Day in the Life of...a Macaroon Maker
Welcome to Day in the Life of, a feature that will appear every so often on Fork in the Road in which we look at different culinary professions in New York City and the people behind them. How do the pros actually spend their days?
Photo courtesy Dan Cohen
Up this week: Dan Cohen, owner of Danny Macaroons
8 p.m. -- I don't really have the same day every day. Monday, for example, is my big baking day. So Monday really starts on Sunday night because I need to have all my orders in. I call my coffee shops and I make sure that I've totaled up all the orders from the Web. I built an Excel spreadsheet which parcels out how many macaroons I need to make so I don't have math to do when I wake up.
7 a.m. -- I'm usually up around now. I have the great fortune of living across from my kitchen in Spanish Harlem at 119th and Third. And I have the morning to solidify my orders and check on Twitter and Facebook to see who I can say some nonsense to.
8 a.m. -- I'll have breakfast, usually coffee or toast with Nutella.
8:30 a.m. -- It's off to the kitchen for baking. I'll be straight-up baking macaroons until about 2 o'clock or 3, and it's pretty much baking all the way through. Lunch is five minutes. I used to work alone, but I just hired my first two people six weeks ago. One helps in the kitchen and the other does my deliveries. My macaroons come from having grown up in a Jewish family and suddenly wondering one day why we didn't have macaroons on Passover. My mom said if I wanted them I should make them. So I made them and kept on making them for 10 years for family holidays. Then during Passover 2010, my uncle's mother-in-law was telling me how good they are and that I should sell them. Coincidentally, I then wound up in a coffee shop with no food and I brought some in. As much as I was dismissive and didn't want to be baking for a living, they asked if I'd sell them and I said yes. But it was never a plan, and I never thought I'd be doing this for a living. But the general thinking at this point is I don't see why coconut macaroons can't be as interesting as any other cookie, cake, or pie.
3 p.m. -- Then we top the macaroons with everything. We prep the chocolate, make the caramel, red velvet topping, almonds, and the like. My macaroon flavors come from lots of places. I look at what people are doing with French macaroons, or I'll take from other desserts. That's where the chocolate-banana-nut ones came from. I really want to make a carrot-cake one next, and that's because carrot cake is a dessert people like and shredding up carrot and adding it to the coconut seems like it would work. The most recent flavor I added was eggnog. It's really a bourbon macaroon with freshly grated nutmeg. My wife has a friend from Trinidad who brought me back nutmeg in a shell and I was like, What the hell am I going to go with this? It's really nice, but some people get turned off by eggnog. So I might keep them around but call them bourbon macaroons. I've even been talking to a bar about doing a bourbon-macaroon pairing.
5:30 p.m. -- Now all the macaroons get packed up for deliveries. I try to leave by now because the FedEx Ground cutoff is 6. My day is bound by the post-office cutoff and FedEx cutoff. FedEx Express is 7:30 near me, and at 8 at the one a little farther, so I try to get out to get everything there on time.
7 p.m. -- I go home and plan out the deliveries for the next day. Then I'll coordinate invoices and put everything together for my delivery guy.
8:30 p.m. -- I'll have dinner and do some social media and maybe find some new shops or research stores and new flavors I might want to try out.
1 a.m. -- I go to bed now or around 2. The delivery guy comes at 9 the next morning, so I'm back in the kitchen by 8 o'clock tomorrow prepping for him.