26 October 2008

Not a successful day in the kitchen.

The days where absolutely nothing works out, it happens. But it's okay, we all need these days because it makes us learn. And isn't that most important?

Project #1: Make Macarons. (again).
My ceramics professor once said, the absolute worst thing for a student who is firing their kiln for the very first time is for it to go perfectly fine. Because the student does not truly understand or learn how a kiln functions - the small tune ups, adding air, reducing air, coaxing the flames in certain areas - you only learn these subtle things by trial and error. Which is why although I was overjoyed when my first attempt at macarons were a success, I really didn't learn a thing. It definitely made me overconfident, and I only began learning after my 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th and 5th attempt. Hopefully by attempt #10 I'll get to know these finicky things more!

What made them fail so miserably? I did the French method of making them, which is easier yet pickier. And I folded my batter one too many times and ended up with a very runny batter, which produced these babies. They produced a very flat macaron with very odd edges, they didn't necessarily crack, but they did bunch up. Oh, and the circle shape completely vanished.

ugly macarons assembled
Once assembled, they don't look too bad. But they definitely still taste good!

a bit better
I tried a third time, this time making sure not to over fold and push out the air bubbles. They kept the circle shape and didn't crack... but they were flat. And I think it is because I did not let the macarons rest and sit out before I stuck them into the oven. But i also think it is because maybe I folded a wee too much again as well. And for those curious - I used a filling of butter, sugar, almond flour, and hazelnut hot cocoa powder! I was ready to try for a third shot, but the grocery store was completely out of almond meal. And from my past experience, I wasn't about to go and make my own. So thus ended this round of macaron experimentation. I think next time I want to go back to the Italien meringue method.

Project #2: Make Creme Brulee
I had a ton of leftover egg yolks. What to do with them? Oh... I also had no flour either. So I decided to try and make creme brulee. However, i also did not have: ramekins, giant roasting pan, torch. I did, however, have sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla extract. So I followed this recipe using some glasses meant for drinking and a round shallow cake plan. I didn't let it bake long enough and so my creme brulee didn't set completely. So the top tasted fine... just not the bottom. But i'll devote another day to creme brulee, this was just something to try to use up those yolks.

Project #3: Make Mayonnaise
Another attempt to use up all those egg yolks, I was going to make mayonnaise! Inspired partly by my French teacher last semester who seemed aghast when nobody in the class knew how to make mayonnaise ("it's very very easy! you just mix some eggs, some mustard, some oil" pssh, i say to that!) and by a lovely book I bought in France called Mon cours de cuisine : Les basiques 80 recettes illustrées pas à pas. It's a beautifully illustrated book with step by step photos, and I just love the layouts and design. The very first recipe was making mayonnaise, so i decided to start with that.

I adore this book! I even bought another in the set dedicated to pastries. I think my next goal is to make every recipe form this book. That way, I can say I have mastered the basics! But of course I must try to make mayonnaise again.

My attempt. It didn't work because 1) I didn't really have exactly 2 egg yolks, 2) I didn't have powdered mustard and used the spready kind, 3) I didn't have sunflower oil, but most importantly, 4) I got lazy and didn't read the instructions and dumped all my oil in at once instead of little by little.

Conclusion: 3 things that did not got as plan! Perhaps due to lack of planning. Well, definitely due to lack of planning. Lots of things learned that won't be repeated next time, and now I'm determined to make a good batch of mayonnaise as well as return to my glorious first time perfect macarons!

1 comment:

nicisme said...

Hi there, just wanted to say that your blog is lovely - fantastic cookies!! I've added you to my blog roll and will be back often.
I bet your macarons tasted great even though they didn't look perfect, that filling looks good too!