The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Students prepare macarons and artisan breads during Finesse Pastries’ classes in Manchester. Courtesy photo.

Baking classes at Finesse Pastries

All classes are held at Finesse Pastries (968 Elm St., Manchester, 232-6592, and include wine and cheese refreshments. All classes cost $60, and registration is required.
• Macaron class on Tuesday, Jan. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m.
• Artisan bread class on Thursday, Jan. 22, from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
• Macaron class on Friday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. 
• Macaron class on Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. 
• Macaron class on Thurs., Feb. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m.
• Valentine’s Day macaron class on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m.
• Artisan bread class on Friday, Feb. 20, from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

Parisian baking in the Queen City
Finesse Pastries offers classes with French flair


Since it opened in 2012, Finesse Pastries has been giving Manchester a taste of Paris. Now, locals are heading into the kitchen for a hands-on behind-the-scenes look at what makes the gourmet French patisserie on Elm Street tick. 

Owner and head pastry chef Chelsey Erickson has been offering macaron and artisan bread baking classes for customers for the past few months, and they’ve been selling out like, well, hot cakes.
Macarons are known for being difficult pastries to make — they might not rise properly, the shells can break or crack — so Erickson wasn’t sure how a baking class would go. The first class went so well and staff had so much fun, the Queen City patisserie has been holding a class or two every month, and they’ve been popular.
“The longest it took to fill it up was four and a half hours,” Erickson said. “They go so quickly.”
There are eight spots in each class, and students work in pairs to create a batch of 40 macarons. Erickson demonstrates how to make the macarons, and the students select a flavor and create the shells.
“While they’re resting and baking, you make the coordinating ganache that will go with the shells,” Erickson said. “At the end, everybody kind of shares everybody else’s.”
Flavors include raspberry, orange, lemon, pistachio and coffee. Students take home a box filled with macarons of different flavors.
“You get the recipes for all of them, even if your group doesn’t pick one, you’ll know how to make the orange and the lemon one also,” Erickson said.
Erickson and an assistant chef walk around from table to table to help students craft the macarons. For the most part, students aren’t pastry chefs by nature, but everyone leaves the class with perfect macarons.
“There’s a couple different things you want to look for,” Erickson said. “You want to make sure the top of the shell doesn’t have any cracks in it — you get that from the moisture in the oven. You want it to be shiny also. … [It] has a nice shell on top and has a nice crunch, but should be chewy.”
To make the ganache, macarons can be filled with jams, buttercreams and chocolate, which is how the ganaches are made at Finesse Pastries. 
“I’m a chocoholic, so I like to fill them with chocolate ganache — white chocolate or dark chocolate [with] raspberry puree, lemon juice or orange juice,” Erickson said.
While they work, Erickson said, students share stories about trips to Parisian patisseries, like Ladurée, which is known for its macarons.
“There’s some people that say, ‘I can’t even make mac and cheese,’” Erickson said. “You definitely get the people who grew up with this, and they recognize them and have eaten them all their life. … With the macarons, you’re getting the French culture also, so you get an education.”
Before class, students snack on wine and cheese. Most of the students are from the Manchester area, but others drive up from Massachusetts or down from northern New Hampshire, Erickson said. It’s not just women either, but an even amount of male and female students. Some attend as couples, others register for the class with a friend or two.
“I think a lot of people like that they can just take these fresh ingredients that have nothing to do with each other [and make something],” Erickson said. 
Finesse Pastries has also been integrating artisan bread baking classes in with the macaron classes, which are just as popular. In the class, students bake challah, a sweet Jewish bread with honey, country loaf, a sourdough white bread, and herb ciabatta, a spongy bread made with fresh herbs and garlic perfect for dipping in oil or for paninis.
So that students can take home all three loaves, they mix a loaf, let it rise, and mix the others.
“You get to shape them and we bake them and you get to take home warm fresh bread,” Erickson said. 
As seen in the January 1, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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