3D MACARONS, THE SAGA

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…

ONE YEAR AGO: My First Cookie Platter

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL MACARON DAY!

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.

PAINTED SHELLS

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.

DIMPLED SHELLS

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).

PIPING SHAPES

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.

I hope these inspired you for future mac-bakes…

THREE YEARS, THREE BAKES FOR ARITRI

I dedicate this post to Mrs. Shyamasree Majumdar

Three years ago today the world lost someone very special. A brilliant young woman, who was getting ready to embrace science as a life-time commitment. She loved color. She loved to sing. She loved life. Some cookies that I make have what I call the “Aura of Aritri.” Like these ones. I think they would have made her smile.

This series, with a mandala-design was made with stencils and air-brushing. I think she would have appreciated both the patterns and the colors. They were flavored with Chai extract from Olive Nation, and a touch of vanilla.

FLORALS

This series was flavored with Fiori di Sicilia, and decorated either with brush embroidery + luster powder painting, or by stamping, a technique I definitely need to practice a bit more.

MACARONS

Aritri loved macarons, and these, flavored with Pistachio-Lemon, were decorated with her in mind. Just food-safe pen over the baked shells, and a light spray of PME pearl luster.

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BEAR WITH ME

For a non-native speaker of English, some expressions can be quite amusing. Bear with me is definitely one that makes me smile because no matter how hard I try to avoid it, the image of a teddy bear jumps in my mind. Playful and cute. So, bear with me as I go from English to baking. Sugar cookies, sandwich cookies, macarons. With bears in mind…

THE LITTLE PANDA BEAR

This design was based on a picture my niece Carla shared in our family whatsapp group. I knew I had to “cookie-it”. So I used the mini-projector to draw the basic design, and then applied the same technique used for bunny rabbits in previous posts. Sugarprism was used to paint the body. The only additional detail was piping non-adjacent sections of the bamboo, allowing to set and then pipe the remaining parts. This way the stalks are more realistic. I used a food pen to make the leaves.

BEARS WITH HEART BALLOONS

The cookie cutter set used for these cookies can be found here. I love Semisweet Designs! Not only they sell unique cutters, but they share blog posts with ideas to decorate them.

Below I show some of the steps to bring these little bears to life… The ears, arms and legs get a small amount of icing that is allowed to set before fully flooding them. This prevents cratering, which might happen in such small areas.

The eyes were 4mm black pearls from PME, added right after flooding. Finally, after the cookie was fully set, I painted the balloon with luster powder, added the eye details and smile, and a little ribbon to tie the balloon.

KIM-JOY’S LITTLE BEAR SANDWICH COOKIES

Kim-Joy always makes the cutest productions celebrating animals, and this is a good example. You can find her recipe here. Bake a full round for the base, and a top with a slightly off-center hole. All you need then is a bit of ganache to sandwich the cookie, sprinkles, and Royal icing details. For the ears, I baked tiny little rounds of cookie dough, and inserted in between the two cookies, the ganache worked well to keep them in place.

TEDDY BEAR MACARONS

For these macs, color most of your batter brown, and separate a very small amount without any color, adding it to a piping bag with a very small round piping tip. Then pipe rounds with little ears, and add a touch of light batter for the nose area. Bake, fill, and then use a food safe pen to add the eyes, mouth and nose. The filling for those was a ganache noisette (recipe available in my food blog here).

Because this is a very simple design, a French meringue recipe (like this one) will work well. For complex drawings with multiple colors, most people prefer Italian meringue because it is a lot more stable and gives a larger window of time to work.

I hope you enjoyed this small selection of bear cookies.
Stay tuned for more sweetness in cookie format soon…

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

We have not had any snow yet, but to quote a certain series… Winter is coming, better be ready for it. And for snowmen, nothing brings more happiness than plenty of snowflakes falling from the skies above.

A gingerbread cookie, with a simple decoration, flood the base in red, the globe in light blue, and let it set. Then pipe the body with thicker icing, add black pearls for the buttons, and let that set for an hour or so (thicker consistency dries a bit faster, and if you are gentle enough you can continue with the additional details). The snowballs should be added in stages so they don’t join together. Finally, the arms, scarf, smile and blush on the cheeks close the design.

Moving on, a little series I really enjoyed, inspired by Kathy, from Art Projects for Kids.

I love their different expressions and movements… Starting with flooded rectangles fully set, I drew the different snowmen with a food pen, then used Sugarprism watercolor to add the background. While that was still wet, I showered some white non-pareils.

Another very simple design for a snowman, uses a cookie cutter from Sugarbelle, in which each shape comes with appropriate stencils to help you decorate.

Two colors needed, white and blue. Starting with the band on the hat, so that you can add sanding sugar to that part, the rest is quite straightforward.

The stencil really helps quite a bit. I have a hard time judging how to space details in a cookie, so for me a set like this one from Sugarbelle makes life a lot easier.

From the same set, this little angel also materialized in our kitchen….

Closing this post, how could I not include Snowmen Macarons? These were filled with Pistachio-Lemon Buttercream, a slightly more decorated version from the ones I made last year.

After baking, all details were added with Royal icing in bright colors, plus the mouth and eyes with a food pen.

I often like to pipe some mini-macs just for fun, these were air-brushed with a stencil.

I loved making these! Some were a bit chubby, some had funny expressions, but they turned out as a happy family. And they have a message for you, now that a new year is about to start…

CHRISTMAS TIME MACARONS

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…

HENNA INSPIRED VEGAN MACARONS

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.

The vegan coffee ganache is luscious, a pleasure to pipe. Recipe available in my post published yesterday in the Bewitching Kitchen.

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…