Attempt no. 6 – the banana macaron with dark chocolate ganache: part 1 of 2

A good chef always has the right ingredients at his or her disposal.

A good chef always has the right ingredients at his or her disposal.

There are many macaron recipes out there on the internets, all of which claim to be the easiest, or the quickest, or the sure route to success that was achieved after hours of trial and error. Some call for 80 grams of aged egg white while others call for 90 grams or 115 grams; some say that the perfect shell requires 1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar while others say, no, it requires 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar and 3/4 cups of granulated sugar.  I have looked at a dozen recipes, and after hours of carefully comparing ratios and measures, I say … fuck it, I’m just going with one recipe until I beat it into submission.  For attempt no. 6,  I am repeating the recipe from attempts no. 2 and 5 but with a different ganache combination.

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Today’s opponent. Strangely, the recipe claims that 1 cup of almond flour weighs 100 grams, while I weighed it at 112 grams. Is Smackie underreporting his weight to gain an advantage in the ring?

Four lessons from my previous attempt may be key here. First, I can afford to add more banana powder – up to about one tablespoon, since the banana flavor was barely discernible the first time. Second, I may have over-beaten the meringue last time, leading it to dry out, so I have to be careful with that. Third, running the oven fan to circulate the heat evenly and bring the oven temperature reading on the thermometer to what it was on the dial also may have dried out the macaron shells; and fourth, opening the oven midway and letting out all the moisture didn’t help.

On the other hand, the problem may have been something else entirely. Let’s find out!

To make sure the shells aren’t too dry, I whip the egg whites only until they keep their shape in the bowl when I turn the bowl on its side, and then for one more minute after I put in the food coloring.

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Solid at 60° and 120° angles.

Pipe, and bake.  Apart from crushing one shell when I take the tray out of the oven, they look good.

20150625_smackaron_020 20150625_smackaron_021

Unfortunately, they are a little soft.  After 18 minutes of baking, I realize that even after I used the oven thermometer, the oven didn’t hold the temperature exactly at 150° C, so the shells are undercooked and need a little more time.  They go back into the oven for two more minutes, then for three more minutes, then for another five, and then five again …

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Uh-oh.

… and still they are undercooked.  Worse, many of them have a fragile top that just contains a pocketful of air.  I manage to peel enough off the silicone baking sheet to compose a dozen macarons with the ganache (which came out quite well, actually, thanks to this recipe that I tried in attempt no. 3), but, honestly, they don’t look so good.

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Smackie is embarrassed and would prefer to remain unidentified.

After plating them for a photograph, I put them into the refrigerator overnight in the hope that they will somehow “settle down.”

Next: the thrilling conclusion to this week’s episode!

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About cohn17

photographer and baker of macarons
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