I guess it’s only natural that once you’ve been away from something for so long it takes a little time to get back into the swing of things. For the past month and a half I’ve been in the US helping my parents pack up the house and move back to Shanghai for their retirement. The only cooking I did was frying up a few batches of donuts, and tossing the occasional salad. Once we arrived in Shanghai, food was so cheap and yummy that all we did was take-out and delivery everyday. Needless to say, I was itching to get back to my own kitchen, to be surrounded by all my kitchen gadgets and whip up a few things.
The perfect opportunity came up when Lynette asked me to be part of the photo shoot for Food & Travel magazine in Singapore. For that I needed to create two things and my thoughts immediately turned to macarons. I’ve been dragging my feet testing out the oven in my new place and this would finally put the procrastination to a stop.
I arrived back on Saturday and after a relaxing dinner I set to work on Sunday to test the first batch of macarons. Since I didn’t know how many trials I had to do before I could get it right I decided to cut the recipe by half, which will only yield 6-7 macarons per batch.
The first sign of trouble appeared when the egg white wouldn’t whip, at all. Then I realized that the Ziploc bag I used to keep the frozen egg whites was leaking so when I defrosted it in a water bath, water had seeped into the egg white. No problem, I start off with fresh egg whites, except the batter was really thin and runny and the macarons turned out like big puffy almond cookies, which tasted fine, but just couldn’t be called macarons. I chalked it up to the fresh egg whites that I used, so I decided to let the egg whites sit inside the fridge over night and try again the next day. Lo and behold, the batch the next day turn out splendidly in shape and texture, however the color was brown instead of green. That was due to too much direct heat. Nothing that can’t be solved by a mere change in oven setting, no biggie.
While whipping up batch number three I realized that the mistake I made the day before was not using fresh egg white, but not cutting down the egg white in half along with the rest of the ingredients! Duh! On to batch number four and I got tired of washing my silpats so I took out the imitation silpat I bought at Pantry Magic. The sales girl assured me that it would perform the same way as the real thing. Not! My poor lemon flavored macarons all stuck to the silpat and wouldn’t come off. I managed to salvage them by scraping them off with a pastry cutter but some of them don’t look round any more. I think it’s a shame that Pantry Magic is trying to pass off substandard product, for what is a silpat mat good for if it isn’t non-stick? After the imitation silpat incident I stuck to the Made in France versions and managed to churn out three good batches of macarons.
Now let’s talk about the raspberry hearts. They look ok in this photo, but when I first made it I forgot to put sugar in the cake batter. I guess it’s all for the better that I forgot to add the vanilla too because we were able to recycle it by having it for dinner and it tasted kind of like corn bread. Not too bad for a kitchen accident, heh?
For emergency backups, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes just in case. They look ok but just don’t try to eat them because the icing was way too sweet for my taste.
So all in all, they turned out quite alright despite the myriad of kitchen accidents in between. But Man! Forgetting to add sugar to the cake batter?