{The secrets of french macarons revealed}

Ah.. tonight was my much-anticipated class at Nectar Desserts and the last class of the season till fall.

I came a bit early and was seated in the restaurant with a lovely glass our their house white wine, refreshing, crisp and fruity, a great start to the evening off. Shortly after 6, we were invited into the Nectar kitchen where the lovely owner and executive chef Rebekah Pearse was there to enthusiastically greet us and teach us her macaron-making expertise.

All ready with our wine and pencils to take notes. By the way, I was the only person scrambling to jot down everything she said. Ah.. I’m such a geek.

After a brief intro of macarons, we jumped right in. Just like TV, the ingredients were set out and ready to go.

We were going to make 3 batches tonight. So what goes into a macaron? Pretty simple ingredients really.

First. Slivered almonds & icing sugar. Blended in a food processor, then sifted (a key step to ensure they are no grainy).

Next comes the room temperature egg whites, split into 3  perfectly measured portions for the 3 batches. Note the food scale, she really stressed the importance of weighing out your ingredients rather than going by measuring cups. This is the time you add your flavourings! She had a bunch of essenses out for us to choose, I voted for the bergamont (I’m a HUGE earl grey tea fan)! An item she had acquired during her travels to Italy. Heaven in a bottle! (Others that peaked my interest – rose water, orange blossom and matcha green tea)

The 2nd batch would be peppermint and 3rd, chocolate.

This is also the time you add your colorings. Don’t get too crazy, a little goes a LONG way.

Now comes the fun part, mixing with your hands! The bright pink was peppermint, the golden ochre – bergamont, and of course the rich brown – chocolate.

Next step, heat up some sugar and water. Don’t forget your candy thermometer. While that is waiting to boil, whip up some egg whites. When the sugar gets hot enough, add them to your egg whites in a slow steady stream and beat on high speed, look how glossy  and thick it gets!

Using your scale, measure out the right amount of italian meringue to each bowl and mix it up. A great arm exercise, it definitely took some strength to get it all incorporated.

Now it’s time to pipe. Make sure not to overfill the bag, or you could get more macaron on you than on the baking sheet. She piped these SO fast! This is definately a technique where practice makes perfect.

Then it’s time for them to rest to develop a nice skin so they rise nicely. After about 20 minutes, into the oven they go for 8-10 minutes. The smell in the room was intoxicating!

Next, mixing up the fillings! Today’s flavours – chocolate macaron with salted caramel mousse, peppermint macaron with milk chocolate mousse and bergamont with raspberry white chocolate mousse.

When the macarons are out of the oven and cooled, match up similar sized wafers – flat side up, then pipe on a dollop of the mousse on one side. Put the two together like an oreo, then ta-dah! A macaron!

Some may not be that pretty, but they sure tasted good! And who says they have to be round, why not make some eclair shaped ones! To make it even more tempting, Rebekah added Valrhona chocolate malt balls (aka “crack pearls”) cause they’re SO deliciously addictive. We also did ones with fresh raspberries with milk chocolate mousse filling. Oh my goodness…

When all was done, we each got a take out box we could fill up. Oh yes. You better believe I filled mine FULL.

Now you see them, now you don’t.

Rebekah was such a friendly and knowledgable person, she shared all her tips from her own personal macaron-making experience, common mistakes (eg. avoiding crystallization, how to get that smooth perfect rounded top, etc.) and was open to answer all our questions. Of course I had to ask the chef, owning a bakery, what her favourite dessert was. Her reply was surprising, not something that she offered in her bakery – simple and sweet, creme caramel.

Overall, this class was a great experience! I highly recommend this class to all you foodies/dessert lovers out there. The process is quite precise and you WILL have failed batches, but the end result when they do turn out, is so impressive and satisfying. So even if you decide not to make these yourself, you’ll go home with a greater appreciation for this lovely french dessert.

Nectar desserts will be taking a break from classes in the summer, but will be back again in the fall. Note that classes are max 6 per session, and they fill up fast! Want the recipe, well, you’ll have to sign up for the class and let Rebekah share her recipe with you 🙂

By the way, macarons are recommended to rest for 24 hours before eating. Believe me, I had one fresh and one the next day. They are DEFINITELY worth the wait. When fresh, they are crunchy, dry and crumbly, not the dense chewy centre and crisp egg-shell like crust you’re use to getting in the stores.

I’ll leave you with a picture of their freezer. Can I live in here?

7 Responses to “{The secrets of french macarons revealed}”
  1. MS says:

    I just found your blog and absolutely love it!

  2. Thank you, I love food and I love sharing my experiences with everyone 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    What a great post, thanks! May I ask also…what temperature you baked the macarons at? Thanks again! 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks! And they have lovely feet! 🙂

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] I’m often told by both the boy and my friends who know my dessert-loving tendencies that I should buy shares in this place, because I’m definitely keeping them in business with my frequent visits (the boy has caught me sneakily driving there to get my sweet fix). I’ve mentioned my love for this place several times on my blog, I even did a class there to learn how to make French Macarons. […]

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