We've been experimenting with baking macarons a few times now. The results were tasty, but they weren't really good macarons either. Searching for recipes on the internet only takes you so far -- so I wanted to learn from a pro. After some searching, I decided on a workshop from Zoete Workshops ("Sweet workshops"), which is a sub-label from a chain of patisserie shops.
The problem with most workshops is that they're easy to book when you're with a group, but not individually. Finding a workshop open for individuals that attracts enough people to actually go through is kinda hard. I had good hopes for this one, and we did get a confirmation that the workshop would indeed be held.
We had to go to Rotterdam, though. But then again, one of 'my' clients is there, so it's not like I haven't driven there before. But this time, we parked outside the city and took the tram into the city centre. After a tasty lunch at a café next to the iconic Erasmus-bridge, we walked along the water to the workshop location.
There were nine people taking the workshop -- and as is usual in these things, I was the only man. I wonder why that is -- don't men want to learn new skills? Or should I do woodworking workshops or stuff like that, in order to not be the only man present?
We were split in three groups. Each group would make a batch of shells, with a colouring of their choice. One lady had specific instructions to make orange (the colour) macarons, because the Dutch national soccer team would be playing that evening. I suggested that the other groups could make red and blue shells, and with a white cream, we'd get red-white-blue macarons -- like we did before. This was met with approval, and we got to work.
I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say that we learned a lot of techniques and tricks to make good macarons and delicious buttercream for the filling. Of course, I also took (crappy cellphone-)pictures:
carefully mixing the almond/sugar mix with the beaten eggwhites. Note the added red food coloring.
Piping the mixture onto sheets of baking paper. These are the blue shells, as you can see.
We learned a lot about drying and baking -- crucial for a good macaron shell. Here you can see the orange and red shells baking in the oven. You can see that they grew 'feet' underneath: the sign of a good macaron shell!
The result. Apparently, this was the first workshop where every batch came out perfectly.
Filled with vanilla-flavoured buttercream!
We even went so far as to buy a Kitchenaid mixer to be able to bake at home...