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  • Writer's pictureNicholas R Peña

Chainés Gourmet Cookies: Baking it through

Long before Chainés Gourmet Cookies could be found at 131 West Water St. in downtown Santa Fe, owner Chaine Peña, could be found watching her mother Bernadette Peña, make special mermaid and bunny shaped cakes by hand or helping her grandmother Vi Ortiz, make tortillas from scratch as she peeked over the counter while her little feet tiptoed on a step stool. “I’ve always been interested in baking. When I was a little girl, I remember helping my grandma make tortillas from scratch back when she used to make them. I also remember being so impressed with my mom’s ability to make cakes that looked like a bunny for Easter or a mermaid for my birthday. All by hand and long before there were cake molds for these types of cakes,” says Peña.

Now at 33, Peña’s 1100 square food gourmet cookie shop provides a sense of calm comfort, with neutral and blush color tones throughout the space and cozy seating spread through the east side of the shop. The shops focal point leads you past a very whimsical swing and up to the countertop where you will find some to the states best cookies, specifically her adaptation to a French Macaron at high altitude and her variety of specialty cookies like Piñon Chocolate Chip. “On a busy day we will sell almost 500 macrons alone. The flavors I use are inspired by my environment and how I grew up. For example, some of my seasonal Macaron flavors are Mango Tajin, Chimayo Red Chile Chocolate, or Pumpkin Pie but my top sellers are typically Churro, Pistachio, and Strawberry Rosé where I reduce a whole bottle of Gruet Rosé for the gnash.” Chaines Gourmet Cookie shop seats up to 16 people and patrons can find up to 10 flavors of macarons and 6 specialty cookies including Peanut Butter and Jelly, S'more, Carrot Cake, Piñon Chocolate Chip, Meyer Lemon Cake, and Pistachio White Chocolate Chip. “My creativity comes from my background as a makeup artist after graduating from Westmore (Academy of Cosmetic Arts) where I found myself very interested in special effects makeup. Baking was always a natural progression of something l really enjoyed and was able to apply artistic techniques I learned in school to what I was baking. But it wasn’t until random people that I didn’t know started asking for orders based off of photos that I posted on my Instagram of sculpted cakes and cookies that I made for family and friends. It was sort of an ah-ha moment when I realized that I was transitioning into a business,” says Peña.

Peña opened Chainés Gourmet Cookies in October of 2019 and found a warm welcome from publications like the Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico Magazine, The Santa Fe Reporter, and Rocky Mountain Bride (out in August 2020), and many Santa Fe patrons for the four and a half months she was operating prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Business was great before the pandemic. Even the typical Santa Fe off seasons through February was very consistent for us. The current state of events changed everything. It halted my whole life. Everybody’s life. I had to close down and let go of Mary, who what the most amazing employee ever. Its just all really sad.” Peña plans to reopen Chainés Gourmet Cookies for curbside pickup and shipping within the next couple weeks and will announce her days and hours of operations via her mailing list and social media pages in the coming days. For more information please visit her Instagram, Facebook and Website.

Peña has provided her Macron recipe for you all to try at home! The recipe can be found below. Enjoy!

Chainés Macarons

You will need: a stand mixer or hand mixer, mixing bowls, scale, spatula, fine mesh sieve, baking paper or silicon mat, baking sheet, piping bag, #12 round piping tip.

Ingredients: 130 Grams Almond Flour (make sure its the fine ground, blanched with no skin),130 Grams Powder Sugar, 90 Grams granulated sugar and 100 Grams egg white.

  • Sift the almond flour and powder sugar together. Set aside.

  • Whip egg whites in a clean bowl on low, just until foamy. Be sure your bowl and other equipment has no butter/oil residue on it- I wipe mine with a bit of lemon juice to be extra cautious.

  • Begin adding granulated sugar a little at a time, while increasing mixing speed to medium. Once all the sugar is mixed in allow the eggs to whip to stiff peak. Your egg whites should look like smooth dry shaving cream, not whipped cream. That’s when they're done.

  • Start your macaronage process by adding 1/3 of your almond flour mixture at a time. Gently fold the batter without deflating all of the volume. You can look up some YouTube videos on proper macaronage, as this is a crucial step for the macrons to turn out. Continue to add 1/3 at a time until all of the ingredients are incorporated. You can test the consistency of the batter a few ways: it should drip off the spatula like flowing lava, not too fast, not too slow. Also the "figure 8" test is great. If the batter ribbons create a full figure 8 with out breaking its ready.

  • Heat your oven to 300 degrees.

  • Prepare a piping bag with a tip. I like to use a #12 tip.

  • Pipe macrons evenly onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper or silicon macaron mat. Allow the macarons to rest, this will help create the perfect "feet"

  • Once a skin has developed and the shell appears more matte than shiny they are ready to bake.

  • Bake macarons for 11-13 minutes.

  • Allow them to cool fully before removing them from the tray.

  • Sandwich with your favorite jam, buttercream or ganache.

  • The real magic happens when you allow them to rest overnight in an airtight container refrigerated- the shell becomes the perfect chewy consistency.

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