Macaron-making is a delicate art. The shell ingredients are simple (egg white, two types of sugar and almond flour) but it’s the proper tools, techniques and timing which determines your success. I knew, like many others, I would greatly benefit from an instructor to teach me the best tips and tricks in baking a successful batch of these French pastries. SocialShopper currently has a half-price deal to take a macaron making class at the newly opened Professor and the Pigeon for $45/person. I quickly booked my class and was determined to learn how to make these beautiful creations.
The two-hour class at Professor and the Pigeon begins with a demonstration of the techniques used in baking macarons. You gather around a table and watch as the instructor mixes together the ingredients, giving tips along the way. What is an egg white “peak”? How should you stir in the dry ingredients? Why do you compress rather than aerate the batter? What texture and consistency should you look for in your mix? I noticed that several of the class participants were taking notes. At the end of the demonstration, we each had a chance to experience “piping”: squeezing dollops of batter onto a baking sheet, which will eventually make up the shell of the macarons.
After the demonstration, you separate into three groups and are each assigned a colour and flavor for your batch of macarons. The instructor stands by and checks our batter for texture and consistency and answers any of our questions. She puts on the timer so we know when to start and stop mixing. After we are done piping our batch of macarons onto the baking sheet, we have a 30 minute break, while we wait for the unbaked shells to form a subtle crust before it’s eventually put into the oven. In between sips of sparkling apple cider and truffles (which is what we were served on our break), I had the opportunity to chat with Professor and the Pigeon manager, Tim O’Brien. Hailing from Australia with decades of culinary, Tim explains to me the concept behind the Professor and the Pigeon. In the day, it operates as a café, while on some evenings, there are after-hours baking classes. The “Professor” portion of the café name comes from Tim’s passion for being a mentor and teacher to those in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, “Pigeon” (as in pigeon pie) is a nod to the café’s French influence. The entire café/bakery is centered on that quirky theme: framed on the walls are opened textbooks, old-school typewriters, hour glasses and giant maps. After our break, we made our buttercream filling for each batch of macarons. The flavours each team was assigned included Earl Grey (which is made by crushing actual tea leaves into a fine powder), white chocolate and raspberry. After the thick filling is piped into the baked shells, you gently squeeze together the two halves, like an oreo cookie or a mini hamburger, and you have your finished macaron! So, how did these beautiful pastries turn out? The majority of the macarons were baked and filled properly. By no means were the shapes perfect, after all, we are just beginners, but the taste and texture was like they should be. A subtle crust on the outside, and squishy sweet filling. After taking this class and realizing how much dedication it takes to make a batch of these sweet delights, I have a new-found appreciation for the professional pastry chefs who are able to perfect the art of making macarons. To experience this macaron-making class, check out the limited-time half-price offer on SocialShopper by clicking here.