Attempt no. 7 – the strawberry macaron with dark chocolate ganache

You know that point where an innocent hobby becomes a dangerous obsession?

Me neither.

As I mentioned in my last post, for attempt no. 7, I’m going to use a new recipe, specifically this recipe from The author presents this recipe after specifically addressing why her shells had been coming out hollow, so it should be exactly what I need, right?

Well, maybe. First, let’s look at the ingredient list:

Today's challenger.

Today’s challenger.

  • 115g ground almonds (store bought or home ground in a spice/coffee grinder and sifted before you weigh)
  • 230g icing sugar
  • 15g cocoa powder for chocolate macarons or 15g freeze-dried raspberries, ground in a spice grinder
  • 144g egg whites, separated, covered in plastic wrap and left at room temperature for a few hours. You can separate them up to 3 days before you use them – just keep them covered in the fridge and bring them to room temperature for a few hours before you use them
  • 72g granulated or caster sugar
  • (food colouring powder – about 2 teaspoons for this amount of macarons)

I thought icing sugar (also called confectioner’s sugar) and caster sugar were the same thing. It turns out that they aren’t, which may be one of my problems: I’ve been putting caster sugar, which is less fine, in with the almond flour.

20150628_smackaron_005 20150628_smackaron_006
I don’t know why, I just thought you’d want to see what the freeze-dried strawberries look like before and after they’re mixed into the flour.

I put everything together the way I normally do anyway, however, because I just can’t be bothered to deal with this right now. It’s the Sunday, 26th of June and I live in Greece. The stores are closed and the country is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy; who cares what kind of sugar I use?

However things get tricky. The recipe says:

Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar at a low speed (Kitchen Aid speed four) for 2 minutes, medium speed (Kitchen Aid six) for 2 minutes and a high speed (Kitchen Aid eight) for 2 minutes. The egg whites will be very stiff at this point.


Mmmm … vichyssoise.

I don’t have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, (and if I did, I’d have no place to put it anyway, since we have don’t have enough storage space), so I can’t be that precious with my speeds. Unfortunately, this means that after 6 minutes of beating the egg whites, I only get them to the consistency of vichyssoise; it takes 10 minutes before I can turn the bowl on its side without the contents pouring out. Is my meringue over-mixed or just right?

After stirring in the dry ingredients (40 stirs, just like the recipe says), I pipe, and at first I think the batter is under-mixed because the shells look almost lumpy; then, after I bang them on the counter to release the air, I think they may be over-mixed, since they are starting to run into each other.

20150628_smackaron_017 20150628_smackaron_019

I set the oven for 150° C, let the shells rest so they form a skin (the shells will crack if you bake them right away, because the moisture goes through the top; the dry skin on top forces the air out the bottom, and this creates the feet), and then pop them into the oven. I use a double tray so the bottoms don’t bake too fast. At the halfway mark, I take them out and turn the tray around, and notice that (a) there’s no huge gust of moisture when I open the oven door, but (b) there also aren’t any feet.


My shells definitely do not look like the ones in the recipe.

When I take them out of the oven, they still don’t have any feet, but the tops haven’t exploded, so I don’t know what to think; but when I try to peel one off the SilPat, I see what’s going on: the shells are completely under-cooked. And I’ve already put the second sheet in the oven using this same double-sheet method.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

“Maybe I can salvage this second batch,” I think after I stop swearing, and I pull them out and remove the bottom baking sheet from underneath the sheet with the shells. And sure enough, within a few minutes, I see little feet starting to form.

For the first shells, it is too late, and they go into the trash. Then I take the second set of shells out of the oven – they look good; but once I take them off the tray to cool on the rack, it’s clear that these are a failure as well. The bottoms stick, and I can see the air pockets when I flip them over – they even sound hollow when I place them onto the rack. Nonetheless, I put them together and throw them into the fridge to see what happens.

20150628_smackaron_038 20150628_smackaron_044
They don’t look bad on the surface, but the truth will out.

And the next morning …

20150629_smackaron_046 20150629_smackaron_047
Smackie’s sad.

They look good on the outside, but with the hollow shells, the texture is all wrong. The decision goes, once again, to the meringue.


About cohn17

Photographer and baker of macarons.
This entry was posted in Macarons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Attempt no. 7 – the strawberry macaron with dark chocolate ganache

  1. Pingback: Attempt no. 20 – the traditional chocolate macaron | smackaron

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