Noah's Ark, macaron version! The whole ark is made up of macarons too!
I added little "step stools" for the giraffes or they will appear too short...Or simply make taller giraffes if you are attempting this
All the brown parts, shells and filling, are raspberry and dark chocolate flavoured. I have freeze-dried raspberry powder on hand so it was an excellent addition to compliment the richness of chocolate. I will just share how to make macarons of this flavour in this post. You may refer to my first macaron book, Creative Baking: Macarons for step by step guide on the basics and how to create macarons of various shapes. The template for elephant macarons can be found there too. I used the reduced sugar Italian method recipe to make these. For simplicity, you may replace rice and cornflour with icing sugar.
Recipe for raspberry chocolate macaron shells
Ingredients (makes about 25-30 macarons):
100g superfine almond powder
90g icing sugar
9g rice flour
1g (1/2tsp) cornflour
40g egg whites
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (optional)
1 tsp Freeze-dried raspberry powder
10g Cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
40g egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
100g caster sugar
1. Prepare baking tray with template and parchment paper. I am assuming you are making regular sized round macarons of about 4-5cm. Set oven rack to lowest or second lowest position.
2. Sift together all dried ingredients for the mass. Add egg whites and mix well to form a thick paste.
3. Prepare the italian meringue. Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan without stirring until it reaches 115-118℃. In the mean time, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peak stage medium low speed. Any peaks should melt back in after one second. You may start beating the egg whites when syrup temperature reaches 110℃. Once syrup temperature is reaches 115-118℃, switch mixer speed to medium high speed and carefully pour syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream, avoiding the beaters. Continue beating for another 10-15 minutes or until meringue is cool to at least body temperature.
4. Fold the meringue into the mass in two additions until batter is able to fall off spatula in an almost continuous manner.
5. Transfer to piping bag and pipe rounds in the baking tray. Bang the tray on the table a few times to release trapped air bubbles. Use a toothpick to pop any stubborn bubbles. Tap the tray again.
6. Rest the piped shells in air-con room or under a fan until dry to touch. Preheat oven to 140℃ towards end of drying time. Use top and bottom heat only. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 120℃ and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until feet no longer appears wet. Do note that macaron shells made with cocoa powder added tend to require longer baking time. Also note that each oven is different so adjust baking time and temperature accordingly.
Just to share a photo of the piped layers of the hull of the ark...
These are large so baking time was about 35-45 minutes.
Here is a photo of the piped shells for the animals...
Not at my best with piping 😆 but glad that the outcome is still cute.
I filled the shells with a rather firm ganache as the animals, especially the owl, need to remain intact and easy to handle when left out at room temperature in Singapore. Feel free to increase the amount of heavy cream for a softer ganache if you wish.
Raspberry dark chocolate ganache
180g dark chocolate couverture (or chocolate bar chopped)
20g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
44g heavy cream
4 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1. Place chocolate, butter, cream and salt in a microwave safe bowl and heat at medium power for half a minute. Stir to mix well. Repeat until melted and smooth. Alternatively you may use double-boiling method.
2. Add vanilla and mix well. Add raspberry powder and mix well.
3. You may let the ganache stand at room temperature until it firms up to toothpaste consistency or chill it and whip it up to have a lighter texture.
To whip it, chill in freezer for two minutes and beat with a spatula or electric mixer. Repeat chilling and beating until it is light and creamy.
I mounted the owls on sticks so that they can be inserted into gaps on the roof of the ark to make the owls look like they are roosting on top :)
I covered a seven inch cakeboard with stiff royal icing to mounted the name and ark on. I assembled the layers of the ark directly on the cakeboard.
Completed ark but the inhabitants have not arrived yet
Some have settled in :)
I didn't stick the animals onto the ark so that the recipient can play with the pieces like a doll house concept type of toy.
I was really charmed by this setup. I hope you are too! Not to mention, this combination of raspberry and dark chocolate is really lovely. You may make your own raspberry jam like I did for some of my macarons but using freeze-dried powder is a quick and convenient way of including natural raspberry flavour into the bake.