For the past couple of months, I have been a bad MacTweet-er. I have missed not one but two challenges in a row - not because I've wanted to, but because hubby and I have been busy putting in some new flooring and putting a fresh coat of paint on a few rooms. The downstairs portion of our house is looking pretty great now, and Molly and Riley are quickly learning they can't quite corner as fast on wood floors as they can on carpet (I'm pretty sure we're going to have to heavily pad the landing on the stairs when we finish them next). Anyway, I'm back now, and am ready to get back to making macs!
...problem is, the Macaron gods seem to be a bit peeved with me. Yep, that's right.... macaron FAIL! Consider it Karma.
This month's MacTweets challenge was to create Pinkarons for Pinktober, in honour of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This cause is important to me not only as a woman, but as a woman who has seen friends and loved ones touched by this tragic disease. The importance of self-exams and mammograms cannot be stressed enough, as early detection is currently our best defense.
So I decided to make Pink Ginger Macarons by adding a bit of ginger syrup to the macaron batter, and then made a chocolate ganache loaded up with the a sassy kick of ginger. Even though I'm not much of a drinker, when a friend recently told me about an incredible ginger cognac liqueur, I knew I needed to get a bottle for my baking. Either sipped at the end of a meal, or stirred into a bowl of melted dark chocolate, it is absolutely intoxicating, though it seemed to lose a bit of its pungency in the ganache. That was quickly and easily rectified by grating a knob of fresh ginger over the bowl and incorporating all the spicy fresh ginger juice and pulp. In no time, we had a killer filling for our lovely pink macs. Unfortunately, "lovely" isn't quite what I ended up with this time.
After the success I had last time I made macarons, I knew I had to stick to using the Pierre Herme Italian meringue method. I'm quite sure they would have turned out just fine if I had been focused on my macarons and nothing else, but as you can probably guess, such was not the case. No, I was simultaneously working on dinner for hubby and a friend while trying to make finicky french cookies (seemed like a good idea at the time). As time for the macaron process ran out, I had no choice but to put the batter into a piping bag, seal it up and set it into the fridge until the following day. I figured this wouldn't be a problem, as Ken at HungryRabbitNYC had used a refrigerated batter for a previous month's challenge with spectaular results... what could possibly go wrong? Well, for starters, his macs weren't made with the already thick Italian meringue. When day two arrived and I finally had the time to devote to piping, drying and baking mon petit macarons, I was getting hand cramps just trying to pipe the batter onto the cookie sheets. I walked away several times, partly out of frustration, but mostly to let the batter warm up a bit and make for easier piping. An hour and an half later, I had three sheets filled with bright pink dots. Only the dots were bumpy. They were lumpy. They were ugly. I gave the ol' "rap the cookie sheets on the table sharply a couple of times" trick a go, but there was no improvement. Finally, after waiting and speculating different fixes, I grabbed a small spoon and a bowl of water and attempted to "smooth" the tops down a bit - they needed to at least *look* like macs, instead of pimply pink Hershey's Kisses. I let them dry for a full 45 minutes before I baked them, but the fact of the matter is they were simply destined to be ugly macs. When they finally came out of the oven, any happiness I felt over the success of having feet, was quickly over shadowed by the fact that my bright pink macs were now unmistakably flesh-coloured. Pink Ginger macs had become Soylent macs in a matter of minutes.... not at *all* what I was going for.
And, in case you were wondering...yes, they were also still bumpy and disfigured; thanks to the wet spoon trick, any water that hadn't completely dried before they went into the oven became a volcano-like vent for the hot batter to bubble up through and collect, giving a glimpse into what macarons may look like if they're not allowed to dry before baking. Disappointed and defeated, I set the lumpy bumpy shells aside to be filled later.
But later never really came, at least not for these shells. They were so unappetizing that I didn't even want to serve them to anyone. So, into the food processor they went, to ground up and be mixed into meringue another day, hopefully reincarnated as the beautiful macarons they were meant to be.
As for the ginger ganache... warmed up and spooned over a bowl of ice cream, it is simply divine - and an excellent way to soothe your bruised baker's ego.
Happy Bakings All - I wish you better results than I had this month!