Mr Strong, Mr Happy, Little Miss Shy and Little Miss Naughty!
I made these during a really busy period when it was more convenient to break a long complex bake into a few shorter, more manageable bakes. These characters were baked over three separate days, decorated one day, and filled and packed on another day. That was why I used my stabilized French method recipe for the characters.
You may refer to either of my macaron books for piping and baking tips -- Creative Baking: Macarons and Creative Baking: Macaron Basics.
Baked shells without decoration
I must admit that piping the hands with those little fingers was a challenge.
Here's the side view!
I decorated the macaron shells with black edible marker and a little pink royal icing for Little Miss Shy's rosy cheeks.
What I really want to share in this post is another ermine buttercream recipe that is stable at Singapore's tropical climate and it's not too sweet. The kids love it! That's the feedback I got from my kid. I decided on salted caramel as the flavour as it's more exciting than vanilla but not as heaty as dark chocolate (some kids can't take chocolate well) and not all kids like fruity flavours like strawberry. I used ermine buttercream as the filling base for my Children's Day bake this year, which was also very well received by both my kids' classes. What I did differently this time is to use cream cheese as well to add that extra tangy dimension to the filling. Cream cheese is also rather firm so it's a good base to use.
For your convenience I will post the salted caramel recipe here as well.
Recipe for salted caramel
100g caster sugar
60g whipping cream
15g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp sea salt (use coarse or fine according to preference)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1. Place sugar and water in a light coloured heavy base saucepan. Light coloured because it is easier to see the colour of the caramel. Heat over medium heat without stirring. Swirl the saucepan to help the sugar dissolve.
2. In the meantime, heat cream in another small saucepan until it just starts to bubble.
3. Monitor the sugar syrup as it boils, swirling the pan now and then to distribute the heat evenly. Once the colour of the syrup changes to light amber colour, keep a close watch. You want the caramel to have a deep flavour without being burnt. Once the colour is a deep amber colour, remove from heat and pour a little warm cream in and then stir quickly with a long wooden spoon. The mixture will bubble violently so be careful. Continue gradually pouring the cream and stirring the mixture until the bubbling stops.
4. Add butter and mix well. Add salt and vanilla until well combined. Transfer to a container or bowl and let it cool before using or storing. Salted caramel cam be kept frozen for several months or in the fridge for a month.
I forgot to take a proper photo of the salted caramel. This was what was left after adding some to the ermine buttercream. It's salty, sweet and a smoky, slightly bitter but not burnt flavour
Salted caramel cream cheese ermine buttercream
60g whipping cream
20g plain flour
80g salted caramel*
60g unsalted butter, cool but slightly softened
60g cream cheese, room temperature
20g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
*you may adjust amount according to taste
1. Make the roux. Whisk together milk, cream and plain flour. Sieve the mixture into a saucepan. Cook over low heat while whisking constantly. Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and whisk vigorously. Return to heat and continue whisking. Most recipes just recommend cooking till it thickens. I cook the mixture until it is firm enough to hold a peak like this:
I switch to using a spatula to cook the roux once it gets really thick, removing the saucepan from heat now and then so that I can cook the roux more evenly, making sure I scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Transfer the roux into a bowl and press cling wrap on the surface. Chill in fridge for at least half an hour. You may prepare this the day before.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Add icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This should take a couple of minutes. Add salted caramel (bring to room temperature if you have stored in fridge or freezer) one tablespoon at a time and beat until well combined after each addition. Continue beating for a couple of minutes
3. Add the roux one tablespoon at a time, beating well with electric mixer after each addition until well combined.
Please excuse the messy roux with caramel smudge as I used a caramel stained knife to scrape it off the spoon
4. Add vanilla if you wish. Continue beating for a couple more minutes until smooth.
Salted caramel cream cheese ermine buttercream!
To assemble the macarons, fill one piping bag with the ermine buttercream and another bag with salted caramel. Piping a ring of buttercream on the bottom shell and pipe a dollop of salted caramel in the middle.
Filling them up!
Glad that it was really well received!
Here's a peek at the insides. Pardon the lack of oozing salted caramel. I was close to running out of caramel towards the end and didn't want to make another batch just to fill a few more extra macarons that my kids had. Nonetheless, it's still yummy!
With lots of love,