Flowers and Macarons: A riot of color and flavor

Kim Moehnke, owner of Pure Macaron in Ashburn, Virginia stumbled upon her life’s work while trying to help her son with some early childhood medical problems. Now, she is a passionate and enthusiastic baker, working in her fully insured, permitted and licensed home kitchen. My staff and I met Kim during the planning process for the March 19 Visit Loudoun wedding tour. We created a dreamy display right in our Leesburg studio using her colorful cookies and our spring blossoms. (Sadly, the display was gone within a half an hour.)

Here’s what we learned while we created, and then consumed, our display. There are a couple of really fun ways to incorporate Macarons into your menu and décor. First, consider using a colorful tower of cookies and florals in place of a traditional wedding cake. Or, offer Macarons as an alternative sweet to your guests, delighting those on a gluten-free diet. Finally, package them as adorable little favors for a sleepy car-ride home. No matter how you use them, these cookies are really lovely show-stoppers, especially when combined with flowers.

Kim uses all natural ingredients to create her beautiful colors and flavors including salted caramel, goat cheese and fig, raspberry and Matcha green tea. She is truly passionate about the organic ingredients she uses and the care that she takes to create these melt-in-your mouth confections because this business is the result of a love story between mother and son.

Kim Moehnke, owner of Pure Love Macaron, Stefanie Kamerman Copy + Print Photography

As a very young child, Kim’s son struggled with unexplained adolescent health concerns including serious breathing issues caused by inflammation throughout his body. Kim explains “Some of the more traditional treatments like steroids were creating behavioral side-effects, he couldn’t stay calm for very long, he couldn’t concentrate.” After many physician visits and unsuccessful treatments, the Moenke's decided to seek the advice of a nutritionist. “We went on a gluten-free, organic diet. At that time, gluten-free products were not mainstream, people didn’t know a lot about it and there wasn't a lot on the market. How do you tell a four or five-year old that he cannot have a cookie? So, I went in to the kitchen and began to play around with chocolate chip cookies and in the process, found the story of the French Macaron. I loved how beautiful they were, aside from how delicious they tasted.

"The company grew organically. I started making them and friends were telling me how they had to go to DC or New York to get pastries this good. I kept making them, and then the French Macaron hits the United Stated like a storm.”

Naked Cake by Sweet From Scratch, Stefanie Kamerman Copy + Print Photography

Pure Love Macaron: the name

“I use the purest ingredients I can find. I use organic eggs, butter, sugar and cream. I will use natural food color whenever possible and limit the amount of food coloring I use. Green comes from Matcha green tea leaves, yellow from turmeric. The filling is also completely organic.”  The “Pure” in her company’s name comes from the ingredients. The “Love” from her commitment to using the best ingredients she can find.

I asked Kim to educate my staff and I about Macarons so that we could help our brides and grooms during the planning process. Here’s what we learned.

Macaron not Macaroon

Two cookies, both appealing, one gets a hard "o" and the other an “oo” sound. The name for the colorful confection sweeping the nation is  pronounced "mack-a-rawn." The more familiar Coconut Macaroon gets the “oon” sound.

This is the original gluten free cookie

Second Ave Photography

Macarons were being made in Italian Monasteries since the 8th century and Catherine De’ Medici and her pastry chef brought them to France when Catherine married the French king, Henry II, in 1533. In 1792, two Carmelite nuns seeking asylum in Nancy, France sold them in the streets to pay for their living expenses and became known as the Macaron sisters (a name my three girls would be happy to adopt).

Kim explains the role of Louis LauDuree “The founder of LaDuree in Paris gets credit for their lasting popularity. He filled the shells with a really decadent filling (ganache) and began to sell them in his Paris bakery.” According to their website, Louis Ernest Laduree, a miller from the Southwest of France, founded his Paris bakery in 1862.

The cookie has always been gluten-free. From Kim, “This is where the meringue cookie came from -- it consists of almond meal, sugar and egg whites. 

The happy ending

As for Kim’s son, “He is now ten-years old, off steroids and a completely changed child. I have so many people say to me that he is a different child. He is really able to be himself.” Within three weeks of backing out of gluten, Kim noticed improvements in his behavior and in his ability to calm himself down. After six months, he was off the steroids. Now, he's a happy, healthy grade-school student with a mom in the pastry business.

Macarons and Pittosporum, Stefanie Kamerman Copy + Print Photography

Your wedding day

The natural food coloring creates the lovely pastel tones of the Macarons, a perfect complement to the colors that we see in so many varieties of flowers. Kim concludes, “A display of Macarons and flowers are elegant and naturally beautiful, perfect for a bride who wants to add a little more pop of color to her decor.”

Use this link to get more information about Kim and Pure Love Macaron. 

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