French Macaron Workshop: The Make Lounge, Islington

I’m sad to report that since writing, The Make Lounge is no longer in business :(

The cupcake is dead, long live the macaron!

Photo 06-04-2013 12 54 28

Freshly baked by the class

We’re of course not talking about the (also delightful) chewy rocks of coconut and chocolate so beloved of the GEH, but the delicate pastel little fancies sold like precious gems wrapped in tissue paper in the likes of Laduree. OK, gfreeb is probably late to this fad, but we think there are 5 reasons that macarons are better than cupcakes:

  1. They are naturally gluten-free*
  2. Cupcakes are so 2009, dahling
  3. They are so light and dainty they are practically a health-food**
  4. They are so much more exclusive than cupcakes, only special people can make macarons
  5. Oh, just look, they SO PRETTY!

Number 4 was the reason that instead of wading in heavy-handed, armed with an internet tutorial to give them a shot, I elected to spend a sunny Saturday in the beautiful Make Lounge learning the art of macaron-making. I’m very glad I did, as we learned all manner of techniques and background from the expert Phillipa Munro. For instance, the shells of macarons are rarely flavoured, as it can be tricky to add flavour without impacting the structure. Instead, it infuses from the filling. Yes, sadly I was supposed to wait at least 24 hours before popping these in my mouth, one-by-one!

Photo 06-04-2013 12 35 50

Filled and (almost) ready for eating

The small-group morning session comprised part demo, part hands-on practice. It was very useful to see then do, in a way you can’t when following a recipe. Touching and watching the textures and consistencies we needed to achieve was very helpful. I got to have fun with a proper K-Mix (no room for one at home) and experiment with lovely gluten free gel colours – opting for an extreme turquoise, flecked with bronze for my batch. Learning that macarons are freezable was also a boon – I can keep them stored ready for special visitors!

The team at the Make Lounge were very accommodating of my need for gluten free, checking the ingredients of chocolates, colours and decorations for me. Pleasingly, the help-yourself snacks included the perennial coeliac favourite: Pom Bears. Win!

And the result? My macarons were a little less than perfect, but a pleasing first effort as my piping improved during the class. I chose a mismatched set of fillings including yummy salted caramel cream (recipe). I’m looking forwards to practising and experimenting at home, especially as I don’t need any special equipment or ingredients! The GEH will be happy.

Photo 06-04-2013 13 32 36The 3 hour macaron workshop was £59. Next spaces are available in May. The Make Lounge also cater for private parties.

*Assuming you don’t add a stupid gluteny filling

**I don’t recommend taking health advice from me

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