Francophile

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The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Two and a half years ago I was newly pregnant and standing in line at Pierre Herme, wondering why the shop was so small and why I decided to trek so far just to get pain au chocolate and cookies when it was early in the morning and I was hungry and pregnant, hello? But we were there because of my planning problem. Before we left the States I did an exhaustive search of the places I needed to visit while we were in Paris. And I found out about macarons.

I wasn’t really sure what they were – OK, I knew they were some sort of sweet meringue cookie with amazing flavors, but this animal didn’t exist in Minneapolis. (French macarons are NOT what most Americans know as macaroons. No coconut was harmed in the making of these cookies.) All I knew was that there was some sort of macaron war with factions divided between Laduree and Pierre Herme, and that we needed to get a macaron, any macaron, stat.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember the exact taste of the macarons. We bought a good assortment of flavors and maybe because of the pregnancy all I could remember was SWEET. And that I don’t like things flavored like rose petals.

But I knew that I should like them, and when I saw the Daring Bakers’ challenge for this month I was ecstatic.

For my first batch, I used egg whites that were aged 5 days in the fridge (left over from my son’s birthday cake). Since I wanted to do multiple flavors, I divided the ingredients in half before mixing anything.

And for my first flavor I decided to do bacon.

Yeah, I know.

I was discussing flavors with my pastry friend* and my exact words were, “Also, this would be hilarious but also maybe disgusting.”

Bacon macarons with cream cheese and cheddar filling:

IMG_1131

To add the bacon flavor, I cooked up a piece very crispy, got as much grease off as possible, and crumbled it into chunks. Then I tossed the chunks and 1/4 c of the almond flour into the processor to try and get the bits finer. That didn’t work so well, but I don’t know if it was the bacon or the fact my son kept giving me death looks for running the processor while Backyardigans was on.

I kept a close eye on the macarons while they were in the oven, and when they started growing feet I actually did a little dance in the kitchen. I was a bit worried based on other people’s experiences on the forums (and the fact I added fat to the meringue) but my batch turned out really well!

It’s hard to explain what they taste like. The flavor was not overly bacony, and in fact, when I get the chance to make them again I’ll use more bacon. They were still sweet with just a hint of savoryness. My friends liked them, so they couldn’t have been that bad.

For the second batch, I added 1 teaspoon of instant coffee to the meringue and filled the cookies with the chocolate buttercream I had left over from the birthday cake. These didn’t puff as much (I think I needed to beat the egg more) but they are quite tasty. A lot of the macarons I see have easily twice as much filling as these, but because macarons are so sweet to begin with, I think they don’t need a gob of filling.

Coffee Macaron

I wanted to make more batches because I had a small notebook quickly filling up with macaron flavor ideas, but when I did my next batch it was a dismal failure.

Fail macarons

Bubbly all over, no feet, and they stuck like crazy to the parchment. I’m letting you know about this to illustrate how temperamental macaronage can be. There was both success and failure on the DB forums and we all used the same recipe (to start with, at least). It was really interesting to read everyone’s experiences and hear tips from experienced macaron makers.

I am definitely going to be making macarons again. After all, I still have those flavor ideas to use!

*I should maybe note that my pastry friend is a friend who went to pastry school. Not a friend made of pastry. I am not BFF with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

25 Comments

    1. @Esther I can’t believe I forgot that part! I added it in. The flavor is really hard to explain – they weren’t “wow, bacon!” It was more like “guess the secret ingredient” flavor. They were sweet but not overly so. In fact, the bacon ones were eaten faster than the coffee ones!

  1. Bacon plus macaroons? I bow down before your genius. 🙂
    (of course, this is coming from someone who once made bacon ice cream… so you might want to take that with a grain of smoked salt)

  2. Haha, Laduree or Pierre Herme, I think either would faint dead away on seeing bacon used in macarons! I on the other hand think it’s amazing that you pulled it off.

  3. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @Sharyn – there were a few people who did make vegan versions. Most used Ener-G and water to replace the water, and one person ordered some special vegan meringue mix. It can be done, although I imagine it takes some tricky work to get them to look the same.

  4. I LOVE the bacon macaron. I bet no one has ever put chunks of bacon in the tant pour tant before! Fantastic idea. Maybe an ‘Elvis’ mac could exist with peanut butter and banana added! Beautiful macs and even the flat, bubbly ones look delish. Well done!!!

  5. I’ve never had a macaron! I’ve always thought they were so pretty though and wanted to try them. Those bacon ones sound so delicious! And I do love my coffee, so I imagine those ones would be delicious as well.

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