- Tara Cockerill
Macarons (and a Podcast?!)
At the beginning of 2021 I became determined to conquer the elusive macaron. What is it about these tricky little cookies that make them so complex (and are they even a cookie)?? Why are four (or five depending on your recipe) simple ingredients so complex to master? I set out in January to find out.
Like any good experiment, it started with research. My current favourite cookbook, The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell - I am generally successful with her recipes, so figured I was good to go. Not so much. They didn't spread, they cracked, and they turned out more like brownies. So I turned to my faithful friend, Instagram, for more advice.
First off, I need to clarify. There isn't anything wrong with Erin's recipe and, amazingly, she replied to my questions to try to help me trouble shoot - this was a case of me walking before I run. I needed to find a basic macaron recipe that would teach me the basics.
A few things quickly became apparent -
1) I am not the only one who is trying to tackle macarons
2) There is a huge supportive Instagram group
3) Macaron posts have huge traction on Instagram (who knew?!)
We all know Instagram can be a wealth of (good and bad) information. The following are some of the pages who were amazingly supportive, provided great tips, and friendly!
Here are some of the tips that have helped me be more successful (and I am no expert!)
Age your egg whites! I know, I know, it makes the process take that much longer, but it seems to make a difference.
Cream of Tartar - the purists may throw things at me, but for a beginner, adding in cream of tartar to help stabilize the egg whites has been a game changer for me.
Silpats - these non-stick mats make piping easier and the macaronage seems to dry better.
Flip your pans - placing your silpats on upside-down rimmed cookie sheets. This allows better air-flow.
Drying time - there is a trend to the no-rest Mac method, but I haven't tackled this yet. Your drying time will depend on the environment of your home. Some days my macs dry for 45 minutes, sometimes they take an hour and a half.
These are some of the Instagram pages that I follow that have been super helpful:
Barb from @thesweetmacshop provides tips, experiments, recipes, rapping, and amazing humour.
Sarah from @foxandtreebakery was super encouraging, and lots of tips that got me through my trial and error. And her cakes are truly eye-candy!
Teyanna from @whiskatx beautiful inspiration, and has a no-rest macaron process that amazes me!
What about a Podcast?
I find myself searching out podcasts to listen to for a variety of reasons - distraction, entertainment and information. But I found that there aren't many available that talk about baking! So I'm thinking of exploring that - interviews with bakers, discussions about what I'm working on, sharing tips and tricks....let me know if you would tune in!