“Give a girl a box of Ladurée macarons and she’ll feast for a day. Teach a girl to make macarons and she’ll conquer the world.”
Fake it till you bake it. That’s what I’ve been telling myself over the past couple years in my journey to feel confident in the kitchen. Working in food tech back in San Francisco was a dream come true; all the eating and drinking made me feel more comfortable being around the fiery pots n’ pans and knives 24/7. After moving to Paris this summer, I thought that the best way to initiate myself into the local culture would be to take a baking class on the famous French macaron with BonAppetour.
I’ve tried Ladurée, Pierre Hermé, and even family-owned patisserie recipes, but I must say there is something incredibly satisfying about tasting one’s own (successful) creations. I’m ready to share with you where and how I’ve found the most unique macarons in Paris—by learning the secrets of this famous dessert under the tutelage of The Parisian Kitchen’s Chef Benedicte. (I have a special discount code for you to try her workshop too!)
The class was hosted in Chef Benedicte’s charming Parisian home on the edge of the 8th arrondissement. Upon entering the light-filled flat with gorgeous wooden floors, my mouth let slip a silent ‘whattttt’. We were 5 girls all together (4 of us happened to be American!) and I felt like we’d walked straight into one of those Pinterest boards of dream Parisian apartments. Chef Benedicte welcomed us into her flat with fresh juice, mini-meringues, chouquettes, and tea. It was a francophile’s dream.
The first step was making the mix for the cookie shells, which involved sifting flour & sugar to a precise amount, then adding whisked egg whites, food colorant, and more sugar. Team work was crucial, as getting creamy filling into a flimsy plastic piping bag was not easy with just two hands.
Did you know? Macaron cookie shells don’t generally have different flavors, because the base recipe is always the same. The diverse colors are made with food colorant and it’s actually the filling that gives each macaron its specific flavors (like vanilla, caramel, lemon, pistachio, etc.).
Chef Benedicte did a great job of showing us specific movements that yield the best results. I tried my best to imitate her “folding” technique (which enables us to delicately mix the ingredients together), and I’ve added it to my list of baking skills to improve.
The next step was making the macarons’ delicious filling–yay! The main ingredients for the lemon macaron filling were sugar, butter (omg so much butter), gelatin, and lots of lemon zest. After mixing all the ingredients together, stirring it on the stove was a heavenly task while sniffing the buttery citron aromas. After the mixture reduced over the heat, we placed it into a bowl and let it cool off, before putting it in the fridge to harden.
Who knew drawing skills would come in handy? Part of designing the best macarons is carefully lining baking parchment paper with 4cm x 4cm lines…unless you want unusually huge or tiny macarons, in which case you can adjust for creative preference. 😉
Look at Chef Benedicte’s piping form…practice makes perfect right??
After watching her demonstration, I took a squeeze at it with our lemon cookie mixture. This was one of my favorite parts, because piping perfect little circles of cream in checkered formation onto a pan was strangely therapeutic for me….a new meditation technique perhaps?
After placing our cookie shells into the oven to bake for 12 minutes, we took a breather and cheered over bubbly glasses of champagne. We tossed around a few nicknames for our group and I thought the most hilarious one was “Macaron Sorority”–always love a touch of USA while abroad haha.
Then we finally reached the last step! After the cookie shells were done baking, we took the hardened raspberry, lemon, and caramel fillings out of the fridge and piped it in-between the cookie halves. It was quite tricky because the macaron shells are so fragile and crack at the slightest pinch of pressure.
Et voilà, our proud creations were finished! Although they weren’t as symmetrical as what you see in the patisseries, the texture was wonderfully chewy and light, and the creamy filling was sooo good in all three flavors. I was impressed that the lemon zest filling that Celina and I whisked together had the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. Well, it looks like I won’t be needing Ladurée anytime soon…also let’s be real, I can’t afford to drop €30 on a box of macarons every weekend. But I think I’ll always have the budget for a crisp glass of champagne. *sips*
There’s nothing quite like girl chat over bubbles to end a long baking session. Our lovely afternoon with Chef Benedicte was filled with sweet treats, laughter, and stories about our favorite secret Parisian spots. Whether you’re traveling to Paris for a few days or plan to move here for a taste of the expat life like I did, I recommend trying a workshop with Chef Benedicte! It’s a special way to discover another side to the City of Light, and you’ll learn a lot more about its rich culture and history while baking the perfect macarons. <3
p.s. Get 20% off your macaron workshop using special code SAMBABA16 (valid until 12/31/16)
Thanks to BonAppetour for sponsoring this unforgettable experience!