Today I share a new way to decorate macarons, something a friend saw on TikTok (click here), urged me to try, and I did not think twice! The concept of adding textural design to the shell is not new, in fact I’ve made many batches using a fondant baller tool to add a pattern to the surface (check one of my first versions clicking here). All you need to do is wait for the shell to crust, then work your magic. Today’s version uses a small heart-shaped cookie cutter dipped in luster powder to imprint a little heart on the shells. Depending on how hard you press the cutter, you can get a nice lift on the design. I used the French meringue method, and filled these macs with raspberry buttercream.
Once the shells are piped, wait for them to crust. Then, choose the shape and size of cutter you want for the design. Since macarons are so small, you’ll need cutters that are normally used for fondant. Dip the cutter in luster powder (I used copper color), and press it on the surface of the shells, right before sticking them in the oven.
You can do a single heart or a couple of small ones. You can do circles, or a little butterfly could be cute for spring. After the shells baked, I painted some of them with luster powder diluted with vodka.
It was very cool to see them bake and the design lift in some of them. If you don’t want that to happen, make the impression without hurting the surface too much. If you are going for the lift, use a sharp cookie cutter and press it down a bit more. As I was not sure how well that would work, I left some shells without any decoration and painted them later with stripes. I did not use a stencil, just a brush. I love the mixture of designs in a same batch.
I intend to explore a few other ways using imprinting of the shells, so stay tuned for more adventures!
Coffee lovers, these are for you! Sugar cookies and macarons take the spotlight today. The sugar cookies were made quite some time ago, inspired by Amber (click here for her blog post about it). I love when a cookie requires very few colors to shine, and these are a perfect example. White, plus two shades of brown. Nothing else needed. The wet-on-wet design is simple by default, making these cookies a great option for beginners.
. It is a very simple design to make. Choose the background tone, flood, then make a very loose design with white Royal icing. Immediately outline with the second, darker tone of brown, and use a needle to pull the lines in or out, whichever way you like. For the flowers, just pipe concentric circles and pull with the needle. Quite relaxing to do, and no matter what happens, it will look nice in the end. A perfect cookie decorating adventure! A border with two tones of icing dots is optional, but it does make the cookie more festive.
And now, for Java Macarons! I made French meringue macarons with buttercream coffee in the filling. The shells were light beige, and I painted the coffee beans with luster powder + vodka. The outline is food safe pen (thick brush type), also used to write JAVA on the shells (but a pen with very fine tip). A little more time-consuming, but not too bad.
. To draw images on macarons, the only thing to worry about is having a reasonably smooth shell. If it gets too rough, the drawing won’t look very good. I like to go a little longer in the macaronage, just to make sure I get a smoother shell.
If you are a coffee lover, this post is dedicated to YOU!
First things first, the denomination 3D is not quite right, as every single cookie in the known cookie universe is tri-dimensional. But, I will stretch the definition of the term and use it, as “hemisphere” macarons is not a description I find very appealing. As to saga, all I can say is that this project is not for sissies. Quite likely it will not work on your first attempt. Or second. But it is worth persisting, because the light in the end of that tunnel comes in the form of some pretty cute little macarons. All credit goes to the Queen of Macarons, Phay Shing (check her amazing blog with a click here, and her IG page here).
The basic goal is to have a macaron shell shaped as a little hemisphere. It sits on top of a regular macaron for the base. I followed the tutorials from Phay available in her blog, and used both Swiss and French meringue as the basic recipe. It requires a very delicate macaronage balance because the batter cannot be too loose or it will slide off the silicone base, or too thick, because it won’t form a smooth surface. I had successes and failures with both the Swiss and the French, so it is more a question of how you handle the batter than the formula itself.
Ideally, once you pipe over the silicone, the batter should reach the bottom and not accumulate there, or you will have a lip extending off the base, and it may also compromise the circular shape you are hoping for. As to baking, they take maybe a couple of minutes longer than the regular shells, and I did not have any issues releasing them from the mold. I let them cool for about 10 minutes, then gently probed the base with a thin spatula.
Another consideration is the filling. I did not want to have a big amount of buttercream inside, so for the ladybugs, I included two mini chocolate-Easter eggs to occupy some of the space, and completed with buttercream to close the shells.
This was my first successful attempt at 3D macs, some of the shells were not uniform enough to make a nice lady bug, but I was happy with the outcome anyway…
One of my adventures resulted in shells that had a bit of a rough texture. That’s when a turtle comes in handy…. In fact, lots of different decorations will work with this type of macaron… These were all painted with Sugarprism.
My most recent adventure involved little bees. In this case, I added 10% pecan flour to my default French meringue recipe, and that gave a nice speckled look to the shells. After painting the bee pattern, I glued little wings made with wafer paper. The regular shells were painted with Sugarprism, which was also used for painting the bee’s body.
To fill the shells, I used tiny little M&Ms plus a honey-lemon buttercream.
I cannot sugar coat this pill, those are labor intensive, and at least for me, half of the shells piped in silicone won’t be good enough to use. I imagine this success rate will go up the more I practice. Phay makes amazing macaron productions, including cute teacups in which she serves the shell with the opening up, glues a handle also make from macaron batter, and a regular shell serves as the little plate underneath the cup. Totally adorable. I have a long ways to go, but every marathon starts with the first step…
April 23rd: International Macaron Day… To celebrate this very important occasion, I share a small collection of ideas using different methods to decorate the shells, or different ways to pipe them. I’ve baked them during the past 12 months or so, most using my default recipe (click here).
FONDANT & ROYAL ICING DECORATIONS
Inspired by this Instagram post, the batter was divided in two colors, light beige (Americolor Cork) and blue (Americolor Sky Blue). Piped them joining two separate small bags inside a larger one, so that the colors would not mix. A little honey was brushed on the beige part, and a mixture of sugar and cinnamon sprinkled to mimic sand. Fondant decorations tied the design.
The overall process is shown in the composite below
Fondant (or modeling chocolate) is an easy way to decorate a simple, solid color shell. In the example below, Vegan Macarons were topped with a sunflower to honor Ukraine. Filled with Pistachio-Lemon buttercream.
Any recipe will work (French, Swiss or Italian). The smoothest the shell, the better, as they will be your little canvas. For these Sakura Macarons, one half of shells were painted with pink luster powder, and dots with gold luster applied for added decoration. Very easy and quite effective. You can do all kinds of color combinations.
Below, solid color shells painted with gold luster + vodka, super simple design, no need to be perfect. Just go with the flow and make some flower shapes.
FOOD PEN DRAWING
Once again, any method that gives you a smooth shell will work for this type of decoration. Use a fine tip food safe pen. Below, Vegan Macarons made with aquafaba and a coffee-coconut milk ganache for the filling. I used some gold luster powder to highlight parts of the design, but that is optional.
Below, a simpler design with just the food pen… These were French meringue (my default recipe) filled with Papaya-Mango Buttercream.
I love this simple method. Once the shells form the skin, use a fondant ball tool to form small indentations on the surface, in any pattern you want. You can then paint, if so desired, or just leave plain as a textural note. Two examples below. For a more detailed explanation, see my first post on this technique (click here).
For this method I prefer either a Swiss or an Italian meringue because it is more stable. Shells are piped in different shapes, like the two below. The main thing to consider is that the shape must be symmetrical, or you need to pipe mirror images so that the two shells can fit together perfectly. In both examples below, the final decoration was a little luster powder in pink, and fine food pen for the facial features.
PIPING WITH DIFFERENT ICING TIPS
For all macarons piped with 1M, 2D or other detailed tips, you will be better off using an Italian meringue and reducing the macaronage to a minimum, so that the batter will hold the design of the piping tip as much as possible. A couple of examples with the 1M tip, my favorite icing tip ever… You can use it to pipe roses or a heart-shaped mac. The base of the macs was piped with a regular round tip so that it is fully flat.
You can use both sides of the shells piped with the 1M tip, for a totally different look in the final macaron… These below were filled with Nutella buttercream.
The 2D tip is also a possibility for piping macs, once again using the Italian meringue and very little macaronage. Another thing to keep in mind is that these shells need to rest longer than normal shells before baking, or they will crack during baking. The macaron in the center was piped with a different tip, but I need to work on that a bit more before I can talk about it. It is a mac-in-progress…
ROYAL ICING DECORATIONS
These can be super simple and effective also. I often have a little Royal icing leftover from sugar cookie decorating, and I just save them for a mac-emergency. Like the three examples below, two coupled with sanding sugar.
My default recipe, used to pipe macarons in three different shapes, or if you consider two slightly different shapes for the trees, that would make four… I confess that the tree shape was not easy for me at all. After piping a few, I decided that “modernizing” the concept would be acceptable. And my mental sanity was preserved. Kind of .
Most of the macaron batter was dyed green, and a small amount red for the details. They need to be added right after piping the basic shape, so they will blend into it. The filling was a simple peppermint buttercream, which I think goes well this time of the year. In the composite picture below, you can see the two different takes on the Christmas tree concept. The simple triangle is a lot more forgiving, especially considering you will need to pair two shells and they need to match as precisely as possible.
I also made some in a wreath format, and maybe that ended up as my favorite…
This is a sister-post for my main blog. In that post, I painted flowers on the macarons with Sugarprism, following a tutorial online by Michelle Ingalls. I only needed 12 shells for that class, so here I show you how I decorated the other half of the batch: mini-projector and a little patience. Gold luster mixed with Everclear added some bling to selected areas of the design, but that is of course optional.
I normally like to pipe some mini-macs because they look so cute. To decorate those, I used a stencil and airbrushed black stripes, then painted some gold by hand with luster powder + Everclear.
This was my first time using the mini-projector to decorate macarons. It is a little time-consuming but I love the overall look of the henna-design. Come to think of it, chai-flavored ganache or buttercream would pair well with this decoration…
There are so many ways to decorate cookies, but one of the simplest ones is using small silicone molds with fondant or molding chocolate. They are often quite inexpensive and you can take an hour or so in the evening to make quite a few decorations, saving them for a future cookie project. They can be painted right away (after allowing the surface to dry for a few minutes), or you can save them plain and decide on a color scheme when you are ready to finalize the cookies. In this post, I show you a small collection made in the past 3 months. I hope you like them.
Starting with my favorite… The Peacock! Fondant painted with Luster powder and vodka.
Small flowers can be used in many different ways…
They can go on a fully smooth Royal icing base, or over a base with added texture created with the handle of a brush or a fondant sculpting tool. This is a method I first learned from Marlyn (check it out here) and fell in love with. In the skinny hexagon cookie, I used the fondant flowers without any paint, except for the golden center. I like the modern look of that cookie.
And let’s keep in mind, they are not just for sugar cookies… here they help nut-free macarons get dressed up.
Bigger flowers can be nice also…
In the cookie above the leaves were also molded fondant, and then a food pen was used to add the branch.
The cracked base is very easy to achieve: just paint AMERICOLOR white gel dye on the unbaked cookie, and bake as you normally would. The cookie expands and generates this type of design. It must be Americolor, though. Other brands do not work the same way.
Another favorite of mine, joining small flowers with a vase (those were made in modeling chocolate)
Butterflies, always a nice addition to a cookie…
Because hearts are not just for February…
Bees, always present in my cookie universe… I list a different mold in the end of the post for you, because I actually used a wooden mold and it was not the best option.
I wrap this post with two types of molds that were very tricky to use. The first one was hard to un-mold without breaking its many delicate sections.
I love the way it completed this cookie, but it was truly a labor of love.
And finally, three little owls that demanded quite a bit of patience…
I like the way they turned out, but the mold is very shallow and removing the shapes without breaking was a bit of a hassle. Also, trimming the final fondant shape with an X-Acto knife was time-consuming.