Sweet Musings on a Macaron Class
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!
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!
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.
Demonstrating how the tant pour tant should be incorporated into the meringue efficiently without over mixing the batter.
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!
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!
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!
Replicating what was imparted to us just moments ago…
Say “Cheese” ladies!!!
Backhand, forehand, whatever hand! As long we get nice round and evenly shaped shells!
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!
Another “classmate” checking on her macaron shells for bubbles and any supeficial “oddities” which must be rectified before the shells completely dry out.
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!!!
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!
These were made by one of my team mates, Jacintha. She piped bigger shells and made about 7 macarons.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
They look so inviting for one to sink their teeth in, aint they?! Kudos Sheron!
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!!!
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!