A children’s book series provides the idéal recipe for Excelsior baking business.
Amanda Pesek can trace her love of Paris all the way back to her childhood. As her parents read her Ludwig Bemelmans’ series of tales about Madeline, a bold, young, red head attending a convent school in Paris, Pesek instantly fell in love.
Pesek read the books on a daily basis, imagining Madeline’s life “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived 12 little girls in two straight lines …” The stories stuck with her. As she grew up, she began decorating her home with Parisian-inspired photography and collecting Paris-themed books for her coffee table. And when it came time to name her burgeoning baking business, the Excelsior resident had the perfect name: Macarons by Madeline. “I loved the alliteration,” she says.
Pesek began baking in her 20s, starting with cupcakes and truffles, but she soon wanted to challenge herself. That’s when Pesek learned about a macaron class offered at Amy’s Cupcake Shoppe in Hopkins. “I always liked to bake and wanted to try macarons,” she says. Pesek signed up for a class with a friend in 2018. Despite being notoriously difficult to perfect, Pesek says that her first attempt at baking the delicate sandwich cookies was a success. It was love at first bite.
“I decided I wanted to try it at home,” Pesek says. “I kept practicing and trying different flavors.” Her coworkers in the audit department at Target Corporation’s headquarters became the lucky recipients of her practice efforts. Before long, they started asking her to make macarons for baby showers, birthdays and more.
In March 2019, Macarons by Madeline was born. In her home kitchen, Pesek whips up a dizzying array of traditional and unique flavors of macarons. For the December holidays, Pesek has created a seasonal nutcracker box, containing a mix of cinnamon roll, Andes mint-chocolate, hot chocolate-flavored macarons, as well as a gingerbread macaron called Not My Gumdrop Buttons.
In the summer, Pesek’s fruit-themed offerings included: a strawberry macaron with homemade whipped cream and strawberry jam filling; a peach macaron with homemade whipped cream and brown sugar roasted peach jam filling; and a blueberry macaron with homemade whipped cream and blueberry jam filling, cleverly dubbed the Violet Beauregarde, referencing one of the spoiled children in author Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“One of my favorite parts is coming up with new flavors,” Pesek says.
Around Easter, Pesek offers carrot cake macarons alongside macarons with robin egg candy and Peeps. For Cinco de Mayo, she has a margarita flavor, featuring a key lime macaron with salted tequila-lime buttercream frosting. Other alcohol-themed offerings include mimosa, chocolate Guinness and a boozy shamrock shake.
Pesek’s other creations, which include sugar cookies, sweet rolls, pies, cupcakes and custom cakes, are all available for order from her website. They can also be found seasonally at the Minikahda Club’s holiday boutique in Minneapolis and the Visitation School Christmas market in Mendota Heights.
“The dream would be to do it full time and open a bake shop in downtown Excelsior,” Pesek says. “I’m definitely a little ways from that.” Until then, Pesek will continue to help both her Madelines grow—the macaron business and her young daughter, who was born after Pesek started the business—as she dreams of a day when she can visit her old literary friend’s stomping grounds. She says, “I keep joking that my husband needs to take me to Paris.”
Cooking up a Good Read
If you whisked by our Noteworthy section to go straight to dessert (AKA our Tastemakers pages), click here to see what other creative endeavors Pesek is undertaking.