Tuesday, 17 March 2009


This week has not got off to a good start. We've just finished making macarons (macaroons, those little bundles of joy that have been perfected by the likes of Ladurée and Pierre Hermé) but it was not without much frustration in lab. As usual, chef gave us a demonstration on how to make macarons - there are several methods and he told us that we were to use the "cooked sugar" method. Afterwards, we were all each assigned a flavour to make, I picked chocolate. I was then given the recipe and realised that it did not use the method we had just watched. No worries, chef just told me to follow the recipe. The first problem arose when I didn't have enough egg whites (we had ran out of the pre-bottled sterilised stuff) for the chocolate recipe, when I queried chef about this, he looked at me and said "Make it!". I made the assumption that I was to go ahead with the reduced egg whites - it all started to look a little pear-shaped when my mixture was mucho stiff - after another chat with chef, he then said that he wanted me to use more eggs for extra egg whites, call me a numpty but saying "Make it" hardly conveys this?? Lost in translation in full swing. Rather than whisk some more whites, I was told to just mix it in and then started piping my shells. Half-way through piping, I was told to stop and start again - bollocks. Started again and used the right amount of egg whites, piped shells and they got baked. Chef didn't think they were enough in one recipe so had to make yet another batch - more bollocks. When my shells finally came out of the oven, they were far from the smooth little discs that everyone else had produced, mine looked like "OAP's in need of botox" macaroons - not exactly encouraging stuff when you're in the middle of making a third batch. All I got in response from chef was "I think there is something wrong with the recipe"...... did I get a remedy? Can pigs fly? - shite. Day 2 and it was onto piping the filling. 3 trays of macaroons later and I get to use 40% of my output as the remaining 60% were all cracked on the surface, hardly an impressive yield. As if things couldn't get any worse, first my ganache wasn't soft enough (easy enough to fix with a quick nook in the microwave) and then the "cherry on top" moment:

Chef: ...sont chiant. (rough translation - they look shit)

Exactly what I wanted to hear first thing this morning.

In general, all the macaroons made by the class looked pretty good, mine tasted OK but I will definitely not be choosing chocolate next time around. Its been a demoralising couple of days but I've knuckled down and just tried to get on with it, not been easy at times though. "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger" - I never used to believe this but I do now :)  

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