Decorated Cookies Recipe and Tutorial

No Chill No Spread Sugar Cookie Recipe and Decorating Tutorial

Decorated Biscuits

Quick heads up for international readers: I’m Australian, and here, we call cookies “biscuits”. What Americans call Biscuits most Aussies would recognise as a sort of savoury scone…  So it may take you a bit to get used to me referring to cookies as Biscuits, but stick with it, this is a super handy recipe and tutorial. 

 

Decorated biscuits look great as an accompaniment to a cake, but they can also be incorporated into the final design of the cake or better yet, used as a cake topper, or as the base for a name or greeting plaque, or to create structural elements as part of the overall design. 

There is a brief tutorial below which shows how to use fondant to mimic the look of flooded royal Icing. I also have a full royal Icing tutorial here: https://robertscakesandcooking.com/royal-icing/
I like to mix fondant and royal icing covered biscuits and like to use multiple techniques when I make sets of decorated biscuits, it speeds things up, but also adds more textures and more interest. 

 

Decorated biscuits are also a great way to improve your cake decorating skills and try new techniques. Biscuits covered in fondant or royal icing provide a convenient surface to practice decorating with an airbrush, painting with colours and lustre dusts mixed with decorator’s alcohol. They can also be painted with cocoa butter, decorated with piped or stencilled royal icing, decorated with wafer paper, moulded fondant or modelling chocolate, the list is endless.

Rich vanilla biscuits – no chill – no spread biscuit dough

 

This is my favourite recipe for making decorated biscuits. It does not need to be chilled, and is easy to work with in a hot kitchen and best of all it doesn’t spread when it’s cooking. It has the structural integrity of good gingerbread, but in a lighter, delicious, shortbread-like biscuit – this makes it perfect for constructing gingerbread houses, or cutting intricate or interlocking biscuit pieces where precision is important. 

 

The base recipe can be altered to incorporate different flavours. The texture can be altered by varying the cooking time. Less time will result in softer cookie-like biscuits with a gentle crunch; more time makes crunchier biscuits that are more like shortbread to eat.

 

Avoid using regular plain flour. The recipe is designed to work with cake flour, low protein cake/biscuit flour allows the dough to be kneaded and re-kneaded several times without becoming tough, cake flour doesn’t form tough gluten strands as quickly as regular plain flour. 

 

Cookie cutters speed things up, but it’s not always possible to find the perfect cookie cutter for a project, the method below makes it easier to make any shape of biscuit by cutting around the edge of a paper or cardboard template. 


You can even cut an interlocking pattern into the surface so the biscuit can be disassembled and reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle after it has been baked. To make interlocking biscuits, cut the pattern, cook for ten minutes, recut the pattern in the still hot dough and return it to the oven to finish cooking. Once cooked, recut the pattern a final time while the biscuit is still hot. Allow it to cool completely on the tray before disassembling it.

INGREDIENTS


Biscuits 

225g Soft Unsalted Butter
225g Caster sugar
1 heaped tablespoon of concentrated natural vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon almond essence

1 egg

1 level teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon fine table salt

500g cake/biscuit flour – “soft” low protein flour

1 or two teaspoons water if needed 
Optional Pinch of nutmeg, or cinnamon, and/or a teaspoon of fine citrus zest

 

Variations

My Favourite variation of this recipe is Chai spice flavour with orange zest.


To make chai spiced biscuits include orange and spice mix in with the dry ingredients

To the flour mixture add:

1 teaspoon Orange zest
2 teaspoons of Chai Spice mix.

 

Chai Spice mix –  Makes more than will be used, but it is necessary to make more to get the ratios right. It’s a nice spice mix to have around to jazz up other baking, or to flavour custards and sauces. I also use it in to make chai spiced crème brûlée.

3 teaspoons Ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground Ginger
½  tsp Ground cardamom

¼ tsp fine ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/16th tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground coriander seed

1/3 tsp ground nutmeg

Biscuit Method: 

 

Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the butter into the flour by “cutting” it in with a pastry blender (it’s a cheap tool, just a handle with 4 or five wires that helps to cut the butter in, it’s worth getting one) or use a butter knife to break it up and rub the butter into the flour with finger tips until the mixture has a fine crumb-like consistency. Or use the paddle attachment in a stand mixer on medium until a fine crumb-like texture is achieved.

 

Mix the vanilla and the 1/3 of a teaspoon of almond essence with the egg in a small bowl and briefly beat with a fork to break up the egg. 

 

Make a well in the flour mix, pour in the egg mix, and knead until it begins to come together.

The dough is very crumbly and will not easily form a smooth ball, it may be necessary to tip it onto a bench to try to knead it together. If necessary add one or two teaspoons of water to the dough to help it come together, but no more or the dough will spread as it cooks. 

 

Cover with cling film and set the dough aside to rest for 10 minutes. 
This is, and should be, a very dry, short and crumbly dough.

 

Cut two sheets of baking paper to fit into a baking tray.

 

Break up/crumble the dough to roughly cover the surface of the paper. Cover with the other sheet of baking paper and roll to 3 mm thick starting from the middle and rolling to the edges. The dough will squeeze out past the edge of the paper. The dough must be rolled between sheets of baking paper to give a uniform and smooth surface, never roll it directly or it will stick to the rolling pin and tear.

 

Remove the top sheet of paper and trim off edges using a long bench scraper. 

 

Cut the design into the biscuit with a cookie cutter, or use a scalpel or craft knife and follow around the edge of a template if using one. Use a small palette knife to lift the excess dough away. Do not try to lift the biscuits off the paper lift the excess off and leave the biscuits undisturbed.

 

Slide a thin flexible chopping mat under the paper with the cut out biscuits on it and then transfer it to the biscuit tray.

 

Bake at 160 degrees Celcius for 18 minutes, the biscuits should be starting to go a light golden-brown colour at the edges. Stop cooking now if you prefer a soft texture to the biscuit. If you prefer a crispier biscuit, drop the temperature to 140C and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Baking time will depend on the thickness of the biscuits. 

 

Cool on the tray for five minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Decorating with fondant:

Nothing beats the look of a biscuit flooded with a perfect layer of shiny run out royal icing, but it can be time consuming, and requires a long time to set before it can be decorated further. I have a full Tutorial on how to make and decorate with royal icing: http://robertscakesandcooking.com/royal-icing/ 

 

Fortunately, it is possible to mimic the effect using fondant.

 

Use a fancy plaque shaped cutter to cut biscuits.

Roll out fondant to a thickness of about 2 mm, dusting it with icing sugar to stop it from sticking to the work surface or rolling pin. Don’t use cornflour to roll the fondant, it will dry the fondant too quickly and make it prone to “elephant skin”, leave white marks and make for a rougher finish.

 

Use a fondant smoother or a small blob of excess fondant to polish the surface to a smooth and slightly shiny finish. Cover the sheet of rolled fondant with a piece of cling film, when cut this will give the fondant a rounded edge. Use the same sized cookie cutter as used to cut the biscuit and press into the fondant through the cling film.

 

While the cutter is still in place, flat against the work surface through the cling film, squeeze it from each side to further round the edges and shrink down the size of the fondant piece so it will be slightly smaller than the biscuit. Remove the clingfilm, tidy up any rough edges by running a finger around the edge.

 

Paint the back of the fondant piece with piping gel and secure into place on the biscuit. The fondant piece should be slightly smaller than the biscuit so there is a pleasing border of biscuit around the edge micking the look of a flooded biscuit.

 

Set the fondant:  Bake the fondant covered biscuits for 10 -15 minutes at 80 degrees C. While it’s still warm the fondant will be very soft but when it cools it will harden up like well-set royal icing and provide a stable surface to decorate. The baked fondant goes slightly crunchy, like royal icing and is quite pleasant to eat. Depending on the design, add all the fondant layers before baking, or re-bake after adding more layers of fondant decoration so all the layers are crunchy and set.
 Steaming the fondant before baking it will melt any excess icing sugar and make the surface of the fondant look shiny. 

 

This same method is great for covering cake boards, bake the fondant covered board at 80 degrees and the fondant covered board will be easier to handle while decorating a cake on the board.

It is best not to re-bake biscuits that have been decorated in royal icing as the royal icing tends to go yellow if it is heated above 60 degrees. 

 

Tip: If the fondant is too soft it may be necessary to add a pinch of CMC or tylose powder to help firm it up slightly faster and make it easier to handle.

The mini crown biscuits shown here are made my adding smaller circles of fondant to the top to provide a frame for the small moulded crown. Biscuits can be finished by piping a small border around the edge of the fondant or by adding more details in royal icing or painting extra detail with lustre dust.

 

Tip: Very small detailed fondant moulds can sometimes be hard to work with, but they don’t have to be. 
Mix a pinch of CMC (tylose) into a small piece of fondant, use a small paintbrush to cover the mould with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Press the fondant into the mould and use a lightly oiled palette knife to spread it, working from the middle of the piece to the outsides. Smear the excess off against the edges of the mould and use a fingertip to tidy the edge. Tap the mould sharply from the back a few times to jettison the piece from the mould without stretching it.

 

To make the 40 shaped biscuits I cut the biscuits into the dough using a cardboard template.

The 4 and 0 were cut from sheets of fondant using a craft knife and a cardboard template.
The rough edges of the fondant were smoothed by running a fingertip around the edge.

The fondant pieces were applied to the biscuits with some piping gel and baked briefly at 80 degrees to set them. The hardened fondant could then be easily decorated with basic royal icing piped with handmade baking-paper piping bags and a #2 piping tip.

Mixture of royal icing and fondant covered biscuits and macarons

Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial

Micro modelling chocolate flowers

Micro flowers are a handy additional decorating skill to have. They are great to use as an accent on a name plaque, or in a small cluster on decorated cakes and cupcakes, they are also an easy way to add more detail to chocolate and sugar sculptures.

All the flowers shown below are very basic, despite looking quite detailed and being less than 2cm wide. They can be scaled up to make medium sized fast filler flowers or to use as single flower cupcake toppers. All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers.
Using very basic tools, and just one kind of blossom cutter, a lot variation can be achieved by stretching the petals out round and flat, or to a point with a sculpting tool and even more variation can be achieved by using different colours and varying how the petals are stacked together.
My recipe for modelling chocolate can be found here: http://robertscakesandcooking.com/modelling-chocolate-recipe/

Tools: 

Basic clay sculpting tools – Cheapest kit from the craft section of a discount craft shop or the spoon-shaped end of a Dresden tool will do.
Small blossom cutters in three sizes
Small nylon rolling pin
Foam petal pad
Cornflour dusting bag
Bamboo skewer
Homemade modelling chocolate coloured with gel paste colours

Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial | All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/micro-modelling-chocolate-flowers/
Roll the chocolate into very thin sheets. Generously flour the top and bottom of the chocolate to stop it from sticking to the bench or the rolling pin. Modelling chocolate is very brittle when it’s cold, so before shaping petals, warm them for a second or two by laying them on your palm so that they are flexible enough to shape.  

Lotus

Use a small sized daisy cutter set to cut out 2 large , 1 medium and 2 small petals.

Gently warm the petals with your hands for a couple of seconds before shaping to make them flexible, or they may break.

On a foam mat, use a flat pointed tool dipped in cornflour or the tip of a skewer held quite flat to the surface to shape the petals. 

Drag the tool from the middle of each petal to the tip to give it shape and leave it with a pointed tip

Drag the tool back from the tip of each petal to the middle to make the petals curl inwards.

Stack the petals from largest to smallest then press into the centre of the petals with the well floured butt of a skewer or small brush to lock the petals in place and create shape. 

Warm up a small ball of chocolate in your hands and drop it in the centre of the flower. Use a well floured dresden tool or the sharp side of a skewer to stipple the centre of the flower and lock all the petals in place.

Apply the flower by heating a small ball of chocolate with your hands press it onto the surface you want to attach a flower to then press the flower in place by applying pressure to the flower centre with a skewer.
Re-stipple the middle of the flower to finish.

 

Basic Camelia:

Soft pink and yellow modelling chocolate

1. Cut one of the smallest and one of the medium sized blossom shapes from the modelling chocolate that has been rolled into a thin sheet.

2. Use hands to warm the petal a little to make it easier to flatten and shape the petals. Place on the foam pad and thin the petals by applying gentle pressure with a sculpting tool from the inside to the outside edge, keeping the tool flat and level to create flat rounded petals.

3. Pull the sculpting tool across the petal in the other direction – from the outside to the middle of the petal to curl the edge and create some shape.

4. Roll one tiny ball of yellow, heat it with hands and use it to stick the two rings of petals together.

5. Warm a second small ball of yellow and push into the centre of the flower, pressing towards to middle of the flower to create shape.Stipple the yellow part with a bamboo skewer this locks the petals together and creates a pollen-like texture in the centre.

Attach the flower to a surface with a small ball of warmed up modelling chocolate, press it into place by pressing on and stippling the yellow centre with a skewer.

Change the colours to soft pink for the petals and a much darker nearly maroon pink for the centres to make cherry blossoms instead.

Daffodil:

Roll out orange (half orange and half yellow colouring mixed to make a softer orange colour) and cut the smallest sized blossom shape for the centre. Cut medium sized blossom shapes from the yellow chocolate for the surrounding petals.

Flatten the centres working around the edge.
Shape into a bell shape around the blunt end of a bamboo skewer that has been lightly dusted with corn flour.

Place a yellow blossom shape on the petal pad, drag the sculpting tool from the centre to the edge of each petal, dragging the point right to the edge increasing the angle towards the edge to create a pointed petal.

Roll a small ball of yellow chocolate, melt it with your hands then place it between the flower centre and main petals, gently push down with a well dusted skewer through the middle of the flower centre.

Add another ball of yellow to the middle of the flower and stipple the middle of it to lock it in place and create an attractive looking centre.

Completed daffodil.

Full blossom:

Cut 2 large, 2 medium and 2 small sets of petals, from purple modelling chocolate.

Thin the edges, keeping the sculpting tool flat to give rounded petals.

Shape the petals by pulling the sculpting tool back across the petal from the outside to the inside. Roll small balls of chocolate, heat them with your hands and use them to fix sets of petals together.

Press each layer together, applying pressure with the butt of a well-floured skewer from the centre to fix the petals together and make them curve into more of a bowl shape. Press the final ball into place and stipple the centre with a the pointed end of the skewer to finish locking the petals in place and create an attractive centre.

 

Branch

Roll a wedge shaped ball of brown modelling chocolate.

Cut into the ball to free up two main branches. Shape and round the branches. Cut each branch into smaller branches, thinning and shaping the branches each time, continue until the branches are too small to cut further. Finish the tips of the branch by making them thin and pointed.
Roughly mark the bark with the sharp tip of a skewer or the blunt side of a scalpel.
Decorate with micro flowers and foliage.

Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial | All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/micro-modelling-chocolate-flowers/
Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial | All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/micro-modelling-chocolate-flowers/
Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial | All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/micro-modelling-chocolate-flowers/
Modelling Chocolate Micro Flower Tutorial | All the examples here are made from homemade modelling chocolate, but the same techniques work in sugar paste, but the sugar paste needs time to set, and chocolate doesn’t. I like to make them in chocolate because there is no drying time, it makes them much faster than sugar flowers, and they are nicer to eat than sugar flowers | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/micro-modelling-chocolate-flowers/

Royal Icing

Royal icing is incredibly versatile, easy to make, and can be adapted to use in several different ways by varying the amount of water or eggwhite added to it.
There are lots of ways to make royal icing, I prefer one below, it uses powdered egg white which I find convenient and reliable. The best approach if you are new to royal icing is to experiment and find a recipe or method that works for you, this is by no means the only way, there are recipes that are better or that will work better for you, this is just what I found works well for me.

Ingredients:


Royal icing
– with Actiwhite/powdered eggwhite

600g Icing sugar – I use pure icing sugar but lots of people use icing mixture, this is fine, but it changes how much liquid needs to be added and can make a slightly more brittle icing
20g actiwhite – egg white powder
90ml water
1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract or clear vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine table salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp white vinegar

Royal icing – fresh eggwhites

600g Icing sugar
100g egg whites
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine table salt.

 

METHOD

Measure 20g of powdered eggwhite into a small bowl, add water to bring the total weight to 100g, mix briefly with a fork to combine and leave to sit for 10 minutes to give the powdered eggwhite time to rehydrate. 

Use a sheet of paper towel lightly soaked with vinegar to wipe over the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Sift the icing sugar and salt into the bowl then pour in the egg, the vinegar and flavourings. Whip on high for two minutes then scrape down the bowl and whip until the mixture is aerated, smooth and glossy – roughly another 5-8 minutes. It can be done with hand beaters, but a stand mixer is a lot easier.

Scrape the finished royal icing into an airtight container and store until ready for use. In regular weather royal icing will keep for 3 day-5 days in an airtight container unrefrigerated, it will keep for about three weeks in the fridge, and a few months in the freezer. If the mix separates after defrosting or after a few days on the bench or in the fridge it can be rewhipped.

Although it is not necessary, a few drops of white gel paste colour or pinch of titanium dioxide powder will make a brighter white icing and will compensate for any very slight discolouration from the vanilla or any other flavourings used.

There are countless variations and ways to prepare and use royal icing, this is a few of the most common applications. 

Use these as a starting point, or try them out if they are a different method to what you’re used to and build on them, find what works for you and adjust and change them as you attempt different projects.

 

Fresh Royal Icing

Freshly made royal icing works as strong, mousse-like glue that will hold structural pieces together and can hold surprisingly heavy decorations like biscuit plaques onto the side of a fondant covered cake.

Fresh royal icing dries quite fast and provides a lot of initial grip which is handy when building structures or using it to glue pieces together. If the pieces are supported, it will and set well enough to hold pieces without supports after 15-20 minutes. 

Depending on how thickly it was applied, it sets rock hard in around 6-8 hours.

Stiff Royal Icing

 

Uses: Perfect for piped flowers and decorations like the base piped levels of built up English style over-piping. This is also a good texture of royal icing to use with a stencil or to create 3D piped pieces that can be dried and assembled to stand away from a cake surface or used to make other more structural royal icing pieces.

Before using for these applications, it needs to be “buttered down”. Buttering down the royal icing is done by working a small amount of it with a palette knife against a pastry mat. 

This evens the texture out, removes large bubbles and relaxes the mixture to the point where it can be piped smoothly without kinks or air bubbles that will create broken lines or rough shapes. 

Begin to work a few tablespoons of fresh mixture smooth by spreading it against the surface like a pastry mat with a pallet knife, gathering it up and spreading back and forth pressing the icing into the surface with a motion similar to spreading butter on toast. 

Use the tip of a skewer to drop on some gel paste colour and blend it into the mixture. Continue to work the mixture until it is smooth, work in one or two droplets of water if the mixture is too stiff. 

Keep the prepared royal icing in a small bowl covered by a damp cloth or damp piece of paper towel until ready to be used in a piping bag. For stencils, use a bench scraper or palette knife to apply the icing in a very thin layer over a stencil to create a pattern on the surface of a prepared cake or biscuit.

Structural pieces should be dried over night before moving and assembling them. Although it starts to crust up and dries quite quickly anyway, this texture of icing is firm enough to build up layers on freshly piped layers.

 

Medium texture Royal icing – soft peak

 

This is still on the firmer side, but it flows more easily through a fine piping tip and allows a line of icing to be attached to the surface and piped in a long drop string. The added flexibility of this still quite firm royal icing makes it the most versatile texture, suitable for most types of royal icing decorating. 

Uses: Piped writing, borders and pressure piped decoration, English over-piped decoration, and piped royal icing brush embroidery designs.

To prepare medium textured royal icing the method is the same as for Firm royal icing, but with another two or three droplets of water added. Be very sparing with any extra added water, it is surprising how much a very tiny amount of water will thin out royal icing. Always keep in mind that it’s easy to add more water or eggwhite, but it’s hard to rescue royal icing once it’s too runny.

Allow decorations piped onto baking paper or cellophane between 6 and 12 hours to dry before moving and assembling them. 

Decorations piped directly onto prepared cake or biscuits will crust quite quickly, and be firm enough to pipe more detail on in a matter of minutes depending on the size but will still be soft and brittle and liquid in the middle until set fully set. 

For extension and string work:

Pass medium texture royal icing through an ultra-fine sieve or clean new nylon stocking material to create a royal icing with the perfectly smooth texture needed for ultra-fine extension or oriental string work. This is a royal icing technique that is perceived to be very advanced, but with practice and a steady hand it’s not as difficult as it looks. 

The most important thing is to create royal icing with the smoothest texture possible and to eliminate any undissolved sugar crystals or bubbles that will cause strings to break. This icing can then be passed through impossibly small tips with no issues. Decorators who excel at very fine extension and string work will usually pass their icing through nylon a couple of times before using it and tend to work in small batches so they can control the texture better.   

Run Out or Flood Consistency royal icing – 10 second icing:

The aim with flood consistency royal icing is to thin the icing to the point where it can be piped through a #2 round piping tip and form a thin line of icing that will not collapse, but also it needs to be soft enough that thick lines piped next to each other will collapse to blend together and form a smooth patch of icing. 

Runout or flood consistency is achieved by adding even more eggwhites, water, or other liquids. Eggwhites dry faster and produce a shinier finish and the resulting flooded icing will dry much better on a humid day, but using just water is easier than cracking another egg or rehydrating eggwhite powder… I just use water and plan my projects so the biscuits or icing pieces have a full day to dry after flooding them.

Mix two or three heaped tablespoons of buttered down royal icing in a small bowl, add gel paste colour and mix with a small palette knife until the correct colour is achieved. Add two teaspoons of water, or eggwhite, and mix until smooth. Continue to add water drop by drop then mixing and testing for texture/flow, continue until the correct texture is achieved. 

Test for texture by dragging a palette knife through the royal icing leaving a valley to the bottom of the bowl and count how long it takes to settle back to a smooth surface. The correct texture has been achieved when the surface settles back smooth with almost no trace of having been disturbed after 10-15 seconds.

Decorate a biscuit by with flooded royal icing:

Pipe a thin border around the edge of the biscuit with a #2 round tip. Keep the piping tip a bout half a centimetre away from the surface of the biscuit and allow the icing to drop onto the biscuit from a slight height, this allows time to adjust the course of the icing as it is being lowered onto the biscuit and results in a much smoother line.

Once the border has been piped, fill in the biscuit by piping thick lines of icing next to each other back and forth across the top of the biscuit. Pipe these lines much closer to the surface of the biscuit, even dragging the tip along the surface to pipe thick lines and fill the space.

Use a scribe tool or thin sharp skewer, working the tip through the flooded icing in small, tight circles to level out the surface, fill in any gaps and blend the flooded area with the border edge. 

If the border has not been piped as neatly as it should have, it can be corrected with the scribe tool, by working in small tight circles from inside the flooded area and nudging the edges of the border to where they should be. 

Tapping freshly flooded biscuits will settle the surface, with the scribe tool used more for getting rid of gaps, blending the borders out, and minor finishing touches. 

Allow 24 hours for the icing to set before decorating further. A food dehydrator can be used to speed up the process. Or leave the biscuits in an oven overnight with the fan running and the oven light on, but no heat. 

Generally speaking flooded biscuits can be heated up to about 40 or 50 degrees for a little while, but any warmer and the fat from the biscuit will begin to discolour the icing and the lemon juice and vinegar will brown and make the surface look yellowed and dirty.

When I air dry the biscuits instead of drying them in the oven over night, I still heat them for an hour or so at around 50 degrees to crisp them up again. It’s not really necessary, but I like biscuits with on the crunchier side.

Run out Royal Icing Lettering/decoration 

Use a sharp scribe tool to scratch the outline of the letters onto dried fondant or flooded royal icing surfaces.

Pipe thick lines of flood consistency royal icing, staying well within the edges of the letters, then use a sharp scribe tool to drag the icing to the “colour” to the edges and form a smooth tidy letter. When piping on a biscuit, tapping it several times sharply can help the surface to settle smoothly.

other designs or block lettering can be piped onto cellophane, dried and removed to be applied so that they sit up from a surface. 

Smear clear cellophane with a very thin layer of solid white vegetable fat, like Copha, Solite or Crisco. Place the a template under the cellophane so the shape can be followed and flood the letter as described above, pipe enough icing to make plump rounded letters with clean sharp edges. 

Allow them the dry undisturbed on the cellophane for at least 24 hours before gently peeling them off the plastic. Make extra pieces as these are extremely fragile and even professionals break delicate pieces and pipe several backups for this reason.

 

Make life easier for yourself.

Mix and match royal icing and fondant. 

Don’t rely on just one technique or type of icing for the sake of it. Use what works best, what looks best, what works fastest and what you are most comfortable with. 

Handy tip:
Don’t throw out excess royal icing. Several flower paste recipes start with royal icing as a base, adding a small amount of CMC/tylose, some extra icing sugar and a small amount of Crisco or copha will produce a great paste for making flowers.

Be original and have fun.
Look for unusual stencils at craft shops. 

Make uniquely shaped biscuits without relying on cutters by tracing out a shape just slightly larger than the stencil and cut biscuits to shape using the template. 

Decorate the custom shaped biscuit by flooding with royal icing or covering with fondant. Stencil on the details with firm royal icing, or use an edible felt tip pen or airbrush, or use run out royal icing to fill in the details. 

Flooded biscuit with fondant disc ready to be decorated
Flooded and piped royal icing with fondant decoration

The Melting Moments Recipe

Melting Moments – The Ultimate Indulgence.

This is my update on the very best recipe for melting moments I have ever encountered. These biscuits have become near legend in offices I’ve worked in around Perth. I still get the odd forlorn message from ex-workmates letting me know they miss my biscuits…. When I cook them for my current workplace I always make a jar to send to our second office.   It’s a big call, but I would say these would be near the top of the list as an all-time greatest biscuit. My favourite biscuits to cook, share and of course eat, they are quite fragile and have a momentary gentle biscuit crunch to them before they dissolve into a gentle lemon tang.

Unusual equipment

I use a biscuit press, this allows the biscuit mix to be made super light and give me a perfect size biscuit. I use the heart-shaped cutter, not out of any particular fondness for heart shapes, but because they stack well in a jar and are just the right bite size once the two biscuit halves are assembled. The biscuit press also ensures I have uniform biscuit halves. The one in the picture is about 30 years old and made of Aluminium, It has a few attachments that are great for icing and for filling profiteroles. You can buy stainless steel ones at most homewares shops for under $40 and I have a few of them but I keep using this one, mostly for the nostalgia. I grew up with my Mum using it for Italian style biscuits, and have now borrowed/taken ownership of it. The disc that produces the heart-shaped biscuits is leaning against the body of the press in the picture.

Melting Moments Recipe

Ingredients

Biscuits

250g room temperature salted butter

1/3 cup icing sugar

1½  cups biscuit flour (soft, low protein flour)

½ cup corn flour

Pinch of salt

Lemon Cream Icing

60g salted butter

½ cup icing sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind

3 teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon of concentrated pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Biscuit Method

Start by whipping softened butter with electric beaters. The butter must be soft, but definitely not liquid. Add the icing sugar in parts and whip until combined and the mix is light and fluffy.

Add the cornflour in parts and mix until it is all combined. The texture should be smooth and light.

 

 

 

 

 

Add plain flour in half cup amounts and mix well after each addition. The aim is to keep a light, soft, smooth mixture that will be able to be forced through a piping bag or biscuit press.

Spoon into a biscuit press or a strong piping bag fitted with a large star pastry tip and press the biscuits onto a tray lined with baking paper. Or you can use a very strong piping bag to pipe rosettes on to a lightly greased oven tray. 

Bake in moderate oven 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

Cool on wire rack. As you can see, I tend to do a double batch I don’t ever make “just a couple” of anything…

Join biscuits with lemon cream icing.

Lemon Cream Icing Method

Zest a lemon with a microplane or a nutmeg grater. Whip butter and lemon zest with electric beaters. Gradually add sifted icing sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and creamy.  Gradually add lemon juice and vanilla. Add extra icing sugar as needed to ensure a stiff icing mixture.

Use a butter knife to spread the icing onto the back of a biscuit, press down the other half gently then load into your jar or barrel.

 

 

 

 

 

Makes about 40 complete biscuits using a press. These will keep for about a week and a half in an airtight container and are even better on the second day.

The freshly made Melting Moments will be very fragile and the icing takes a while to set firm. This is why I stack mine carefully into a tall container ready to be eaten the next day.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 

 

How to Make Piping Bags

Piping bags
Fabric or plastic piping bags are great, but they take time to clean and they can be cumbersome to work with.
Especially when working with multiple coloured royal icing, I find it a lot easier to work with handmade paper piping bags. 

They only take a couple of seconds to make and they are much more convenient and easier to handle. With a little practice, a huge number of piping bags can be made in just a couple of minutes so they are on and hand ready before decorating. 

Just cut off the tip paper piping bag and drop a piping tip into the cone. I often don’t use a piping tip; the paper bags are reliable enough and have a sharp enough tip that they can be cut to create the right sized hole to pipe with straight from the paper. More often than not I will make a piping bag from paper if I’m only doing a little bit of piping because it’s faster than fishing my piping bags out of the cupboard.

Cut full-width squares from a roll of non-stick baking paper (like GladBake). Cut squares along the diagonal to form triangles.

 

 

 

 

 

Fold an outside corner of the triangle inwards so the tip lines up with the middle point and begin forming a cone shape. Wrap the other outside corner around the cone to meet in the middle as shown. Shuffle the edges around to ensure a sharp point forms at the end of the cone and the outer corners line up neatly. Fold down the gathered corners to secure the top of the cone then fold again to lock it in place. The cone is now completed and ready to be filled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut the point off to make the right sized hole to pipe with or cut more to allow room to drop a metal piping tip in place.
Fill the bag with a couple of tablespoons of icing fold in both top edges an angle. Fold/roll from the open end to seal the icing in place, this creates an easy to handle, and work with piping bag. When the bag starts to deteriorate or when it’s finished, cut tip off the bag to free the metal tip and bin the paper bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even better with Plastic
Get comfortable with making piping bags with baking paper. Then try making them from a roll of wrapping cellophane. The cellophane cones can pipe a very fine line without a tip. The bags don’t deteriorate and, as an added bonus the icing does not dry out in the cone, especially if the tips of the filled piping bags are kept covered by a damp cloth while they are not in use. Several bags can be kept tip down in a cup with the tips resting on a damp piece of paper towel or cloth and stored for use over a couple of days.

The process to construct cellophane piping bags is the same but use a dab of water from a paintbrush or a light spray of water from an atomiser on the plastic, the water will hold the layers together and make it easier to form the cone shape. The piping cones can be stacked and stored as is for months or years. It is not necessary, but I like to use a piece of clear sticky tape on the outside of the cone to lock the layers in place permanently.
Once filled a piece of clear stickytape will stop the folded and rolled end from unrolling and keep the filled bag compact and easy to handle.
5 metre rolls of cellophane gift wrap can be purchased from discount shops for around $2/roll, and a single roll will let you create a lot of disposable piping bags. With not much practice, it becomes easy to make dozens of homemade piping bags, that are easier to work with than bought disposable bags, in no time at all.

 

How to Achieve Ultra Vibrant Coloured Macarons.

How to achieve ultra vibrant coloured macarons.

Getting black or dark red macarons can be very difficult, they usually end up paler than desired.

To get dark, vibrant colours, I’ve found it’s best to add a heaped tablespoon of gel paste colour to the sugar syrup before cooking it, that way it doesn’t affect the consistency of the macarons as any additional liquid is cooked out.
The resulting meringue will look will look lighter at first, but it darkens up a lot when it is mixed with the almond meal and icing sugar. After the mix is piped the macarons will continue to darken while they sit forming a skin.

I use three thermometers, it’s overkill, but the sugar can heat differently on different sides of the pot on in the middle. This guarantees I get an accurate temperature. 

Find out my other tips for achieving macaron perfection and for speeding up the process and eliminating waste batches on my full macaron recipe and tutorial post: http://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/ How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

 

 

 

 

Candy Icing Recipe – Pastillage Variation for Sugar Eggs

Candy Icing Recipe - Pastillage Variation for Sugar Eggs | Candy icing can be used for more than making just sugar eggs. It’s super strong and once it’s dried it’s quite resistant to humidity. It can be used to make structural elements like walls, sugar bridges, and any kind of tall or long thin decorative sugar work. It can also be used as internal support for more delicate decorations. It sets pretty quickly and sets super hard. Dried pieces can be joined with royal icing and some very impressive sugar structures can be made with it. The candy texture is even pretty pleasant to eat | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/candy-icing-pastillage-variation-for-sugar-eggs/Candy Icing Pastillage Variation for Sugar Eggs

Growing up my sister and I always got a sugar egg from my parents for Easter. Sugar eggs don’t seem to be as commonplace anymore, so I was thrilled when I learned how to make them at a local cake club meeting. I have learned a lot through meetings and workshops at The Cake Decorators’ Association of WA, they have hit the sweet spot with innovating and developing, sharing new techniques while keeping traditional techniques and skills alive where appropriate. Candy icing can be used for more than making just sugar eggs. It’s super strong and once it’s dried it’s quite resistant to humidity. It can be used to make structural elements like walls, sugar bridges, and any kind of tall or long thin decorative sugar work. It can also be used as internal support for more delicate decorations. It sets pretty quickly and sets super hard.
Dried pieces can be joined with royal icing and some very impressive sugar structures can be made with it.
The candy texture is even pretty pleasant to eat, especially if it has been flavoured with edible essential oil flavourings like musk, peppermint, lemon, rose or any of the now massive range of flavoured oils available or candy making. 

Candy Icing Recipe - Pastillage Variation for Sugar Eggs | Candy icing can be used for more than making just sugar eggs. It’s super strong and once it’s dried it’s quite resistant to humidity. It can be used to make structural elements like walls, sugar bridges, and any kind of tall or long thin decorative sugar work. It can also be used as internal support for more delicate decorations. It sets pretty quickly and sets super hard. Dried pieces can be joined with royal icing and some very impressive sugar structures can be made with it. The candy texture is even pretty pleasant to eat | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/candy-icing-pastillage-variation-for-sugar-eggs/Ingredients
500g pure Icing sugar
70ml water 
3tsp gelatine powder
10-12g glucose
2-3 drops flavoured essential oil or essence (musk, aniseed, and peppermint are my favourites).

Method
Sift the icing sugar and set aside. 
Bloom gelatine in the water by mixing them together and leaving them to sit for 5 minutes.
Add glucose to gelatine mix and microwave until melted. Microwave in 10 second bursts mixing between bursts until the gelatine is melted. Do not overheat or allow the mixture to boil or it will adversely affect the gelatine and make a lumpy mixture.

Gradually mix the syrup/gelatine into the sifted icing sugar.

Knead well. Dust bench with icing sugar to aid kneading. 
Knead until no longer sticky, add a little more sugar as necessary. 
A thin smear of crisco or copha on the bench can aid with kneading, but too much can make the icing too brittle once it dries or make it dry too slowly. 
Add flavouring, some of the flavoured essential oils are surprisingly strong, it’s easy to add more but can be overpowering if you add too much, start with two drops, knead them in, let sit for 15 minutes then taste, add more flavour if needed. Wrap and let rest 15 mins before using.

Candy Icing Recipe - Pastillage Variation for Sugar Eggs | Candy icing can be used for more than making just sugar eggs. It’s super strong and once it’s dried it’s quite resistant to humidity. It can be used to make structural elements like walls, sugar bridges, and any kind of tall or long thin decorative sugar work. It can also be used as internal support for more delicate decorations. It sets pretty quickly and sets super hard. Dried pieces can be joined with royal icing and some very impressive sugar structures can be made with it. The candy texture is even pretty pleasant to eat | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/candy-icing-pastillage-variation-for-sugar-eggs/To make sugar eggs:
Roll thin sheets of the paste, (use icing sugar when rolling, cornflour will make it dry too fast and create a rough surface), cut oval shapes to fit over half an egg-shaped mould that has been dusted with cornflour. Set aside to dry for 24 hours before removing from the moulds.
Avoid storing in an airtight container unless completely dry or it will sweat and go soft.  Join halves with stiff royal icing, and decorate with more royal icing to cover the joins. 

Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair

Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair | Learn how to work with modelling chocolate. Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper. I’m on at 3pm everyday this Wednesday to Sunday. Come to the Perth Craft and quilt fair and you can do this 1 hour workshop. $25 Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/unicorn-cake-topper-workshops-at-the-perth-craft-and-quilt-fair/I’m running 1 hour workshops at 3pm everyday from Wednesday 23rd of May to Sunday 27th of May at the Perth Craft and quilt fair at the Perth Convention Centre. 

Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper and in the process learn how to work with modelling chocolate.

Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand by 2:30 to lock in your place.
Workshop cost is $25, all tools and materials provided. Seats are limited.

Presented by the Cake Decorator’s Association of WA. For info on joining or to find out where your local club is visit: http://cdawa.org

Perth Quilt and Craft Fair is located at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre. 
Visit their site for times and details of other workshops available: http://www.craftfair.com.au/wp/Perth/make-takes/

Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair | Learn how to work with modelling chocolate. Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper. I’m on at 3pm everyday this Wednesday to Sunday. Come to the Perth Craft and quilt fair and you can do this 1 hour workshop. $25 Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/unicorn-cake-topper-workshops-at-the-perth-craft-and-quilt-fair/ Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair | Learn how to work with modelling chocolate. Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper. I’m on at 3pm everyday this Wednesday to Sunday. Come to the Perth Craft and quilt fair and you can do this 1 hour workshop. $25 Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/unicorn-cake-topper-workshops-at-the-perth-craft-and-quilt-fair/ Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair | Learn how to work with modelling chocolate. Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper. I’m on at 3pm everyday this Wednesday to Sunday. Come to the Perth Craft and quilt fair and you can do this 1 hour workshop. $25 Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/unicorn-cake-topper-workshops-at-the-perth-craft-and-quilt-fair/ Unicorn Cake Topper Workshops at the Perth Craft and Quilt Fair | Learn how to work with modelling chocolate. Make and take home your own chocolate unicorn cake topper. I’m on at 3pm everyday this Wednesday to Sunday. Come to the Perth Craft and quilt fair and you can do this 1 hour workshop. $25 Book at the Cake Decorators’ Association of WA stand | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/unicorn-cake-topper-workshops-at-the-perth-craft-and-quilt-fair/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macaron Recipe and Tips for Perfect Macarons

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/Macarons are still incredibly popular, they’re great with a cup of tea or a strong coffee, make an excellent cake decoration and can themselves be the centre of attention. Best of all, they can be made ahead of time and are one of the few foods that gets better after being frozen or left in a biscuit barrel for a couple of days.

A perfect macaron should be just set in the middle, with a soft and very slightly chewy centre and a thin layer of crispy outer shell. The surface should be smooth, almost shiny, and a macaron must have a clean “foot” where it expands and rises up from the tray while as it cooks, and it shouldn’t have large hollows or any cracks on the top surface.
I love making macarons. I have tried several different recipes and methods, this is my recipe and the tips I have picked up through a lot of research and testing.

I prefer to use a slightly modified Italian meringue macaron (hot sugar) recipe with a few tweaks that actively prevent failures and result in a much more stable mix and reliable result. I used to like using the French meringue macaron method (dry sugar whipped into raw egg whites), it’s easier but, I found it’s less reliable and can be affected too easily by humidity and other variables. The French method also takes me longer due to the time it takes for the sugar to dissolve when making the meringue and the finished product breaks down a bit too easily in humidity.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/The majority of macaron recipes I’ve tried are either too small or make a nearly commercial quantity of macaron shells making the mix a little hard to work with. Larger batches normally need at least 6 or 8 large biscuit trays on hand and enough space to stack them while they form a skin prior to baking them.

The issue with working with such a large quantity (standard amount for most recipes) is that once the almond meal is added to the meringue, the fat in the almonds begins to break down the meringue and can continue to do so the longer it is in contact. I do occasionally do double batches, but the larger amounts are slightly harder to get perfect.

Macaron shells are usually bland and very sweet, I like to put flavours on the outside of the macarons as well. A sprinkling of salted, ground, roasted nuts adds interest and gives a bit of a flavour burst, a dusting of cocoa or instant coffee pushed through a sieve and sprinkled on one side of the shells also looks nice and adds to the flavour. The shells can have additional flavour added by adding a few drops of flavoured oil or essences like the ones used for chocolate and candy making. Or some of the almond meal can be replaced with ground hazelnuts or pistachios, or a small amount of freeze dried fruit powder or cocoa powder.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/Fillings

All the flavour of a macaron usually comes from the fillings, Jam and/or basic buttercream are the traditional fillings for macarons. Fillings are usually better if they are tart, salty or bitter to help balance out the sweetness of the shells. Salted caramel and roasted salted pistachio both make really great fillings, the salt boosts the flavour of the fillings, but also cuts the sweetness of the shells.

Ganache is by far the most popular filling, dark and semi-dark chocolate ganache work well against the Macaron shells. White chocolate I would ordinarily find too sweet to be used in a Macaron, so I like to use sour cream salted white chocolate ganache with a low sugar sour berry jam or fruit filling. Sour cream in the ganache makes it taste similar to cheesecake.

The sour cream white chocolate ganache recipe included below the macaron recipe is very versatile as it’s not too sweet and can be used to ganache or fill a cake and even works well under fondant.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/Macaron Shells

Makes approx 60 half shells for a total of 30 completed macarons

Some Recommended Equipment

Digital scale – this is an essential tool for making macarons.

Stand mixer – I have made macarons by hand just with a whisk, but I really don’t recommend it…  it’s pretty hard going even with electric handheld beaters.

2x glass sugar thermometers – able to be attached to pot while cooking

Large pastry piping bags with large round piping tips roughly 8-12 ml opening

3x very large biscuit baking trays, lined with baking paper. This arrangement, instead of a silicone mat helps to cook macarons from the bottom faster, allowing a softer middle, cleaner more evenly cooked foot and easier removal from the paper.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

Baking paper, eg: glad bake or multix bake

Printed piping guides to slip under the baking paper – print a few copies
Click here to download – A4 Macaron Piping Guide 

1x small electric desk fan or a smallish pedestal fan – I use a 10cm Metal Desk Fan I got at Bunnings – this speeds up the curing process and helps to ensure a good skin forms on the top of the macarons, if the surface does not form a skin the tops will crack and the macarons will not form the “feet” that add to their appeal.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

Live baking Demo I did at Bakeboss

Macaron Shell Ingredients

110 grams egg whites

150 grams pure icing sugar (not icing mixture)

150 grams sifted almond meal

150 grams of caster sugar

37ml water (37 grams)

Pinch of salt

Gel paste food colours

A splash of vinegar, for wiping over the mixer’s bowl and whisk.

    

Shells Method

Preheat a fan forced oven to 145 celsius.

Wipe over the bowl of the stand mixer with vinegar and a paper towel, this helps to stabilise the egg whites.

Weigh 150 grams of caster sugar and 37 grams of water into a medium-sized heavy based pot. Attach 2 glass sugar thermometers to opposite sides of the pan, make sure the tip of the thermometers is in the sugar but not in contact with the base of the pot. I use at least two thermometers as the sugar syrup will heat at different speeds even across a small high-quality saucepan, it also helps identify if one thermometer slips down to contact the base of the pot and gives a falsely high reading.

Heat over a high heat on the stove top, do not stir, but it helps to gently swirl the contents of the bowl once to equal out the heat when it starts to get close to boiling, but do not get it up the sides of the pot or it will cause the syrup to crystallise prematurely. Later the sugar will need to be taken off the heat just before it hits 118 degrees. It heats up fast, so it needs to be watched closely once it starts boiling.

While the sugar is heating, quickly separate and weigh out 110 grams of egg whites and place in the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  If it is the first time making this recipe, or if you’re not good at separating eggs under pressure, weigh out the egg whites at the start, before heating the sugar.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/When the sugar gets to about 110 degrees celsius turn the stand mixer on high speed to begin aerating the egg whites, they should have started to form soft peaks before adding the sugar. When the sugar hits 117 degrees celsius take it off the heat, a heavy based pan will continue to cook the sugar for a little while after the pot is off the heat, it will heat to desired 118 degrees on its own. The sugar must get to between 117 and 120 degrees; any less and the mix will be too runny and the macarons won’t form a skin as easily, any more and they will cook unpredictably.
In the meantime the egg white should be starting to form soft peaks, with the stand mixer still whipping the egg whites, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream.  Continue mixing on high until it cools a little, continue mixing until the meringue will form stiff peaks, then stop. Do not over beat as this will weaken the meringue and result in a higher probability of hollows in the shells. The balloon whisk attachment should be able to pull out a peak of meringue that holds its shape when it’s turned upside down.
While the meringue is still mixing and cooling, sift together 150 grams of pure icing sugar and 150 grams of almond meal in a large bowl. There will be a few grains of less milled almond meal left over, discard these and continue adding almond meal until you have exactly 150 grams of sifted almond meal. For a smoother shiner looking macaron, the meal and icing sugar can be further milled in a food processor for between 20 seconds and a minute to make the almond meal finer. The extra step in the food processor is not necessary, most almond meal is already pretty fine, but it does give a better smoother finish to the resulting macaron shell.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/When the meringue has cooled to a point where it is warm to the touch but not hot, mix a third of the meringue into the almond/icing sugar mixture and work into a thick paste using a spatula. Add another third of the meringue to the almond paste, continue to mix until the almond and meringue are combined smoothly. Gently fold the remaining meringue into the almond meal, continue gently folding the mixtures until there are no separate streaks of almond paste or meringue.

If you want two colours in one batch separate the mixture into two small bowls, add a few drops of gel paste colour to each half.
Continue mixing with the spatula to deflate it until it has a lava-like consistency, it should very slowly flow from a spatula when lifted out, but not be runny. This is the part of macaron making that requires practice, too much mixing will give a thin batter and result in thin crunchy macarons, not enough mixing and it will be too thick, resulting in a rough surface on the macaron and the inside will be filled with large air pockets. If the consistency is correct before piping, the resulting surface of the macarons will be shiny, very lightly crunchy and the inside will be delicately soft, gently chewy and not too dense.

Line 3 large biscuit trays with baking paper, cut to size so that it lays flat. Slide printed macaron guides under the baking paper, this helps ensure the macarons are all piped the same size with even spacing.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

Fill piping bags fitted with 10ml round pastry tubes with the macaron mixture and pipe onto the trays following the guides. Try to avoid leaving any “peaks”, round off peaks on the surface with the back of a spoon or with a fingertip dipped in water.
Remove the guides, then sharply tap the trays on the bench to knock out any large air bubbles and aid settling, this will smooth the surface and spread the macarons a little. Sprinkle on any desired toppings, like sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut, ground and salted pistachio etc

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/Place macaron trays to one side, arrange a small fan so that there is airflow over all the macarons. This will force them to form a skin, ensuring the macarons rise and form “feet” correctly. Leave the macarons under the fan for at least 10 minutes or until the surface is dull and not sticky to the touch.

Bake the macarons in an oven preheated to 140 -145 degrees Celcius for 14 minutes or until there are no dark patches on the bottom of the macaron, check this by lifting a corner of the baking paper to look at the underside of the macaron through the paper. I test to see if they are done by gently nudging the top of a couple of them sideways, if they resist, they are done.

Cool on the tray. If they are moved before they are cool, the foot and insides of the macaron will stick to the baking paper.  Brush the macarons with lustre dust or paint them, this can be done while they are still on the paper. Leave them for five minutes to cool, turn the paper over then peel the paper from the macarons. Pair up similar sized halves and pipe buttercream onto half of the macaron shells using a large fine star piping tip. Place the other half on top to form completed macarons.

While the macaron shells are resting under the fan and while they are cooking, prepare the buttercream fillings, like pistachio buttercream and salted caramel buttercream.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/How to avoid a failure and guarantee the perfect macaron

When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues, there are benefits to making French macarons, but I found that external factors affect them more than Italian meringue macarons, so using the Italian method is a good place to start.

Warm or cold eggs make absolutely no difference at all, older eggs do whip faster and create slightly more volume than fresh ones, but not so much that it makes a difference to the Italian meringue method recipe. My recipe whips more air in than is needed, so any variation in egg freshness is negated.

Weigh everything! – the ratios are important, working by weight eliminates variations that can cause errors.

Don’t whip the meringue in a plastic bowl, use a clean glass or metal bowl wiped over with vinegar, the vinegar stabilises the egg whites. A pinch of salt or a pinch of cream of tartar has a similar effect.

The meringue must be mixed until it forms glossy stiff peaks. It should not be whipped past stiff peaks. If the meringue is over whipped it becomes dry and firm like set marshmallow and will increase the likelihood of hollow shells.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/The meringue can be warm, but it should not be hot before adding it to the almond meal. If it is too hot, the fat in the almond meal will break it down too fast and make the mixture turn sloppy.

The consistency of the mixture before piping is incredibly important. Working the almond and meringue mixture to break it down to the right consistency is called Macaronage. This mixing is important to get the right texture inside the macaron and getting a smooth shell. Just prior to loading the finished mixture into a piping bag it should have a “lava-like” consistency, kind of like wet cement, you should be able to lift a large amount out of the bowl with a spatula and it should slowly flow off the spatula and drop back into the bowl. If the mix is too stiff the resulting macarons will have rough tops with pointed peaks, too thin and they won’t form a skin easily and will spread too much.

I cheat the original recipe a bit, with my recipe I don’t split the egg whites – I don’t work half of the raw egg whites into the almond meal – instead I whip all the egg whites then pour in the hot sugar syrup.
Using all the egg at the whipping stage creates more volume and less sugar splatter. More aerated eggwhites mean the resulting mixture needs more mixing to get it to a slow flowing “lava” like state, but it also gives much longer time to work with and pipe the final mix.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/Not giving the macarons time to form a skin, is one of the main reasons Italian meringue macarons fail. The tops must be dry to the touch (no longer sticky) or they will not form “feet”. If they aren’t dry on top, the tops of the shells will burst apart while baking or the shells will have large hollows. My house is usually warm and humid, some days it could take an hour to form a skin, or they may just not… To speed up the process and guarantee a skin on top I put the trays in front of a desk fan. The fast-moving air dries the tops out in around ten to fifteen minutes and is a large part of why even if I mess up the sugar stage, I still get a great result. French method macarons aren’t supposed to need the skin to form, but they benefit from the same treatment as the Italians method.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/The other reason that Italian meringue macarons fail is the temperature of the sugar, use two, (or three) thermometers on different sides of the saucepan and keep the tips from touching the bottom. Take off the heat at 117 degrees and immediately start to pour it into the eggwhites in a slow thin stream, the temperature will continue to rise the extra degree in the pot while it is being poured. Don’t over heat and don’t under heat either scenario will result in issues.

Don’t ever stir the sugar while it’s cooking this will cause it to crystallise.

Do not cook on a thick or poor quality silicone mat, these mats block the heat required to seal off the bottom of the macaron and will usually result in over baked macarons. Baking paper on a baking tray gives the best result by far, if you do use a silicone mat, then use a very thin high-quality mat or Silpat.

If you are getting big hollows in the macaron, you’ve over whipped the meringue after adding the sugar or the oven is too hot. Turn the oven down by a few degrees or try cooking on a lower shelf in the oven, this of course depends on your oven. If the macarons are too dense or don’t develop feet increase the temperature by a few degrees.

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/How to achieve ultra vibrant coloured macarons.

Getting black or dark red macarons can be very difficult, they usually end up paler than desired.

To get dark, vibrant colours, I’ve found it’s best to add a heaped tablespoon of gel paste colour to the sugar syrup before cooking it, that way it doesn’t affect the consistency of the macarons as any additional liquid is cooked out.
The resulting meringue will look will look lighter at first, but it darkens up a lot when it is mixed with the almond meal and icing sugar. After the mix is piped the macarons will continue to darken while they sit forming a skin.

I use three thermometers, it’s overkill, but the sugar can heat differently on different sides of the pot on in the middle. This guarantees I get an accurate temperature. 

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/ How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/ How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

 

 

 

 

 

Nut free Macarons

This one was a bit of a surprise to me, but it is possible to make nut free macarons by directly replacing the almond meal with pepitas, (pumpkin seed kernals). Weigh out the pepitas and icing sugar and blend them together to get a fine mixture using a food processor. Sift out and reprocess anything that doesn’t go through the sieve.  Weigh out any left overs and process and equivalent to replace and ensure you have the exact amount of pepita flour that you need for the recipe. This makes a wonderfully flavoursome, if somewhat browny-green macaron shell and behaves almost identically to almond meal. 

Egg free?

It is possible to make egg free macarons using the french method with aquafaba (juice from canned chick peas), and I have heard several reports of people having great success with this, but I am yet to experiment with egg free macarons. When I have time later this year I’ll experiment to get a stable egg free recipe as well, but this will take me a fair amount of time. 

Pistachio buttercream

Ingredients

Roughly 100grams of butter cubed.

Approx 5 tablespoons of icing sugar, to taste.

200grams of roasted, salted pistachio kernels ground to a paste.

Pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

1/2 Teaspoon Concentrated natural vanilla extract.

 

Pistachio Buttercream

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

Method:
Grind the pistachios to a fine powder in a food processor or spice grinder, sift out any large pieces.

Add ground pistachio to a small deep mixing bowl with roughly half of the cubes of butter and mix with electric hand beaters until a creamed together. Add more butter if needed to adjust the texture, mix in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and a small pinch of crushed salt flakes and a little less than ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, mix and taste.
Add more sugar until the desired sweetness is reached, continue beating to ensure the sugar is all dissolved. Finish by adding another few pinches of gently crushed salt flakes. Set aside in a fridge to firm up slightly, whip quickly for a few seconds to get it back to a texture that can be piped.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

 How to make perfect macarons recipe and troubleshooting | When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m frugal and very time poor, I can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/macarons-recipe-and-tips/

Black hazelnut ganache with a sour cherry filling

Ingredients

 Approx 100 grams of Caster sugar

100ml cream

¼ Teaspoon Vanilla extract

Approx 120 grams of butter

Maldon Sea salt flakes

Icing sugar 4 -5 tablespoons adjust to suit taste, compensate for the bitter caramel and provide stability.


Salted Caramel Buttercream

Method

Pour enough sugar into the bottom of a heavy based pan to cover the base to a depth of about 2mm.
Cook dry sugar over high heat to form caramel, stir to ensure even cooking. Cook until a deep golden colour is reached, then take off the heat, continue to let the residual heat from the pot cook the caramel, let it darken to a deep red colour, you might need to put it back on the heat briefly. Just as the desired colour is reached pour in cream and whisk vigorously for a few minutes to take some of the heat out of the caramel, be careful as this needs to be done quickly and the cream will boil violently. Add half the butter and stir until the melted. Transfer caramel to a large tray to help it cool faster. Place in the fridge, or freezer to accelerate the process. Once the caramel is cold, transfer it to a small deep mixing bowl whip until the colour goes pale brown using and electric hand beater. The caramel should be very bitter and not sweet, so icing sugar is added to sweeten and stabilise the mix. Add about ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and mix until light and fluffy, continue to mix, adding the butter to improve the texture. Add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the caramel until the desired flavour is achieved. Crush a few pinches of salt flakes in the palm of your hand, add to the buttercream, mix very briefly then taste, add more salt if needed. Set aside in a fridge to firm up slightly, whip for a for a few seconds before using.

Sour Cream White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients: 
I have a full post on making sour cream white chocolate ganache
1 part sour cream to 3 parts white chocolate, a 1tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a half teaspoon of fine table salt.

Sour cream white chocolate ganache Method

I usually make 600g white chocolate, 200 g sour cream (full fat). 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and about half a teaspoon of fine table salt. Just heat them all together in the microwave in 30 second bursts mixing all the time until it comes together (roughly 2 and a half minutes in total) then chill until it has a thick spreadable consistency.  This is enough to cover and fill a double barrel 8″ cake or fill a couple of hundred macarons. I generally freeze the left over ganache from when I’m makingcakes to use it in macarons the following week.

Macaron Recipe and Tips for Perfect Macarons
Extensively tested, detailed recipe complete with tips to ensure perfect macarons. Includes salted caramel and pistachio buttercream recipes and a recipe for lightly salted sour cream white chocolate ganache. Tips in the notes below the recipe.
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Macaron Shell Ingredients
  1. 110 grams egg whites
  2. 150 grams pure icing sugar
  3. 150 grams sifted almond meal
  4. 150 grams of caster sugar
  5. 37ml water
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. Americolor soft get paste food colours
  8. A splash of vinegar, for wiping over the mixer's bowl and whisk.
Pistachio buttercream Ingredients
  1. Roughly 100grams of butter cubed.
  2. Approx 5 tablespoons of icing sugar, to taste.
  3. 200grams of pistachios ground to a paste.
  4. Pinch of salt flakes
  5. ¼ Teaspoon Concentrated natural vanilla extract.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Ingredients
  1. Approx 100 grams of Caster sugar
  2. 100ml cream
  3. ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  4. Approx 120 grams of butter
  5. Sea salt flakes
  6. Icing sugar 4 -5 tablespoons adjust to suit taste, compensate for the bitter caramel and provide stability.
Sour cream white chocolate ganache Ingredients
  1. 1 part sour cream to 3 parts white chocolate, a touch of lemon juice and a large pinch of salt.
Shells Method
  1. Preheat oven to 145 celsius.
  2. Into a medium sized heavy based pot weigh 150grams of caster sugar and 37grams of water. Attach 2 glass sugar thermometers to opposite sides of the pan, make sure the tip of the thermometers is in the sugar but not in contact with the base of the pot. I use two thermometers, as the sugar mix will often heat at different speeds on each side of the pot, even in a small pot, and it helps if one thermometer slips down to contact the base of the pot and gives a falsely high reading.
  3. Heat on a high heat on the stove, do not stir, but you may want to gently swirl the contents of the bowl to equal out the heat. Later the sugar will need to be taken off the heat and slowly streamed into the eggs when it hits 118 degrees. It heats up fast, so it needs to be watched.
  4. While the sugar is heating, quickly wipe over the bowl of the stand mixer vinegar and a paper towel, this helps to stabilise the egg whites.
  5. Separate and weigh out 110 grams of egg whites and place in the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add a pinch of salt. Do not get any yolk in the whites or you will need to start again. You will probably want to weigh out the egg whites at the start before heating the sugar if it is the first time making this recipe.
  6. When the sugar gets to about 110 degrees celsius turn the stand mixer on high speed to begin aerating the egg whites. When the sugar hits 117 degrees celsius take it off the heat, a heavy based pan will continue to cook the sugar for a little while after the pot is off the heat, it will continue to heat to 118 degrees on its own. The sugar must get to between 118 and 122 degrees. any less and the mix will be too runny and the macarons won't form a skin, any more and it will cook unpredictably.
  7. In the meantime the egg white should be starting to form soft peaks, with the stand mixer still whipping the egg whites, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites in a very thin stream. Continue mixing on high until it cools to about 50 degrees C, less is preferable - usually takes at least seven minutes. You need a dryish, glossy meringue, if it is still bubbly looking like a coarse marshmallow, it needs to be whipped more.
  8. While the meringue is whipping and cooling, sift together 150 grams of pure icing sugar and 150 grams of almond meal in a separate bowl. There will be a few larger grains of almond meal left over, discard these and continue adding almond meal until you have exactly 150 grams of sifted almond meal.
  9. When the meringue has cooled, mix a third of the meringue into the almond mixture and work into a thick paste using a spatula. Add another third of the meringue to the almond paste mix, continue to mix until the almond paste and meringue are combined smoothly. Fold the remaining meringue into the almond meal, continue gently folding the mixtures until there are no separate streaks of almond paste or meringue.
  10. Separate the mixture into two small bowls, add a small amount of gel paste colour to each half.
  11. Then continue mixing with the spatula to deflate it until it has a lava like consistency, it should very slowly flow from a spatula when lifted out, but not be runny. This is the part of macaron making that requires practice, too much mixing will give a thin batter and result in thin crunchy macarons, or cracked tops not enough mixing and it will be too thick, resulting in a rough surface on the macaron and the inside will be filled with large air pockets. If the consistency is correct before piping, the surface of the end product will be shiny, very lightly crunchy and the inside will be delicately soft, and gently chewy, but not too dense.
  12. Line two large cookie trays with baking paper, cut to size so that it lays flat. Slide printed macaron guides under the baking paper, this helps ensure the macarons are all piped the same size.
  13. Fill piping bags fitted with 10ml round pastry tubes with the macaron mixture and pipe onto the trays following the guides. Try to avoid leaving any "peaks", round off the surface with the back of a spoon if there are any.
  14. Remove the guides, allow mixture to settle for a few seconds before sharply tapping the trays on the bench to knock out any large air bubbles, this will smooth the surface and spread them a little. Sprinkle on any desired toppings, like sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut, ground and salted pistachio etc
  15. Place macaron trays to dry the tops, arrange a small fan so that there is direct airflow over all the macarons. This will help them to form a skin, which is essential to ensuring the macarons rise and form “feet” correctly. Leave the macarons under the fan for at least 10 minutes or until the surface is dull and not sticky to the touch.
  16. Bake the macarons in an oven preheated to 140 -145 degrees Celcius for 14 minutes or until there are no dark patches on the bottom of the macaron, check this by lifting a corner of the baking paper to look at the underside of the macaron through the paper.I test to see if they are done by nudging them sideways a little, if they resist they are done, if the whole top shifts with no resistance they need another couple of minutes.
  17. Cool on the tray. Brush the macarons with lustre dust or paint them, this can be done while they are still on the paper. Leave them for five minutes to cool, turn the paper over then peel the paper from the macarons. Pair up similar sized halves and pipe buttercream onto half of the macaron shells using a large fine star piping tip. Place the other half on top to form completed macarons.
  18. While the macaron shells are resting under the fan and then cooking, prepare the butter cream fillings, these will be pistachio buttercream and salted caramel buttercream.
Pistachio buttercream Method
  1. Grind roasted salted pistachios to a fine powder, sift out any large pieces.
  2. Add the powder back to the grinder and grind until it forms a thick paste.
  3. Add paste to a small deep mixing bowl with roughly half of the cubes of butter and mix with electric hand beaters until a creamed together. Add more butter if needed to adjust the texture, mix in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and a small pinch of crush salt flakes and a little less than ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, mix and taste. Add more sugar until desired sweetness/firmness is reached, continue beating to ensure the sugar is all dissolved. Finish by adding another few pinches of gently crushed salt flakes to taste.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Method
  1. Pour enough sugar into the bottom of a heavy based pan to cover the base to a depth of about 2mm.
  2. Cook dry sugar over high heat to form caramel, stir to ensure even cooking. Cook until a golden colour, then take off the heat, continue to let the residual heat from the pot cook the caramel, let it darken to a deep red colour, you might need to put it back on the heat briefly. Just as the desired colour is reached pour in cream and whisk vigorously for a few minutes to take some of the heat out of the caramel, Add the butter and stir until the butter is melted. Transfer caramel to a large tray to help it cool faster. Place in the fridge, or freezer to accelerate the process. Once the caramel is cold, use a bench scarper to transfer it to a small deep mixing bowl whip until the colour goes pale brown using and electric hand beater. The caramel should be bitter, so icing sugar is added to sweeten and stabilise the mix. Add about ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and mix until light and fluffy, continue to mix adding icing sugar and butter until the correct texture is achieved. Add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the caramel until the desired flavour is achieved. Crush salt flakes in the palm of your hand and mix in very briefly then taste, add more salt if needed.
Sour cream white chocolate ganache Method
  1. I usually make 600g white chocolate, 200 g sour cream (full fat). 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and about half a teaspoon of salt flakes. Just heat them all together in the microwave in 30 second bursts mixing all the time until it comes together then chill until it has a thick spreadable consistency.
How to avoid a failure and guarantee the perfect macaron
  1. When I started out making macarons I had several failures. Now I can get tray after tray of perfect macarons every time. I’m fairly cheap and very time poor, I really can’t afford to have a failed batch. Here is a brief list of what can go wrong and how to avoid issues
  2. Weigh everything! - the ratios are important.
  3. Don't whip the meringue in a plastic bowl, use a clean glass or metal bowl wiped over with vinegar, the vinegar stabilises the egg whites.
  4. The meringue has to be mixed until it is dryish and glossy. It needs to cool to just above body temperature before adding it to the almond meal. If it is too hot, the fat in the almond meal will break it down too fast.
  5. The consistency of the mixture is incredibly important. Working the almond and meringue mixture to break it down to the right consistency is called Macaronage, it is important to getting the right texture inside the macaron and to getting a smooth shell. Do not over mix it, it should never be runny. The "finished" mix, just prior to loading it into a piping bag should have a "lava-like" consistency, kind of like wet cement, you should be able to lift a large amount out of the bowl with a spatula and it should very slowly flow back into the bowl. If the mix is too stiff the resulting macarons will have rough tops with pointed peaks, too thin and they won't form a skin and will spread too much.
  6. I cheat the original recipe a bit, with my recipe I don't split the egg whites - I don't work half of the raw egg whites into the almond meal, I whip all of the egg whites then pour in the hot sugar syrup.
  7. Using more egg at the whipping stage means you get more volume and don't get as much sugar splatter. You have to mix the meringue for a little longer, until it's cool or it will set firm instead of being glossy and smooth, but I find it easier just to add meringue in steps to the almond meal/icing sugar mix. It means you've got to work the resulting mixture more to get it to a flowing "lava" like state, but also gives you a much longer time to work with the final mix.
  8. Not giving the macarons time to form a skin, is one of the main reasons for failure. The tops must be dry to the touch or they will not form "feet". If they aren't dry on top, the tops of the shells will burst apart while baking or have large hollows. My house is usually warm and humid, some days it could take an hour to form a skin, or they may just not... To speed up and guarantee I get a skin on top I put the trays in front of a desk fan. The fast moving air dries the tops out in around ten minutes and is a large part of why even if I mess up the sugar stage, I still usually get a great result.
  9. Do not cook on a thick silicone mat, these mats block the heat required to seal off the bottom of the macaron and will usually result in over baked macarons. Baking paper on a dark baking tray gives the best result by far, if you do use a silicone mat, then use a very thin high-quality mat.
  10. All the flavour of a macaron usually comes from the fillings, Jam and/or Classic crusting buttercream are the traditional fillings for macarons. These fillings are usually better if they are tart, salty or bitter to help balance out the sweetness of the shells and fillings. This is why salted caramel and pistachio both make really great fillings, the salt levels boost the flavour of the fillings, but also cuts the sweetness of the shells.
  11. Ganache is by far the most popular filling, dark and semi-dark chocolate ganache work well against the Macaron shells. White chocolate I would ordinarily find too sweet to be piped in a larger quantity in a Macaron. This is why I like to use sour cream salted white chocolate ganache and a tart berry jam filling, it makes the macarons taste similar to cheescake.
  12. The sour cream white chocolate ganache recipe included below the macaron recipe is very versatile and can be used to ganache or fill a cake and works well under fondant.
  13. Using a basic aerated buttercream allows a lot more filling to be piped onto the macarons and gives a much more pleasing visual effect, it can also have a more pleasant mouthfeel and is usually less sweet than white chocolate ganache or Italian meringue buttercream.
Some Recommended Equipment
  1. Digital scale - this is an essential tool for making macarons.
  2. Stand mixer - I have made macarons by hand just with a whisk, but I really don't recommend it....
  3. 2x glass sugar thermometers – able to be attached to pot while cooking
  4. Large pastry piping bags with round piping tips roughly 8-12 ml opening
  5. 3x large cookie pans, (approx 48.5x30.8cm). Dark heavier metal is preferable to aluminium, it helps cook macarons from the bottom faster, allowing a softer middle, cleaner more evenly cooked foot and easier removal from the paper.
  6. Baking paper, like glad or multix bake
  7. Printed piping guides to slip under the baking paper - download from google, just search macaron guides
  8. 1x small electric desk fan – I use a 10cm Metal Desk Fan, I got at Bunnings - this speeds up the curing process and helps to ensure a good skin forms on the top of the macarons, if the surface does not form a skin the tops will crack and the macarons will not form the "feet" that add to their appeal.
Robert's Cakes and Cooking https://robertscakesandcooking.com/

TARDIS Cake, and Construction Photos

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

I made one of these a while ago but it was good to revisit and update a cake theme I 

have made before and to be able to bring a few more skills and get the dimensions right.
The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. I adore doing geek culture cakes because scale drawings of the main characters are really easy to find. I print or trace the source material to the size I am going to make the cake or figure so I can use it to check to make sure the proportions are correct as I’,m making the cake. Detailed photos of the construction of the cake below 🙂 It’s rougher than it should be, but I’m really happy with the overall proportions and given the small amount of time I left myself to bake and decorate this cake it came together well. 

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/ Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/Dalek being sculpted from homemade modelling chocolate. The “arms” are made of pasta so it is 100% edible. The image I used to get the proportions correct is in the background. I painted the Dalek with edible shimmer petal dusts and alcohol and set colours with steam, allowed the model to dry then sprayed it with confectioner’s glaze.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

 

 

I airbrushed a galaxy onto a fondant covered board. It was super fun playing with all the different colours and metallics mixed with decorator’s alcohol to see what I could get through the airbrush.

 

 

 

6 inch square orange velvet cakes. There is a 5inch Board on top of the 4th layer supported by three dowels. I used a printed scaled up diagram to keep me on track for the dimensions and proportions, and referred back to it regularly. It really helped.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Covered with orange chocolate ganache, there was a lot of micro-zested orange zest added to the ganache to give it a bright fresh orange flavour. The ganached cake was just under 13 inches tall. It was taller than my ganache scraper, I managed to get it pretty sharp mostly freehanding it.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Reconfirming the ganached cake is still on track.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

 

Paneling with homemade fondant. Very happy with how straight the sides are. Although, the corners get covered anyway… It’s always nice when things line up perfectly.

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Cutting out the door paneling detail. Started running out of time at this point, so they ended up rougher than I would have liked. The process I used worked well. These sections overlay the side panels to create the window detail. 

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

Applied the cutout panel. Just need to steam it a little more and add more details. 

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/

 

Dr Who Tardis Cake | The TARDIS is Homemade fondant on an “orange velvet” cake filled and covered in dark chocolate orange ganache. The board is covered in white fondant then baked for 10 minutes at 80C to set it hard before it was airbrushed with food colour to look like a galaxy. The signage is icing sheets printed with edible ink. I made the Dalek from homemade modelling chocolate. | https://robertscakesandcooking.com/tardis-cake-and-construction-photos/And the shakiest video ever taken of a cake… this was the result of doing almost all the decorating including making and applying the fondant in under 4 hours…. after almost no sleep…. the ganache was made, the cake was cooked and the Dalek made on Friday night after work. On Saturday morning I had a Cake decorator’s club meeting I couldn’t miss. I got home at 2pm, made the fondant, applied the ganache, fondant and finished the decorating in 4 hours flat got in the car and delivered the cake to my friend’s place and enjoyed an incredible Dr Who themed 31st birthday party. It was a costume party complete with a Dr Who pub quiz style quiz for the guests. It was a blast!