Kawaii Cactus Macarons

Kawaii Cactus Macarons

Hiya!

I have really got into my groove with making macarons and really love them but plain round macarons are never going to satisfy my creativity. Yes, you can make them in any colour of your dreams and any flavour combination you can think of but with a little bit of patience you can make them any shape you desire too. There are some amazing macaron/food artists out there and they really inspire me to try a little harder and bake something super cute!

There is a lot of mystery around making very temperamental macarons but I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learnt. These are my opinions from trial and error and research I’ve found online. As much as I wish I was a French Patissier, I am not.

This is the macaron recipe I used for these super cute cactus macs.

French Macaron Recipe

100g egg whites (aged for 24 hours)
130g ground almonds
130g icing sugar
90g caster sugar
A pinch of salt

Age the egg whites for 24 hours. This means separate the whites from the yolks into a clean oil free bowl. Cover the egg whites with cling film and poke a few holes in the top. Place back in the fridge for 24 hours.

Draw up a macaron template. Keep in mind that your baking time will increase if you make them larger than 1.5″ or may decrease if you have any delicate pieces sticking off. Also take into account that the back will need to match up to the front, if your front has lots of details you may want to consider making a simplified back. For e.g. my cacti only had arms on the front not the back.

When ready to make your macarons take the egg whites out the fridge first, before you do anything else, giving them time to warm up to room temperature.

Weight your caster sugar into a small bowl.
Weight and sieve your icing sugar and into the same bowl weigh and sieve your ground almonds. I’ve yet to buy a bag of ground almonds where the whole bag will pass through the sieve, almost half is always too big. If you place the required weight of almonds into a food processor along with a couple tablespoons of your weighed out icing sugar and blend, they will become smaller and usable in macarons. Waste not, want not.

Time to whip the egg whites. If you get this part right, the rest will go smoother! When they start to foam add a pinch of salt. When you start to see trails in the egg white, left by the whisk, slowly add your caster sugar. Whip until stiff peaks. These are short sharp peaks that do not fold over on themselves. The meringue looks solid white and marshmallow like. If you tip the bowl, it won’t slide.

A lot of recipes recommend that you add colour just before reaching this stage but then you end up with everything one colour. I prefer to halve the almond and icing sugar mixture into 2 bowls and then halve the meringue mixture into each bowl. Knowing how much your bowl weighs empty will make this easy. I then add the colouring on top of the meringue before starting to fold the mixture together.

Macronage: there are many videos online showing this and maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to make a video but for now, fold, fold, fold, no mixing as you want to keep as much air in the macarons as possible while still reaching a ribbon like dropping stage with the mixture. If you don’t mix enough your macarons will not become smooth on top. Mix too much and your mixture will spread too much. There is no trick here, only practice will help you know when the mixture is ready.

I always thought that once the mixture was ready you had to be super quick to use it and had to use a large piping tip so as not to deflate the mixture. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. With a smaller opening in the piping bag you can get much more detail on your macs. To add additional details on top of the macs or with visible join lines you need to wait for your base to dry first. This surprisingly does not ruin the mixture which has been patiently waiting for you in the piping bag. I piped a second tray of macs after the first was already in the oven and you could not tell the difference between the mixture that was piped straight away or the mixture that sat around for 30 mins.

Baking temperature, time and place in the oven is all very volatile as all ovens are so different. Using an oven thermometer gives you a bit more control over the temp as you can usually see any changes in temperature in more detail. Start with your tray in the middle and next try your tray at the bottom, see what works better for you. Sit in front of your oven the first few times and see what your macs are doing. You may need to turn the tray half way through if your oven has a hotter spot.

Bake at 160°C for 10-12 mins.

If you’ve read to the end of this, I hope you found it useful. If you are a French Patissier please don’t shake your head too much if I don’t do things the right way, this is how it works for me.
If you decide to make macarons after reading this please tag me in a pic as I’d love to see.

Cxx

Beary Chocolate Macarons

Beary Chocolate Macarons

Hiya!

I love a good challenge, not from someone else but I like to challenge myself! I also love kawaii things. I’ve seen many teddy bear head macarons but I really wanted to make a whole teddy. So I played around and tried a couple chocolate macaron recipes and drew my own teddy macaron template and you know what, I’m really pleased with how they turned out!

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I couldn’t decide between arms on the side or arms on top so I ended up doing a few of each. I piped two batches of macarons and strangely the first batch came out best. It is essential that the base shape has formed a skin, ready to go into the oven, before you add the tails to the backs and the arms to the front, otherwise it does not keep its shape & will just be absorbed by the base shape.

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Chocolate Macaron Recipe

50g egg whites (aged 24 hours)

pinch of salt

45g caster sugar

65g ground almonds

60g icing sugar

5g cocoa powder

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Remove the ages egg whites from the fridge.

Sieve the ground almonds ensuring you get 65g of almonds through the sieve. Keep the larger bits for another project. Next sieve the icing sugar & cocoa. Mix it together until evenly distributed.

Ensure the bowl you are going to whip your eggs in is very clean. Wipe it out with lemon juice & some paper towel.

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Usuing a handheld beater whip the eggs. When they start getting foamy add a pinch of salt. Continue to whip until you can see trails in the bowl, gradually add the caster sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. No colours are required for chocolate macarons as the cocoa powder will colour it brown.

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Fold in 1/3 of the almond/icing sugar/cocoa mixture at a time. Fold gently to avoid flattening the mixture too much.

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Once your mixture has combined and flows off the spatula in a ribbon like way & honey like consistency, it is ready to pipe. It should not drop off the spatula.

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Place your template under the parchment paper or silpat mat and pipe your macarons. I found that turning my silpat mat upside down made it easier to see my template below.

Rap the tray on the table 3 or 4 times before allowing your macarons to rest for 30 mins & form a skin.

Place the oven shelf on the lowest rung and remove any other shelves. Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Bake the macarons for 12-14 mins depending on their size. Test if they are done by touching the side of one, it should not wobble.

Allow to cool on the tray.

This is the link to my Buttercream recipe. The quantities I used are:

50g butter

100g icing sugar

1TBS Nutella

1TBS caramel

I made American buttercream and divided it in half before flavouring half with Nutella and the other half with caramel.

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Pipe the buttercream onto the backs of the teddies and match up with a front. I used pink and black edible markers to draw the faces.

I hope you think they’re as cute as I do. I packaged them up nicely & gave them as gifts to my kids teachers.

Cxx

Easter Bunny & Carrot Macarons

Easter Bunny & Carrot Macarons

Hiya!

I am so excited about this post as I have been obsessed with/ practicing macarons for about the last year. I’ve tried Italian and French methods and many different recipes and I’ve finally found what works for me and I thought I’d share it with you.

I came across an amazing macaron blog, with full written tutorials and videos and I have to say that if you follow the recipe to a T, you will be able to make macarons! It’s called Indulge with Mimi and you have to check her out!

While all the details Mimi gives are very important to making beautiful macarons, the top tips I’ve taken away are:

1) Use a handheld beater. I really battled to get the meringue stiff enough in my big Kenwood mixer and my guess is that the bowl is too big and the egg whites were too shallow to beat up stiff enough for what you need. My little, very old handheld beater did it in about 6 mins.

2) Beat the meringue until very stiff, so that when you stop beating it clumps inside the whisk.

3) Practice and test your oven. Every oven is different. I’ve discovered I get the best results if I remove all trays & racks except the one I’m using and it needs to be on the lowest rung.

I hope you will be inspired to take a look at Mimi’s blog, she is an encyclopedia of invaluable knowledge about macron making and I was definitely successful in following it all. Below I’ve rewritten the recipe but there are too many important tips on her blog to fit onto 1 of my posts so check her out.

French Macaron Recipe (makes 12 macarons)

50g aged egg whites

45g caster sugar

65g icing sugar

65g ground almonds

a pinch of salt

Gel food colouring

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Ensure your bowl is oil free as egg whites will not whip up if there is any oil or water in the bowl. Age egg whites for at least 24 hours.

Download or draw templates to place under parchment paper to pipe your macarons all the same size.

Sieve ground almonds into a medium sized bowl, discarding any that do not go through the sieve. Sieve icing sugar, ensuring no hard lumps. Mix together well.

Start to whisk room temperature aged egg whites until foamy. Add pinch of salt.

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Continue whisking until trails form. Add caster sugar 1/3 at a time.

Once all incorporated add food colouring. A little goes a long way but keep in mind that it will get paler when combined with the ground almonds & icing sugar.

 

Whisk until stiff peaks and when meringue clumps in the whisk when you stop. About 6 mins by my handheld beater.

Gently fold in 1/3 almond mixture and then fold in the rest. Be gentle folding but going through the middle every few folds. You need some air in the meringue to create the feet while baking.

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Once you reach a lava/honey/ribbon state stop mixing. The mixture should flow off the spatula not drop but should not be runny or when you pipe the macarons you’ll end up with one giant macaron tray! (I have done this, still edible but NOT pretty!)

 

Gently pour the batter into a piping bag and pipe to the size of your template. Remove the template from under the parchment paper and rap the tray on the table a few times to remove any large air bubbles that will cause your macarons to crack when they bake.

Leave to sit for about 30mins until a skin has formed, they should look matte and you can touch one & nothing sticks to your finger.

Preheat your oven to 160°C and bake for 12-14 mins. While you are new to this watch them carefully and keep an eye on your ovens temperature. Using an oven thermometer inside the oven can help you check that your oven doesn’t increase or decrease temp without you knowing.

Remove from the oven and tap a macaron shell, it should be firm and not wobble. If you can peel it off the parchment paper in one piece, they’re done. If not put them back for another minute.

Allow to cool on the tray before filling with buttercream or whatever filling you prefer. I decorated my macarons with edible food markers and a few sprinkles. My bunnies and carrots were filled with caramel buttercream and they went down a treat. Videos of this are on my Instagram & Facebook.

Store filled macarons in the fridge but return to room temperature before eating.

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I hope you give these a try and enjoy the process. Have a super Easter!

Cxx