Last Saturday, June 13, was a very happy day for me — I finally got to attend the Macaron 101 class at the Joey Prats School of Baking & Pastry Arts! They have an ongoing promotion and this is the second class I’m taking (I attended the Cookies and Bars class last month) so I just have to get one more class and the next one is free! Always remember the green walls and the blue gate — I forgot the number of the house but remembered it was this brightly colored house and I didn’t get lost this time. (Yay me!) As usual with all of their classes, the class size was small — there were only six of us that day. I like the small class size because it allows friendships to be created and it’s a good environment for shy ones to be comfortable with the rest of the class. It also makes it easy for everyone to gather around near the chef if needed be. I sat beside a familiar face (she was a classmate from the previous class) then started a little chitchat with her and the Marketing Director, Eric, while we all wait in anticipation for the class to begin.
The class started off with an introduction to macaron — Chef Joey discussed its rich history (Laduree, Pierre Herme, etc), the different techniques that can be used (French and Italian methods), and the description of a perfect macaron. When a student sets foot in Chef Joey’s kitchen, not only does the student learn how to bake, but he surely will have a more critical palate for desserts and a much more inquisitive approach to them as well.
Macarons are finicky to make which explains why a lot of bakers don’t make them much or don’t even try to make them at all. The baking began with the shells which are deceivingly easy to make: follow the procedure and you’re good to go; just don’t forget the correct preparation of the ingredients, the waiting for the macarons to set, the precise mixing needed for you not to over- nor undermix the batter… it’s fussy — yet easy, something you’d love to hate and hate to love. 😉 Next was the ganache — a simple yet luxurious treat made with the finest cream, chocolate, and ground almonds.
While waiting for the cookies to bake, we were surprised with a generous treat — a slice each of the best caramel flan (leche flan) that I’ve ever tasted! It has this gentle taste that’s creamy, and not overpoweringly sweet, that lingers on your taste buds even long after you’ve had it.
After the cookies were done baking, and have already cooled down, a generous amount of ganache was piped onto the cookies before being sandwiched by the top cookie… delicious. But painstakingly, we were told that the best time to eat a macaron is on the day after it’s cooked. Tempting as it may be, one must hold back and wait as each cookie is done with its “beauty rest” so as to achieve the different layers of flavor and texture that Chef Joey is proud of. The class ended with more chitchat and we were even able to try some liquid gold — Chef Myrna’s infamous Ultra Special Bagoong (no kidding, it’s so good that you can eat it with crackers). When we finally had to go home, we all left with a box each of macarons (for sharing…?) and a huge smile on our faces.
Although a very finicky treat, one must definitely try making macarons. Patience is truly a virtue one will need when making macarons (and trying very hard not to eat them on the same day it’s baked) but at the end of the day, I love macarons and I shall persist. As Chef Joey said, “mantra is ‘perfection’ and not ‘excellence,’ because the saying, ‘nobody’s perfect’ is just an excuse not to strive for perfection.”
For those interested in the Macaron 101 class, there’s another one coming up next month! I also found out that the macaron recipes can be found in one of the DVD that they’re selling. Check out their Facebook page for more details… 🙂