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Festive Macarons

Posted October 29, 2020 by Viktorija Siskova

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Get into the holiday mood and master macarons at home. Add a Christmas twist to this classic French dessert and spread some festive cheer to your loved ones.
Edibles:

Macaron Shells - Almond Paste

  • Fine, dry almond flour: 195g (63/4oz)
  • Silver Spoon Royal Icing Sugar: 150g (51/4oz)
  • Fresh egg whites: 62g (21/5oz), at room temperature
  • SK Quality Food Colour (QFC) Paste: Extra White:1g (1/4oz)

Macaron Shells - Italian Meringue

  • Fresh egg whites: 62g (21/5oz), at room temperature
  • SK Essentials Pure Albumen: 2g (<1/4oz)
  • Silver Spoon Caster Sugar: 170g (53/4oz)
  • Still water: 42g (11/2oz)

Salted Caramel Filling

  • Silver Spoon Caster Sugar: 230g (81/4oz)
  • Double cream: 230g (81/4oz)
  • Unsalted butter (82.5% fat): 160g (51/2oz)
  • Dr. Oetker Gelatine Powder (220 bloom): 6g (1/4oz)
  • Still cold water: 30g (1oz)
  • Salt: 2.5g (<1/4oz)

Cappuccino With Baileys Ganache

  • White Cacao Barry Zephyr Chocolate (34% cocoa solids): 255g (9oz)
  • Heavy cream: 195g (63/4oz)
  • Nescafe Azzero Americano Instant Coffee: 11/2tsp
  • Baileys Original Irish Cream: 25g (>3/4oz)

Decoration

Equipment:

  • Silicone macaron baking mats: 3
  • Aluminium, heavy-duty baking trays: 3
  • Piping bags: 5, large
  • Wilton Round Decorating Tips: nos. 2A, 10 and 12
  • Fine sieves: 2
  • Stainless steel or glass bowls: 5
  • Digital kitchen scales
  • Silicone spatulas: 3
  • Saucepans: 2 small, 1 medium
  • Stand mixer
  • CND Digital Candy Thermometer
  • Eventek Non-Contact Digital LCD Infrared Thermometer
  • CND Multi-Mount Oven Thermometer
  • Hand blender
  • SK High-Quality Paintbrushes: nos. 1 and 4
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Non-stick rolling pin
  • Hobby Craft Modelling Tools, 8 Pack

Top Tip: You can use laminated Teflon sheets if you don’t have a silicone macaron mat.

Making the Macaron Shells

Almond Paste

  1. Sift the almond flour and icing sugar into a bowl and discard any large pieces of almond remaining in the sieve. Make sure you have the exact amount of each ingredient (B)
  2. Add the fresh egg whites and Extra White QFC paste into your sugar and almond mixture. Take a silicone spatula and start mixing all the ingredients together – it may seem dry at first, but keep mixing and eventually everything will come together
  3. Cover the almond paste with cling film and set the bowl aside for later.

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Italian Meringue

  1. Add the water and caster sugar into a small saucepan and carefully mix the ingredients with a teaspoon. Attach a digital candy thermometer to the pot (it should be touching the bottom of the pot) and then place the pot on the hob. Do not turn the heat on just yet!
  2. Add the fresh egg whites into a mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Add the albumen (egg white) powder and gently mix with a fork or a small whisk (C). There will be some clumps but they will dissolve later on.
  3. Turn the hob on a medium heat and let the water and sugar mixture start to simmer. By the time it reaches 110˚C (230˚F), turn your stand mixer on to a medium speed.
  4. Watch your egg whites and your sugar syrup closely. You only want the egg whites to get foamy; there should not be any liquid left. And do not take them to soft peaks. Your sugar syrup is only going to get to 118˚C (244˚F). If your egg whites are ready before your sugar syrup, just turn the mixer down to low or turn it off completely.
  5. Once your sugar syrup reaches 118˚C (244˚F), remove the digital candy thermometer, start your stand mixer if you stopped it, and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the foamy egg whites. As soon as all of the sugar syrup is added, set your timer to four minutes and keep the same speed. Make sure it is cool in your kitchen. The meringue should cool down to 30˚C (86˚F) within this set time – use your non-contact thermometer to check the temperature. Your meringue should be stiff but elastic; the tip should be slightly falling down (D).
  6. Remove the cling film from your almond paste and add one third of your Italian meringue into the bowl. Fold it in until both parts are well combined and you do not see any white streaks.
  7. Add the rest of your meringue and start gently folding in circular motions without lifting the spatula. Scrape the batter from the bottom up from time to time making sure all the batter gets folded well. Do not deflate the batter. It should end up being fluffy, voluminous and should slowly fall down the spatula (E).

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Piping The Shells

  1. Pour all the batter gently into the piping bag you prepared earlier. Now is the time to decide what to make – you can use the batter to pipe 20 snowmen shells and 40 round shells to make unicorn and bear macarons, or you can use all the batter to pipe just one design.
  2. Take the first baking tray and preheat the oven to 150˚C (300˚F/Gas Mark 2). Place the oven thermometer on the middle rack closer to the back of the oven and leave it in there for 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the thermometer; the temperature inside your oven should be 150˚C (300˚F/Gas Mark 2).
  3. Using the guides, pipe circles onto the first prepared silicone mat (F). Once you have piped your first batch, remove the template and bang the tray down six times on your worktop laid with a kitchen towel. If you can see air bubbles, pop them with a cocktail stick (G). Leave the rest of the batter in the piping bag. Twist the end of the bag to lock the batter and place it in a cup with the nozzle up, then set it aside in a cool place.
  4. Depending on your climate and humidity, the drying time may vary. Leave this batch to rest for 15 minutes at least. Gently touch the top of the shells and, if they do not stick to your finger, they are ready to be baked.
  5. Once the oven temperature is 150˚C (300˚F/Gas Mark 2), quickly remove the thermometer from the oven and place the tray on the middle rack. Set the timer for 18 minutes.
  6. Whilst the first batch is baking, take the same piping bag filled with batter and repeat step 3, this time piping along the snowman outline. Leave the shells to dry until the batter does not stick to your finger.
  7. By the time your first batch is baked, the second batch should be ready for baking. If you touch the side of a cooked shell and it does not wiggle, the macarons have baked well and are ready. Remove the tray from the oven and let the shells cool completely before attempting to remove them from the mat. The shells should come off easily, but you can bend the mat away from the shell to help them come off easier.
  8. Making sure the oven is at 150˚C (300˚F/Gas Mark 2), repeat step 5 to bake the snowman batch of shells. If you are using smaller trays, by this point you will have some batter left. Take the tray and repeat step 6 to pipe the rest of your batter in circles onto a third silicone mat. Repeat step 7 and bake the second batch of circle shells. Once baked, remove the tray from the oven and allow the shells to cool completely. Then remove the shells from the mat and set aside.
  9. Match up all the respective shells and place them in an airtight container until your fillings are ready (H).
Choose your filling!

Each filling recipe is enough to fill one full batch of macarons. Fill your macaron designs with one filling, or you can half each recipe and alternate between both the salted caramel and the ganache

Salted Caramel Filling

  1. Cut the butter into cubes and put back in the fridge. Then mix the gelatine powder with the cold water and place the mixture in the fridge.
  2. To make the dry caramel, place the caster sugar into a large pot and turn the hob to a low/medium heat. In a separate saucepan, pour in the double cream and turn the hob to a low heat. Let the cream start to simmer.
  3. Wait until approximately two to three quarters of the caster sugar has melted in the pot, then start stirring the sugar with a silicone spatula to help the other part dissolve quicker. At this point, attach the digital candy thermometer to the pot (it should be touching the bottom of the pot) and turn it on. Turn the heat up to medium on the other saucepan to help the cream heat up quicker.
  4. Wait until the sugar has fully dissolved and there are no clumps – it should be an amber colour. By the time the sugar syrup reaches 170˚C (338˚F), the cream should be boiling. Remove the cream from the heat and start pouring it into the sugar syrup. Keep mixing the caramel with a hand whisk and keep boiling it for another two minutes (I). The minute you pour the cream, steam will start coming out and the mixture will be extremely hot, so be very careful.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cubes of butter and mix well until there are no traces of butter left. Then add the gelatine mixture and salt, making sure to blend with a hand blender until well combined (J).
  6. Strain your caramel through a fine sieve to make sure no crystallised sugar gets into the caramel. Cover with cling film and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours (K).

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Cappuccino With Bailey's Ganache

  1. Microwave the white chocolate for 30 seconds, then take the container out and give it a stir. Place the container back into the microwave and repeat the process for another 30 seconds until the chocolate has melted.
  2. Heat the heavy cream and instant coffee in a small saucepan on medium heat until it reaches 80˚C (176˚F). Use a hand whisk to help dissolve the instant coffee (L). Pour the cream into the melted white chocolate and stir with your spatula to combine both parts. Then pour in the Baileys and blend with a hand blender until well combined.
  3. Pour the ganache into a separate bowl, cover with some cling film and leave for a couple of hours to set in the fridge (M).

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Piping The Filling

  1. Gather together your snowmen macaron shells and place them on a silicone mat. Fill a piping bag fitted with a no. 2A nozzle with the filling of your choice. Pick up one shell and pipe the filling onto the flat side (N). Place a second shell on top and press down gently. Repeat this technique to sandwich all the shells together, then leave the macarons overnight in the fridge to soak up the filling.
  2. For the bear and unicorn macarons, divide the round macaron shells in half. Place half on a silicone mat for the bear macarons and set the other half aside for the unicorn macarons later. Fill a piping bag fitted with a no. 2A nozzle with the filling of your choice. Pick up one shell and pipe the filling onto the flat side. Place a second shell on top and press down gently. Repeat this process to sandwich all the shells together, then leave the macarons overnight in the fridge (O).
Decorating The Snowman Macaron

  1. To make a carrot nose for the snowman, knead a pea-sized ball of Orange modelling paste into a triangular shape.
  2. Using a blade tool, make some markings on all four sides of the paste to create a carrot effect.
  3. Dip a paintbrush into edible glue and wipe off the excess. Apply a little edible glue over the wide base of the modelled carrot and stick it to the top part of your snowman macaron in the middle (P).
  4. To make eyes, roll two tiny balls of Black modelling paste and use a little edible glue to stick them in place above the nose on either side. Then press a tapered cone tool into the centre of each eye to make some pupils (Q).
  5. Using the Jet Black edible food pen, draw two tiny lines above each eye to make the eyebrows. Draw on a mouth below the nose – you can mark this wherever and in whatever shape you like.
  6. Dip a no. 4 paintbrush in Pink QFC dust and brush the excess off on a paper towel. Apply some Pink QFC on either side of the nose to create blushed cheeks (R).
  7. To make the snowman’s buttons, roll two pea-sized balls of Black modelling paste and flatten them down to make disks that are in 1cm (3/8") diameter. Take a no. 10 piping nozzle and push the tip into the paste to add some markings. Then use the tapered cone tool to mark two tiny indents on each button (S).
  8. Apply a little edible glue to the back of both buttons and stick them to the lower part of the snowman’s body, one above the other.
  9. To make the scarf, roll 12g (2/5oz) of Red modelling paste into a 40cm (153/4") sausage shape. Bend it in half so both ends are the same length, then begin twisting each length together and around one another until you get to the end (T).
  10. Wrap the scarf around snowman’s neck and, using a dab of edible glue, attach the join so that the scarf stays in place. Finish by cutting off the very ends of the scarf at an angle using the blade tool.
  11. Take four pea-sized balls of White modelling paste and roll them into dome shapes. Use the tapered cone tool to make lots of tiny holes on each dome to create a pom-pom effect (U).
  12. Take two pom-poms, dab a little edible glue over the back of both and stick them to each end of the scarf. Use the same tapered cone tool to add more tiny holes if needed.
  13. To make the earmuffs, roll a pea-sized ball of Black modelling paste into a 5cm (2") sausage. Dab a little edible glue over the back of the remaining two pom-poms. Stick one end of the sausage to each pom-pom and flatten them down in place using a rounded cone tool (V). Secure both pom-poms on either side of the head to create fluffy earmuffs – apply a little more glue to the back of the pom-poms if needed.
  14. Using the rounded cone tool, even out the joint part of earmuffs. When you are happy with the positioning, place a rolled piece of paper behind the earmuffs so they hold their shape and can dry evenly (W).
  15. Repeat steps 1–14 to decorate your batch of snowmen macarons.

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Top Tip: If you see that your modelling paste is drying out, add some coconut oil and knead the paste for a few minutes. You will then have a more pliable and elastic paste that will not crack.

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You can find the full project, including steps on how to make the Unicorn and Bear macarons in issue 160 of Cakes & Sugarcraft Magazine - project by Viktorija Siskova!