Friday, March 07, 2014

Mastering Macarons

Kaitlin Wayne
Professional Pastry Arts Student

Being an avid baker before coming to the International Culinary Center, I used to pride myself on my ability to master most recipes I tried. If they didn’t turn out the first time, I was usually able to figure out where I made mistakes and correct them next time. However, French macarons were an exception to this. Every time I made them I seemed to have some kind of problem. Either they would spread too much or crack...I was never able to achieve the classic “pied,” or feet (sometimes called a ruffle), around the bottom of the cookie. I always knew that French macarons were a difficult recipe to master for the amateur baker, but it always frustrated me  that I couldn't get them right. Not to mention the fact that they are one of my absolute favorite desserts and I was dying to be able to make them myself. 

As a result, I could not wait to learn from the pros here at the International Culinary Center on how to make the perfect French macaron. When the day finally came during our petit four unit, I could not be more excited. We made three different kinds of macarons: gerbet, traditional and almond paste based. The gerbet style is the kind that you typically see in bakeries these days. I made sure to perform every step very carefully in the hopes of creating the perfect macaron. I waited anxiously for them to come out of the oven, waiting to see the perfect ruffle at the bottom. I knew if this were there, I would have done it.

When they were finished baking, I was absolutely thrilled! Perfectly smooth macarons that were crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. I was so proud of myself for overcoming this recipe that I had struggled with so much in the past. It was with the helpful direction of my chefs that I was able to do so. While it is always enjoyable to make things you know you are always (or almost always) successful with, there is something so satisfying about overcoming something that has been difficult for you. It is so important to challenge yourself and try new things to grow as both a person and a chef.

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