Thursday, October 14, 2010

“The only real failure is failing to try...”

... and my vegan macarons :(.

Let me start from the top.  My first shot at making macarons was a complete success!  Feet and all!


I made these "Pinkarons" for MACTWEETS' October Mac Attack.  The theme was Pinktober for Breast Cancer Awareness month, which holds a special place in my heart.  My aunt Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  She is one of the strongest women I know (seriously, you don't want to mess with her!), and is holding her own in her personal battle with cancer.  I love you, girl!  She lives in Texas, but I've tried to do anything in my power to give her hope and to motivate her to continue to fight (not that she needs it!).  This year, I participated in Philadelphia's LIVESTRONG Challenge in her honor, and my team raised over $5, 000 for cancer research.  I ran a personal best 10K that day, because her strength pushed me to try my hardest.

Back to the macarons.  Those are not vegan.  Hear me out.

When I came across the Mactweets challenge, I had absolutely no idea that making vegan macarons is some crazy difficult thing that people have been trying to figure out for years.  Seriously, google it!  These French delights are literally one of the only things that I have not seen veganized!  Of course, I don't believe that it cannot be done.  It's just going to take a few tries.  After talking to a bunch of people (both vegan and not), I decided upon a game plan:

Step 1: Get the boy some macarons.  The only catch was that he had to eat them in front of me, allow me to poke them and take them apart, and he had to report every last detail about taste and texture.

Step 2: Make non-vegan macarons.  This was a tough choice.  I've actually never done this, ever.  My reasoning for this one-time ever decision?  1) My boyfriend had eggs that he wasn't planning on using, 2) I had no idea what the consistency of meringue was, because I have never had it, and 3) my best friend loves macarons and told me that she'd eat them and report back.

Step 3: Make even better vegan macarons.  Anything can be veganized, and done better than the original.  It just takes time!

And so, my journey began.  I have to say, it's been... real.  First of all, nobody sells almond flour.  I went everywhere: Whole Foods, Essene Market, my favorite Asian market, Acme, Williams Sonoma, etc etc.  I finally gave up and bought some slivered almonds and made my own flour.  Problem one solved!  From there, I followed a recipe by David Lebovitz.  The result:

Beautiful.  This really siked me up to make the vegan batch!  I got right to work in my kitchen laboratory mixing starches, gums, and sugar.  It was going well, I actually started to see a fairly decent faux meringue, when all of a sudden...

The toughness of the faux meringue caused my electric mixer to short out!  You can't really tell, but there is smoke billowing from my mixer!  May it rest in peace...

So now what?  As you can clearly see, I was not nearly done mixing!  I took a wisk to it, and I wisked and wisked and wisked.  It sucked.  I couldn't get the consistency I wanted, but I also had to stop mixing eventually.  I reluctantly piped the mess onto the sheets, and baked away.  I wasn't expecting much, but I definitely wasn't expecting this:

Chelsea thinks that they look like "skin pepperoni," and she's kind of right :(.  I couldn't even do a humorous side-by-side comparison because they stuck to the paper!  However, I will let you know that I am not giving up.  I'm looking into soy proteins, as well as new combinations to create that special meringue-like consistency.  If you have any suggestions or want to come along for the ride, leave me a comment!  Let's figure this out!  I really want to perfect these, and to show the world that you do not have to "give up the good things" to be vegan.

And so, "failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."

PS? IT CAN BE DONE! Check out Bittersweet's Vegan Macarons.   How does she do it?!


  1. Well, your non-vegan macs are fabulous! Just fabulous! The vegan ones, not so much! And so sorry to hear about your aunt! I just found out my cousin has stage 4 breast cancer and like your aunt is keeping her chin up, chest out (yes) and making every day count. And always cheerful! Amazing women! Thanks so much for baking the gorgeous pink macs for Pinkaron Pink October! xo

  2. The other day I bookmarked your blog because I saw the vegan macaron recipe, the picture looked perfect and I thought that was the vegan one.

    I also tried veganizing something that wouldn't be veganized. Something marengue-ish consisting of sugar, egg whites and gelatin. I tried using sugar and agar agar. First time I got a block of sement in the buttom of the bowl, after 20 minutes my mixer smelled so burned I figured I better stop. The nest time I tried I ended up with this runny liquid which nothing happened to. Two times a failurw. But I will try on a later occasion as well. They made marshmallows, other thing ought to be possible.

    Keep working on those macarons

  3. Don't worry, I'll reveal the "secret" very soon... I'm planning to put that recipe in my upcoming cookbook! ;)

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your aunt Amandah. Hats off to you for your vegan perseverance to find feet. Glad to hear the BitterSweets new book will hold the key for you. The pink macarosn are pretty as they are perfect. Thank you for joining us at MacTweets!
    {Got you in the round up}

  5. Oh my, your feet are gorgeous! GORGEOUS! great job! as for the Vegan Macs that will be wonderful when you succeed and also lucky for your family/friends who get to eat your beautiful macs while you learn!

  6. Do you think they would have worked if your mixer hadn't gone out?

  7. You get at least 75 cool points for trying to veganize macarons. This blog is really cool!