Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Punishment From the Kitchen Gods - Chocolate-Violet Macarons

The kitchen gods were angry at me this weekend.

It began when I spotted a puddle of green goo at the foot of the fridge, and discovered that one of the milk cartons inside (we always keep at least two) was discreetly leaking. Since we couldn't figure out which one it was, we threw both of them out. Did anyone else know that bad milk turns green?

Then, I discovered to my horror that, when I had stored a jar of homemade bolognese sauce in the freezer the previous evening, I hadn't shut the door properly... Fortunately, most of the things we had frozen were already cooked, and at any rate they hadn't had time to completely thaw. Just to be on the safe side, we threw out a half-empty carton of ice cream (which really wasn't that good and had been there since last summer) and some frozen microwavable dinners (which dated from the time when I didn't cook much - meaning, a long, long time ago).

And, while we were exploring the fridge and freezer, we opened the meat drawer and discovered some very old cheese which was in dire need of a trip to the trash can - we immediately obliged.

OK, so I haven't been keeping a watchful eye on the contents of my fridge... The kitchen gods had a right to be upset, I admit (so much food wasted!), but did they really have to curse my macarons so that they would look like this:

It looks like an exploded mutant, doesn't it?

Thankfully, not all the macarons came out looking quite as bad, but they were still far from perfect:

Macarons have been trendy for quite some time now, but they are still one of my favourite sweets to bake. Amongst the first treats I ever made were a batch of rough chocolate macarons (with no meringue, just egg whites mixed directly into the dry ingredients). I eventually moved on to the more advanced type, made with meringue and left out to dry so as to obtain that lovely smooth crust, and then sandwiched together with a rich, sweet filling. Either way, I loved their chewy texture and the distinct taste of almond powder.

I swear I have made better-looking macarons than the ones featured today - in fact, if I may direct your attention to my blog's banner? Actually, macarons are practically the only thing I can make better than my father-in-law - who, as I have already mentioned, is a truly amazing cook. He can make anything with astounding ease, and it nearly always tastes delicious. I, on the other hand, am still hit-or-miss a lot of the time. But I'm usually more successful than this when it comes to macarons...

I have a vague inkling of what went wrong. The syrup for the meringue was too cool and liquid, for one thing. I use an Italian-style meringue (made by boiling sugar with water and pouring it over egg whites as they are being whipped), as opposed to a French one (which is made by pouring plain sugar over the eggs); this method has always seemed to work better in my eyes, but it's a little more complicated than the other one, and I think I should try to go French one more time.

Anyways, because of this, my meringue was too liquid, so I tried to compensate by putting less meringue into the batter, which resulted in a grainy paste. But it had been a while since I had made macarons. Everytime I try to make them after a long period, they come out wonky. I should make them more often.

And, since I'm listing everything that went wrong with this batch, let me add that the colour was completely off (they were supposed to be peach-coloured), and the violet syrup I incorporated into the chocolate ganache filling was barely noticeable.

But, when all is said and done, a macaron is still a delicious treat, no matter how bad it looks. Rest assured that these little "beauties" will be gobbled up with pleasure till the very last one. But I'll save the recipe for when I get them right.


  1. Oh no!! That mutant one is so funny, sorry. But I think that it means you are a true food blogger now that you have had "the cookie incident". It happened to me a couple months back. Atleast yours are edible!!! I would eat them all. If you make them again could you post about the process, I would love to learn how to make pretty macarons!

  2. Ha ha ha, I just looked at them again and noticed that you got the perfect "foot" on the macarons, see, not all is lost!

  3. Ahem, Valerie I'm happy to eat all your mutant macarons, no problem.
    I haven't thought of macarons as trendy but more as classics and always expect them. I have yet to try them.

  4. Christie: By "foot", do you mean the puffy edge on the bottom? I'd never heard it called like that before! In French, I call it "la collerette". And I've had MANY "cookie incidents", I just don't post about them all. :-) (I also had a "pie incident" the other day) At any rate, I'll definitely make these again soon, and will post the process when it turns out right.

    MyKitchenInHalfCups: Thanks, I garantee they taste better than they look! I guess I think of macarons as trendy because there's been a kind of a "macaron boom" here in Montreal for the past couple of years, and despite their ubiquitousness they're still ridiculously expensive. It's actually not hard to make "decent" macarons, but I find it a challenge to make "great" ones.

  5. I've definitely had days where it seems like the kitchen gods are pissed. And it's never fun cleaning up the kitchen floor, or the fridge, or the cabinets, or wherever they've ruined you.

    But your macarons, even the mutant one, look really good! I still haven't tried them yet, out of fear, but I plan to this summer. I think the red color looks great!