Excitement in the Kitchen (Daring Bakers October Challenge)

This month’s baking has brought a flurry of excitement to the kitchen, at least half of which is from this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge. This is my first month with the Daring Bakers, and while I was a bit nervous, the idea of a baking challenge was what ultimately made me plunge into the proverbial water. Imagine my delight when my first challenge was to make something that I’ve been interested in, but have been keeping on the back burner: the macaron.

Suffice it to say that given the reputation of the Daring Kitchen, I expected nothing less than a real test and learning experience. And that’s what I got!

I chose to flavor the macaron with a combination of loose ground Russian Country tea which is very smoky, both in leaf form and in brew, and orange peel.

My first try yielded a batter that I had great hopes for. I didn’t feel I’d overmixed it, but as most of us know, sometimes things in the kitchen can be tricky.

Piping the rounds out onto the cookie sheet was messy work, made messier by the years between now and the last time I actually used a piping bag and tip! When the cookies were fairly round in shape, I called it good and sent them into the oven.

While I’d love to declare the first batch a resounding success, something wasn’t quite right. They weren’t nearly as tall as they ought to be and the macarons had no feet!

Still, after being filled with a pumpkin buttercream, they were absolutely delicious, if not exactly the correct texture.

Time for another batch!

What I didn’t realize when I joined the Daring Bakers, is that there would be a great resource of help available for all my learning needs. The Daring Kitchen site is a fantastic resource for those completing the challenges. There I learned that the most likely culprit for the problem I was having was that I just wasn’t beating those egg whites long enough. This time I beat the heck out of those things. I whipped them with my KitchenAid mixer until the whites started to draw away from the sides of the bowl and cling to the whisk.

That did the trick! The second batch wasn’t perfect in shape, and perhaps the next time I try them, they’ll be higher still. But I’m really happy with the texture and yes, feet, on the second batch. And wow, did we zoom right through eating those things. They were amazing both in flavor and texture: lightly sweet pumpkin filling in a crispy, airy and slightly chewy cookie.

Second batch (again Smoky tea and Orange Macarons with Pumpkin Italian Buttercream)

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

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11 responses to “Excitement in the Kitchen (Daring Bakers October Challenge)

  1. I just signed up for the Daring Baker’s Challenge yesterday! I am excited..

  2. I’m not part of the Daring Baker gang, but I get such a kick out of reading the posts each month, especially when y’all are making macarons. This whole “feet” thing just tickles me and it seems to be such an accomplishment when one achieves feet status on their macarons. So…. congratulations! Nice feet!

  3. Congrats on your first challenge! Your macs look amazing! Wonderful job =D.

  4. Great photos, I don’t have a passion for photography but after seeing lovely photos I am starting to think I may like to learn more

  5. Great photos of some lovely macarons. Lovely challenge wasn’t it.

  6. I’ve just joined the Daring Kitchen, loving it so far, the doughnuts were the best thing I could have ever made! Your macaroon flavour combinations sound amazing and the photos are really impressive…I know this was ages ago but my blog linked me to this post!!

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