3-Hour Macaron Baking Workshop @ Taylor's University

When I told people I was going to take a Macaron class at Taylor's University (Lakeside Campus), they were like,

"But it's so easy to make what!"

"Why you want to make? Just go out and buy la!"

Well, I've never, ever baked in my life. I mean, I've used a bread machine once where you throw everything into the container and the machine does everything else for you. So other than that, I've no clue about baking, be it yeast, oven temperature, piping techniques, or even whisking egg whites. The days leading up to the workshop, I was so excited I could hardly wait.

First things first, the campus looks spacious and is immaculately kept. With the lake in the center, it's so serene just to sit by the steps and look at the water. It's got a built-in mall, fine-dining restaurants (for the purpose of culinary students), pastry kitchens, chocolate rooms, wine rooms and much more. Basically, it was like exploring a box of treats. 

Although I must point out that the campus has horrible signage (or maybe I just can't remember my college days). It took me about 20 minutes just to find the specific pastry kitchen I was supposed to go and that was after trekking around other campus blocks. Good thing I came early.

Now, I must state that I didn't take any pictures namely because:

A. I didn't have my camera - gave it to caramel honey for his Melbourne trip.

B. I wouldn't have had time to take pics coz as it turns out, I was busy taking notes or involved in mixing, piping, etc.

Hence, I'll try my best to be as descriptive as possible. After all, I was there to learn so, utmost focus on getting the right measurements was needed and not trying to focus on getting good shots of the mixing bowl! There were few girls that had their DSLRs but honestly, I don't know how they manage to bake with their huge cameras dangling around their necks.

Photo: placesandfoods.com

Back to the macaron workshop, the pastry kitchen was well equipped with industrial-sized ovens, and mixers but it seemed small in my opinion (had about 16 workstations). However, in our class of 20, we were put into groups of 4. All groups were given the ingredients (measured) and equipment plus each of us got recipes for macarons and various fillings.

Chef Karam did a demo of how to make macarons in front and we then had to go back to our stations to replicate what he did. It seemed easy (when he was making it) but there were lots of notes to take down especially the right oven temperature, when to take the sugar syrup off the burner, rationing the amount of sugar to cut, how much to whisk and how to see if your Italian meringue is forming right.

Photo: look-see-eat.blogspot.com 

Exact Measurement:
125g ground almonds
125g icing sugar (can be cut depending on sweetness preference)
45g egg whites (1st batch)
45g egg whites (2nd batch)
125g sugar
A drop of coloring

Actual Process:
1. Mix together ground almonds and icing sugar with egg whites (with a paddle, if using a machine). Egg whites should have been separated the night before, at room temperature so that it sifts better.

2. Make Italian meringue with sugar - which starts of with boiling sugar and water until the temperature reaches 118 degrees. Why water? This is to avoid sugar from crystallizing. The pot should be covered with foil and holes should be poked on the top to let steam out.

While this is going on, a second batch of egg whites should be whisked slowly. Once the sugar syrup is done, pour over sides of the bowl containing egg whites (still being whisked) until properly mixed.

3. Fold meringue into ground almond mixture (which I found out, was simply mixing the two together) with a coloring of your choice and pipe onto sheeting pan. By this time, your oven should be on at 150 degrees (top & bottom).

Don't pipe the macaroons too close or the heat will not surround each macaroon properly and it may not rise. Also, very important, your sheet pan should fit perfectly on the tray. Any unevenness can cause the macaroons to be unevenly baked.

Pipping is one task where practice makes perfect. We did 3 whole trays and you can literally see the difference between the lopsided lumps on the first tray and almost-perfect circles on the 3rd tray!

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roboppy

4. Once you've piped onto a sheeting tray, pick up the tray and let it drop onto the table a few times - to let air bubbles escape the mixture and flatten an unevenness. I don't mean BANG the tray against the table but just gently lift the tray about 10 inches and let it drop on the table.

5. Place tray into the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Once done, pull out and leave until the macarons cool. If you're having trouble pulling them off the sheet pan, just stick the tray into a chiller (or a fridge) for 2 minutes for a quick cool-down.

6. Pipe a filling of your choice and sandwich the macarons.

Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/roboppy 

NOTE: You should set the macarons aside overnight (air-tight container, plastic-wrapped and refrigerated) and only eat them the next day. This is to ensure the flavors are more infused.

Ours came out quite well, I have to say. Slightly crunchy on the top but chewy on the inside and not too sweet like some commercial macarons out there :)

Since the class was for 3 hours, the fillings for the macarons were made by Chef Karam the day before so we didn't have to make them from scratch. There were cream cheese, raspberry jam-butter cream, chocolate ganache and *rose-infused butter cream (which is my favorite so far). We can be really creative with fillings and that is quite obvious with macarons sold outside - I once saw durian flavored macarons.

Photo: tryityoumightlikeit.wordpress.com

Overall, the class was well taught and monitored. Chef Karam and his assistant (a Taylor's culinary student) helped out with ingredients and guided us when we were not sure what to do next. He also gave us pointers and tips on what to look out for when baking, proper way of pipping and tips on getting the Italian meringue right.

The only disadvantage I would say is that since the class was a Groupon deal, things were a bit crammed, like the making of fillings. Although we have the recipes and he went through them with us, it would have been fun to make a filling from scratch.

The whole process of making the shells of macarons (the top and bottom part) itself took almost 1.5 hours. Now I understand why macarons cost quite a bit outside. Apparently, in France, a single macaron can cost up to 2 euros each.

Photo: nodesserts.blogspot.com

Next to our pastry kitchen, were the cuisine and bread kitchens. We were allowed to walk through and see what the other classes were doing so we had a great time watching people kneading, banging dough on the table, chopping vegetables and making pies. Let me tell you, the sight was so enticing to the senses. Everything looked and smelled good. This must be what it feels like to be in the Masterchef kitchen. LOL!

I don't mind signing up for their pastry classes again but it's a tad bit expensive (for a one-day thing). Granted they've got good facilities and qualified chefs but for people on a budget - not so practical :(

FYI for people who are planning on taking classes at Taylor's Culinary School, when you come to the split from the highway, take a right (to Jalan Taylor's) as it will lead you to an outdoor parking and much more closer to the campus blocks. Plus, parking is free on weekends :)

*rose-infused butter cream - chef told us about these spray cans that infuses any filling with its scent, be it lemon, citrus, ylang-ylang or in our case, rose. 4 spritzes to the butter cream filling, mix well and you actually get an aftertaste of rose - very delightful to the tastebuds!

2 comment(s):

lina said...

Yummy treats! :)

sriyany said...

lina: looked so yummy that my mum popped one whole macaroon into her mouth - before realizing how rich/filling it was :)

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