Attempt no. 45 – more bergamot and Sichuan black pepper macarons, Cliff Notes version

Whoops, he did it again.


I followed the same recipe as in attempt no. 42, baking at 250° F for 20 minutes, rotating the tray, and then another 10 minutes. The first tray was underdone, so I added 90 seconds of baking time to the the second tray, which came out perfectly. 

In summary, they piped out nicely (2 points, as per my scoring system), they all came off the Silpat (3 points since the first batch stuck a little), they look like macaron (4 points), and they’re delicious (1½ points, because they are a little too chewy). I win.

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Attempt no. 44 – the lemon macaron

With all of the experience I now have under my belt, both figuratively and literally, I decided to go back nearly full circle to attempt no. 2 and finally perfect my lemon macaron. Admittedly, I’ve become a bit more casual about preparation:

I put everything together, blah blah blah – I’d forgotten how little batter this recipe makes – and I pipe it out. So far, so good.

What comes out of the over, however, isn’t so good at all.


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Perhaps its because I left the oven open a crack (as I was taught to do in Paris), maybe there’s just something about the chemistry when there’s lemon juice in the batter, or maybe it’s just me, but all I ended up with was 10 dense non-macaron lemon sandwich cookies without even enough filling to cover up the browned bottoms. The meringue wins.

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Attempt no. 43 – the chocolate macaron with chocolate-hot pepper gananche

Chocolate and chili go well together – think of Max Brenner’s Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate, with red chili, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper – so, fresh off the success of the bergamot and Sichuan black pepper macaron, I figured I’d try this next step. It’s easy enough to do, in concept: take your standard chocolate shell, make a ganache (300 g chocolate and 300 g cream), and add in 2 ½ teaspoons of hot pepper paste.

Given that I’ve had two successes in a row, I decided to be more objective in how I judge success.  I’ve settled on four factors:

Did the macaronnage work – did the shells pipe out nicely? 0: no
1: well enough
2: yes
Can I get the shells off the Silpat after they’ve come out of the oven? 0: no
1: at least ⅓ of them
2: at least ⅔ of them
4: all or almost all of them
Do they look like macarons? 0: ugh, no
1: I’d eat them with the lights out
2: no feet, but otherwise okay
4: yes
Do they taste good? 0: no
1: they’re okay
2: yum!

To win, I have to get at least 8 points.

The results:

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They piped out nicely piped, so that’s worth 2 points. Only ⅓ of them went into the sink; 2 points. Appearance-wise, they were a real mixed bag but most of them were lucky to have no feet, so 1 point for that. finally, the hot pepper has a nice kick that keeps the macarons from being overly sweet, but I wouldn’t want to eat more than one or two at a sitting*; 1 point.

In total, I get only 6 points, so the win goes to the meringue.

*(a sitting is defined as approximately two minutes.)

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Attempt no. 42 – the bergamot and Sichuan black pepper macaron

image1It’s Thanksgiving, so it’s time to make a macaron with traditional Thanksgiving flavors: bergamot and Sichuan black pepper!

Bergamot is an oil extract from the dwarf variety of the Seville orange, commonly used to flavor Earl Grey tea. Having just come back from Chengdu with Sichuan peppers, I realized that the two flavors would complement each other, so I took a recipe for bergamot buttercream filling and added the pepper, as follows:

For the shells:

  • 100 g aged egg whites
  • 225 g powdered sugar
  • 125 g almond flour
  • 5 g dehydrated egg white powder
  • 28 g granulated sugar
For the filling:

  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 25 g water
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 160 g soft butter
  • 1 bag of Earl Grey tea
  • 1 teaspoon of ground Sichuan black pepper

I’d never used dehydrated egg white powder in a recipe before, so I wanted to see what would happen.  The answer is, I can’t tell, but it didn’t hurt. The shell tops were a little fragile, but that could have been for any number of reasons; I used the French method, which makes a slightly less sturdy shell.

I haven’t had time to age them fully in the refrigerator, since I’m gifting part of the batch tonight, but based on a preliminary taste test: the victory goes to me, and they taste fantastic.

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Attempt no. 41 – Attempt no. 40 redux

Halfway through making the meringue, I realize that I have put in 80 grams more egg whites than the recipe called for!  Can I rescue the batter?

(read on …)

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Attempt no. 40 – the key lime macaron and the chocolate-whiskey macaron

The chefs at Cooking with Class told me a half-recipe does not work, for some reason; I have to use the full recipe, so double the quantities used in Attempt no. 38. “What about Attempt no. 39?” you ask. “Why are you skipping straight from Attempt no. 38 to Attempt no. 40?” I indeed did make the full recipe for Attempt no. 39, but it did not work out particularly well.  Consider Attempt no. 39 to be the crazy relative locked away in the attic in a Southern Gothic novel. We shall not speak of it again.
(read on …)

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Attempt no. 38 – the key lime pie macaron

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Smackie has seen macaron perfection.

Last week, Smackie and I went to Paris to learn how to make macarons from the experts at Cook’n with Class. Let’s see if it made any difference! (read on…)

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