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Back at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, part 1: Don't miss macarons class Jan. 18

Cases of temptations come into view the moment you step inside The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte's Bar Cocoa.
Cases of temptations come into view the moment you step inside The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte's Bar Cocoa.
Kathy M. Newbern ©2014

By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher
(First in a Series)

Learn to create macarons, like these on this holiday tree at The Ritz-Carlton, in the Jan. 18 Cocoa Lab cooking class.
Kathy M. Newbern ©2014

We were delighted to return to The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte recently where we got the full update on everything new since our last visit a couple of years back.

For instance we stopped by Bar Cocoa, a tempting space off from the popular lobby bar with its own street access. Here you'll find glass cases full of delectables including Norman Love handcrafted truffles beautifully presented and packaged. Perfect for Valentine's is this build-your-own assortment of hand-made truffles.

Your eyes may pop at the glass cases filled with massive, multi-layered homemade cakes in flavors such as red velvet, carrot and what's called hummingbird cake, which according to Chef Nathan Volz is the most requested recipe from Southern Living magazine in its history. The size of a single serving of these beautiful creations is mind-blowing. Be sure to check it out in the slideshow. One piece easily serves two people; in fact, we got four servings out of one slice!

We also popped inside the kitchen of BLT Steak (also located off the hotel lobby and with its own entrance). Here is where the Cocoa Lab is held offering twice-daily cooking sessions on specified Saturdays. And good news: It’s not too late to get in on the remaining January sessions.

“Macarons” will be tackled this Saturday (Jan. 18) from 9 a.m. to noon or 2-5 p.m.

Having taken a macarons class in France, I can assure you this is not an easy “get.” The wonderfully airy, French-style macaron must be approached with precision. For inspiration, we’re including a picture above of the incredible Macaron Holiday Tree handcrafted with 8,000 macarons and carefully assembled at Bar Cocoa. It was the hit of the hotel’s holiday décor. We were fortunate to arrive in time to see this life-size wonder in person.

The Jan. 18 class features instruction for creating three flavors of macarons: Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Chocolate and Nutella.

Bar Cocoa, by the way, added both a Bar Gelato and a Bar Macaron, so those perfect little cookies are always available when you stop by.

Also coming up at the Cocoa Lab is “Entertaining Desserts Made Easy” Saturday, Jan. 25, 9 a.m. to noon or 2-5 p.m.

This class shares the chefs’ tips for making variations using local, seasonal fruits and flavorful ingredients to create delights for guests either in your home or to take to dinner parties. The menu includes: Chocolate Éclair, Almond and Fruit Tartlets and Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Local Apples.

We suspect both of these classes will be be especially popular with Valentine’s coming soon.

If You're Going: To reserve your spot at Cocoa Lab, call 704.547.2244. You must be at least 18 to participate.

Cocoa Lab is the cooking class and group culinary headquarters for Bar Cocoa offering three-hour cooking and tasting classes on select Saturdays throughout the year. The uniquely-chocolate, pastry and dessert workshops are available to the public and hotel guests and are presented within the behind-the-scenes Bar Cocoa kitchen at a price of $75 per person per class.

The hands-on experiences are limited to a maximum of eight students per session. In each session, students work alongside one of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte's award-winning pastry chefs to learn cooking techniques and to prepare menu items featuring chocolate, cocoa or other favorite dessert flavors. Students are able to taste the day’s creations at the end of each session and receive complimentary one-time parking, a recipe collection and keepsake apron as part of their class fee.

Hotel Reservations and more information about this luxury property can be found at or by calling 704.547-2244.

Coming Up: Other stories coming up in this series include a chat with The Ritz-Carlton’s new Executive Sous Chef Nathan Volz, a peek inside the beautiful, behind-closed-doors Design Studio popular with brides and special event planners, a visit to the ever-fabulous spa, plus highlights of our romantic dinner at BLK Steak — all in the heart of Uptown Charlotte because CharlottesGotALot.

If enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these:

• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
• @YourNovelcom
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created and, their personalized romance novel business.

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