Who ever said that it's impossible to make macaroons in 90 degree, 90 percent humidity? Everyone.
Well, I took it upon myself to prove "everyone" wrong and make macaroons in Trinidad, whose climate is quite different from that of Paris, to say the least.
I returned to our island home on Sunday, eager to return to a life of normalcy after our Parisian adventure. Any other person with some kind of sanity would rest, take time to unpack, and enjoy their home. Not me. I felt the need to get right into the kitchen and start practicing what I've been learning for the past eight months.
So, I decided to participate in Trinidad's UpMarket, a lovely food market that takes place once in a while where chefs, both professional and amateur, sell their goodies. This was just right for my homecoming project.
A sane person would have probably stayed safe and chosen to make cupcakes or banana bread. But not me (once again). I chose the pastry that is perhaps the most difficult to make. Even for experts who have been making them for a long time. Macaroons. French macaroons.
Macaroons are tricky little guys. They hate humidity and water, are totally susceptible to the weather, and if you mix your batter a little too much, or a little too little, they simply won't budge. They won't poof and make the little "feet" I told you about long ago in a previous entry about my first time making macaroons.
Needless to say, I was extremely nervous because many people have told me that they've tried to make macaroons in Trinidad, and other hot and humid climates, without success. Their batter doesn't rise, the pastry cream oozes uncontrollably, or they simply don't taste good because the ingredients don't work well together because the cosmic universe of the tropics decides to work against them.
Armed with valor and positivism, I turned on the A/C unit in my kitchen to 18 degrees, studied my recipes, laid out my equipment, measured out the ingredients (which I had to visit five places to find), pre-heated my oven, and crossed my fingers.
I didn't find ground almonds in Port of Spain (anyone who knows where I can get some in this city, I'd appreciate the info), which is the key ingredient for macaroon batter. So, I've been using a coffee grinder to grind almonds. Not a fun task. I whipped my egg whites, folded the batter (this is the trickiest part), and into the oven they went.
Macaroons and ovens. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it took me three hours to make forty macaroon halves (two halves, with a filling, make one macaroon). The oven dance, as I like to call it, requires opening and closing the oven to let the humidity out, turning the oven on and off at precisely the right times in order for the macaroons to poof, and pray to the cosmic universe of the tropics to help you out. Repeat this five times, and that's what I've been up to since Tuesday.
So, what you've been waiting to find out...they were a success! Lemon, raspberry, and chocolate ganache fillings are ready for tomorrow's sale, and I'm all set. Here's a sneak peek at the macaroons on sale tomorrow: