24 Mar French Macarons Part Trois
Despite the fact that I just spent an hour creating a fictional national flag in Photoshop, I have every intention of explaining how this ties into baking. Recently, during one of my many voyages through Bed Bath and Beyond, I saw an awesome looking macaron-making kit. The price was incredible (only $25 for an entire kit compared to the $15 needed for one silicone mat) so I decided to give it try.
There’s a reason the “What Went Wrong” section of my blog exists….
In the interest of science, I decided to conduct a true experiment (bet you didn’t know I was a scientist). When making macarons, you pipe the batter onto some sort of non-stick surface for baking and I wanted to determine which medium yielded the best results. My control group was going to use parchment paper and the two experimental groups were to be the silpat and the mat that came with the macaron-making kit. From what I could tell, the chief difference between the silpat and the macaron-making kit mat (hence force known as “mac-mat”) was that the mac-mat came equipped with small circles to keep the batter from spreading too far and also to keep the shells a consistent size. The mac-mat also didn’t seem quite as substantial as the silpat.
The first step of my super duper official experiment was to whip up a batch of macaron shells using this awesome recipe and then pipe some little wafers. In the macaron-making kit, there was a super weird silicone piping bag that looked something like this. It was impossible to twist the bag in order to keep the batter from coming out of the top. In defense of the bag, the kit did indeed come with a giant clip that was intended to seal the bag shut at the top…. too bad it was broken when I opened the box.
Strike one for the macaron-making kit.
It may have been a result of the inability to close the piping bag or even the very bizarre assortment of piping tips that it came with, but it was LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to keep the batter within the designated circles. There was macaron batter everywhere and that stuff is sticky. It took a two-man effort and almost 20 minutes to fill the mac-mat before I collapsed in sad, sticky, sobbing heap onto the kitchen floor. Ok, that might be a tad melodramatic… there were only a few tears.
Strike two for the macaron-making kit.
In the meantime, it took exactly 5 minutes and minimal effort to use my normal piping bag to pipe these awesome shells on the silpat and the parchment paper. I let the shells dry for the same amount of time before baking them according to the recipe. After removing them from the oven, I had to wait for them to cool before trying to remove them.
I started with the control group. The shells only put up a little bit of a fight. About 10% of them broke during the struggle to remove them… it could have been worse. Then I tried the silpat group. It was incredible. Almost every single one of them separated from the silpat cleanly. So far, the silpat was winning. Then came the mac-mat…..
Needless to say, that would be the third strike and YOOOOUUUURRR’EEE OUT OF HERE!!!!
Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. The mac-mat would not relinquish its vice-like grip on the helpless macaron shells. They cracked and splintered under the stress of the removal process. I attempted to use my tears as a form of lubricant to rescue them from their captor but alas, it was not meant to be. It was too late for them. The only dignified solution was to eat them–tears and all–and give them the funeral that they deserved.
The results of my experiment revealed revealed the following:
- Parchment paper, while not the best solution, will get the job done.
- A silpat is a macaron-maker’s best friend.
- UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU PURCHASE THIS MACARON-MAKING KIT AND EXPECT IT TO RESULT IN ANYTHING BUT SORROW AND TEARS.
I should have known better. Tepefacta coquebant populi por propulo.
AND LONG LIVE BECCARIA!!!!