Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Macaron Class at Lenotre

  My Saturday Lenotre macaron class is held at the grand Pavillon Elysee on the Champs-Elysees. Our workstation - there are just 6 students in each macaron class held 3 X a week. Classes fill up in advance so plan ahead. The class costs 115 euros. There was a ready supply of croissants/pain au chocolat for weak moments during the 4 hour class.
Chef Eric is very correct and quite an elegant professor.The entire class is in French, but you can keep up even if your language skills are not up to snuff. A fellow student helped translate specific questions. Mostly I watched and photographed incessantly.We made 3 different flavors - lemon, caramel, chocolate.
Every single ingredientis carefully measured out and weighed on scales using the metric system. We get to do that.Quite a bit of high powered equipment is required to make macarons. This ain't chocolate chip cookies. First step after the weighing in - the sifting of the almond flour, key ingredient of macarons. The particles must be consistently the same size for nice smooth macaron shells.
Here my neighbor pours the sifted almond flour into the meringue batter of butter and egg whites. The class is a bit formal. No licking of bowls, spoons or tasting along the way either. No monkey business. Serious classwork from 9 AM until the end of class. Your Paris spy did manage to sneak a lick of the empty caramel ganache bowl in the sink when no one was looking.
Chef Eric folding the batter into the eggwhites - le macaronage. The chef does most of the important steps while we watch.He fills the pastry bag probably much more efficiently than I would have done, what with multi-licks and finger tastings.
Chef demonstrates the proper angle to form the macarons on the parchment.
We demonstrate the improper way to make the macaron coques/shells.
The shell are baked 10 minutes then turned and baked a few more minutes. Here they are coming out of the oven. Note they all have perfect 'feet' - those little ruffly edges. A macaron without proper feet is well not really a macaron.
One secret trick - each tray is placed on top of 2 other trays while baking not sitting directly on the oven racks. Macarons making entails lots of secrets not written in the printed recipe.
Another secret trick - so the lids are easily removed from the parchment - cold water is poured under the paper, then drained off immediately. The lids are set on racks to rest for 2 hours. Macarons require a lot of beauty sleep before you pop them in your mouth.
I've skipped a slew of steps like making of the filling/ ganache that goes inside the meringue 'sandwich'. Chef demonstrates the correct amount of filling for each macaron - just enough glue to hold them together. We got to wreck havoc on the rest.
Enfin the final step. The two shell come together with a twist of the wrist. Our macs do not look like they came from a patisserie. They're too puffy and plump in my opinion. Still they taste terrific and that's the key factor.
 We pack up our 30 macarons in Lenotre's elegant purple bags and boxes. Ideally macarons require an overnight rest in the fridge for their flavor to deepen and to look shiny. They'll keep 5-6 days and in the freezer 2-3 months. You'd need great restraint to manage that.


  1. gosh I don't think those would have made it back to my hotel, I would have been walking and eating all the way! wonderful job!

  2. Wow. Great post. What a wonderful idea to plan to take this class. And in such beautiful surroundings. Bee- you- tee-ful macarons!

  3. K & S
    After being in the immediate vicinity of macarons for 4 hours, you are ready to give them a rest. Maybe permenant I thought at the time, but that hasn't proved to be the case...

  4. This is the.most.FABULOUS.post. I adored every inch of it. Merci beaucoup.

  5. When do you get to make pain au chocolat? :) My faves! But of course, I still have not tasted a macaron yet. Have to wait 5 more months.

  6. OMG. I think I will just send for some. Would never get thru that to make them at home, but how fun to take the class. I am so glad you didn't disappoint us by not getting that sneaky lick. Bravo!!
    So now after all that, Would you make those on your own?
    Wonderful post.

  7. Anonymous1:50 AM

    Carol, can you see us sitting here?
    And waiting ?!?
    Here is our order:

    4 macarons au chocolat, 2 au caramel et 2 au citron ... avec 2 cafés, un thé à la menthe et un jus d'orange...
    Merci !

    This is definitely a post for my son!!!!! I will tell you if he has QUESTIONS !!!
    Any watercolour for my daughter?

  8. All this macaron-ness is making me a bit swoony and lightheaded... Is this something you will be able to replicate at all on your own?

    Your photos and adventures are mouthwatering and exciting. It sounds like you are enjoying every minute there! I'm so glad.

  9. What fun! What great pictures too! Have you foiund that the macaron vary in quality from one patisserie to the next or are they all pretty good. I'm a novice when it comes to buying and eating macarons.

  10. Yes Cecile
    There is a big difference from one patisserie to the next to be sure.
    That's why all the fuss over Laduree and Pierre Herme macarons and Gerard Mulot!
    I'll go into it at some future point. Bonne idea :)

  11. Yikes! I walked right past that place and did not know Heaven awaited inside!

  12. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Thanks for taking us with you. Thirty of those dolls! Did you have a party afterwards? Love the step by step that you posted. Was it an expensive class to take?

  13. Talk about an armchair ride, I absolutely loved taking that course with you, THANK YOU!!! Vida x

  14. Anonymous8:34 AM

    Quelle bonne idee, Carol! That looks like it was fun. I love all the rituals and steps in baking. There's something wonderful about it. Made me think I should do more baking the way I used to. Will you paint some of your own creations? lovely!

  15. Anonymous9:30 AM

    I attempted once to make these tasty little morsels myself, with no guidance whatsoever.
    You see, I live where there is no Frenchie bakery where I can even buy them let alone where I can learn from a master how to make them. They turned out ok but I think I'd rather go to Paris and taste a 'real' one!
    Thank you for the photos, Carol.

  16. I think I had more fun at the class I went to at L'Atelier des Chefs in Lafayette Maison! We had a good laugh and somehow it seemed easier than it looks at Lenôtre - no two-hour resting period, no water under the parchment paper, and they turned out great anyway!

  17. Oh, Carol, if only licking my computer monitor were enough! Thanks for sharing your wonderful time in Paris.

  18. Anonymous10:52 AM

    What an exciting class! Do you know why the macarons were a bit poofy? Oh I haven't tried using the steam method to remove macarons yet, and I might try that next time their dainty feet get stuck on parchment.

  19. Oh CAROL - I cannpt thank you enough!!! Your site introduced me to Macarons when I discovered you through EDM- I LOVE your work and your vision AND I just returned from my very first trip to Paris and YES I had as many macarons as time would allow. What a Treat!! And now you have answered so many questions on HOW do they Do That? Merci - I am now a Paris dreamer for life (and I what to know if Macarons can be ordered on line??)

  20. Fab ... great tip about the steaming. It looks as if you were given the recipe - any chance you could post it, so that we can try to re-create this wonderful class at home? There's no chance of getting to one!


  21. Anonymous12:20 PM

    I must say I like the "flat" shape of the Laduree macarons better.
    Just between you and me: you don't need the "double tray" trick to make great macarons at home; and you don't even need the "water technique" either. But ssshhh...

  22. What a delicious post! It gave me a heavenly sugar rush :-) I'm sure I can speak for all here by saying we'd love to volunteer for a tasting of your very own marcarons! Thanks for sharing this class, with such an abundance of photos.

  23. Oh what fun! Merci beaucoup for the mental escape from corporate life this morning! :) Your write up and photos are super!

  24. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Carol - I am so enjoying your trip to Paris and I am putting this macaron class on my list of must-dos next time in Paris. Thanks!!

  25. Carol! Merci mille fois! I am always happy to read your blog and today I feel extra delighted to have found it. You've given me a window into my ville préféré that helps stave off the constant melancholy over not being there. However, the desire you've ccreated in me to try a macaron is insatiable!

    Thanks again!
    Sarah B

  26. now do we get the recipie or do we have to come take our own class?? i would like an almond one please...thanks for sharing...blessings, rebecca

  27. Lenotre is clever enough to not give out ALL the secrets to making macarons or there would be even more shops selling them...
    That's why ours look poofy, not nice and flat. I did ask why the trays were not tapped several times before entering the oven and the chef's response was that technique was for professionals!?

  28. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Wonderful class coverage -- and it's my understanding that
    typically, European recipes call for weights of ingredients, not our cups, etc. I have long been a
    proponent of weighing my flour, sugar,etc. It's more
    accurate and so MUCH easier! The storing and freezing information has given me a new lease on life: I don't have to hold off making them because I will eat the whole batch at once. I can tell myself (and truly MEAN it) that I will
    judiciously eat a half dozen and freeze the rest for later.
    Really, that's what I mean to do. Yes, all the rest for
    later....but not much later. Really.

  29. Anonymous3:06 PM

    I've walked by the Pavillion Elysee so many times and wanted to stop in. Now I know I can have lunch there. I am still dreaming about the caramel seasalt macarons we had from Lauderee last year. Thanks for sharing this.

  30. You are just torturing me now.

  31. ROSA Getting into a paris macaron cooking class is like trying to get accepted into a high school sorority. My first choice was L'atelier but too booked up as was Lenotre until a space opened :(
    I thought it could have had more levity for sure.

  32. Anonymous6:30 PM

    Great post, Carol. I can just see you snapping away when you're supposed to be paying astute attention. Now, I imagine you'll appreciate those delectable little treasures even moreso, since you've seen the labor of love that goes into making them. Great shots you got here! Thanks for the wonderful voyage into the realm of macarons.

  33. Anonymous6:33 PM

    I can't believe the chef said what he did--does that mean he doesn't consider himself a "professional!?" Were your fellow cohorts in crime fun to bake with? I can just picture you frenetically taking notes and photos for your blog. A real trooper you are. AND of course, you'd have to sample, so you could make sure what you learned was completely accurate. Enjoyed this a lot, Carol.

    The chef said that because WE were NOT professionals! And unworthy of the hidden secrets of pastry cult. I only took photographic notes...specially since my French isn't up the level of comprehension required malheureusement :(

  35. Anonymous9:12 AM


  36. Fantastic blogging.

    Fancy them not licking their spoons during the lesson though - that's half the fun.

  37. I can't stand it anymore and will have to find a recipe to make these myself. You may not know this about me but I love to cook and no one does it better than the French. Ever since you posted that amazing pic of the tower of Macarons I have been wanting to bake some...I will post my efforts soon :-)

  38. Oh my god, I would be in heaven.

    I'm going to look at the macaron schedule and decide when I'm making my february trip.

    Nice job and commentary Carol!

  39. I love these pictures. They make me want to go back to Paris and take that class. I've never experienced Paris in the fall. I suppose my favorite city and favorite season should mix well someday!

  40. Oh...I want to be here doing this, too..........what a great post!

  41. Anonymous6:21 PM

    i've actually been considering taking that class because i love to bake and i lovee macarons. would you recommend it?

  42. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Hello Carol,
    You are so lucky!
    You mean in the macarons batter there is butter?

    Thank you,

  43. Oh my! There must be a word for how much I'm enjoying your experience vicariously but I can't think of it. We've had the pleasure of Gerard Mulot macaroons and plan to visit his kitchen on our next visit to Paris in June but in the meantime I am sooooo tantalized by all this goodiness! Thanks for sharing. You've make an otherwise cold Sunday afternoon oh so very enjoyable.

  44. I just did this workshop yesterday and posted about it on my blog!


    I love how the technique from class to class does not seem to vary - must be the "Lenôtre way"!

    I just happened to be googling around about it and came across your blog! Adding it to my reader right now!

    Bonnes fêtes!


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