Thursday, February 24, 2011

Macaron Masterclass - When Food Bloggers Fail

I really love macarons. They're quite simple in terms of the shell, consisting of just icing sugar, almond meal and egg whites, but they are so hard to make right. The texture and look of the macaron shell is the key to their success. The flavours of the shell is usually kept quite simple, with the filling bringing most of the flavour. However, that is not always the case, with Pierre Herme pioneering multi flavoured macarons by embedding glorious strong flavours into the shells. The macaron is currently the hottest pastry item in Melbourne, with many places jumping in on the fad and trying to make them, to varying success. I have been fortunate enough to try Pierre Herme and Laduree macarons in Paris, and those really are at another level to any other macarons I've ever tasted.

I first tried a macaron after being introduced to those made by Duncan. Duncan has a passion for them and makes wonderful macarons. I've attempted to make them using Duncan's recipes and even attended some masterclasses with him. I've had varying success and although I love to eat them, I don't really like to make them as I get so upset when they don't turn out as I want. Below are my various attempts.

Macaron Attempt 1
Macaron Attempt 2
Macaron Attempt 3
Macaron Attempt 4
Macaron Masterclass
Macaron Masterclass 2

To try and overcome our fears, a group of us decided to attempt making the macarons teogether, testing different recipes and flavours. So Agnes, I-Hua, Penny, Kat, Cherrie, Liz and I went to the The Cooking Space to cook up a storm.

So here was the fruits of our labour, chocolate and vanilla macarons. Aren't they pretty? Yes? Well, don't let the looks fool you, they tasted foul. They were bitter and rock solid. You could break a teeth eating them. I won't even mention which recipes we used as I don't think we did them justice. It was still an extremely fun day though.

Before we started baking, we also each brought food to share for lunch. Penny made some Beef Empanadas, I-Hua brought Curry Chicken Wings, Agnes brought Lamb Biryani, Liz made Soy Chicken Wings, I made Lamb Cutlets on Vegetables, Kat dished up some Spring Rolls, Cherrie made a nice Pasta and Liz and Agnes made Pineapple Tarts and Egg Tarts. Everything was really delicious, but I especially loved the Lamb Biryani, Soy Chicken Wings, Pineapple Tarts and Egg Tarts.

Below are photos of all the different flavours we tried for the macarons. We tried making Vanilla, Green Tea, Coconut and Rose flavoured shells. Penny even printed out templates so we could get the shells the same size.

Look at the failed macarons. They look so sad. The rose and coconut shells actually tasted good, but looked awful.

Cherrie cleaned up some coconut shells and we sandwiched a pandan buttercream into them. They don't look good, but actually tasted really good.

All in all, it was an extremely fun day and I once again was reminded how hard macarons are to get right. I might just stick to buying them for a while. Thanks to Kat for organising The Cooking Space and to everyone else for a fun day.


  1. dang I wish I could have made it! Looks fun :) I need to try making macarons again now that I know my oven a biiiiiit better.

    how awesome of Penny to print out the templates!

  2. what a day! even though we failed but we laughed so much that my stomach hurt!

  3. My friend made really pretty and great tasting dark choc macarons but the texture was off.

    Macarons - not an easy feat.

  4. Such a fun day, I am willing to buy all my macarons now :P though practise makes perfect right?

  5. Michele, give them a try and if they work, make sure you save me a few.

    Penny, we did laugh very hard indeed.

    Michelle, macarons are super hard to make. Easier to buy them.

    Kat, I hope practise makes perfect, although I won't be attempting them too soon.

  6. They do look good, so hard to believe they would taste anything but! :-) All the other food looks yummy too, are you sure you guys were not more focused on the other food, lol. Just kidding!

    I made my first attempt at macarons last week. They looked like whoopie pies with cellulite!!! But they tasted like the real deal, so I am going to brave it again.

    Your post gives me hope!

  7. Everytime I've tried to make macarons I've failed....miserably. Its great to have safety in least you got to eat loads of delish food to start with!!

  8. Sneh, the macarons looked ok but were definitely inedible. We did enjoy our lunch beforehand a lot more.

    Keep going with your macaron attempts. I'm sure you'll get it right if you keep going. At least they taste good.

    Maria, I'm sure if you try them a few more times, you'll succeed. You managed to make the snow egg, I'm sure you can concur macarons.

  9. Oh wow! u're so effiecient! I'm not even close to posting this!! Hahaha

  10. Aaron, or I-Hua, you have been away overseas. I've got so many other posts not done too.

  11. It was fun - too bad we failed miserably with the macarons! Perhaps next time we should just have lunch and skip the baking - or choose something easier!

  12. Agnes, we can choose something easier next time, but where would the fun be in that. I say we choose a Heston recipe next time.