Baking Disasters

Because sometimes molecular gastronomy explodes.


Few baked goods are as prone to explosions as the delicious and delicate French macaron. There's something about a hard outer shell attempting to hold back the pressure of expanding almond-flour-goo that's reminiscent of a poorly designed steam locomotive.

The Recipe

  1. Mix powdered sugar and almond flour
  2. Whisk the superfine sugar into the egg whites. Continue to whisk for 5 minutes
  3. Sift flour mixture into sugared egg whites as you fold the mixture. Fold at least 50 times.
  4. Fill a plastic sandwich bag with the resulting paste. Cut the corner off of the bag and squeeze macarons on to cooking sheet.
  5. Let them sit for 45 minutes.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes while using a wooden spoon to keep the oven door cracked open.

The Attempt

Most of the preparation proceeded uneventfully. We mixed the ingredients and left the proto-macarons to stand and harden. After 45 minutes we became impatient. We tossed the first batch into the oven. After 5 minutes in the oven the first batch looked very similar to black snake fireworks. The confections briefly formed columns which all toppled over.

We applied our best engineering skills on subsequent batches. We tried keeping the oven partially opened by wedging progressively larger heat resistant objects into the door. Our interaction with the cookies peaked during the last batch as we unwisely attempted to keep the cookie-columns from falling over by manually holding them upright as they baked.

The Aftermath

The resulting cookies were visually unattractive and had a lopsided, chewy bottom shell formed from condensed side of the tipped columns. Discarding the bottom resulted in an editable result but unfortunately sacrificed the vast majority of the cookie-mass.

While the yield of delicious treats was quite low, we all walked away with an improved respect for macaron bakers everywhere.