least I should do is go to the gym today.

So I woke up today at 8:30 AM to aching bones and weary muscles and my bedraggled heart decided to take pity and grant me leave from attending the gym today. Yippee!

So I dragged myself out of bed and immediately proceeded on my latest obsession: studying new words from the dictionary. (Did you know that there is a word called 'braggadocio'? You did? Well, now you know why I need to learn!)

Ten minutes later, I realized something ingenious. What better day than today to make a pile of macarons. I was not going to the gym today and hence, when I eat, I wouldn't feel  sorry for myself that I was working out so hard and then hogging immediately post that. If I don't go to the gym, it is default knowledge that I have succumbed to sloth and have reached a redemptionless place in my brain, and any further iniquities do not bother me too much or lead me on guilt trips. (This is how I work out all of life's quandaries. It is foolproof!)

The thing is that when my friend Ro came down from Sydney, knowing what a huge fan I am of Masterchef Australia, she brought me the Season 2 cookbook of the show. And for one of the challenges, Callum, the runnerup, had made these lovely violet macaroons, which had won the round. While the cookbook is an amazing amazing gift, I can make precisely 2 of the dishes in the book. (This is not because I am such a dud at cooking, but because small town India is not where you can get Macadamia nuts and cooking chocolate, much less truffles and thyme. I swear, 10 years ago, we didn't even get cream in a pack. We had to get it off full cream milk if we needed to!)

One of the dishes is Daniel's Chicken in Dates and the other is Callum's Macarons.

Now Callum is a dessert whiz and I am a complete fan of his. So it was a no brainer which macaron recipe I would use, despite my ever growing collection of macaron recipes off the net.I had pretty much all the ingredients at hand for the basic macaron as well, save the violet essence, which I assumed was not critical anyway.

So with a song in my soul and a skip in my step, I proceeded to gather all my ingredients and make the macaron.

I would need icing sugar, ground almonds, egg whites and castor sugar (We of course don't get castor sugar here. I used granulated sugar.)

So I measure out a cup of almonds, got 3 eggs out and in an orderly fashion, proceeded to grind the almonds. The recipe called for the almonds and icing sugar to then be sieved, but I thought to myself, 'That doesn't make any sense! Why cant I just blitz it in the food processor together. If anything, it will only be more powdered and mixed up than in a sieve, right? Wrong! Fatal error 1. But of course, I didn't know that then.)

So with the song still in my heart, I separated the eggs and beat them up to a gossamer sheen and then slowly added the granulated sugar. the kitchen smelled heavenly and all was right with the world.

Now it was time to add the almond - icing sugar mixture. The recipe requires you to fold it in gently, but I blame the song in my heart for distracting me, as I plopped the almonds into the egg mixture and continue to beat mercilessly with my electric whisk. It was a minute later that I realized that I should have folded the almonds in. But by then it was too late and I thought that I might as well continue whisking. What difference would more air and whisking make, right? (I know I sound really stupid in retrospect, but I was at the crescendo of the song and of course, I couldn't let that derail!) Fatal Error 2. Since I had never made macarons before, I had no idea how the final mixture had to look like and hence, ignorance induced my bliss.

In the meantime, I had discovered that we had no baking tray in the house, so I proceeded to fashion one out of aluminium foil and covered it with baking paper. All was still well.

As soon as I started spooning out the mixture, I knew that there was no way the macarons would be the beautifully shaped architectural marvel that it is supposed to be. At best it would be a thin cookie, and at worst, it would be a huge rectangular sheet of macaron. But it would taste the same, right? But I optimistically trudged on and left the dough to rest for 30 minutes and develop whatever skin it had the destiny to develop. (I had already eaten half of the raw dough, so it is not like there was too much to bake anyways.

Of course, when I looked 10 minutes later, the circles had joined and was now one big square. I told myself that it wouldn't matter because it would taste the same, and after 20 minutes, started baking it.

 I tried scraping the macaron mix off the plastic but a good deal of plastic had melted. But of course, I couldn't let my beautiful macaron go to waste and so at the risk of poisoning myself, I scraped out whatever I could into a Pyrex dish and baked it for 30 minutes.

This is what it looked like when it was out of the oven.

Two hours later, I went to eat it, and it had become an unyielding, rock hard cookie stuck to my Pyrex dish.
Logic and gluttony fought a battle then in my brain and of course, gluttony won. I tried to scrape off the macaron top to eat least nibble on it and that is what has led me to the condition that I am in - 2 broken finger nails. Now the biggest tragedy of all this is that I might not be able to go to the gym tomorrow. I should really rest my fingers. I work too hard!

p.s. And this is what the macaron is supposed to look like.

p.p.p.s. This is the actual recipe.

p.p.p.s This is Callum's blog for you to read and enjoy.

p.p.p.p.s This is that wretched song that was in my heart while I desecrated macaronhood. If you see it, you'll know why my macarons turned out so!

p.p.p.p.p.s Can I submit this to cake wrecks?


  1. this is hilarious! so sorry abt the macaroons! I have read that humidity does that to a macaroon batter

  2. Oh I am sure that it was much much more than the humidity that went wrong in this case. Delicate french cookies....maybe not my style....


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