Interview with: Jammy CruzPhotography by: Jammy Cruz
Small-business owner Jammy Cruz’s trajectory to macaron-making success was born first out of curiosity and then out of a desire to express her creativity.
Where did you eat your first macaron?I have my former coworker Rebecca to thank for introducing me to macarons. I remember vividly how I felt after the first bite: I closed my eyes in instant bliss and blurted out, “This is so good, it melts in your mouth! What is it?”
When did you decide to try macaron making?Shortly after discovering my newfound love for macarons, I tried baking them with my brother using a random recipe I found on Google. Needless to say, it was not the most successful outcome. I am used to regular cooking where I eyeball the ingredients, which I believe goes against the cardinal rule of baking. That initial attempt did not further motivate me to bake macarons again.
A year later, in 2017, I was in the process of planning my wedding, and I was considering macarons for our wedding favor. But macarons are quite expensive and did not fit into our budget. The curiosity to understand why macarons were so expensive spurred me to start baking them again. I didn’t end up making them for my wedding, but the seed had been planted.
Tell us about the rest of your macaron-making journey. Who encouraged you along the way?The macaron experiments resumed in earnest after my wedding. It was a lot of trial and error to tweak recipes until I found one that worked for me. I did a lot of online research about techniques and sought out advice from expert bakers on Instagram.
When I was struggling with baking, my friend Aaron told me: “That’s how life is. You just keep going. Set a goal and never stop working hard to get there, and, once you do, you move on to the next goal.” I cannot tell you how much that motivated me to follow through.
When did you know you wanted to leave your full-time job to devote time to your macaron business?The main reason I quit my full-time job was actually for my son. I didn’t want to miss out on time with him after my maternity leave. And it turned out that I was able to use some of that time to bake. Eventually, I ventured into selling macarons online, and, with a lot of hard work, my business took off better than I anticipated.
What is the most difficult part of the macaron-making process? The most difficult part is everything! There are so many things to consider when baking macarons. There are a multitude of external factors like humidity and temperature, along with the right technique of mixing the batter, the right way of piping the shells, etc. It really is a chemistry of all these things—adjusting what I can control to what I cannot control. It is a continuous learning process, even to this day.
What kitchen tools have been game-changers for you?Most definitely my KitchenAid mixer. It’s a lifesaver for my business. It makes baking so efficient and flawless. Another tool I absolutely love is the spatula I have now, which I got at Target. I cannot tell you how many spatulas have come and gone in my kitchen, but this one is the crème de la crème. Lastly, I love my silicone macaron mats from Simple Baker.
Who inspires you in the pastry industry?There are too many to mention them all, but one baker that stands out is Candace Nelson of Sprinkles. I love how talented, sweet, and humble she is despite her success. But, honestly, the main people who really inspired and encouraged me when I started out and still do today are many amazingly talented bakers on Instagram, especially small-business owners I can relate to. I am in awe of their never-ending creativity and hard work. I also love that many of them are like me: moms who are pursuing their passion at the same time.
Tell us your best insider tip for making macarons:This is a good one, and I cannot stress it enough: pop the bubbles! Make sure to pop every bubble before baking the shells if you really want to achieve smooth macarons.
What are some of your favorite flavors?Nutella, cookie butter, espresso, ube, strawberry, and dulce de leche.
What is the most unusual request for a macaron shape you’ve received? What was the most difficult macaron order?I took on a very unique order for a baby shower. The theme was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m not used to making dark-themed macarons for a baby shower, but I definitely enjoyed trying something new.
The most difficult but very fulfilling macarons I ever made were Frida Kahlo-themed macarons. The customer gave me full autonomy to design them. I had a difficult time conceptualizing the idea and capturing the design because Frida is such an iconic figure, and there is a myriad of ways to portray her. I really wanted to capture her essence in a macaron.
What is a fun fact about you that only good friends would know?I love Backstreet Boys.
What does “living the dream” mean to you?To have my own store one day, knowing that I still get to do what I love while providing for my family and at the same time having the luxury to spend time with the people I love. It would mean inspiring and teaching others how to make macarons. I also want to engage in community outreach—specifically in programs that help less-fortunate children. I want to have sufficient resources and time to achieve all this. I am not quite there yet, but I am definitely working hard to reach it.
During the pandemic, I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for frontline health-care workers whose lives were at risk saving other people’s lives. I thought the least I could do was extend my support and gratitude by making them macarons. I also participated in some projects like Bakers Box Washington, DC, which donated some of the proceeds to an organization that helps support low-income, underserved Asian Pacific American youth. This kind of outreach makes me happy and is part of my dream.
In what ways does your business fulfill you?My business gives me the opportunity to not only provide for my family but also be present with my son, Gabrielle. Moreover, starting this business journey, doing something I actually love to do, is the first time in my life I felt like I was doing something for myself. I’m able to be myself and unlock my creative side. I learned much more about my capabilities and how much I enjoy working on crafts through baking. I also find joy in being able to make people happy with my macarons.
For more info, visit mrsmacarons.com