So my friend Carol and I have had 2 macaron bake dates in the last month or so. We both have been experimenting with them on our own, and were getting pretty confident that we had them mastered. So we decided to put our baking caps on and work together on a couple flavors.
Well nothing did work out quite right that first evening. Every batch we made was gooey, and stuck to the bottom of our pans. Even our fillings were failing that night. We were both really sad after that, thinking we might have to revert back to the unscientific macaron wives' tales to have success. After a few days, Carol figured out that it was actually her oven that was off by about 50˚. What a relief! Maybe we weren't failures after all!
But we had to be sure, so we set up another bake date to try again. We definitely did better that time, after Carol got a thermometer for in her oven to make sure it was at the right setting. We made chocolate macarons sprinkled with smoked sea salt and filled with salted caramel buttercream. Those came out great. We also made chai spiced ones, but apparently the addition of the chai powder to the macaron shells was a bad combo, as they did not rise or bake well (we suspect the non dairy creamer in the powder might have been the culprit, as just adding the spices of chai would have probably been fine).
What's even better is that Carol posted the recipe online already, so all I need to do is link to it! Wee. She took an awesome photo too. As well, we tried to simply whip the caramel so it had more body and could stand alone as the macaron filling, but it was still too thin, so decided to do buttercream instead. Can't go wrong with macarons with buttercream, really. Looked pretty when we were whipping the caramel though.
As well, she found a site that actually detailed more scientific reasoning for all of the wacky wives' tale rumors we'd been reading up on, so were relieved that some of the tricks actually had good reasons behind them. If you're into macaron baking, I recommend checking it out just so you know the why's of how to do things.