From afternoon teas to bespoke wedding favours – Le Mini Macaron has you covered
Handmade, gluten-free and all-natural flavours… we know it’s Father’s Day, but we can’t get enough of this mother-daughter business
Paid Partnership with Le Mini Macaron
The course of true love never did run smooth – and it’s the same in business as it is with romance.
We’ve interviewed a fair few entrepreneurs in our time, and it seems that one thing they all have in common is that they haven’t let challenges deter them from their goal. It’s a theme that’s been echoed countless times throughout history – it was Winston Churchill who said that ‘success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm’ – and we’re big believers of that here at HLN. As it turns out, failure was also the spark that fired up the oven of local dessert dons, Le Mini Macaron.
Growing up with a home economist mum, Joanne Kenyon and her sister Emma were always going to have an appreciation for cooking. But for Joanne, that appreciation fast became a passion – nurtured partly by dad Julian (who, we’ve heard, makes a mean chocolate cake) and sped along by a birthday present Emma bought her eight years ago. The gift in question? A macaron making kit. The problem? The macarons she made with it turned out to be a disaster!
Intrigued by the challenge to help Joanne get them right, mum Gillian got in on the action and, together, Joanne and Gillian kept trying macaron mixture after macaron mixture… until they stumbled upon what can only be described as pure baking greatness. (Trust us – we’ve tried them).
Fast-forward eight years and the dynamic duo have turned their personal project into a successful business, which has meant their handmade, gluten-free and all-natural macarons can now found at food festivals and markets the North over. And they’re not stopping there.
Having mastered the regular macaron (although their flavour combos are anything but ordinary!), Le Mini Macaron have now branched into the wonderful world of weddings and special events. Spoiler alert – they now have actual TOWERS of macarons just waiting to be devoured!
We caught up with Joanne to find out just what makes Le Mini Macaron slicker than your average bakery, what they’ve got their sights set on next and how we can get in on the macaron making action now too…
The company started in a very unexpected way. My older sister – as a birthday present, eight years ago – gave me a macaron making kit, as she knew I loved baking and new challenges. Up until then, I’d never really come across macarons, so I was excited to try them. It turned out the first ever batch was an epic failure! But ever since, my Mum and I became addicted to making them until we succeeded! We came up with our own recipe and everything snowballed from there.
What gave you both the final push to turn your love of baking into a business?
After we finally succeeded in making the macarons, we thought we would give some out for friends and family to try, and they were a huge success. Gillian – who used to run her own children’s cookery company – noticed that there seemed to be a gap in the market here in the North East for a macaron company.
With her expertise of running a business before, we decided to start up small and attend a couple of markets and wedding fairs. Everything went very well and, after a couple of years, I gave up my full-time job in hospitality management to go full-time with Gillian at Le Mini Macaron.
Your Macaron Making Kits are hugely popular. Why was it important to you to give your customers a chance to make their own macarons, like you did all those years ago?
After doing a few festive markets, we realised we were missing the option of a Christmas present idea on the stall, so we decided to make a kit that would give far more successful results than we got all those years ago! There’s a stigma around macarons that they’re very hard to make, which is semi-true. But once you get the knack for it and learn your oven, you’re away!
Our kit contains the exact ingredients that we use ourselves. We include pre-weighed ingredients, piping bags, template sheets and ingredients to make fillings. We give precise, easy-to-follow instructions with little tips and pointers to help get the best results.
All the flavourings of your macarons are 100% natural and gluten free. What are each of your favourite flavours right now?
Macarons are already very sweet – even overly sweet, if non-natural flavours are used. So when we started creating our flavour combos, it was very important to us to avoid any sickliness by using only natural flavours. A fresh macaron should also be naturally gluten-free, as they’re made with a meringue base and ground almonds – flour shouldn’t be added, as it can dry them out and make them more biscuity.
Currently, Gillian’s favourite flavour is our Lemon Meringue Macaron. We make a sumptuous, zesty, fresh lemon curd to go in the centre and, with summer very much here now, it’s always a popular flavour. But if she’s feeling indulgent, she reckons you can never go wrong with a Double Chocolate Macaron either!
My favourite flavour right now is our Toasted Coconut Mallow Macaron. It has a gooey marshmallow centre, surrounded by a smooth coconut cream and toasted coconut on top. My other firm favourite will always be Rhubarb & Custard, as I’m a major custard fan!
You’re a mother and daughter team. Was cooking and baking a big part of your family life?
I was very lucky to be brought up within a family where Mum would cook a healthy meal from scratch every night. That started my appreciation for food. I also remember standing on a chair in the kitchen and helping my Dad bake his famous chocolate cake with jam in the centre at the weekends.
When I started in hospitality, I was introduced to lots of different foods – which I then tried cooking at home for my Mum, Dad and sister. We all have a major love of food and love cooking and baking! We have a family whatsapp group, which is mainly filled with photos of what everyone is cooking that night!
And what’s it like, working within the family?
We’ve always been a very close family. Starting this company up has made us all so proud of what we’ve achieved and what it’s providing for the family. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but we have a great laugh at work together too!
You’re back on the local market scene. Why are markets so important for Le Mini Macaron?
We get a real kick out of attending markets – whether it’s getting regular customers coming back to refill their egg boxes or chatting with new customers, telling them all about Le Mini Macaron and getting feedback. We love seeing someone try one of our macarons for the first time and loving them!
Le Mini Macaron also provides unique wedding towers and favours. How do you go about creating these with your customers?
We love creating unique bespoke macarons for weddings. We feel it’s so important that each bride and groom feel special and that they’re getting the best service from us for their special day. We invite couples to come in and see us and find out their favourite flavours, the colour scheme for the wedding and generally what they had in mind. Then, between us, we come up with exactly what they want – be it a tower of macarons, macarons in clear boxes or (our latest addition) our macaron wall!
We love going to the wedding venues and setting up our towers too, or delivering the favours and making sure they’re all perfect for the couple’s special day.
You also create bespoke macaron cakes, eclairs and macaron walls for special occasions. Which is your favourite to make?
I absolutely love making macaron cakes. I have more freedom to be creative when I’m decorating them and get to go a bit crazy! My favourite was our Easter macaron cake; I bought lots of beautiful Easter chocolates for decoration, and then the middle was a chocolate explosion of fillings with pockets of caramel and marshmallow fluff!
What do you love most about your job?
Honestly, I think it’s working with my family! Building this company up from nothing to where it is today, I couldn’t be more proud of us all for sticking it out through some very long, gruelling hours and standing in gazebos in some horrendous weather! It’s all worth it when you get lovely customers coming and trying your products, loving them and giving great reviews, and coming back to refill their egg boxes!
What does the future hold for Le Mini Macaron?
We’re currently focused on getting into more retail and cafés. Lockdown was really great for the online business, but since restrictions have lifted that has fallen away slightly, so we hope to build that back up. As a business, we haven’t tried to expand beyond our capabilities and means too quickly – we’ve just taken our time and enjoyed it. We recently moved into a bigger unit at the start of the year and now have a great member of staff – Emma – who helps us make our macarons.
We hope with this unit to start providing macaron making classes to small groups too, which I think will be great fun!
Fancy trying some of Le Mini Macaron’s all-natural flavour combos, giving macaron making or go yourself or bagging your very own tower of macarons?! Yeah, get in line.