Before last week, making macarons was up there with swimming with dolphins and finding an agent to publish my novel: kinda possible, but kinda hard. Then I went to Jenius Social‘s Sunday cooking class and went home with a fresh, colourful batch of macarons made by moi and I’m now legit convinced miracles do happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that hopeless in the kitchen. During my first week in Australia, I hosted a pretty successful dinner party where I made three trays of lasagne, sausage rolls and dessert for about 10 people. My risottos have saved many a date and I’m an ok baker. But macarons? French? Sophisticated? Nah. Not me mate.
Enter Jenius Social. Based just off Holloway Road, they organise cooking classes, kitchen take-overs, private and corporate events. Their space features a lovely, bright deli-cum-dining space with a big, professional kitchen at the back (where the magic happens). I got there early on Sunday morning walking from Old Street, taking in all the beautiful Autumnal colours London has to offer, dreaming about the mansions in North London’s side streets.
Jenius Social’s macarons cooking class (£75) lasts about two and a half hours and is led by head chef Andrew Clements, an original graduate of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant who has also worked in Barcelona, cooking for the stars in one of the city’s top beach hotels. Andrew is super approachable, bubbly and friendly and makes the cooking class an easy, fun experience even if you’re scared AF about messing up the cooking process like me.
I won’t give the recipe away because you’ll have to join the class to enjoy the full experience. However, it’s fair enough to say that even if you’re not a Masterchef contestant, you can end up with way more macarons than you could possibly eat just by following Andrew’s step-by-step instructions.
The class covers making the macarons’ meringue using egg whites, icing sugar, ground almonds and food colouring. Once you’re nearly finished piping the meringue batter on the baking sheets, you can even mix and match it with your friend’s leftovers and end up with amazing double colour shades – like these lovely pink and blue ones my friend Catalina and I made.
Being left-handed, I begun helping my friend pouring the icing sugar on the egg mixture and ended up blowing half of it on the table with the whisk’s fan – luckily neither Andrew or Catalina hated me too much for it. We ended up with way too many macarons anyway.
After the meringue came the icing, made with caster sugar, butter and food colouring. Catalina went for a peach-coloured, orangey flavour while I went for cherry coloured caramel and coconut flavour icing. The fun however started once the meringues were ready: that’s when we started putting the icing in and went crazy with chocolate garnish and a variety of sprinkles, hearts, stars and the like.
£75 gets you two and a half hours of guided cooking with Andrew, about 30 macarons you can take home with you, together with the remaining icing and the chocolate garnish. For any other cooking class, you’re also able to sit down and enjoy every meal you’ve cooked in the dining area.
Having discovered macarons from the very best – the masters at Ladurée – during my trips to Paris with my French Italian high school sweetheart, they just seemed like one of those things that normal people just don’t make. I am now full of hope and enthusiasm for the rest of my life… ’cause if I can make macarons, I can do everything. Right?
Pictures: Special thanks to Catalina for taking most pics!