Good Old Fashioned Fail: French Macarons
Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.
The key to this little cookie, is of course, the bane of vegan cooking: egg whites. I became understandably excited however, when I heard about Versawhip, a soy-based powder distributed by Willpowder. Versawhip totes that with the addition of some water, this powder can be frothed into a stable foam, replacing egg whites.
I immediately ordered a package, and began researching French macaroon recipes. When it arrived, I decided to try it out on a basic recipe, here are my steps and the unfortunate results.
Everything began with such high hopes. I measured out my Versawhip, water and some xantham gum and cream of tartar for stability, put the guns to it with my handheld electric beater and, wouldn’t you know it, I got soft peaks. Sifting in some fine sugar, et voilà! -stiff peaks.
I was SO excited, I could barely contain myself. I folded in my almond flour and sugar mixture into my ‘egg whites’. This is where things started to get hinky. The batter was thicker than what I was expecting, more like cupcake batter.
Regardless, I continued to shove the batter into a piping bag and plopped out 12 dollops onto a greased baking sheet, about the size of a half of a golf ball. Tapped the pan a few times to release air bubbles and smooth out the tops and let them sit for a half an hour while the oven pre-heated.
After letting them sit (presumably not long enough), I put them in the oven and hoped for the best. Much to my disappointment, instead of puffing up or even cooking, my poor macaroons melted into gooey sugar puddles on my tray. 🙁
From what I could tell, the Versawhip couldn’t take the heat, and instead of crystalizing with the almond flour and forming a foamy lattice, it gave into entropy and disintegrated.
I wrote to Willpowder, asking for tips on using Versawhip with baked goods. They replied that their chefs developed it for use in mousses and haven’t experimented with it in the oven, though they are willing to continue support in this area.
I plan on trying to do more online research to see if anyone else is working on this. If you have ever used Versawhip let me know, I’d love to talk about it. Also, if you feel like venting your ‘good old fashioned fail’, we want to hear about it too. Let us know in a comment below.