My Christmas presents this year mostly came in little envelopes containing vouchers. I love experiences over material things and so my family had decided to get me a few things to do in London. So far I’ve been wine tasting at Vinopolis and I have a Biscuiteers voucher still to use and I recently spent the day at a Chocolate and Macarons Masterclass at La Cucina Caldesi.
Based in Marylebone and just around the corner from their restaurant, La Cucina Caldesi is tucked away in a side street. Open and light with big windows and large tables, including an amazing bench with granite worktop and in-line induction hob (total kitchen dreams). We arrived and were greeted by Stefano who offered us all a proper Italian coffee before we donned aprons, ready to get making.
I’d heard that macarons were fiendishly difficult to make and so I was curious to see how difficult they were and whether I’d actually end up with anything to take home. In order to avoid us all ending up completely disappointed, we all got involved in assisting to make two big batches of the meringue mixture under Stefano’s very specific instruction and watchful eye. That mixture was then divided between us all, working in pairs to produce three different colours of macaron – together with my partner for the afternoon we got allocated this amazing Easter chick yellow (others got pink and cream).
After mixing together a paste of egg whites, ground almonds, icing sugar and colouring, we folded in the meringue and spooned into piping bags, ready to pipe out macarons out. The trickiest thing was trying to visually make all of the macarons the same size and space them out evenly so that they didn’t end up flattening out into each other. My partner was much better at this than me and turned out some beautifully round piped macaron mixture blobs. I definitely need to get some piping practice in.
As if dealing with the macarons wasn’t enough, we multi-tasked by whipping up ganache to form the centre for our chocolates and whilst the macarons were popped into the oven, the ganache was then piped out into blobs and put into the fridge to cool so that it would then be easier to roll into balls later.
With our ganache piped out, our macarons were ready to come out of the oven and we were quite pleased to discover that we’d got some that actually looked like macaron shells, with a little foot to them and everything (even if there was a little crack in one or two).
With out macarons out of the oven we all sat down to a light lunch of pesto pasta tossed with tomato and mozzarella and sprinkled with parmesan, all washed down with a glass of wine or two before we got back to work to make our chocolates and to fill our macarons.
The best bit of the day? Rolling our chilled ganache into balls before rolling them in cocoa powder and then using our hands to cover the balls in tempered chocolate and leaving them to set. Of course this left us with hands coated in liquid chocolate – it could be easily washed off, but I might have had a sneaky lick or two on my way to the sink. So good.
We all pitched in to fill the macarons with flavoured fillings before boxing up a variety of flavours for each of us to take home together with a bag of the chocolates.
I had a really fun day at La Cucina Caldesi, it was fun and collaborative and I enjoyed learning something new which I hope that I might now be able to perfect with a bit of practice (with the aid of the recipe provided for us to take away). Great fun and a wonderful gift.