Indio baker Bianca Puentes puts a desert twist on flavorful French macarons.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTINA FRARY
Macarons are notoriously tricky to make. How did you learn?
Through YouTube! I watched a lot of videos. With macarons, you can’t just tell someone how to do it because everything — the humidity outside, whether it’s cloudy, hot, or cold — can be a factor in how they turn out. It’s taken me six years to get them exactly how I want them. You’ve got to have that perfect outer layer but all that softness inside. I think I’ve mastered it.
What’s your signature style?
I’m Hispanic, so I do them with a twist. It’s fun because you can incorporate any type of flavor. I do a lot of Mexican dessert flavors like the peanut candy De La Rosa Mazapan and Duvalin, these little strawberry-vanilla Mexican candies. I’ll incorporate those into the buttercream and ganache fillings. For my s’mores macaron, I use Marshmallow Fluff and a chocolate ganache filling. I dip the shell in chocolate, and then I cover it in graham cracker crumbs and a Hershey’s bar.
What else do you make?
I was inspired to start making scones as a way to use my broken macaron shells. I crumbled up pistachio macaron shells and mixed them with lemon, pistachio nuts, and blueberries to make a scone. It worked. Whenever I make them, I sell out.
When do you find the time to bake?
I do it late, whenever my kids are asleep. After dinner, I know no one is going to be coming into the kitchen, so that’s when I do all my prep work and start baking. Sometimes I go to sleep at 3 or 4 a.m. — or I won’t go to sleep at all.
Bianca Puentes, owner, The Desert Pâtisserie.
What’s your go-to family-friendly activity for your two kids?
We like to go to The Living Desert [Zoo & Gardens]. They love the giraffes because they’re able to feed them. They love all the desert animals: tortoises, snakes, spiders. My daughter will let [the zoo staff] put a bug on her hand, and she likes it. I don’t know how she does that. I can’t do it. I don’t like bugs!
I love Polo Pizza Co. It’s an open outdoor space at the Empire Polo Club surrounded by palm trees and strings of lights. It’s a good place to meet up for drinks and food and sit around the fire pit with your friends. Another favorite is the Indio Food Park. There’s so much to do there, and it’s bringing life back to Old Town Indio. I love Mexican food, so I go to the local Mexican restaurants like Allende or El Tapatio.