Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mac Attack in Los Angeles : Sweet Tartelette's Southern Invasion...

Macarons, the most amazing delicate cookie I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. It's been a source of great joy...and the greatest frustration.  I even took a group class, thinking, "ok, i got this..."  I got home and thought, "oh fuuuuuudge...i don't got this..."

What did I do wrong?? Over and over and over and over and over again [that WAS 5 times, right??], I tried my hand at the macaron.  Surely it couldn't be THAT difficult right? Who's ever been totally beaten by a baked good? Well, it turns out that *I* have been beaten by a baked good. Darn it! I refused to be beaten by a baked good.

So alongside Rachael [La Fuji Mama] and Gaby [What's Gaby Cooking] we hatched the scheme to bring the Tartelette out to Los Angeles to learn us some Macaron making.  The first few days of Helen's stay was marred with her having a totally insane hostess [I think she may have crapped her pants a few times while I was driving. What? I couldn't pile my poor driving skills on to my poor hostessing skills - I've got some very, very small amount of pride, you know]. 

Something akin to a bag of moths fluttered around in my stomach [or too much alcohol if I'd been drinking] as we prepped for class - a combination of excitement and absolute dread.  I mentally slapped myself, told myself to suck it up and pull myself together.  I was ready to face the world...well, at least these stupid hellish macarons.

Each step of the way, I looked to Helen like I was a first grader, looking for approval at every dotted "i" and crossed "t".  She eyeballs my batter and instructs with absolute confidence, "Five more turns".  I do what I think is 5 turns but could've been 15 since I couldn't remember where the starting point was.  By this point, the voices in my head starts singing, "yeah...uh huh...I'm bad. I know it..." all accompanied with a little head bobbing.

After piping out something that I hoped would suddenly round out from its oblong shape, I let my macs rest.  After 30 minutes rest time, during which Helene instructed us on various methods, ganaches, etc, she asked for some "test" trays to put into the oven.  II nonchalantly handed her mine.  It didn't dawn on me that anything could possibly go wrong until she looked over at me and said, "Brave."

That's when the pants crapping started.  Rachael and I were the "test" Macs.  I looked at her and she said, "One of ours is not going to come out, you do realize that, don't you?" I looked at her without batting an eye said, "Don't worry. It's going to be mine."
You know by now that my Macs were the ONLY one in the WHOLE class that didn't come out.  [See the photo above? The pretty ones were Rachael' can see mine in the background.] I would've cried but for the fact that I don't believe in crying in the kitchen and  quite frankly, I wasn't really surprised. Karma seems to be torturing me in the form of the MACARON.  
So I determined that I would practice, practice, practice everything that I learned in Helen's class [over 2 day period]. I used it as my mantra.  My big test came in the form of my high school get together on Saturday.  They insisted that I bring the Macarons.

So with sweaty hands, pounding heart I began the process.  Encouragement from my twitterfriends came and gave me confidence.  And you know what??? I succeeded. YES!!!

A little skirting but this is such progress that I'm excited to try it again soon! Thanks, Helene!


  1. Hi Jen,

    What are you taking about??? Those are absolutely BEAUTIFUL Macarons!! You should be SO PROUD!! If it makes you feel better, even AFTER Helene's class, my first batch of Macarons at home bombed - although the teenagers like them (but then, they WILL eat anything!)
    Hope you had fun at your High School get together!!!

  2. Oh dear, I hope your driving was not... stereotypical. (Just kidding.)
    Well done on your macaron success. How does it feel to be a conqueror?

  3. Nancy: awwww...thanks!! I was really, really worried that it'd completely bomb, having never made a really good batch! :( Now I feel like I've got some control back [nope, not a control freak at all...] =)

    Mark: Uhhhh...well...let's say that I've got a lead foot and I'm entirely sure where the brakes are... ;) As for conqueror - only when I make TWO batches in a row of successful macarons. stay tuned...

  4. Jen!! Thanks for putting on such a fab weekend! We have to get Helen back here again and go for round 2!! I am attempting to make more macs this coming weekend... slightly nervous but I am excited - I mean I can't go wrong now with Helens recipe!

  5. Exactly! we'll have to definitely get her back!! Macs, photog, and ????

  6. You mean...this mac class happened in my own backyard and I didn't even know it!? oh man. Well, your macs look great! I bet it feels wonderful to have concurred that


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