Oh macarons… How long I’ve been intrigued and obsessed with the sophisticated, stylish creations displayed in the windows of Parisian patisseries and served at fabulous dinner parties. Ever since Ladurée opened its doors at Harrods followed by the innovative Pierre Hermé of quince and lychee fame, I’ve been determined to master how to make the most famous mini meringues in the world. An Oh La La Macarons & Martinis Masterclass provides the perfect opportunity to do just that!
Oh La La’s founder Meredith O’Shaughnessy is the founder of the UK’s first macaron and martini making workshop, teaching guests the secrets of how to bake the perfect macaron and have fun doing it. The classes are held at different London locations each time around such as The Ivy Club and Coco Momo. When it comes to macarons, Meredith has seen and done it all, from hand painting golden orbs on orange blossom macarons for Vivienne Westwood to matching her macarons to a new season of handbags for Lulu Guinness and even baking her delectable treats for Manolo Blahnik in New York.
As an early birthday treat (to myself), I was putting on my best domestic goddess hat for an afternoon of rainbow-coloured gourmandises and fruity martinis with the macaron master herself. Meredith promised us gluten-free macarons ‘in a few easy steps’, the Oh La La way, following the French method as opposed to the Italian one. The difference? French macarons produce a more airy texture, with a crispier outer shell but both have the same silky smooth ganache filling.
Brows furrowed, we prepared our ingredients. For 60 macarons it’s 180g of ground almonds, 270g of icing sugar, 150g of egg whites and 100g fine granulated sugar.
Making Macaron Magic
Make sure you age your egg whites 2-3 days in advance as it reduces moisture content and ensures that your meringues are lighter and fluffier. Start by sifting the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl. Whisk the egg whites separately. Once they start to froth up and stiffen, sprinkle in the caster sugar bit by bit. Continue whisking until firm peaks are formed and add a little bit of colour (gel or powder colours are best rather than liquid). Now it’s time to add the icing sugar and ground almonds to your egg mixture.
Fold the entire mixture together until the consistency feels like lava (not too liquid, not too solid) and pour it into a piping bag. Pipe out the mixture onto a baking tray, using a macaron template if needed. Leave them out to settle for an hour and when they feel dry to the touch, bake them at 160 degrees for 12-15 minutes. If you manage to exert some self control, leave them sealed in the fridge for 24 hours before eating to reach optimum consistency. Fill your macarons with ganaches such as chocolate (made from whipping cream, dark chocolate, butter and a pinch of salt) or salted caramel.
As the macarons baked quietly in the corner, it was time to shake our stuff behind the bar and test our martini making skills. For the perfect lychee martini we used vodka and lychee liqueur mixed with lychee puree, lemon juice and gomme syrup. After shaking vigorously, simply strain and serve. A great way to relax after the hefty amount of concentrating earlier on.
Everyone receives a box of their personalised, hand-crafted macarons to take home as well as a recipe card and baking template to get the macaron shape just right when piping the mixture out. My verdict: Oh La La has a delicious and relatively simple recipe just right and the class has given me confidence to create macarons I would be happy to share with friends or take to a dinner party. If I hadn’t eaten them all myself… Most importantly, my efforts have made me far more sympathetic to the idea of spending £1.70 on a jasmine and olive oil macaron at Pierre Hermé.
The Oh La La Macarons and Martinis Masterclass costs £80 per person for a 2.5 hour class. Oh La La can also cater for press days, product launches, parties and special events. For more information and to book online, see the Oh La La website.