While we were at Duchess Bake Shop, we also popped over to Duchess Provisions, a small adjoining store that sells different kinds of ingredients, tools, bakeware and serving ware, confections, and cookbooks. Basically heaven for any home baker or pastry chef. I could literally spend hours in this store even though the space isn't all that big.
But I shouldn't, because then I'd go broke.
Out of all the baking cookbooks that I own (like 5 and counting), the Duchess cookbook is literally my bible. Seriously. It is a beautiful book complete with amazing step-by-step and behind-the-scenes pictures.
Although I probably won't attempt half the recipes in the book, macarons are something I've tried to bake time and time again to no perfect avail. Seeing as though Duchess sells macaron kits (they also sell cookie and brownie kits), I decided to buy one and see how it would turn out.
For $14.00, you can choose between different colours for your macarons: yellow, pink, green, and white. They're differentiated by a little coloured sticker on the bag. I was pleasantly surprised with what was included:
2 recipe cards -- one for the macaron shells, and one for a basic white chocolate ganache that can be flavoured with any type of extract or compound. They also suggest filling your macarons with buttercream, salted caramel, Nutella, or chocolate ganache.
A piping template that you can place underneath your parchment paper (this turned out to be very helpful to achieve a consistent size), a step-by-step pictorial guide that corresponds to the recipe card, 2 Duchess branded piping bags, and the perfect sized piping tip.
And last but not least, 2 pouches of the ingredients! I'm not entirely sure what was in Pouch #1, but I'm guessing it at least included powdered food colouring and egg albumen. Pouch #2 had powdered sugar and ground almonds.
The most important part of any macaron recipe: sifting! Even though I was so careful with sifting everything, the macarons still turned out a little bumpy on the surface. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
The only ingredient that you will need to get along with the kit is 70g of egg whites. I just bought a carton of egg whites so I wouldn't have to waste any egg yolks (you could probably save them for other purposes though).
Also, pro tip: invest in a stand mixer. I bought my KitchenAid at the beginning of the year as a present... for myself. Best purchase I have ever made.
The reason why making macarons is so finicky is because you have to be careful of not overmixing the batter. The consistency should resemble hot lava.
I was so excited to get the macarons into the oven (after waiting an obligatory 10 min) that I forgot to take a picture of them just as they were piped. But here they are after they were baked!
Don't laugh, I know they're ugly! I think my batter wasn't fluid enough that the macarons didn't settle down into flat, smooth surfaces.
For the filling, I bought a jar of Duchess' famous salted caramel ($7.00). Sooo good that I can eat it out of the jar by itself.
Like liquid gold.
And the finished product! Not exactly picturesque, but not a total fail anyhow.
Even though I followed the recipe card to a tee, they unfortunately didn't turn out quite like I was expecting. For one, I think I might have undermixed out of fear of overmixing (oh the irony) and thus the batter was too stiff (hence the bumpiness and how you can still see my piping outlines even after the macarons rested and settled). I also think my oven is too hot since they were a bit overbaked and too hard after the 12 minutes that Duchess recommended. I should've kept a closer eye on them while they were baking... but oh well, practice makes perfect.
I will conquer you one day! *shakes fist*