Market Stories: Finesse Pastries

Finesse Pastries macarons - beautiful colors and endless flavor variations.

Finesse Pastries macarons - beautiful colors and endless flavor variations.

Is there anything more visually enticing than a french macaron? Just seeing those rows of perfect circle-shaped mini sandwiches in an array of colors all lined up in a glass case makes you want to do a little leap of joy. In Boston, some of the best are made by Chelsey Erickson and her bakery Finesse Pastries at the Boston Public Market. The flavors alone will knock your socks off. I met up with Chelsey to learn more about her signature macarons for this second article in our Market Stories series with Boston Public Market...

Finesse Pastries
Manchester, NH

How did you get started with making french pastries? What inspired you to start Finesse Pastries?
I was a chubby kid growing up. I loved everything sweet. In high school when it came time to decide what to do with the rest of your life, I had no clue. My parents were the ones that actually suggested baking. To me, it was just for fun and because I love to eat, not as a career path. I then started looking into culinary schools. I looked into the traditional ones but they didn’t feel right. I then found the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I came in to see a class and that is when I met Master French Pastry Chef Delphin Gomes. After talking to him for a few minutes I knew it was the right fit and I wanted to open my own shop. Now Finesse has been open just about 5 years. After graduating I had the opportunity to travel to France with Chef Delphin.

Macarons are your specialty and you offer so many varieties! Why did you choose to focus on macarons in your business?
Macarons were the reason that I decided to pursue French pastries. They were one of the trickiest things that you can bake, which is probably why I liked them so much. They are the perfect cookie with a balance of crunchy and chewy. I also love that the flavors are endless. Whatever you can think of, you can make.

Assembling the macaron - a perfect balance of crunchy and chewy. Seen here, Vanilla Basil.

Assembling the macaron - a perfect balance of crunchy and chewy. Seen here, Vanilla Basil.

How do you come up with and test your different flavor varieties? What is your most popular flavor?
I get inspiration for new flavors everywhere I go. When Finesse first started as a pop up at the Boston Public Market, I just walked around and thought of at least ten flavors that I could make using other vendor’s ingredients.

When I first opened Finesse, we had three different ovens, all of which bake a little differently. I made a batch of yellow macarons that were supposed to be lemon but the oven was too hot so instead, I had 300 gold macarons. I remember panicking and thinking what am I going to do with these. That is when I came up with the Honey Saffron macaron. Every time I try to take if off the menu for new flavors customers yell at me!

Owner Chelsey Erickson loving all things pastry and French.

Owner Chelsey Erickson loving all things pastry and French.

Can you tell us more about your charity program and limited edition flavors?
Each month we choose a different local charity and make a macaron specifically for them. $0.50 of each of that macaron sold is donated to their charity. I wanted a way to give back and I thought it would be a great way to bring awareness to the charities while customers can also get something sweet in return.

I also change most of the flavors of macarons each month. I do keep the staples all the time but change all the rest for whatever flavors are with the season. This keeps customers from getting bored and also for myself. I love coming up with new recipes and this allows me to exercise that. I always do some classic flavors and some that are a little more out there.

What people can expect to find at your Boston Public Market location?
As a pop-up we just offered the French macarons. Now that we are a full time vendor, we are hoping to expand our menu even more. Now you can find some pâte à choux products, like our Cream Puffs. We also offer a variety of French cakes. We change those every month or so as well. Right now we are serving our Bali which is a Key Lime, Basil and Strawberry cake using basil from Corner Stalk Farm. It is very light and fresh. We also have our Mogador cake which is chocolate and raspberry. We hope to bring in more French products as well.

Large Raspberry Rose macaron is sandwiched with raspberry rose gelee and raspberry rose mousse.

Large Raspberry Rose macaron is sandwiched with raspberry rose gelee and raspberry rose mousse.

What is the most interesting twist on a macaron you have ever seen? What is your favorite way to enjoy a macaron?
The most interesting macaron flavor I have tried was definitely Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Foie Gras macaron. It was so delicious, buttery and a perfect combination of sweet and salty. Macarons should be eaten at room temperature for the best texture.

Visit Finesse Pastries at Boston Public Market or online at
www.finessepastries.com

Photos: Melissa DiPalma