Time does fly when you are having so much fun! Two years, 221 posts published, and so many new techniques tried! My views on cookie decorating have not changed, I will refer you to last year’s post if you missed my thoughts on the subject. For my third year I guess the idea is to keep challenging myself because that’s how we improve. Today I share two macarons, same exact background, but the decorations take them into quite different directions.
The macaron batter was divided in four portions and dyed teal, pink, orange, one portion left without any color. They were added to a bag and shells were piped. After baking, some got a little flower piped with Royal icing, and some got a design with a food safe black pen. They were all filled with Lemon Meyer buttercream.
So there you have it. Two years, two macs. And let’s now start the road to the third year of cookie adventures!
Inspired by this post from Pies and Tacos, I made a batch of macarons filled with Oreo buttercream. I opted to dye the shells with a touch of gray, as white shells give me trouble. They often get dark at the edges in the final stage of baking.
The recipe for the sunflower seed macarons can be found here. I used a very small amount of Americolor Gun Powder to get this hint of gray. The template for the shells was downloaded from Pies and Tacos, where you will also find the recipe I used for the filling.
Sunflower seed macarons have a coarser texture, so to be safe I piped some regular round ones, in case I had issued baking the bunny shape. But the Macarons Gods were smiling on me that day, and they all baked without problems! After baking, I painted the ears with luster powder + vodka and added the details with food safe pen. A little dry pink luster powder for the cheeks for a final touch, and a fondant rose just because. The round ones were just painted with a fan brush using luster powder + vodka in two colors, pink and blue.
The Oreo buttercream is lovely! Make sure to crush them super thin (filling and all, not need to worry about it). The addition of cream cheese cuts the sweetness a bit. All in all, a great little macaron project for the season.
They were donated to the folks at my orthodontist office. And they were very kind to share this photo on their Facebook page!
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.
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…
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.
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…
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…