“Sugar, sugar, ah, honey, honey. You are my candy girl and you got me wanting you.” – The Archies
I have always been obsessed with French Macarons since the first day I set eyes on them. They are the most perfect and elegant-looking confection that I have ever set my eyes upon! I was afraid to make them though. Oh sure, I bout the cookbooks on Amazon. I thought “one day.”
I would bring them up in conversation and relay my desire to try and whip up a batch. People always tell me horror stories about how hard they are to make, such as you have to have the perfect temperature and humidity. You need lots of baking experience. You really have to know what you’re doing, otherwise your cookies will turnout to be a big hot mess.
On a recent Friday evening, I was reading my Facebook feed when I saw a post from Macaron Parlour in NYC. They had one spot left in their macaron making class the next day. I didn’t have anything going on, and my boys were busy with their own plans. So the lightbulb went off in my head. Why not sign up for the class? Sign up I did.
Macaron Parlour was founded in 2010 by Christina Ha and Simon Tung. The dynamic duo independently fantasized about opening their own bakery and upon meeting, Macaron Parlour was born. Christina has a love for bite sized petit fours and studied macarons at La Haute Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé in Paris. Simon perfected his macaron technique with M.O.F. Stephane Glacier.
After meeting in 2009, Christina and Simon began selling macarons at the Hester Street Fair (where I first met them) and quickly branched out to other food and holiday fairs. As demand grew, they realized a store was the natural next step. Christina and Simon’s love of macarons isn’t the only kind they share; the couple married in April 2012.
The class was small – 4 people – and was held on a crisp Saturday January morning. Simon & Christina greeted us warmly and offered fresh-baked lemon poppy seed muffins, cookies, coffee and of course, macarons to sample.
The methods that we learned were the “French Meringue” version and the “Italian Meringue” version. The difference is that the Italian version involves making a sugar syrup that gets poured into the egg whites to create a very stable meringue. Though this process may be slightly more difficult, the sturdy meringue results in a much more consistent cookie. We learned about the process of piping onto the cookie sheet, banging the sheet down to extract air bubbles and finding two halves that match up to make one perfect-looking cookie. We also made a few different versions of fillings, including chocolate ganache, pistachio, and salted caramel buttercream.
Important takeways: create a reusable template to pipe consistently sized shells, sift the almond flour and other dry ingredients and flavor the filling, not the shells.
So, how did they come out? The top picture is of the finished product. You’ll have some impressive pictures to post to your Facebook and Instagram accounts. The best way to explain it would be a take on one of my favorite quotes from the movie “Clueless.” They are like a full-on Monet. From far away, they look OK, but up close, they’re a big old mess. Oh well. It’s a definitely a practiced technique to make perfect consistent cookie shells. I’ll chalk it up to my first time and practice makes perfect. Do they taste good? Absolutely!!
If you are in the New York City area and have a hankering to learn how to make Macarons, I highly recommend taking Christina & Simon’s class. They are located at 111 St. Marks Place (near NYU) and offer classes monthly. If you are coming from Penn Station, walk over to Herald Square and take the N or the R subway train. After that, its approximately a 10 minute walk. Each class is 3 – 3/12 hours long and you will go home with a major stockpile of macarons that your class made!
If you are not in the NYC area, you can order their macarons from their Etsy store. My favorite are the maple bacon flavor!
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