As I mentioned in my last post, my first attempt with the challenge recipe was a spectacular disaster. Although they baked up nice and high in the oven, they promptly deflated when they cooled and didn’t develop feet at all. Plus, I added the food coloring at an odd time, so it wasn’t evenly distributed. Not good!
After my failure, I combed the Daring Bakers forums and found that quite a few members of the community were struggling with this month’s challenge. Since I don’t have endless time (or almond meal, for that matter!), I decided to try a recipe from Helen of Tartelette, using tips from another Daring Baker (Audax Artifex) who is always an incredible resource for the rest of us. Aside from using new ingredient proportions, here are some of the changes I made that I think made a difference:
- I aged my egg whites for 3 days in the refrigerator (covered with a paper towel) the second time around.
- I sifted my almond meal/flour before I measured it for the recipe to make sure only the finest particles were used in my batter.
- I let the piped shells rest on my kitchen island for a half an hour before baking instead of using the “5 minutes at 200F” step in the original recipe.
- I baked the shells at 280F (Tartelette’s suggestion) instead of 375F; I think the slower, steady rise helped them to not deflate when I took them out of the oven.
- I used Audax’s tip for feet and used two stacked baking sheets for each batch.
They still aren’t perfect (they’re a bit peaked and I think the shells could be smoother), but they have feet, great texture, and yummy flavor. I ended up filling them with Nutella (loosened with a bit of heavy cream).
I think the greatest benefit of this challenge is that I feel like I could handle meringue-based recipes better now than I could before; Pavlova, here I come!