A suburban Colorado strip mall may be a bit of a departure from the bustling cafes of Paris or San Francisco, just two of the cities in which pastry power couple Carolyn Nugent and Alen Ramos have perfected their sweets at renowned bakeries and Michelin-starred restaurants over the past 15 years. But craving more stability for themselves and their five-year-old son, they moved from Chicago to Denver, where Ramos’ family lives, in 2020.

After a successful stint selling treats out of their townhouse kitchen window via their Ulster Street Pastry pop-up, Nugent and Ramos moved their operation into a brick-and-mortar in Parker this September. While fans line up for Poulette Bakeshop’s fritters, doughnuts, and sticky buns, it’s the lavish patisserie-style treats—like this five-tiered gâteau macaron—that get our blood sugar pumping.

Here, we break down the making of the cake, a seasonally changing, special-order stunner that costs $160 to $200 (depending on composition) and takes Nugent and Ramos 48 hours to make:

  • The top macaron layer is dressed up with decorative fall flowers from Parker’s Mainstreet Flower Market. After the macaron slabs set for 24 to 36 hours, Nugent and Ramos make a fresh fruit gelée to coat each tier. The jelly can be infused with any flavor profile, from caramel to curd, but this autumnal iteration features pears spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla.
  • The chocolate coils are essentially giant macaron cookies: beautiful, bubble-free discs of homemade dark chocolate ganache hand-piped into tight, circular spirals. “I spent three weeks piping coils, six hours a day,” Ramos says of perfecting his macaron-making skills at Pierre Hermé in Paris.
  • Each layer also gets a blanket of fluffy vanilla cream topped with poached pear, blackberries, and toasted candied almonds. “Everything is soft—the macaron is chewy, the vanilla cream, the gelée—so it’s nice to have something to add a little bit of crunch,” Nugent says.
  • Once it’s all assembled, they pipe dark chocolate ganache around the circumference and tuck in more blackberries along the sides.

This article was originally published in 5280 October 2021.
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy
Allyson Reedy is a freelance writer and ice cream fanatic living in Broomfield.