There have been few recipes that have exhausted my patience as much as these tiny French delicacies have.
The French Macaron. It's on my list of "culinary feats", and has been for quite some time now. The recipe seems simple: a basic meringue folded into a mixture of powdered sugar and finely ground almonds. The technique however, seems like nothing less than rocket science. In theory, these cookies are simple, but the unsuccessful batches preceding these speak for themselves.
It's actually quite funny how this batch turned out relatively decent. (I say that because anyone who knows macarons, knows there are processes and techniques, neither of which I paid much attention to, but the end result was deceivingly close to the real things!). While preparing a meringue for some chewy meringue nests, I noticed that the consistency of the meringue was just what I was failing to achieve while attempting the macarons. The smooth, glossy mixture was disappearing just as it should and was holding it's own, instead of melting away. On a whim, I decided to throw technique to the wind and experiment. I sprinkled some almond meal right into the mix (I can hear the gasps of pastry chefs near and far!). I filled my piping bag and began to quickly pipe out perfectly round little tops and bottoms. To my surprise they formed perfect little circles in true macaron fashion. I let them rest and baked them, estimating at the time and temperate based on the numerous other recipes I have tried previously. I don't think anyone was prepared for my excitement when I pulled them out of the oven to discover that they have puffed perfectly, while staying smooth, with perfect little "feet" as they call them (the ruffled bottom)! You would have thought I had won the lottery!
But, to be honest, I was ecstatic! This was a challenge, that time after time, continued to get the best of me. Batch after batch, I produced nothing but mis-shaped, flat or overcooked blobs of meringue. So when by accident I was able to produce one good batch of perfectly dainty macarons, I was obligated to celebrate!
I filled them with Vanilla Bean Buttercream, and sandwiched them together, finding satisfaction with each one. They tasted amazing - they tasted like victory. I enjoyed every bit of them, which is a good thing because I won't be attempting them again in the near future. But, at least I can finally check them off my list!