Macaron Cooking Class @Sur_la_Table

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Macaron for #MeatlessMonday. They’re meatless, right? They start with an M? *shrugs*

The meat free meal I made last week is for #SundaySupper on April 27. You will have to stay tuned for it. It’s delicious!!

But, do not fret my loyal readers. I have a FABULOUS tale to tell you today! Oh. The alliteration is running rampant! Can ya tell I’m SUPER excited?


*deep breath*


Some of you may stalk me on Instagram or Facebook and probably got a sneak peek at my weekends activities. But I’m here to tell you, the two photos I posted were NOTHING compared to the experience I had this weekend at my Sur la Table Macaron class!! Yup. I finally broke down and took a class on making these little B…um beauties.


Since I was SUPER excited, I was there early, which is good because I drank a considerable amount of liquid before we left. Thankfully the Bed Bath and Beyond was open. That also gave S something to do while I was in the class. Yup! He went to Pentagon Row with me and just did some shopping while I was baking.



This is what I walked into! Not to mention a handful of kitchen assistants just prepping away! It was a buzz of activity and I was ecstatic to be there. I hadn’t taken any kind of cooking class since Home Economics in high school. I never really felt the need to, until I met these little finicky cookies. If you have ever tried to make them sans instruction you’ll know what I mean.


There were three stations set up with various ingredients. For some reason, I picked the one closest to the window. Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me that’s where the best light was? *shrugs* I’m glad I did, though. It was the station set up to make… PISTACCHIO MACARON!!



See that little container of dark looking meal on top of the almond meal? That’s the ground pistachios! When I started looking through the booklet on the table, I knew that’s where I wanted to be! I was there early enough to really have my choice. The front station was lavender with chocolate ganache. You’d think I was drawn in by the chocolate wafers on that station, but nope! The center station was raspberry with champagne butter cream. I saw the red powder and knew exactly what it was! Not that I’m trying to sound like a snob, but I have dabbled a little in these gems.



So, as you can see, I’ve been trying for the last almost year to make these delicate gems, with mostly failures. Granted, even the failures are pretty darn tasty! After the last two or three #fails batches that I didn’t even write about, I decided it was time to try to find a class or something to take that would help me be more successful in baking these babies.


I gotta be honest; I had NO CLUE that Sur la Table offered classes. I’ve been looking at their schedule of classes ever since! Too bad S isn’t as interested in their classes as I am. He hasn’t felt the need and doesn’t think he would enjoy taking a cooking class. All I know is I had a blast!



The class filled in COMPLETELY! No empty spots to be had, and apparently you have to register pretty darn early as this one fills up quickly. I think I registered in January when Mom sent me the check for my birthday. Thanks, MOM! Love ya! I’m glad I called to check when it was. I thought it was next weekend for some reason, but nope! I called and then received a reminder email on Friday. Saturday couldn’t get here fast enough!!  I was FINALLY going to get some help with these cookies!!



At first, it was watch and learn. Chef Joe Lipinski was super nice! He was very approachable and down to earth. I don’t know what I thought the chef instructor would be like, but definitely not him. He was very knowledgeable and funny. Some of the things discussed I had learned on my own. Some things, I didn’t really think about but made sense when he talked about them; like adding powdered flavors to your batter. You have to remove twice as much sugar/nut meal as powdered flavor. If you’re using 2 tablespoons ground raspberries, you should remove 4 tablespoons of your mixture. Things like that which make sense, but I never thought of it. That’s why my stupid strawberry and cocoa ones don’t look so purdy.



He’s showing us the proper technique on piping the cookies onto the silpat. I often wondered about this. Is it straight up and down pipe? A swirled pipe? Straight up and down. Just press the tip close to the pat and keep squeezing until there’s an adequate circle. Thankfully, they gave us pattern sheets to put under the silpat. I have issues with consistency in this respect.



And in no time flat, he’s piped a whole tray! Those are sweet pea and wasabi macaron. No. They’re not just sweets. He almost did shrimp Thai flavored ones, but someone had a shrimp allergy in the class. But that’s something to think about later! Shrimp with a sweet Sriracha filling? Or a sweet and sour filling? Or even a ginger filling? The possibilities are endless! He made paprika macaron with a romesco jam for a wedding or something like that. Now those sounded really delicious!


Now it’s our turn!! I whipped up the meringue while the other members processed the meal and flour together. Our processor didn’t work at first. It was missing a key part; the blade!



And now we sift, sift, and sift again!


Butter cream time! YIPEE!



And here’s he’s showing the technique for the ganache. I’m lazy. I make it in the microwave. Mine comes out almost exactly the same! He did bring out the bags of Vahlrona chocolate they use for us to taste. HOLY COW was that some DELICIOUS chocolate! I could have eaten the whole bag, but had only one wafer of each flavor: milk, semi-sweet, and bittersweet.




Okay. From all the websites, Youtube videos and all the research I’ve done on these little buggers, the “lava” consistency of the batter simply eluded me. Seriously. I needed to see it in person to really understand what it meant. Think, Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones. It’s smooth and slow and just oozes like American in a plain ole grilled cheese sammy; oozes. Got it? Almost like a brownie batter consistency as you’re pouring it into the pan. Get it? I can’t find any other analogies to offer up. Sorry.



And now it’s time to pipe them out. I was trying to show technique and let everyone try using the piping bag. It appeared that most weren’t that interested in the piping part of the exercise. *shrugs* C’est la vie! So, I think I piped about half of them out? It’s okay. I didn’t mind. I needed to work on my technique, too.


       Lavender                 Sweet pea               Our pistachio


Here’s three of the four batters. I can’t seem to find a raspberry batter before piping so I must have missed taking those photos.



I didn’t get a picture of the sweet pea after they baked up. They didn’t have feet and were not the easiest to get off the parchment. So, as you can see, even in the class they didn’t come out perfect! Something about the oven temperature messed up a few of them; ours included. They were wrinkled because they dried and went into an oven that was too hot. He kept playing roulette with the pans and the ovens. With the three ovens we had going, the lavender and the raspberry produced feet. Ours sort of had feet, but the tops were not smooth AT ALL!



Here’s three of the four cookies. Clockwise: Pistachio with Lemon Butter Cream, Lavender with Chocolate Ganache, and Raspberry with Champagne Butter Cream. I gotta say, they did something weird to the champagne butter cream. It was kind of separated and had a grainy look to it? *shrugs* It tasted okay!



Here’s a close up of our pistachio cookie. I made two of each flavor and took them all home with me to share with S. We ate them last night. Well, almost all of them. The sweet pea and sweet & sour butter cream is still sitting in the fridge. It’s not quite dessert worthy. Just sayin…



One last picture I have to share. This is the tray of flavorings (oils and extracts) and colorings that we had available to us. We opted for a more natural looking pistachio color, but Chef Joe said a combination of green and yellow make for a perfect looking pistachio coloring.


What I learned:

  • Cream of tartar stabilizes the egg whites
  • You can purchase the egg whites in the carton (except the Great Value brand…personal expierence) and since they have added citric acid, they have a stabilizer in them and are consequently dryer than regular egg whites.
  • Honeyville Farms sells good quality almond meal and cheaper than Bob’s Red Mill. Sorry Bob.
  • Freeze nuts before you grind them. It solidifies the oils in the nut making it easier to grind and you’re less likely to produce butter out of the nuts.
  • Always add your flavorings after the eggs have whipped up. Your extract might have an oil in it which could prevent your egg whites from working stiff peaks.
  • For caramel flavored macaron, drizzle the caramel into the egg whites as they are whipping. At least that’s what I think he said.
  • Always used Dutch processed cococa powder and NEVER Hershey’s. Sorry Hershey.
  • Beat your eggs on medium speed. At high speed, you don’t deconstruct the proteins in the egg well enough.
  • Beat the whisk with a spoon handle and not on the side of the mixing bowl. It allows the meringue hanging into the whisk to fall into the bowl and not the sides of the bowl.
  • If it’s humid, put your macaron in a 200 F oven for 9 minutes then increase to 350 and bake following directions.
  • For a crunchier cookie, use less meringue. For a chewier cookie, add more meringue.
  • If your batter is too thick, add another egg white! Simply whip it up and fold it in. He did this with the sweet pea, but I don’t think it was necessary. *shrugs*


I will say this: It was WELL worth the $70 Mom spent on this class! And yes, Mom, I did some extra stuff with the extra money. It actually went towards some REI stuff. *smile* S purchased a sifter, some kitchen towels, and a hot air popper for us. AND he bought me another large baking sheet to make MORE cookies! YAY! Yet one of MANY reasons I love that man with all my heart!


I hope you look into taking the Sur la Table Macaron class. They have one coming up for Mother’s Day. Not to worry, Mom! I got ya covered! *wink*


And just to make it easy!  Here’s their list of Spring cooking classes.  They all look delicious don’t they?


Spring Cooking Classes
Cooking class: Vegetarian Cooking Inspired by Plenty.Cooking class: Swimsuit Season Cooking.Cooking class: Better with Beer.
Cooking Class: Gourmet Cooking with All-Clad plus class bonus.Cooking class: How to Cook the Perfect Steak.Cooking class: Grilling Season Basics.
Cooking class: Sweet and Savory Tarts.Cooking class: Mother's Day Macarons.Cooking class: Mediterranean Small Plates.





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