Success (macarons) and failure (rye bread)

by Rebekahcooked up on July 2, 2012

Sunday was a day full of cooking. Making these macarons, an item crossed off my culinary bucket list, was definitely the high achievement of the day. As you can see, they are beautiful and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Why so bold? Probably because I’m trying to make up for the fact that despite making a laborious and delicate French cookie perfectly on my very first try, I failed miserably at making rye bread (to be fair, also on my first try).

That’s right – good ol’ rye bread. Mix. Let Rise. Put in pan. Bake. As opposed to “Whip egg whites until they have soft peaks…” etc. etc. Talk about your reality check. We had these great plans for making the rye bread and then making it into reubens. We bought the corned beef, sauerkraut and everything. I was so excited to use the rye flour we just bought! Little did I know…

Everything seemed to be going just fine. The dough was well-behaved – it came out of the initial mixing totally smooth and not sticky. It proofed like a dream, too – probably more than double the required size. So I punched it down, moved it to its baking vessel, let rise again and then baked.

What came out was… well, it tasted OK but it was not even close to baked properly nor structurally sound. Sort of a very unfortunate-looking Frisbee. It crumbled upon slicing. We were able to somehow salvage a few pieces for sandwiches, and we still made the reubens – and they were quite tasty, by the way. But not something to photograph. I have no idea what happened. But I think I will try a different recipe next time.

Did I mention that I also made macarons?

Exactly opposite of the rye bread, the macarons are without flaw. I got every step right – made an ideal meringue, folded in my almond meal/sugar mixture and piped the exact right size of cookie FORTY-EIGHT TIMES. Then baked them to perfection and then added ganache or raspberry jam. It took several hours. And I don’t even have anything to say to change the recipe. Why? Why, rye bread?

Better luck next time, I guess. Here’s the best cookies you’ll eat until someone invents something better than almonds and chocolate. The measurements are by weight and in grams, because that’s the way I found them, and though I did make some changes, I am kind of afraid to mess with the weight-to-volume thing.  You can find the original recipe I adapted from here. For cookies this delicate, I think it’s important to go by weight:

  • 110 grams almond meal
  • 220 grams powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 50 grams granulated sugar

Use your food processor to aerate the almond meal and powdered sugar together.

Start mixing the egg whites together either in the bowl of a stand mixer or a clean mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Continue to mix until the egg whites have soft peaks. Then, add the granulated sugar and continue to mix on high until the meringue has stiff peaks.

Then, quickly fold the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites and add the vanilla. Be very very careful not to overmix, but it should be combined well and be pretty smooth. 

Fill a piping bag with the batter, and set up four cookie sheets worth of silpat sheets or parchment paper. I only have two cookie sheets, so what I did was pipe round 1 onto the cookie sheets with silicone baking mats on them, and then round two on two sheets of cookie sheet-sized parchment paper that were off to the side.

Pipe the batter/dough onto the sheets in 1.5-inch circles. You should end up with exactly four dozen. Allow to rest at room temperature for an hour.

Heat the oven to 300 and bake the first round (I put them both on the same rack) for ten minutes. When they are done, use a potholder or silicone glove to slide the silpats off onto cooling racks, and then slide the other two sheets of parchment paper onto the newly empty cookie sheets. Bake the second batch for ten minutes as well.

You can fill the cookies with whatever you like! I used the raspberry jam I made last weekend along with some basic ganache (not on the same cookie, though 🙂 ).

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  1. How were you possibly talking on the phone with mewhile making any part of these? I would think that this would take tons of concentration. I’m glad they turned out so great! Now if you could just ship a box or two of them to Tulsa…

    Comment by Mary — July 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

  2. Haha! I was making the couscous when we were talking! Much easier 🙂

    Comment by bekky — July 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

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