Saturday, February 25, 2012

Parisian Macaron Class Recap

On Thursday, I finally took the first step towards making one of my 2010 New Year's resolutions come true; I took a Parisian Macaron class with La Vie Douce Design.

La Vie Douce Design is the brainchild of Venus Wei, a talented pastry chef and designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to making delectable desserts for clients, she recently started offering classes teaching students how to make Parisian macarons among other sweets. So, together with a few wedding industry colleagues, we embarked on a fun and entertaining day at Venus' home kitchen.

Upon arriving at Venus' place, we were greeted with goodies at the tasting station, what a great start to the class!

There were three different kinds of creme brulee; lychee, ginger and espresso. I tasted the lychee one, never had this combination before, it was very good! Above the creme brulees were a new dessert created by Venus;  Meyer Lemon Curd Tart in verrine form, topped off with Chantilly cream and candied kumquat. I'm usually not a fan of lemon curd but hers was not too tart and all the elements worked really well together.

Of course, there were macarons for tasting too, there were three flavors of that as well; strawberry, mocha and chocolate-matcha. I tasted the strawberry macaron, not too sweet, perfect!

Then, there was also New York cheesecake bites with a strawberry coulis and salted caramel sauce, and vanilla panna cotta with fresh mangoes and coulis. I love the panna cotta; the slight tartness of the mangoes complemented the sweetness of the panna cotta. 

For the class, Venus provides recipes and a handy resource list so we know where to buy ingredients, baking tools and equipment. For the first half of the class, she went over a list of macaron cookbooks she recommends and showed us how we can package macarons in a variety of ways. Following that, she did a demo of making the macaron shells first, using two different methods, after which we split up into teams of two (there were six students total) and proceeded to make the macaron shells ourselves, with her guidance. My teammate Jeeryn and I decided to make chocolate macarons since the other two teams were making matcha (Peggy and Tiffany) and rose (Sophie and Jenny) macarons.

Here is Venus showing us how to fold the batter and how to pipe teddy bear macaron shells:

Here is Jeeryn piping our very first macaron shell and our sheet of finished macaron shells waiting to go in the oven:

Venus also showed us how to decorate the macaron shells, either before you bake them or after they are done baking. She also demonstrated how to make earl grey tea-infused chocolate ganache and rose buttercream as the fillings for the macarons we made (both of which I can just eat spoonfuls by themselves).

Here are our chocolate macaron shells out of the oven (with "blingy" decorations added by Venus):

Peggy and Tiffany filling their matcha macaron shells with the chocolate ganache:

Sophie and Jenny's completed rose macarons with rose buttercream, how pretty, and yummy too!

I highly recommend this class for all those who want to know how to make Parisian macarons. It is really helpful to actually watch a live instructor go through the process. Take it from me, on my very first try of making macarons, I tried to just follow a recipe in a book and ended up with cracked macaron shells. Venus is thorough in her teaching and offers lots of detailed knowledge and guidance. You also get to learn hands-on, not just by watching a demo by the instructor.

Now I cannot wait to try making macarons on my own :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

It's that time of the year again, the sweetest day, the day of l'amour! I wish you a very happy Valentine's Day and that you get to spend this day with the one(s) you love :)

Etsy: Cake Bunting, Rose Petal Tea Cookie ~ Martha Stewart: Valentine's Day Boxes, Box of Roses

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pinterest: Try It At Your Own Risk

Have you heard of the latest social networking site called Pinterest? According to their website, "Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

To me, Pinterest is a downright obsession. I joined late last year but did not actually start using it until early this year. Boy, once I started, there is no turning back, it is so fun and easy to pin images! I have to limit the amount of time I spend on that website or perusing other websites, pinning images onto my boards, otherwise, I would not get any work done. Even though, technically, finding inspiration online is part of my work, no?

It is a great way for engaged couples to share their wedding ideas and inspiration with their wedding planner and other vendors, or with their families and friends. Even if you are not planning a wedding, you can pin images for places you want to travel to, recipes you want to try, the shoes you want to get, anything you can think of.

Right now, I have some boards dedicated to weddings and some for my personal interests. Since Pinterest is still technically by-invitation only, if you are interested to join, let me know in the comments below or email me and I will send you an invite. I've heard that recently, it's faster to join if you get an invite from an existing member than if you were to request an invite from the website itself.

If you are already using Pinterest, you can follow me here.

Follow Me on Pinterest

(Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for introducing you to your impending obsession.)

You have been warned.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jen's Cakes Sweet Spot

Jen's Cakes is a popular wedding cake store in Willow Glen. I've worked with Jen a few times before and she makes the most amazing wedding cakes! This week, they just debuted their ready-made dessert counter at their store, called Sweet Spot. Being a big fan of their work, naturally, I have to go check out the goodies that they are offering.

Their offerings include scones (cranberry orange/blueberry with lemon glaze), cookies (chocolate chip/snickerdoodle), macademia nut coffee cake, white chocolate raspberry bars, espresso brownies and of course, various flavors of cupcakes and mini cupcakes.

Cranberry orange scones

White chocolate raspberry bars (I had these before, they are delicious!)

Espresso brownies (Will have to try these next time)
I LOVE their red velvet cupcakes! Theirs is the standard by which I compare others with :)

My goodies today (I am a sucker for Oreo anything)

After tasting the desserts, I came to a dangerous conclusion; now that Jen's Cakes has this ready-made desserts option, which essentially means that I can have access to them more easily, I REALLY have to practice more self-discipline and resist the urge to visit them everyday!