I lie. I actually love them. I love biting into their deceptively hard looking shell only to be delightfully surprised by the soft almondy texture within. Just when you think that one teensy bite can’t contain any more amazingness, you get a burst of flavour from the gooey ganache or heavenly buttercream filling. They are tiny, sugar-filled circles of heaven.
That is, of course, until you attempt to make them. It is then and only then that their true colours are revealed. They are the spawn of the devil. They are arrogant, stuck up and pretentious. They have more requirements than Mariah Carey’s rider. They are the biscuit equivalent of the snobby, private girls school princess who sat next to you in PR 101 but didn’t acknowledge your existence until Week 4 and only then because she needed a partner in a group assignment (okay so I’m still bitter).
If you’ve never attempted the elusive macaron, here are just a few of their majesty’s commandments;
- Don’t even think about making them if it’s humid.
- The egg whites must be aged for days.
- The egg whites can’t be over-beaten or worse, under-beaten.
- You must sift the almond meal and icing sugar mixture at least three times (this process even has a show-offy French name ‘tant pour tant’)
- You can’t be too rough with the mixture, but don’t be too gentle!
- Oh and the macronage process – make sure you fold it at least 50 times to incorporate the mixture. But one fold too many or too few more and it’s all over.
- Do not, under any circumstances, use liquid food colouring.
I must have read dozens of blogs instructing me how to make these pompous French treats and watched countless more online tutorials. All of this amounting to zero successful batches in no less than eight attempts. I followed their rules. I was obsessive in my measurements. I sheltered them from heat and humidity and accommodated their every whim.
‘Skin’, ‘feet’, ‘macronage’ and ‘shit’ became my most commonly used words for three days straight. And yet, I still failed. And failed. And then failed some more. I used about $30 worth of ingredients to produce three (at a stretch) barely edible macarons. The rest headed straight for the green bin.
They have certainly won the battle and I am exhausted. But the war is not yet over, I will rise from the ashes and tackle them again. In the meantime, I will continue to pay $3 per macaron at the French bakery because it is a damn sight cheaper than the $10 per macaron it costs for me to make them at home.