Yes - you did read me right - I said 'Macarons' and not 'Macaroons'. Apparently there's a difference - I've only just learnt this myself recently from a fellow local baker (I say baker, but it seems that she's actual more of a culinary artist!) who's VERY passionate about the difference between a macaron and a macaroon.
So - basically, a 'macaroon' is one of those sticky, sweet coconut concoctions that usually have a piece of rice paper on the bottom of them. You know the ones? Sometimes drizzled with chocolate too and widely available in most supermarkets LOL! A 'macaron' is the round, chic looking morsel originally from the patisseries of Paris I think, which would look at home on the cake tray at tea at the Ritz (I'm guessing - haven't made it there yet!), but which is also now becoming available in the supermarkets.
I've made macarons once before. Well, they were less 'chic' and more 'Starship Enterprise', and resulted in more bad language than any of my cupcakes have ever done before. Well, except perhaps my early chocolate disasters, but let's not go there eh? >;o) But, on Sunday I helped organise a baby shower for a very dear friend, and when talking about food, she asked me to make some macarons. I did warn her that it would depend on how they turned out as to whether they'd make an appearance, but let's face it - who's going to mess with a nearly-8-months-pregnant lady ???!!! So there was I on Saturday. Ingredients assembled, equipment at the ready, sanity intact. Everything started so well. I had watched Lorraine Pascal do macarons on her 'Baking Made Easy' programme that week, and she made it look so straightforward. So I have her recipe next to me and off we go. Well. Apparently you need 3 arms to do this - there was I trying to whisk egg whites to a 'medium peak' (HOW are you supposed to measure these things??), which simultaneously stirring sugar and water over the heat making sure it didn't go above 115C, then adding the ingredients all together. So far so good. First batch prepared and ready for the oven. Now Lorraine says to cook them with the oven door partly open. EPIC FAIL! Of course this means that the oven can't hold it's heat and they don't cook properly, then when you figure this out and shut the door, the little buggers burn! Me-0, Bin-1. Thank goodness I have another batch. Oven door shut. Watching them like a hawk. Ta Dahhhhhh!
Not perfect by any means, but they certainly went down a storm and tasted OK apparently! Maybe I'll try them again. But maybe after a glass of wine next time ;)