Le Petit Jolie, Melbourne exquisite handcrafted French macarons

Gratitude Interview Melbourne

We are not sure about you, but we are one of those people who adore the French accent. Actually, not only we love French accent. We also love French food. The buttery croissants, their delicious wines, the aged cheese and let’s not forget, the sweet macarons!

Thankfully in this day and age, we don’t need to travel across the globe to get a taste of French cuisine, especially living in a diverse city like Melbourne. We recently connected with talented Jolie (yes, that is her real name! If you have trouble pronouncing it, think of Angelina Jolie), born and raised in Melbourne with Chinese ethnicity who is very humble with her killer skill in macaron making.

Did you know, Jolie means “pretty” in French? What an absolute coincidence when she fell in love with macarons. Her business is called Le Petit Jolie, which literally means “The Little Pretty”. Now we don’t need to convince you how beautiful her macarons are, as the name has already stated itself! (Also, just look at the photos! #drolls).

Babylon Grey is very grateful to cross paths with a self taught macaron baker Jolie. She is not only a baker, but also an architect, a wife, and a mum of a four year old boy. Actually, she is more than these titles that the society has given to her. Read on and let her tell you her story…

Jolie, tell us more about yourself and about your trip to Paris; what did you love most about it (other than your passion for the locally made macarons of course!)?

I just completed my architectural studies and travelled to Paris for the first time as part of a mini architectural expedition around the east coast of France with my classmate. Paris is a wonderfully charming and elegant place to visit. I love that there are different temptations at the turn of every corner.

The first macaron I ever ate was a chocolate flavoured one from a Paul Boulangerie. One of the largest and oldest bakery chains in France. Back then macarons weren’t even available in Melbourne. The first bite I had was an absolute revelation. I had never tasted anything quite like it and put me in such a happy place! The shell was crispy, the filling was rich, smooth and creamy with a bit of a satisfying chew!

A couple of years later, when the likes of Laurent and Lindt started offering them at their stores, it became really hard for me to service the habit of buying them all the time! I also was yearning for one that had a strong flavor profile like the ones I tried in France. I loved eating them too much so I set out to learn how to make them. 

We love how you literally hand made every bit of Le Petit Jolie; what skill are you most proud of?

I think the best skill I have is perseverance. I’m proud to say that I am completely self-taught and I have never attended a macaron baking class. My first 50 attempts to make macarons were disastrous. They were really awful! I just kept at it testing numerous online recipes. The process and recipe that I work with now is actually years of trial and error, experimentation and knowing the factors that would potentially cause a yielding of a bad batch. And bad batches unfortunately do happen from time to time. It might be a simple matter of under mixing or over mixing the batter. Or the oven being too hot or too low. Or not thoroughly sifting the dry ingredients or under whipping the meringue. Macarons are definitely not forgiving as buttercakes!

Because you do so much baking for Le Petit Jolie already; do you still cook at home; or perhaps bake cakes rather than macarons? (Tell us your favourite dish to cook!)

My cooking repertoire is actually a lot wider than my baking. My grandfather was a chef, and so were my dad and my uncles. My mum is an amazing cook so I grew up eating a lot of good food and I think in turn I have adapted quite a discerning palate.

I love to cook probably just as much as I love to bake macarons. My favourite dish to cook is Hainanese Chicken Rice. It’s one of those classic and comforting dishes where use of one chicken goes a long way. When I first started baking, I didn’t appreciate that baking is actually a science.

I used to just go rogue on recipes substituting ingredients or reducing quantities. That’s what I normally do when cooking everyday meals – because when you try and put dinner on the table anything goes!

Baking is the exact opposite and it took me a long time to figure that out. Other than macarons I am really into baking Chiffon cakes right now. I used to eat store bought Chiffon cakes quite often when I was young. Up until recently, I forgot how good they used to be. 

It is amazing how you keep coming up with new flavours, where do you find your inspirations?

With macarons there are endless colours and flavours that you can come up with and half the fun for me is coming up with a new flavour. I would never create a flavour that I would not want to eat myself! Some of the ideas stem from myself having a nostalgic childhood food moment, such as the Birthday Cake or Golden Gaytime flavours. Others are inspired by ideas from fellow bakers on Instagram or macaron masters which I come up with my own interpretation.

An example is the Rose raspberry and lychee, which is inspired by the French macaron master Pierre Herme’s Ispahan macaron. (Though I have never had the privilege to taste his macarons before.) I also like finding out what fruits are in season and thinking what will be a good pairing or flavour combination. Figs are in abundance right now and I’m paring it with a goat’s cheese mousse.

Sometimes a foodie experience such as trying a delicious gelato flavour or a dessert that is so good also inspires me to recreate it in macaron form. Recently I decided to do a crème brûlée flavour – one of my favourite desserts.

We are very lucky to come across an inspiring business woman like you. What advice would you provide for those who only just started?

I’ve still got my training wheels on myself and I’m nowhere in a position to give practical advice. But I can share that we all should work to a philosophy and that is ‘Believe in yourself’. Self-love and self-respect are really important. And knowing your worth, a dear friend of mine once told me that.

Knowing to let go and not worry about putting too much effort in avenues, which would waste your time or degrade your product. By believing in yourself, the proof will come out in the love that you put into creating your product, which will lead others to believe and appreciate you. I’m by no means successful yet. In my short journey running my own business,

I’ve been touched and humbled by the encouragement from all sorts of people. Customers, repeat loyal customers, fellow bakers, small business owners, collaborators and random Instagrammers. It’s a wonderful feeling for me to see people supporting me and enjoying my product. I firmly believe that success could happen to anyone if they are passionate about what they do. 

Lastly, if you were to build your dream kitchen for Le Petit Jolie; what would that entail?

I actually designed my current kitchen and had it fitted out about 4 years ago. It was purposely designed to be a food premises approved by my local council. The design has a bit of a Scandi feel to it with a mixture of blonde plywood and white cabinetry. It's got a continuous U-shape stainless steel worktop, pyrolytic oven, semi integrated dishwasher, pull out corner and pantry drawers and a really heavy duty exhaust hood fan. It’s not my dream kitchen, but with the size constraints and budget it works really well. It already has some pretty good features. My dream kitchen just needs to be three times bigger - with a walk in pantry and all of the above!

Le Petit Jolie

Jolie has told us that her favourite flavour to make would be Rose Raspberry and Lychee. The shell is infused with rosewater, there is a homemade raspberry and lychee jam centre, which is incased in a lychee scented Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s wonderfully fragrant and slightly tart, finished with freeze dried edible rose petals. Not only it is beautiful to look at, it is delicious too! 

If Le Petit Jolie's story inspired you, share it with your mates.
If Jolie’s macaron creations have made you hungry, follow her and order some now to spoil yourself. 

As Julia Child would say

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it”.

Jolie has found her love for macarons from her trip to Paris, and we hope you’ll one day find your passion too. Just remember, it is never too late!

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