I try to avoid failure.  I think most of us do.  The method I use is simple:  discontinue activities for which I have no natural proclivity.  Well, except for golf.  I suck at it, and yet I still keep trying, but then again, I hear that’s how it works.  So, no harm done.  But generally, this method has worked out pretty well so far.  Volleyball – good.  Slalom water skiing – not so good.  See?  Easy, right?  Just do the things you’re good at, or think you may get good at, and stay away from those things that cause you immediate and unwavering frustration.  I must admit, however, that there’s one thing recently that has gone against this “method.”  Like I said, generally.

I have failed, quite utterly and miserably, at making french macarons… three times.  For anyone familiar with the process, you understand.  If you’re new to this miniature ring of hell, allow me to elaborate.  I understand that baking is a lot about chemistry and proportion of ingredients – I get that – but these little guys are on another level entirely.

I can already tell where this is headed...

It’s a very simple recipe, or so it seems – sugar, ground almonds and egg whites – how hard can it be?  Uh, hard.  I’m only writing this post now, and posting pictures of the sad failures, because, after trial #4, it finally worked.  There are so many variables.  The proportions are so finely tuned, that they must be measured on a scale.  No scoop and level, no handful of this, pinch of that.  We’re talking down to the gram.  You have to use a metal bowl for the egg whites (preferably copper, but I went stainless steel) – the ceramic just didn’t cut it.  Oh, and don’t make them when it rains.  You need to leave them out to dry a bit before they go in the oven, so humidity is a surefire recipe for buzzkill.  And let’s not even get into the definition of “stiff, glossy peaks.”  How stiff?  (insert joke here) How glossy?

In my unsuccessful attempts, I tried three different recipes.  One from the book I heart macarons, and two more from various websites.  The final, fourth, recipe which shall be the basis for all future macaron-ing, I will share with you shortly.  Back to the not-so-happy attempts.  Two of the three, in hindsight, seem to have had the wrong proportions.

Embarrassing.

The third, from the lovely Tartelette, was probably perfectly fine (she’s quite the expert), but I probably should have used a metal bowl and waited for a less humid day.  I bet I didn’t age my egg whites enough either.  I still wasn’t ready to give up.  It’s like falling off the rock-climbing wall when you just know you can do it, and dang it, you’re not leaving until you do.  The winning recipe bolstered my confidence through copious explanations (most of you know I’d rather too much information than too little), lots of photos, a separate trouble-shooting guide, and let’s be honest about the best part – science.  C’mon, if you’ve got science on your side, how can you go wrong?

I weighed, I mixed, I piped, I waited, and I baked.  And the skies parted, and the angels began to sing…because, there in my oven, these little lovelies had grown feet!  Just like they’re supposed to!  Thank you Ms. Humble – you are my savior!  I will sing your praises to whomever will listen.  Right after I shove one of these little babies in their mouth.

Woohoo!

And the best part is what she calls the little rascally failures – if only I had known there was a term for it – macawrongs.

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