Did you know that there is a National Macaron Day? Technically, it was yesterday, but if you’ve ever indulged in a French Macaron (not it’s coconutty cousin, the macarOOn), then you will probably agree that it deserves more than a day. In honor of that, I’m declaring a week of Macaron obsession, and who better to feature on iEG Crush than the creator of the almighty VEGAN macaron, Sweet Maresa?!
Sweet Maresa’s is based in New Paltz, NY, but she does plenty of NYC pop-up events and her amazeball macarons can be ordered online at Lagusta’s Luscious! Multi-talented Maresa also whips up beautiful cakes and delicious cookies. With inventive flavors and decorations that are almost too pretty to eat, there’s something for every sweet tooth at Sweet Maresa’s.
Since I stalk her table at every event I can, I figured the time was right to get the low down on her operations. She was even sweet enough to include a giveaway. You read that right…one of you lucky readers will win a box of macarons! Don’t say I never did anything for you. 😉
How did Sweet Maresa’s come about?
Since I got the hang of my first recipe ten or so years ago, I’ve said I wanted to have a bakery. Right now, I do special orders for birthdays and weddings, plus some special events and markets. I supply almost all the baked goods for Lagusta’s Luscious, which is where I have my kitchen space, too.
Before working in kitchens and starting my business nearly three years ago, I was a youth worker. Some of the kids I knew at the youth center and schools still come to visit while I’m baking, and one of the coolest kids from that time is now grown up and works with us in the kitchen.
How did it feel to crack the secret code to making PERFECT macarons, that happen to be vegan?
Well, perfect might be too generous a word. But, I will say making macarons felt like a real victory. At first, I was just playing around with the idea of making them- just for the challenge of recreating something that is so far from being vegan. After the first ten or so test batches (that I made with a vintage mixer from the 1920’s, because it was the only hand mixer I had. It weighs about 15 lbs. My arm got so strong.), I thought it might be possible to make a vegan macaron. I “broke vedge” to find out what a macaron should taste and feel like by buying two macarons from Laduree (that super-fancy, best-in-the-world macaron bakery) and tweaked my recipe to mimic their results. After another year and a half of testing, tweaking, crying, and smiling, I got consistent results I was pleased with.
Tell me about your macaron flavors, which do people go gaga for?
Pistachio is a top seller, and is also one of my favorites. It’s made with really beautiful, deep green, roasted organic pistachio flour that I found at a farmer’s market in Los Angeles. That’s also where I found my almond and pecan flours. I’m super careful about ingredient sourcing, and flavors play well with solid base ingredients. People tend to love floral flavors, too. Lavender and rose are really popular, but then again so are sesame caramel and Darjeeling lemon.
What inspired you to practice a vegan lifestyle?
I’ve been vegan for 11 years and will be forever. I was an ethical vegetarian for ten years before going vegan. There was a lecture about the dairy industry and I forced myself to go, even though I loved the taste of cheese. After hearing the lecture I realized what a hypocrite I was. I realized the dairy industry is also the veal industry, and that being vegetarian was a half-assed waste of time.
Have you faced any major obstacles in operating a vegan baking business?
I wouldn’t call it an obstacle, but 18 hour days around the holidays take some getting-used-to. Also, I use a teeny tiny bit of soy protein in some baked goods, and it took many months to get it non-gmo. I learned real patience with that. One other obstacle was ditching palm oil completely. Palm oil is so widely used in baked good (vegan and not) and it’s so problematic (and inexpensive). I refuse to use it, so my ingredient costs are much higher. It’s worth it, though.
Do you have any new products, ventures, etc. in the works for 2014?
I ship macarons all over the country, and I plan on expanding an online store. I’d love to get a storefront set up, but that might work its way into 2015.
Where can we find your treats?
As of now, I’m always at the monthly vegan shop-up at Pine Box Rock Shop. I do special deliveries for weddings and larger occasion parties. There are always baked goods available at Lagusta’s Luscious, the all-vegan chocolate shop that we share a kitchen with, and smaller special orders like birthday cakes and such are available for pickup at the shop in New Paltz or at the vegan shop-up.
Three things you can’t live without?
Espresso. Cookies. Sunshine.
Enter the giveaway HERE
(This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and will end on March 30, 2014 at 12:00 am Eastern Time. All entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.)