A Letter to the Elusive Vegan French Macaron

An Overworked Kitchen
Toronto, Canada
February 13th, 2017

Dear Vegan Macaron,
Bonjour!
You have seemingly become one of the most profound culinary discoveries this decade, much to the delight of enthusiastic vegans & vegetarians such as myself. A riveting creation with bloggers and foodies responding maniacally(again,such as me). Stalwarts in veganism have challenged & battled the ‘Egg’ to recreate the delicacy that bears little forgiveness to it’s maker. You surprisingly imitate not just the supremely elegant,tantalizing looks of your non- vegan friend but thoroughly infatuate the taste buds too. The chewy goodness and melt in the mouth factor have indubitably been captivated. You are no fake my dear, rather, an identical twin…
Allow me to abate the flattery so I can come to the point. It is of my opinion that no baker is satiated well enough until he/she masters or at the least, attempts the task of conjuring the glorious French Macaron. With this, I  begin this intense, heartfelt and veritable account of my journey with you. Please allow me to bare my heart and I pray you take no offence. I have no intention of appearing impertinent or petulant. I’m just a mad, incorrigible baker that has discovered an authentic, calming remedy for insomnia,  a learner that is on a tranquil quest to decipher the cryptic myths & mysteries of baking, and, at the bottom of it all, I’m just a soul that loves insanely, to eat, experience & live….

“What will be, will be…”
One blazing afternoon in the soaring summer of 2016, as Doris Day crooned to “Que Sera Sera”, I arduously jotted down the recipe from Blog #1. Many hours were spent reading, re-reading & registering a detailed instruction manual, to the point that it was indelibly ingrained. The author, a kind lady must have spent tedious hours drafting the inner workings of it all for the benefit of her readers. I was captivated and floating in nervous elation.

To some I may seem a tad impatient but set me to do a creative task & I am instantly overcome by the patience of a saint. Aquafaba was whipped to a snowy white meringue and powdery almonds were sieved painstakingly. Le macaronage was done without an ounce of care or concern for my aching biceps. The batter flowed like thick ribbons of hot lava, delicately amalgamating with the remaining batter. The Pipe-wait- bake-wait drill was unduly carried out as well. Soft words of encouragement came from my eternal cheerleader, the hopeful husband. Yet, I failed, miserably. The shells were lopsided!

Backing to the drawing board the following day only to be struck by disaster. The adage, “Third time’s a charm” is preseumably a myth since the catastrophe occurred again. I won’t go on my dear, for 6 attempts within a span of one week led to a similar ordeal. Where was I going wrong?
Well, the chapter finally  came to a close, not without the utterance of a seething string of profanities.

“Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection….”
Despite the series of disappointments, the winter of 2016, instilled in me a desire to take a chance. Winter inspires in a myriad of ways. The liberating chilly breeze, the gray skies. The night in question was a snowy one, snowflakes descending like cotton fluffs. My heart was full, spirits high. Gwen Stefani sang a soulful “Rainbow Connection” , emphasizing the magic of wishes, the tangibility of dreams….
I bet my hopes on a new recipe from Blog #2 and the miracles spurring from a flurry, wintry night. This particular recipe involved the making of a French Meringue(vegan of course) as opposed to the Italian Meringue done previously. Three times my heart was blown to smithereens. The shells were lopsided! I will confess, two of those fateful attempts, the batter was a pathetic mess and I had to toss it out before it was even piped.

Blog #3 had a much more detailed plan with definite reasons for lopsided shells/Uneven feet and pictures accompanying literature. Another glimmer of hope. Another brand of almond powder. Another round of tinkering with the oven temperatures. This recipe employed the Italian Meringue technique and it was the best macaron batter I had achieved, even if I say so myself. The result you ask? The shells were lopsided.

Now, intense research has taught me that of all reasons that are have been attributed to lopsided shells, the one thing that is not in my control is an oven that heats unevenly. At the risk of sounding petty, I have to say, it is conceivable that this is perhaps true. More than that, the other reasons attributed have been scrupulously checked for. After 11 valiant attempts, enormous expenses at the grocery (although I never resorted to making full batches), an unhealthy amount of  sugar intake and countless nights scrubbing unkempt utensils and kitchen sinks, I think I deserve to place the blame elsewhere!

That said, this is not Au revoir my friend. The curious case of the Vegan Macaron will be deciphered. If this tumultuous ordeal has taught me anything, it’s that I can be a fighter. I’m not quitting, just indulging in a long break.
Maybe someday you will appease this chagrined baker, maybe someday I will seize that ineffable joy, maybe someday I will bake the perfect French Vegan Macaron…..

Until then,
A Despaired Baker
P.S – Here’s a picture of my imperfect vegan macaron. The entire flawed area I.e with no feet is hidden behind owing to some smart photography by the husband;)
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(Thank you for reading this article. I just want to take a moment to thank those wonderful bloggers/bakers who have put in enormous effort in bringing those recipes. Successful or not, I will forever be grateful to them.)

#Matcha Raspberry Pancakes – Eggless

Pancakes have always been a favourite at home. Ever since the time my grandma visited the States & learnt how to make them. Although stores in Bangalore didn’t carry Maple Syrup at the time, she cleverly substituted it with a warm homemade sugar syrup and slowly but surely we discovered the indulgences of a sweet breakfast. Nothing like the wafts of hot simmering sugar & sizzling skillets to ward off sleep on lazy mornings. Continue reading “#Matcha Raspberry Pancakes – Eggless”

#TIRAMISU

“…food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savoured at the peak of perfection.”
– E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
“Change is inevitable”, they say. Well, I’ve never been the type who fancies coffee. I’ve always been more of a “tea girl” and I still am. Naturally, I wasn’t the least bit motivated to indulge in a dessert that owes part of it’s magic to coffee. Nevertheless, a couple of months back, at an authentic Italian restaurant, as I debated with myself whether to opt for a gelato with biscotti or a tiramisu, something came over me and prompted me to finally take the plunge and give this age ol’ dessert a chance. I haven’t looked back since. My palate ostensibly decided to go on an adventure and Tiramisu for some reason decided to placate itself into a personal favorite. As you will see me describing further below, what caught my attention in particular was the perfect balance of the sweet & the bitter. Continue reading “#TIRAMISU”

#CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE – Eggless

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”
-Mae West

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“Some days are meant to be counted, some days are meant to be weighed.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert
Admittedly, my affair with the cheesecake has been rocky. The explanation is simple- Back when we were in NYC, I devoured slice after slice every so often that slowly I couldn’t help but drift away. Let me clarify, that didn’t stop me from baking them in my kitchen….the husband, the brothers & the students were duly pampered and rightfully indulged. It’s been a while now and after a prolonged break, I’m more than ready to begin my journey for the second time, with this decadent Chocolate Cheesecake. Continue reading “#CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE – Eggless”

#palmiers with apple & cinnamon

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
-Ernestine Ulmer
A palmier is a French pastry shaped in a palm/butterfly shape. They’re also called palm leaves, french hearts, elephant ears, shoe soles, jalebis or glasses….The puff pastry is rolled, sliced and baked to flaky, crispy, golden brown perfection.
They’re not too sweet & make a perfect accompaniment for tea. Continue reading “#palmiers with apple & cinnamon”

#cranberry & white chocolate shortbread cookies – eggless

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
-Rabindranath Tagore
We’re just a few weeks shy of 2016 and the days leading up to the big day are hopefully going to be sugary, honeyed and everything sweet. Every place I go to these days seems to exude wafting aromas of cookies & candy that makes the mouth water. Is the dessert lover in me going to ignore that? Mais Non! The mission is to ensue a home that smells exactly like that and I’m not one to give up. My apron is floury and my kitchen is bustling with activity. Till we bid goodbye to 2015, it’s going to be a sweet, sweet odyssey here in my blog. Continue reading “#cranberry & white chocolate shortbread cookies – eggless”