Looking for an authentic macaron but can’t jump on a plane to Paris tonight? Baked by Josephine in Traverse City is a perfect solution. The French macaron business is run by Josephine Ellis, who isn’t French, but inspired by the beauty of the macaron and the challenge of creating one, decided to create a business around the meringue-y delights. She doesn’t have a brick and mortar business, but encourages those who want to purchase some of her creations to get in contact with her to place orders (information can be found on her website bakedbyjosephine.com).
“If you’ve never had a macaron before, I strongly encourage you to try one! They’re a delicious treat for anyone, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth,” says Josephine.
MyNorth’s Eliza Foster chatted with Josephine and got the macaron low down, from preparation to packaging.
Tell me about how you started baking and how you discovered the macaron.
I started baking as a young girl. My mother and grandmother were always in the kitchen cooking and baking for my family. It sort of came naturally, I always wanted to be in the kitchen with them, helping and creating new things for everyone to eat.
After I graduated from college I began baking a lot more on my own, experimenting with flavors and different techniques with desserts. I am always looking for beautiful treats to make that allow me to be creative. I was on one of my favorite websites for recipe inspiration and came across the French macaron. I read about the history of the macaron, how intimidating they are to make, thought they were beautiful and decided I wanted to make them. From there I spent weeks, probably over a month, reading any information I could find on the macaron, techniques to make them, other chef’s trial and error… and let me add, I read from numerous pros there is an art to making macarons and it’s highly unlikely they’ll turn out the first few tries. Anyways, I finally decided to give it a go and somehow, on my first try, they turned out great. And the rest is history.
What is a macaron?
A macaron is a french pastry. It’s a meringue-based (egg whites) confection that is also made with almond flour and confectioners sugar. The texture is light and delicate, with a very thin, crispy outside shell and a fluffy inside. Macaron shells are sandwiched together and normally filled with jams, ganache or frosting. Technically, it’s pronounced “mahkehrohn” not to be confused with the American cookie, a macaroon, which is a coconut cookie.
Why are some macarons brightly colored? What do you use to create the fun colors?
A lot of macarons are colored to match its flavor or a personal preference. Naturally, the pastry is white. Most of the time I try to use natural ingredients in my recipe to color the shell or filling, like fruit or chocolate. Although, when I do color them for special occasions or orders, I use a powder based food coloring.
What is it about macarons that made you want to start a business focused on them entirely?
Honestly, if it wasn’t for my fiancé and family, I would probably still be making them just for fun. They are my taste testers and I assumed they were always being nice saying they loved everything I made… for the most part. When I started making macarons for more friends and coworkers, everyone was ecstatic telling me I should do this for a living. At the same time, I continued to educate myself on them and practice. I was also trying any macaron I could get my hands on, from bakeries across the state, figuring out what makes a perfect macaron and realized a lot of people aren’t doing it right. After about a year or so of encouragement and finally feeling like I have mastered a great French macaron, I was ready to turn my hobby into something more.
Have you been to France before to sample some macarons?
Unfortunately, no, only in my daydreams. For now I continue to keep up with authentic macarons from France via Instagram and books.
Where can people find your macarons?
Right now I’m taking orders for local deliveries and/or pickups for the Northern Michigan area. I am hoping to get into some farmers’ markets this summer as well. My contact info can be found on my site, bakedbyjosephine.com.
Well, I’m always coming up with new flavor combinations … so my favorite flavor seems to change each season. I try to create flavors that taste like each season, so I can probably narrow it down to four … For Spring: carrot cake. Summer: lemon basil. Fall: s’more. Winter: chocolate peppermint.
I really like the style of your website, Instagram and the packaging you have. Are you behind those artistic choices?
Thank you, I’m behind the look of everything. I’m actually a full time graphic designer here in Traverse City, so I was excited to be able to brand myself with my own style. I’m a big fan of DIY, so I illustrate all of my business cards and packaging. My fiancé, Brian, made my site and he helps build all of my packaging as well (he actually hand crafts all of the inserts for my boxes.)