Tuesday 13 October 2015

Piping Complex Shapes --Macaron Video Tutorials

I have done some video tutorials for piping basic shapes earlier on. This is a sequel whereby I will show you how to pipe shapes that are complex, how to pipe 3D features on macaron shells and how to pull the batter for fine parts like hair of a character.

Completed macarons! Courtesy of the Marshall Cavendish team and Hongde photography that composed and took these photos during the photoshoot!

The examples shown here will be featured in my upcoming book on creative macarons, published by Marshall Cavendish :).

Earlier on, I took the photos of as-baked shells with all of them looking incomplete except for the clouds. The royal icing/edible marker decorating madness began only when I had completed baking all 30 types of designs.

There are two ways to pipe complex shapes. The most commonly used is the trace-and-fill technique -  Trace the outline of the shape and fill the in-between spaces and center with batter. This technique is also used for non-circular shells shown in my earlier video for piping simple shapes. The example shown here is for a car. Due to the shape of the car, filling the center space is not required as the in-between spaces can be filled during the "tracing" step.

Begin by tracing the base of the car, taking care not to cover the wheels with red batter. Trace the top of the car by increasing pressure on the piping bag towards the middle of the car and reducing pressure towards the end. Use a toothpick to nudge the batter into tight corners. You may ask isn't it easier to pipe the car body with a straight line for the base before the wheels? The reason why I pipe the wheels before the car body is because the shape of the wheels will not be round if part of the batter falls on the car body and part of it falls on the baking paper.

The second way to pipe a complex shape is to break down the complex shape into simple shapes like the cloud example here.

The cloud is broken down into a series of circles. End off the piping by filling the center. Remember to bang the tray on the table after piping.

Sometimes you may want pop-up features on a macaron shell e.g. snout and limbs of a bear in this example. Pipe the pop-up features after letting the base shell dry for 15 minutes under the fan or in an air-conditioned room until a thin membrane forms on the surface. This membrane may feel a little sticky to touch but the batter should not stick to your finger.

In order to make a cute character macaron, sometimes you have to pull the batter to create fine parts like pointy ears or hair on the head. Here's how it is done with a toothpick.

I hope this is helpful for you! These videos are linked to my Creative Baking: Macarons book!

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Dear Phay Shing,
    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing knowledge and your wonderful creations in the macaron world! I love your website! I made macarons this weekend for the very first time in my life and followed your recipe and instructions (the less sugar recipe). The round (common shape ones) turned out great and did not crack at all! But the ones I tried to do 3D pop up design like the little bears you made on the video above, they all collapsed. And I could not figure out why. I waited till the base formed a membrane before I piped on the 3D arms and snout. And then waited for the 3D features to form membrane for another 15-20 minutes before I put them into the oven. I have no idea what I did wrong. Can you please give me some advice? Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Hi Gloria,

      Sorry for the super super late reply😅! For some reason I missed this comment. I am not sure what you mean by collapsed as I need a picture to see it. I am assuming it had a wrinkled surface? Was your oven fan on? It was great that you managed to get perfect plain round macarons on your first try! I didn't even manage that of my first attempt! You may DM me over instagram if you need more troubleshooting assistance.

  2. What tips did you use to pipe

    1. Wilton round tips. As for the tip size to use, it depends on the feature you are piping. Choose a size that is small enough for you to control batter flow easily but not so small that you have a hard time squeezing out the batter.

  3. Do you still bang the pans after you pipe these complex shapes?