SUGARY SURPRISES AT BABYCAKES SWEET SHOPPE
Sporting attractive appearances and prepared in a vast selection of delicious flavors, macarons may just make it as the next ‘it’ thing. Being a delicate dessert that’s difficult to make and easy to ruin, it can only take an elite breed of macaron makers to daringly try their hands on these delicate French confectionery; and Nicole from Babycakes Sweet Shoppe is definitely one of them.
In early 2010, as yet another sure sign of the apotheosis of the classic French treat, Babycakes made its debut at GTower Hotel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur with their own version of the candy-colored French sandwich cookie – minus the trapped air bubbles and with the right amount of filling and sweetness. Available in a cavalcade of colors and flavors, Babycakes offers traditional flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, caramel and strawberry, as well as other funky flavors such as red velvet, passion fruit, and even Bandung!
We recently caught up with owner and macaron enthusiast Nicole Lynn to find out more about her kaleidoscopic offerings.
When asked about the inspiration behind Babycakes, Nicole stated that before she started Babycakes, she was a full time makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist but was able to bake at night. “I’d give the baked goodies to friends but mostly to the finance department of companies that owes me money for the freelance work I did. The sweeties were a bribe to get my payment out fast, which worked!” said Nicole.
When her sister decided to open a flower shop, she offered Nicole a spot to sell her baked goods. Business literally bloomed overnight, so Nicole had to cut down on her makeup and styling projects; but she still does it from time to time since it helps her be creative in a different light.
Although the initial plans were to sell cupcakes and cookies, Nicole thought it was mundane. “In order to grab some attention, we needed something different. That’s how macarons were born. I didn’t know a single thing about it but luckily we had a friend who was a professional baker and he spent 3 months teaching me day and night on how to master it. I made about 600 before I got the first one right. Also, I had a tiny oven that could only bake 20 at a time so there were days I really wanted to give up.” But all that hard work paid off. Recently, her best friend since the age of seven, Sharon has joined Nicole at Babycakes and they’ve been even creating beautiful wedding cakes.
So what sets Babycakes macarons apart from other macarons out there? “We don’t compromise on the quality of our ingredients. I always feel the goods that we bake have a homely look and feel to it. I’m not a 5 star baker – I started from home and I think that taste of homemade shows through in the food we do. I also have cute and sexy names for the macarons that our customers find amusing. Sometimes when I run out of ideas, I ask my customers for suggestions and give them a box of macarons for their creativity. My favourite line was when one of them walked to the store, ordered Mango (Ménage a Mango) and asked “Do I have to buy three?””
“We don’t carry everything every day; we rotate them on a weekly basis. We also come up with new ones during festive seasons. For the last Raya, we had Pandan and Bandung. They did so well that we now continue to sell them at the store. My personal favourite is Coconut and Green Tea.”
Although this macaron heaven offers 25 flavors and more, there’s a few that sell-out like hot cakes. “Our best sellers from the first day we’ve opened are Caramel Sutra (because it really is orgasmic), Red Velvet and Chocolate Daddy. Our caramel ganache has a hint of saltiness that cuts the sweetness of the sugar. We also use butter and fresh cream in it. It takes me 45 minutes of non-stop stirring over a stove just to get a small bowl of caramel. Red Velvet is rich and thick and has a dollop of Nutella in the middle. Chocolate Daddy is our dark chocolate macaron. I was such a big fan of Puff Daddy when I was a teenager so he inspired the name for it.”
With such a creative twist to its flavors and names, there must be something that fuels Nicole’s creativity for such unique flavour combinations. “Besides baking, I also love to cook. When I come across a new spice or fruit, I tend to wonder if I can turn it into a macaron.”
“I also love meeting new people from all over the world and asking them what’s the most popular spice or flavor in their country. When I have the day off, I like to just walk in a market or down a street to get some inspiration. It could be a new color that I see on a dress or a new ice cream flavour.”
Sitting at this dainty little corner at GTower Hotel, the tantalizing colors captured my attention. I was suddenly reminded of cupcakes for some reason. Is it possible that the macaron is soon going to rule the market of portable deliciousness once dominated by the cupcake, I asked Nicole.
“I think macarons are a craze right now because it’s not very common to find like a cake. But I don’t think they’ve taken over the cupcakes novelty. I think they’re sharing the spotlight. Macarons have been around for a long time. I personally think it was Gossip Girl that started the fashion as a few seasons ago; one of the characters was seen gorging on macarons during a breakup.”
I’ve tasted a fair share of macarons in the past year and I must say that Babycakes Sweet Shoppe is the place that offers the real deal. If you can’t fly to Paris to get a bite out of this Parisian treat, then you are in luck because you’ve got Babycakes in Kuala Lumpur doing justice to this delightful confectionery.