Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dessert Day, supersized, fancy pants edition

About a month ago, my lovely friend and baking partner-in-crime Deidre sent me a message. It basically said "LOOK WHAT I FOUND WE SHOULD GO OMG OMG OMG" (It may have been a little more eloquent, if I'm completely honest...), and included a picture of the schedule of chocolate classes being held at Ganache Chocolate. Obviously, my reply was a resounding "Uh, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

However, we quickly came across a dilemma - which course should we sign up for?? And then we remembered our previous attempts at making macarons:
Pancake-y macarons that kind of look like baked dog poo, because
I only had a star tip for the piping bag. They tasted awesome though... 
Super puffy and super fall-y apart-y raspberry macarons. Good, but almost
impossible to assemble. Basically, really sad meringues.

The decision was obvious.

So on Saturday, Deidre and I headed to the Ganache shop to learn how to make macarons PROPERLY.

You guys may or may not know that Deidre and I have something of a phobia of raw egg. I *may* have sent her a text message a week or so before the course that said "Oh my God, do you think we'll have to crack the eggs? Because that would lead to disaster...". Thankfully, macarons are a labour of love, and the egg whites that you use need to age for a full week in the fridge before you use them (herein lies step 1 of a millionty on the path to Where We Went Wrong Last Time), so we didn't have to crack any eggs. Which is excellent, because there would have been "OH GOD THE EGG IS TOUCHING ME!!"-ing in front of a group of strangers. And that would have been awwwwwwkward. So hurrah to egg whites that need to age!


The course started with "compulsory free hot chocolate". Anything that starts with these words cannot be a bad thing. From there, head chef and owner Arno Backes taught us all about macarons. We learned that Ganache make their macarons with Italian meringue (boil water and sugar together, beat egg whites, slowly pour sugar syrup into egg whites while beater is running) rather than French meringue (beat egg whites, slowly add sugar), as it's more forgiving. Once the meringue is made, you add in the dry ingredients - which have ALSO been maturing for about a week.

(Seriously, you guys - macarons require a LOT of planning ahead...)

And then it was time to get our hands dirty. We mixed red food colouring into our portion of macaron batter (wherein we learnt that we were FAR too gentle with the mixture last time), and spooned it (very awkwardly, in my case) into piping bags. And then the piping started:
Me and Deidre looking like we know what we're doing

Piping is fun, yo.

The next step in Where We Went Wrong Last Time involved banging the tray to flatten out the macarons. We tapped them gently. Uh, NO. You need to bang the living crap out of that tray. Make as much noise as a two year old who's got a saucepan and a wooden spoon, and you'll be on the right track. Not surprisingly, banging the tray is far more effective than tapping it gently.

The macarons sat for five or ten minutes, or until the tops were no longer sticky to the touch. And then they went into the giant, could-walk-into-it-if-you-really-felt-the-need-to oven:
Hello, enormous oven.

While they were in the oven, Arno told us all about how he became a Master Chocolatier and Patissiere (answer: lots and lots of training), which was completely fascinating. I'd honestly never thought about how much training goes into a career in chocolate and baked goods! And he's so passionate about what he does.

While the macarons were in the oven, we also learnt how to make ganache and what you can use it for:
Arno: This is a good, basic ganache. You can use it to fill macarons. You can use it to fill a cake. You can use it to ice a cake. You can mix it with Mexican chilli powder and put it on chicken as a mole. Or you can put it in a little pot next to the toaster and have it on your toast in the mornings!

The ganache we used to fill the macarons was made with raspberry puree instead of cream, and it was quite possibly the most amazing thing of ever. Like, ZOMG. I am totally going to make some and keep it in a little pot next to the toaster. And when I weigh a thousand kilograms and have to be lifted out of the house by crane, I will have no regrets whatsoever.

Once the macarons came out of the oven, we sorted them into pairs and filled them with delicious ganache, and somehow managed to fight the urge to squirt the piping bags of ganache directly into our mouths. (Seriously. It was that good.)

Remember when I said before that macarons are a labour of love? Yeah. Once you've baked them and filled them and squidged them together, you have to put them in the fridge for 24 hours to soften and allow the flavours to develop.

This is seriously hard work. It helps if you have a tub of fancy pants ice cream on hand to take away the pain of waiting. But it's so totally worth it at the end of that 24 hours.

Obviously, the REAL test will come when I make macarons by myself. But that will require the purchase of three things:
1. A candy thermometer for the sugar syrup;
2. A digital scale to ensure ingredients are weighed properly; and
3. A minion to crack and separate the eggs for me, because NYARGH.

But once I've covered those three bases, I'm going to give it a go and see if I can replicate the final product at home!

The course was a lot of fun and if you're curious about making macarons, you should seriously consider going. If you're not interested in making them yourself, you should still swing by Ganache for a hot chocolate and a macaron or two. Both of them are totally worth it!!

K xx

Disclaimer: Ganache gave us a discounted price in exchange for blogging about the course. All opinions are my own. A huge thank you to Ganache and Arno Backes for the opportunity to make macarons that don't look like they've been sat on!!


  1. When I showed my mom the macarons she said "oh, so you're going to make those for your wedding right..." Labour of love indeed!

    We need to supersize MORE dessert days :)

    1. Wait, are you supposed to make them here and then TRANSPORT them to America, or are you supposed to make them once you arrive and are totally stressed out because that's inevitably what happens right before a wedding?? Because either way, NO.

      And yes!! We really really do.

  2. "A minion to crack and separate the eggs for me, because NYARGH."


    (Thank you for that. And for pretty much making me laugh throughout with nuggets of laughy goodness. Yes, I just said "laughy". I know.)

    Well, I've already commented on Deidre's blog, but I'll refrain from copying the entire comment and just copy and paste the first sentence, i.e.:

    "You two are freakin' CHAMPS, is what you are...! Brilliant. Those macarons look perfetto!"


    I don't know if I'll ever make myself learn how to make these tiny complicated sweets (PREP WORK A WEEK BEFORE OMG) but...I won't say no. (Though I probably won't learn for a while yet because: candy thermometer, ZOMG[!].


    1. I actually bought a candy thermometer and a set of electric scales yesterday, so now all I need is the egg cracking minion. WHEEEEEE!!! But yeah. It's kind of scary. And it would probably help to wait until I have access to a stand mixer, rather than trying to use a little handheld one!!

      At least now I know it's worth the week's preparation time!

    2. Dude, I'll totally be your egg cracking minion (ECM)! Bahahah. (That sounds so wrong, bwah!) Seriously, though, I've got no problems with handling eggs (I know, right?) and I keep meaning to suggest that we catch up for a drink in the city anyway and meet in person (eeeep! :D), although I am eeeever so slightly nervous that I won't be nearly as funny in person as on the page.




      So yeah, the way I figure it, I can't just become the ECM without you having met me first over dinner and/or drinks, hee!

      And we also need to make that Melbourne blogger meet-up happen...you, Deidre, me...and other cool peeps about whom I'm not clued in. Shall we co-organise? :-)


    3. Uh, YES. This is an excellent plan. Because Deidre and I have been talking about organising a blogger meet up since about JANUARY, and have yet to actually follow through on anything more specific than "Maybe in the city one Friday evening??".

      So yes. An additional party involved in the organising process is clearly required!! And pfff, I'm pretty sure I'm not as funny in person as on the page too. So it'll be TOTALLY FINE.

  3. I volunteer my services as an egg cracker and separator. I'm pretty good at that shiz and even though I "volunteer" for the role, my services do require payments in the form of Macarons. Chocolate ones. Lots of them.

    Good job though! They look amazing.

    1. I'm totally okay with that! Are you okay with the part where you do a ton of work and then don't get paid for eight days?? ;)

      And thank you!

  4. I would fail at waiting twenty-four hours before eating those macarons. How were you able to resist them for so long? Even with fancy pants ice-cream on hand? Because, surely the thought would occur that the ice-cream could only be improved by the addition of macarons, and it would all come undone.

    1. I must confess, I did sample one or two the day we made them. Which was good, because it gave me something to compare them to the next day. And the ones I had the next were infinitely superior to the ones I had immediately.

      That said, I foresee me not ever being able to wait 24 hours before trying them. You know, just to make sure they're not poisonous!! ;)

  5. These look delicious (but I am a glutton and would also have scoffed the first two attempts happily).

    1. Thank you! The first two attempts were, indeed, delicious. But they looked absolutely nothing like macarons!!

  6. That's so cool! I wish there was anywhere that taught any kind of food making in my town. But no.

    1. Awwwwww. Sad :( Clearly, you should come to Melbourne so that we can do a cooking class together!!


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