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Where you can learn to finesse a pastry bag

Pastry chef Chelsey Erickson, owner of Finesse Pastries in Somerville, demonstrates how to pipe the batter to make French macarons at a baking class in her shop.
Pastry chef Chelsey Erickson, owner of Finesse Pastries in Somerville, demonstrates how to pipe the batter to make French macarons at a baking class in her shop.Halie Olszowy

Seven participants gather at worktables in the kitchen at Finesse Pastries in Somerville as mixers hum, whirling egg whites into stiff, glossy peaks. They came to learn how to make French macarons, the delicate almond meringue cookie that requires mixing ingredients with precision. Mishaps are easy. Owner and pastry chef Chelsey Erickson, 27, teaches the class with expertise and wit. When the batter is ready, she shows how to fill and handle a pastry bag to pipe small circles onto baking sheets. “Pipe, let go. Pipe, let go,” says Erickson. For some, working with the pastry bag comes easily; for others, it’s messy. Trained by local master pastry chef Delphin Gomes at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, Erickson also spent months in France studying at the prominent Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon. She opened the shop last year after relocating it from Manchester, N.H., where she won awards for the best bakery in the city. But Bostonians were already familiar with Erickson’s confections; she’s run a Finesse stall in Boston Public Market for the last three years. Soon, airy shells tinted lavender, pink, cream, bright orange, and emerald emerge from the ovens. Before the cookies are filled with ganache or jam and assembled, the pastry chef asks the group to ascertain their shells have feet or the frilly ruffle around its edge. It’s evidence you have a well-made macaron. “If they don’t have feet, don’t say I taught you how to make these,” says Erickson. 594 Somerville Ave. Somerville, 617-764-2793. For the schedule of classes, which also include artisan bread baking, pate a choux (the pastry for eclairs and cream puffs), tarts, and more (2½-3 hours; $99), go to www.finesssepastries.com.

ANN TRIEGER KURLAND

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French macarons by pastry chef Chelsey Erickson, owner of Finesse Pastries in Somerville.
French macarons by pastry chef Chelsey Erickson, owner of Finesse Pastries in Somerville. Melissa DiPalma



Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at anntrieger@gmail.com.