Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Sweet Musings on a Macaron Class

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Yeah! I’d finally done it! I’d been wanted to attend a macaron class for ages, but just couldn’t find the right opportunity and time for it! Most culinary classes offered by the various local cooking schools conduct lessons mostly over weekends or weekday evenings, which is virtually impossible for me, owing to my own teaching schedule! Countless times have I looked into their websites only to find the timings unsuitable, or the classes already full. “Oh well… ” I tell myself and heave a deep sigh. No such luck.

About 3 weeks back, I saw a listing for a “Macaron and Petit Fours” class at Palate Sensations by Chef Lynn Chen on a friday afternoon, I knew I have to attend this! It was almost like God answering my prayers! So by some form of divine intervention, I secretly enrolled myself into the course and pray for the day to come! As the big day approaches, I actually found myself getting rather nervous and somewhat restless about it! Afterall, it had been many moons since I last stepped into a classroom setting as the student! And this is by no means a conventional classroom! Apart from watching Nigella swurving her voluptous curves or Gordon Ramsay swearing his bollocks off in the kitchen, as well cooking demos by those peddling pans and woks in Tangs and Takashimaya,  I’d never attended an actual culinary class before and this would be my virginal attempt! I think one can’t possibly find a better reason to have butterflies in the stomach than this!

I arrived early to witness a professional food photo shoot. All the gadgetry and equipment, a real eye opener really. Chef Lynn, our instructor was early too, busy with the pre-class preparations. Honestly, I was too shy to approach her then. She seemed rather pre-occupied with the prep work and I reckoned that during or after class would be a better time for a chat up with her.

As the clock ticked closer to 2 pm, more “fellow classmates” streamed in while the photo shoot cleared away. Needless to say, I’m the only male species in the class but then again, I was kinda anticipating this anyway! So thou is not too bothered by this, if thy fellow mademoiselles are not too bothered by thee! I’m here to make some macarons so let the macaron fever begin!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Chef Lynn Chen was trained at the Tokyo campus of the renowned french cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu. Despite not being in the best state of health (she was down with flu that day), she delivered the lesson very professionally, down to the last impeccable detail, especially with regards to preparation and checking the readiness of the batter during “macaronage” . This certainly helped to dispel numerous doubts I had on the makes and bakes of these temperamental morsels of goodness! She also shared quite a few off-the-recipe tips and made these finicky petite confections seemed almost effortless to make!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Chef Lynn detailing the class on what to look out for a good french meringue. We used the french meringue method for the class, Chef Lynn’s preferred way, as opposed to the italian meringue aka “macarons au sucre cuit” method, which according to her, produces better tasting macaron shells. :)

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Demonstrating how the tant pour tant should be incorporated into the meringue efficiently without over mixing the batter.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Piping the batter after “macaronage” onto the Silpat. Firm grip, appropriate elevation, vertical composure, swift strokes… almost like practising spell work for wingardium leviosa in Harry Potter! Nothing beats watching it been performed right before our eyes. Chef Lynn also piped, with deliberation, several “mistakes” commonly made by students, to teach us how they might be “resuscitated” in the event that it should happen to us!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Showing what to observe on macaron shells to know if they are ready for the oven and the know-hows and remedies to common macaron “ailments” etc bubbles. And then it was our turn to make our own!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

We worked in groups of three, each having to prepare a tray of shells from scratch under the watchful eye of Chef Lynn. But with laughter and giggles everywhere, the ambience in the cooking studio is more light-hearted than anything! Just the right mood for good macarons! :)

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Replicating what was imparted to us just moments ago…

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Say “Cheese” ladies!!!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Backhand, forehand, whatever hand! As long we get nice round and evenly shaped shells!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

A Nikon moment amidst all the whisking. Gorgeous smiles all around! :)

Our team was the first in the round robin sequence to prepare the macaron shells to Chef Lynn. Lots of hiccups for me! horrific me tried to pour the meringue into the piping bag WITHOUT incorporating the tant pour tant! Now in retrospect, WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING!? What an embarrassing moment that was! I was bloody nervous! But my team mates were too busy to burst out in laughter; they were whisking their guts out to get their meringues to form peaks using hand whisks!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Another “classmate” checking on her macaron shells for bubbles and any supeficial “oddities” which must be rectified before the shells completely dry out.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

While waiting for the shells to dry, we prepared the lemon curd filling. Honestly given the amount of ingredients, we were rather skeptical on whether the quantity would suffice to allow us to fill out our macaron shells! But I guess our reservations were pretty much uncalled for. We had a teeny bit of filling left after filling out the shells and I couldn’t help but to smear the sides of the bowl for some to try. And it was helluva finger lickin’ good! What a yummy filling! Even J, who’s not a big fan for tart and sharp flavours found the filling very refreshing! This recipe is a keeper!!!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

After Chef Lynn’s demo macaron shells came out of the oven, it was our turn to put ours in! We used three separate ovens, one tray per bake and synchronised our baking time to Sheron, one of our team mate’s iphone! Never touch the dials on the oven! we were told…. lol

Keeping our fingers and toes crossed, we waited and watched as the shells slowly rose as if they took on a life of their own and started to develop pretty feet! It was the most incredible sight, and most certainly a very exhilarating one to witness! No cracks or “volcanic eruptions” thank goodness! I declare Mission Macaron a success! :)

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

These were made by one of my team mates, Jacintha. She piped bigger shells and made about 7 macarons.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Sheron, our other team mate piped slightly smaller shells and got a bountiful 8 cute and petite macarons in the end. I piped an even 16 shells and got 8 too!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

After waiting for the shells to cool and harden slightly, we peeled ‘em off the silpats and proceeded to have ‘em filled up with the lemon curd we’d prepared earlier, that was resting in the fridge. And its done! lemon macarons in an intense eggy yellow. :)

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

We also learned another petit four, Chocolat Noisette, which are in essence, soft and chewy hazelnut cookies piped the same way as macarons but a tad bigger. But the recipe is so much more forgiving than macarons! Here’s Jacintha piping the ganache.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Sheron, helped to fill the middle with a dollop of raspberry jam as I snapped more photos. I really admire the energy and vigour of these two ladies as they worked furiously over the last 2+ hours or so.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

And voila! the finished products! We used some pretty crockery from the shelves for these quick shots as the class comes to an end at around 5+ pm.

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

These were made by Sheron, my Filipino team mate who specially flew in to attend the class! I wish I had her kind of passion and drive!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

They look so inviting for one to sink their teeth in, aint they?! Kudos Sheron!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

And these are the macarons I’d made!!! I am absolutely enthralled to see how these turned out. Definitely a major confidence booster for me! If not for Chef Lynn’s guidance I doubt they’d look so pretty! I very much look forward to more classes by her, especially her remakings of Sadaharu Aoki and Hidemi Sugino’s creations! I think I’ll need to pray harder this time!!!

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

For those interested in the art of macaron making, or simply to have a fun time in the kitchen, do visit Palate Sensation’s website for more class details. Chef Lynn has another macaron class in late March and I’m pretty sure the class would be filled up as quickly as mine!

Meanwhile merry macaroning!

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27 responses

  1. OMG! Your 1st trail on Macs already soooo pretty and success! I am sure we can see more upcoming Macs post from you soon :)

    February 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

  2. oh my they are such a beautiful and vibrant color macarons!! how i wish i can achieve even mac size macs!

    February 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

  3. Lynn

    Wow, Alan! I think you were the hardest working student that day. Not only did your macarons turn out beautifully, you documented the whole class in photos. Well done!

    February 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

  4. I think macaron making classes are great fun! They also help with your confidence too which is a good thing when it comes to these little treats :)

    February 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  5. Cheryl

    Hi Alan!

    Saw your blogpost through palate sensation’s FB page :) I was your classmate at the macaron class on Friday! your pics are lovely! Do you mind sending me a copy of them, if it’s not too much trouble for you? Thanks so much!

    February 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

  6. Sheron Tiu

    Hi Alan! I love the photos!! and of course, the macarons that we made!! yum yum! I can’t wait to make them again… Thank you very much for the beautiful photos =) Hope to see you again in other classes =)

    February 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

  7. Pretty macs! Awesome! Haha, I can see that there a macaron craze among bloggers now ;)

    February 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  8. your macarons look absolutely delightful – the smooth shiny top and the frilly feet! But the clincher gotta be the Chocolat Noisettes – they look to-die-for! (I love the hazelnut and chocolate combo)

    February 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  9. firebirdie

    Ellena: I’m still a long way from making good macs for sure. But its a good start and I couldn’t have done it without the Chef Lynn and the gals’ help!

    Jess: yours look very pretty as well! gambate ne!

    Lorraine: yes the class was very fun indeed. Hoping the next class would come soon!

    Cathy: the macaron fever is definitely on. And I’m glad to be on the bandwagon!

    Janine: The chocolat noisettes are quite delightful indeed. The richness of the ganache balances well with the tangy raspberry confiture. And the hazelnut embellishments compliments the confection both in aroma and crunch. Unfortunately they don’t have that long a shelf life compared to macarons. have to be eaten the day they are made. Well, they didn’t last that long anyway. LOL

    February 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

  10. firebirdie

    Cheryl: Nice to see you here! I could send you the photos of course. Just need your email addy. Alternatively, you could visit my flickr acct by clicking of the photos in the blog and just download from there!

    February 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    • Cheryl

      thanks alan, i’ll get them off your flickr then :) anyway do you know what’s the best way to keep the macarons nice and chewy, instead of soft after a few hours?

      February 23, 2011 at 2:05 am

  11. firebirdie

    Sheron: Hope you had a good stay and shopping spree for bake goods in Singapore! the macarons made at the class were delish indeed. you gals are simply fantastic! Merry macaroning back in Manila! Let us know when you are back in Singapore and perhaps we could do a mini gathering :)

    February 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

  12. firebirdie

    Chef Lynn: Thanks so much for all your guidance that day. Those three hours were more worthwhile than all the days of online reading and browsing at Kinokuniya for good tips on macaron making. My only regret is not having enrolled your classes earlier! Very much look forward to attending your classes again.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

  13. Jasmine

    OMG! is so nicely done!! (:

    February 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm

  14. firebirdie

    Hi Jasmine! thanks for the wonderful comments. I can’t wait to make them again!

    February 22, 2011 at 10:27 am

  15. hi, those macarons are absolutely gorgeous! There are so many macarons posted on the blogs lately and i’m so tempted to make them too. I wish there’a a class on macarons making near my area. i agree with you that watching and doing it there is entirely diff understanding than reading it.. some of the clips on .youtube that i watched did helped a little but i wld still prefer to attend a proper class on that. Thanks for your comment so that i know you..there are a lot of great bakes here and i shall see you more often here.

    as for your question on the kerisik, it’s different from the dessicated coconut that we see from the bakery ingredients shop. Nromally we can get them from supermarkets , they are sold in small packets or from my place, i can get them from the wet market.
    Some of the curry chicken or rendang chicken do come with kerisik, so if you’re interested to cook that and if you are unable to get this, another option is do to cook them yourselves. It involves a bit of work. Get fresh grated coconut(medium old) and fry them on a wok over low fire till they turn light brown..this may probably takes abt 20minutes. After that, blend them using a food processor or pound them till fine, this will be your kerisik. you will notice there’e some oil too from the pounding, get the oil as well. Though i have not tried doing it myself, i just know that this is how they do it. Hope this helps in future.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi Lena! Thanks for dropping by! My previous trials for macarons prior to the class almost always end up with shells with no feet, uneven notches and bumps on the surface, “volcanic eruptions” and a whole list of what-nots. If I’m lucky, I get something that looks fairly decent but that’s once in a very blue moon. Hands on practice with a qualified instructor to guide along really make a difference for me in this. So this class was really quite a revelation for me. Do try making some macarons. They are really dainty and delicious!

      Thanks for the tips for making kerisik! Come to think of it, I think I might have seen them around in the grocery stores before. Will have to go hunting for them before I get down to make my own. Too lazy! lol

      February 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

  16. Congratulations! The macarons are beautiful – smooth glossy shells with pretty feet! You’ve made the chef proud!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:16 am

  17. Bake for a Queen

    I love the golden yellow of your macarons. Well done!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

  18. firebirdie

    Cheryl: let me know if you have any problems getting the fotos off my flickr. :)

    Shirley: There are still some idiosyncratic bumps here on some shells and there but I’m really happy with the results. And yes, all the credit goes to Chef Lynn for the wonderful teaching! Too bad macarons have little appeal for you. Would love to see you joining the fun! Can’t wait to see your bakes when you come back from Korea!

    Nancy: thanks! I’d got lots to learn from you! The macarons you baked look so perfect!

    February 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

  19. Alan, This is a fantastic post! Congrats on your success for the first time making macarons. The colors are brilliant and I am sure they taste divine. They look very professional! I love all your pictures! The are magazine worthy. What camera and settings you use to take such awesome pictures?

    February 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hello! I used a Nikon D700 for the class. The “people” shots were taken largely with a 50mm f/1.8 while the food shots were done with a 60mm f/2.8 macro. The food fotos turned out quite satisfactory but are definitely a long way to go for publications! lol

      And I flouted one of the golden rules to food photography, i.e. never use flash. I don’t have a strobe and even if I do, I’ll look like a total nutcase to lug it to the class! Instead, I used an external slave flash and bounced it off some reflective surfaces if possible. The layout of the kitchen studio seems ideal in this case for this purpose.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm

  20. Pingback: Revision on making macarons 馬卡龍の复習 « travellingfoodies

  21. Pingback: Sweet Musings of a Tea Cake Class @ Palate Sensations « travellingfoodies

  22. mishi

    will there be an upcoming macaron class again for 2013? I checked out Palate Sensations website and it seemed to be not working anymore.. :(

    April 2, 2013 at 11:57 am

    • HI – there are macaron classes every month and the website is definately working. Here is the link for the next class on 14th April.

      http://www.palatesensations.com/classDetail.php?url_id=eba868563253584

      If you have problems, do call us on 64789746 or send us an e-mail to info@palatesensations.com.

      All pastry classes are now taught by Chef Felicia Khoo our Pastry Chef.

      Lynette
      Palate Sensations Cooking School

      April 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      • Alan (travellingfoodies)

        Thanks for replying, Lynette.

        Mishi, kindly contact Palate Sensations directly for an updated schedule of their classes :)

        April 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm

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