Bonne Vie Macarons, which began as a cooking challenge for owner Heather Degeyter, has transformed from a home-based business to its own store-front shop opening in May on Kaliste Saloom Road.

Degeyter will offer macarons, tarts, cupcakes and layered cakes, but it's the macarons that will be the centerpiece of the bakery. 

Not to be confused with the coconut macaroon, macarons are a sweet meringue-based French confection made with egg white, sugar, almond powder and food coloring.

"What we're trying to do as our brand is that we've expanded a little wider where the macaron is the signature on whatever we're doing," she said. "We're interested in flavor combinations, pairing it with cocktails and having a kind of celebration feel. It's more of an involved, bougie kind of atmosphere. It'll be fun."

The business venture started as a hobby Degeyter began 18 months ago during a slow period at her job teaching English at LSU. She initially thought the process of making macarons "couldn't be that hard." She soon realized the difficulty, but pushed herself to try to master them.

"It took all summer to figure out something that worked," Degeyter said, "and we just kind of grew with word of mouth, which has been kind of cool."

Enough people enjoyed the macarons that she started an online, made-to-order business. However, she hasn't been able to keep up with demand for in her one-tray oven at home.

The Louisiana Cottage Food Law currently allows an individual to make baked goods and other food in their home and sell them directly to the public without the burden of meeting all of the state's rigorous requirements for food processors. However, it only allows an individual to gross $20,000 per year, Degeyter said. 

That was "nearly impossible with ingredients being bought at retail prices," she said, "so we jumped into this."

With the help of her mother, Debbie, and one or two additional hires, Degeyter said, she will be able to handle the demand.

Some of her best-selling macarons include wedding cake, which has a splash of amaretto liqueur for a unique flavor and shiny appearance, sea salt caramel with chocolate drizzle and Chantilly cake. 

Construction is underway on the 16,000-square-foot restaurant at 607 Kaliste Saloom Road, Suite A, in the former Oh My Taco space. 

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