Sugar addicts can consume a half dozen macarons in one sitting, but making the fancy French cookies isn’t as easy.
At Macaron Bar, a soon-to-open retail shop and kitchen in East Liberty, folks can learn how to whip up a batch of the pastries with meringue shells and chocolate ganache filling. Unlike macaroons, they are not coconut-based.
“They are really technical,” says Michael Shem Wagner, who co-owns the space with Kyle Oldfield. “You have to take into account humidity and temperature and under-whipping and over-whipping. It’s a challenge but the class is a fun way to learn.”
Macaron Bar was founded in Cincinnati in 2014 by Patrick Moloughney and Nathan Sivitz. Wagner and Oldfield were brought on board to lead the company’s expansion into Pennsylvania. Other cities include Indianapolis and Louisville.
As the business partners searched for the perfect site for a brick-and-mortar store, they tested the Pittsburgh waters by opening a macaron kiosk inside Ross Park Mall. Shoppers soon became hooked on the airy treats.
They ended up choosing a 1,740-square-foot location in the historic Liberty Bank Building on Penn Avenue. It will offer a core lineup of 12 flavors — including birthday cake, pistachio and red velvet — and a variety of seasonal offerings such as spiced pumpkin, peppermint and gingerbread.
Ice cream sandwiches made with local favorite Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream will also be available for purchase. And Lancaster-based Passenger Coffee will operate a full-service coffee bar inside the space.
Bakers will be preparing handmade, gluten-free macarons daily in the open kitchen, giving customers a glimpse into how it’s done. And during the week, the business will also hold macaron pairings with wine, beer, coffee, tea, cheese and other products.
Classes for up to 10 people will be offered on the weekends. The first sweet seminar, scheduled for Jan. 6, 2019, is already sold-out and there are plans to host a vegan macaron baking class in the future.
Both Wagner and Oldfield attended a macarons master class at Ecole Lenôtre in Paris, France.
After all that study, “I’d say we are proficient in teaching people how to make them,” Wagner says with a laugh.