For my Christmas, I received a voucher for the Tennent’s Training Academy & the first class I was eager to get booked in for was the Mad About Macarons class. For those of you not familiar with Macarons, they are a French meringue-esque cake, usually in bright colours & filled with either a buttercream or ganache. They are notoriously tricky to master so I wanted to go along & get taught first hand how to create these little beauties.
The Tennent’s Training Academy is situated at the Tennent’s brewery in the East End of Glasgow, just on Duke Street. Tennent’s spent a couple of million pounds a few years ago renovating the building & turning it into a state of the art training academy. The facility boasts a professional kitchen, tasting room, classroom & fully equipped bar. They provide a multitude of professional courses for those in the hospitality business as well as leisure courses for people like me to go along & learn a new skill. Bizarrely when you arrive, you are taken in a mini bus to the academy which is literally a couple of mins walk from the main entrance but I put that down to a healthy & safety point.
I had expected the class to be full but amazingly there were only 4 of us taking part in the class! We were greeted by Michael Kilkie (renowned chef) & introduced to the class & what we were going to be doing. Michael gave us a quick demonstration of whisking together the egg whites & sugar to get the desired consistency & we were then left to our own devices.
Each of us had our own work station with the ingredients already laid out in separate bowls. We were also allowed to choose which colour we wanted our macarons to be – I opted for green for the first batch. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be making flavoured macarons but mastering the technique is the main reason I chose the class. Making macarons is a test of patience as I quickly found out! You have to wait for the eggs to be beaten just the right amount so that the macarons set correctly. When it came to piping them, I found trying to get those perfect circles that you see in pictures takes a lot of practice!
Once our Macarons were ready to set, we were given a ‘light lunch’. Now I’ve put that in quotes as we were all expecting some sandwiches or something similar. Instead, Michael whipped up some spaghetti with chorizo & roasted veg in a light tomato sauce for us! We were also given the choice of wine with our lunch but I declined as I’m trying to be good (pre-holiday diet!). Whilst we were eating, our macarons were put in the oven to bake.
We were then allowed to make a second batch & I opted for red this time, which turned out to be more of a pinky colour! Whilst these macarons were setting, we then set about making our filling. We were given so many choices for flavouring our buttercream – vanilla pods, peanut butter, passionfruit, jam & chocolate (I think I’m missing a couple). I opted for 3 fillings – chocolate for my green macarons & vanilla & passionfruit for my red/pink macarons. I did put in too much passionfruit (I love that stuff!) into my buttercream & it curdled slightly but it still tasted amazing. There were a couple of interesting combinations – peanut butter & choc buttercream & jam buttercream. I’d never thought about putting jam in the buttercream but it was really nice!
Once our macarons were ready to be filled, you had to find pairs that were roughly the same size & then fill them with buttercream. It was all a case of trial & error with how you fill them & then put them together. I have to say mine were a mile off the lovely classy French patisserie cakes you see but I was quite proud of my first attempt at making them! My family also appreciated the leftovers 🙂 I have since tried to make chocolate ones but the consistency was all wrong so I think investing in a book would be a good idea!
I thoroughly enjoyed the class at the Training Acadamy especially since the chefs are willing to answer each & all of your questions, no matter how trivial. I have actually attended an Italian course soon & am booked in for a pizza making class in April! A good way to spend a Saturday afternoon in my opinion.