I have made more semi-serious kitchen mistakes in the last few days than you may believe. But here they are, in the form of a warning, and, hopefully, a teaser for French macarons. 1. Do not put popcorn kernels into your garbage disposal. 2. Do not defrost meat in your refrigerator without first placing it in a dish- plastic bags do not contain juices! 3. Check the expiration dates on chickens before you buy them. 4. Do not store heavy silverware in a flimsy drawer. 5. Do not convince yourself that measuring ingredients in cups and spoons is an adequate substitute for weighing them.

And with warning number 5 comes my macaron fail. You may have heard that I have trouble following recipes that list all of the ingredients up front. The macaron recipe I was using called for 1.5 cups of powdered sugar, minus 1 tablespoon. It also strongly recommended using a scale to weigh out the ingredients. On my first attempt at the recipe, I read the ingredient list too quickly and only added 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar (picture on the left). On my second attempt at the recipe, I measured out 1.5 cups minus 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar (picture on the right). That turned out to be too much.

With too little sugar, my macaron batter was very light and airy. With too much sugar, my macaron batter was thick and gloopy.

With too little sugar, my macaron shells were overly firm and had a lot of holes in them. My batter also made only half the shells the recipe called for. With too much sugar, my batter was really loose and my macaron shells turned into a puddle. After two failed attempts at whipping up macarons (and wasting more ingredients than I’d like), I gave in to the demands of pastry and precise cooking: I bought a food scale. Next time, I will use exactly 200 grams of powdered sugar, and maybe my macarons will turn out juuuust right, like those from Pierre Hermé (fat chance). I’ll keep you posted!

Until then, what kitchen catastrophes have you overcome that I should be on the lookout for?

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  1. Pingback: Macaron Success! | Witty in the City

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