Saturday, May 19, 2012

"On Cafe" French Macaroons Baking Class

If you have read my blog at all in the last month, you probably know that I am obsessed with the little cookies called, French macaroons. They are completely different than American macaroons with the coconut and half dipped in chocolate. They are little cookies made from egg whites, ground almond, caster sugar, and any flavors or colors that you add to the batter or for the inside filling. They are divine and hard to describe until you have one. Kinda hard on the outside but soft and dense in the middle with a gooey filling.

So. Dang. Good.

So there was a Living Social deal that I saw for a French macaroon cooking class in South London. It came with a 2.5 hour baking class and £50 worth of French macaroons to take home with you. So after thinking about it for like 1 second, I signed up. After going to France for all that time and trying all the different kinds and brands of French macaroons, I have become obsessed. And my obsession has led me to want to not only eat them, but to bake them at home as well. So really, there was no choice but to sign up for this class.

So I made my way out to the On Cafe Bakery and Cookery School in South London. After a long haul out there, I finally found it. But it was tough! It is a little hidden place that you would never think to look normally and you probably would never be brave enough to venture to because the street that it is on isn't that welcoming I guess you could say. But I found it and that is all that matters. :)
Here is our professional pastry chef. She is from Singapore and has been in the pastry business for over 20 years. She specializes in French macaroons and French eclairs. The first picture on this post are her own macaroons. She sells her items at Southbank Market as well as in a department store. The macaroons pictured above are her special Queen's Jubilee Edition. They are all hand painted, with edible "paint" of course, and made with perfection.

The funny thing about this lady is how she started her class. When we all were coming in, there was this awkward silence in the room partially because no one knew each other but also because she didn't really greet us in or even smile at us. Everyone was just staring at each other in silence.

Then (it gets funnier) as she starts out her class, she gives a big speech about how she isn't here to be our friend. She doesn't care if we like her. She doesn't want us leaving her class telling people that she is a nice lady. And to please not bother her with any questions during her demonstration.

She was kinda unpleasant, I'm not going to lie. And as she did the demonstration and a question would come into my mind that she didn't cover, I couldn't dare ask it for fear of getting scolded. Even though I am paying for this class....

But she was very professional and definitely knew what she was doing. She wanted us to come out of her class knowing how to make a basic level of french macaroons and to have something that we are proud of to take home. She didn't want to make new friends or to be nice to us. And she made this very clear straight from the beginning.

So after her demonstration.....we were put into groups and got to do exactly what she just showed us completely on our own. Here was my cooking process in a series of pictures for you to enjoy......

First, beat the egg whites, add sugar and beat some more.
Second.......

Put the ground almond into a bowl and sift the caster sugar over the top. Then add the egg white mixture. Then fold them together. (This is the hard part. The folding is the key and supposedly you can really mess things up if it isn't folded at the right speed, with the right motion, in the right amount of time.) Add some food coloring paste and flavor of your choice. 
Third, once it is thoroughly mixed, put it into a bowl and get it ready to pump on to a tray with the proper tools.
Fourth, very carefully squeeze your bag onto the mat to fill each little circle. (This is harder than it looks to make each circle equal and the perfect size.)
Here are all of the trays of the people in my class of their uncooked macaroon batter. Our initials are written on the side to distinguish who's is who's. Aren't they pretty?

The Finished Product!
These macaroons were filled with chocolate ganache. All macaroons are filled with different things and have their own flavors to them. That is the beauty of this special treat. The flavor combinations are amazing. My favorite flavor that I have heard of is the new Pierre Herme flavor. He made a raspberry, lime, with pepper macaroon. I want to try it! 
So my macaroon baking experience was a success! I can't wait to go home where I have a normal sized kitchen to myself, with normal kitchen equipment and experiment with these yummy treats. The possibilities are endless!

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