Don't they look like they popped out of a storybook? I can almost imagine them talking to each other!
I used the basic recipe without sugar reduction for these macarons as I was making other complex shaped macarons at the same time. Please refer to this post for video tutorials of macaron basics, this post for video tutorials of piping complex shapes and my Creative Baking: Macarons book for more details and pointers. I will just briefly describe the process here.
Macaron shell recipe
200g superfine almond powder
200g icing sugar
80g egg whites
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
Yellow, orange, dusty rose, copper and black gel food colouring*
Dutch processed cocoa powder*
200g caster sugar
80g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
* These are the natural and artificial food colouring I used for the various colours. I didn't measure the exact amount but added a little at a time until I was satisfied with the shade of colour. I apologise for the imprecise colouring measurements here. It would have taken too long to work out the exact amounts so I played by ear. I made these along with the piano keyboard, Charlie Brown and Snoopy macarons.
1. Prepare baking tray with template and baking sheet.
2. Prepare mass. Combine sifted almond and icing sugar in a large bowl. Add egg whites and mix well to form a paste. Divide mass into portions for different colours. Add respective colouring. Divide the mass according to estimated percentage of surface area that each colour covers.
3. Prepare Italian meringue. Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C. In the mean time, beat egg whites in clean metal bowl with electric mixer at medium low speed until soft peaks form. Reduce mixer speed if necessary. Once syrup is ready, increase mixer speed to medium high and carefully pour syrup into egg whites in a thin stream. Continue beating on high for 10 minutes or until meringue is stiff, glossy and cool.
4. Divide meringue into portions for the different coloured batters according to formula weight of meringue = 0.55 x weight of mass. Fold meringue into mass in two additions until batter flows off the spatula in a slow-moving lava-like manner.
5. Transfer into piping bags fitted with round piping tips of appropriate sizes and pipe. Remember to bang the tray on the table after each stage of piping. Use a toothpick to pull the batter where necessary or to pop stubborn air bubbles.
Piping hedgehogs! Use a toothpick to create the prickles on the back
Piping fox! Remember to dry the body before piping on the front legs for 3D effect
6. Dry the shells under the fan and/or in an air-conditioned room for 1-2 hours or until the shells are dry to touch. Preheat oven to 140°C towards end of drying time. Set rack to lowest position.
7. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate tray and bake at 130°C for another 7-8 minutes before checking the feet of the shells to test for doneness. If the feet appear wet, place the macarons back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes at 120°C. Cool completely before removing shells from baking paper.
I stored the shells like this overnight to work on them the next day. Simply put the whole tray of shells into a jumbo ziplock bag.
Add on the details with royal icing and edible marker.
I filled half of the macarons with whipped coconut white chocolate ganache. This is a new flavour and so glad that the coconut aroma is strong!
Whipped coconut white chocolate ganache
Ingredients (fills about 25 macarons):
100g white chocolate chopped (I used 110g and found it slightly too sweet)
30g vegetable shortening
30g coconut oil (use a good brand for best results)
80g coconut cream (thick coconut milk)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coconut flavouring (optional)
1. Place white chocolate, shortening and oil into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at medium power for 10-20 seconds and stir. Repeat until all the white chocolate is melted.
2. Place coconut cream in a small saucepan and heat at low heat until it bubbles. Pour into white chocolate mixture and stir in one direction until combined.
3. Add salt and coconut flavouring (if using) and stir with spatula until well combined.
4. Freeze for 2 minutes and stir with spatula until mixture is even. The mixture may separate if you store it longer in the fridge but that's ok. Just repeat until consistency thickens and becomes toothpaste-like. Switch to electric mixer and beat on medium low speed until smooth and creamy. About a couple of minutes. You may need to repeat freezing the mixture for another minute before beating with electric mixer again if the cream is too runny and unable to hold a stiff peak. An ice bath may work too if you don't want to keep putting the mixture in and out of the freezer.
Creamy and smooth whipped coconut ganache! Very coconut-y too!
5. Transfer into piping bag and pipe onto shells. For best intense flavour, store in airtight container in fridge overnight or 24h before serving. After 2-3 days of storage, the intensity of the coconut flavour may
I filled the other half of the macarons with salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream with pure salted caramel at the center. You may refer to this post for the basic swiss meringue buttercream recipe and the salted caramel recipe. Make salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream by beating together 80g of salted caramel with every 100g of swiss meringue buttercream.
So glad these were very well received at the party!