Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Milk & Honey is sweet on French macarons

Posted by on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Karina Parreno (left) and Casey Conner are the duo of bakers behind Milk & Honey.
  • Nick Gardner
  • Karina Parreno (left) and Casey Conner are the duo of bakers behind Milk & Honey.
A blood-curdling scream filled the kitchen at the Independence Regional Ennovation Center a few weeks ago. Karina Parreno and Casey Conner looked at each other. Neither had made a peep.

“The kitchen is haunted,” Parreno says. “I don’t believe in paranormal activity, but the sound of shrieking was coming out of the oven at the stovetop the other night.”

“We both heard it,” Conner says. “The old morgue was below the kitchen. Sometimes the sinks will turn on and off. We leave little gifts of macarons. Then we take them because we can’t leave a dirty kitchen. The ghost has been on our side so far.”

Salted caramel is one of the most popular.
The voices on this side of the veil have also been supportive of the two bakers, who in May launched Milk & Honey, a pastry company that specializes in French macarons. The chefs met while helping develop and perfect the menu — including Parreno’s French macarons — for the 2010 launch of the Bloom Baking Co. (Parreno trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago, Conner at Johnson County Community College.) Both left Bloom later that year to work for Nordstrom, Conner in retail and Parreno as the assistant restaurant manager. All along, they’d talked about starting their own business. In April, they set up their mixers at Ennovation.

“We don’t have the job security that other generations are used to, and I think that makes us a little more fearless,” Conner says.

What they do have is a solid baking pedigree. Conner worked at Three Women and an Oven, and Parreno was a production assistant at Christopher Elbow before moving to Bloom. For Milk & Honey,
Parreno, 30, oversees the baking. Conner, 28, is in charge of decorating.

“She’s Type A, and I’m Type Z,” Conner explains.

Milk & Honey’s macarons are slightly larger than the traditional variety (that is, a little bigger than an Oreo) and packed with buttercream filling. The flavors now in the case at the Roasterie Café include vanilla-bean lavender, salted caramel, pistachio, and a hazelnut mocha made with the Roasterie’s Super Tuscan espresso beans.

“Our macarons have a slightly crispy outer layer,” Parreno says. “You want that domed shell and ruffled edge.”

“The shell isn’t overly sweet,” Conner adds. “It’s just about starting the conversation. The crunch is the most important part.”

With a website slated to launch this month (milkandhoneykc.com) and online ordering on the horizon, the business partners are looking to open their own storefront next year. Until then, they’ll just have to make peace with that ghost.

Milk & Honey focuses on French macarons.
  • Matt Klinemann Photography
  • Milk & Honey focuses on French macarons.

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