French-trained baker opening macaron shop and baking school in Virginia Beach

By Matthew Korfhage 

 

Virginia Beach’s Town Center will soon have a new home for macarons, truffles, quiches and tarts.

Though English-born and Australian-raised, Elena Hocking says she trained at the famed French Pastry School in Chicago and studied for a month with French baker Stephane Glacier, winner of the 2000 prize as the best pastrymaker in France. (In true French fashion, the country holds a domestic, four-year Olympics for every craft from baker to barber to cabinet maker).

Macaron Tart, Hocking’s upcoming French bakery at 235 Central Park Ave., also will host an afternoon French high tea pastry service, as well as cooking classes for aspiring bakers.

“I bake real, true pastries from scratch that are all natural,” Hocking said. “Many bakeries are Americanized. They buy in bulk, they buy the dough. I make my cake mixes from scratch.”

Signature tarts – essentially a small and fancy open-topped pie – will include her apple Normandy, almond cream, lemon meringue and pecan caramel.

Her macarons, French-style filled cookie sandwiches, will come in “perfumes” from lavender to S’mores to black currant.

Hocking first opened Macaron Tart in Haymarket, near Washington, D.C., but moved to Virginia Beach in 2018 to be closer to family. The Town Center bakery will open in February or early March, she said.

“I like to do this kind of lifestyle experience,” Hocking said. “French pastry, macarons and tarts, fancy pies, light brunch options, a Parisian-style country take on high tea.”

Cooking classes will include weeklong workshops for children ranging from pastries to simple lunch items, while two-hour adult courses include macarons, truffles, croissants, quiches and tarts.

Taking macarons together with tea is a classic French habit, but Hocking says her version will be a bit less formal than a true high tea – a selection of small pastries and macarons and scones.

Macaron Tart arrives as the second high-profile macaron bakery and teahouse announced for February in Hampton Roads. Kisha Moore’s Hummingbird Macarons plans to open on Valentine’s Day in the old pagoda in the Oriental Garden near Norfolk’s Freemason Harbor.

But Hocking believes Macaron Tart will offer an experience of all-natural, scratch-made French baking that is unique in Hampton Roads.

“You can take a cooking class, do high tea, get nice pastries everywhere, indulge in fine macarons. It’s a beautiful experience.”

 

This article was written by Matthew Korfhage for The Virginian Pilot. Click here to view the article.