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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

Sweet Treats with an Artistic Touch

SMALL BUSINESS: Mira Mesa’s Macaron Art Bakery

Growing up with artists and musicians, and greatly inspired by a grandmother who was a food chemist, owned a bakery and wrote a cookbook, it’s hard to imagine Jessie Crystle doing anything but what she does.

Jessie Crystle
Macaron Art

“I was always enamored with capturing the beauty of what is around me with art,” said the 30-year-old owner of a Mira Mesa-based licensed home bakery called Macaron Art.

“At a young age, I found out what art does – it evokes happiness, sadness and inspiration,” said Crystle, who creates beautiful works of art disguised as sweet treats known as macarons, a dessert that originated in France and typically consists of two delicate meringue pastry shells sandwiched together with a variety of different fillings between them.

Crystle’s macarons go above and beyond, offering flavor-infused, delicate baked goods decorated with everything imaginable.

Crystle, 30, creates desserts that look like mini rocket ships and running shoes. Others mimic avocados with smiling faces, pineapples and cacti. There are intricately designed purses and dancing penguins, liquor bottles and colorful unicorns. Her macarons even are designed as t-shirts and beloved pets.

Crystle re-creates movie scenes and TV-inspired items, cartoon characters, anime and video games, makes macarons of business logos, and she even does lifelike portraits of people, including brides and grooms for weddings.

“It’s more than a dessert,” the baker said “It’s a connection, an immersive experiencl. The macarons tell a story.”

The flavors she has developed for her macarons and also larger cakes also help with the sensory experience. Her desserts come in flavors like matcha Oreo, Thai milk tea, black sesame and Minesota cookie (hazelnut chocolate chip cookie dough) as well as the more traditional chocolate ganache, vanilla bean and sea salt caramel.

An artist since she was a child, mostly drawing animals, flowers and the environment around her, Crystle said she fell in love with another immersive experience she had as a young girl – watching the animated movie “Hercules.” After that, she set her mind on working for the Walt Disney Animation Studios in some manner. After graduating from Mira Mesa High, she earned a fine arts degree at Fullerton College – near Anaheim and Disneyland.

But during her last year in college, she became less interested in helping outside entities share their vision and more focused on creating her own. Crystle said that after college she worked at a few different galleries but it didn’t feel right. A corporate job and working project management fell through when the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Not sure what to do at that point, “I immediately thought of my passion,” she said. “I’ve been a full-time artist and baker since then.”

Born in New Jersey, Crystle moved as a young child to the Philippines and lived in Guam, attending elementary school in Minnesota before her family moved permanently to San Diego when she was in middle school.

She said her Philippines-born grandmother, Gloria Parinas Duterte, was a major influence. Duterte wrote a best-selling book called “A Cook’s Treasure,” which was published in 1984. Duterte was also a columnist for the Cebu-Sun Star Daily‘s food section.

“I read her book and I found the beauty of different pairings so interesting, like what acid does to a fruit and how to make food taste delicious,” Crystle said. “That got me curious and wanting to explore more about flavoring. My favorite thing to do is transform different types of desserts into macaron filling. It’s all about the texture, taste and balance.”

Busy as she is with orders coming in for macarons and cakes, she said her long-term goal is to have a warehouse where she can support other local businesses and host workshops. “I know what it’s like to be a one-woman show,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to feel alone as a creative entrepreneur. I want to help show others what I’ve learned and collaborate with others.”


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