Monday, 30 April 2018

Red Velvet Macarons

I've decided I didn't really like the look of strawberries decorating the top I'm going to do macarons instead. What I've always failed with previously is getting colour into seems that no matter what I do, they come out a pale pastel. Determined to change this, I ordered a load of Wilton Gel colour, did some reading, and set to making some properly red macarons.

...and it turns out you need a LOT of colour...about half a tub per batch. This is a recipe I tweaked from online, and also did a bit of playing with the temperature (as my oven runs quite hot). The fillig here is just a cream cheese frosting, however I'm going to try a drop of strawberry jam in the middle (so I can call them Strawberry Cheesecake macarons, which sound slightly epic!)

The temperature of your oven is absolutely vital...mine runs hot, so I have it ~10'C lower than most recipes recommend.

Red Velvet Macarons - Recipe

  • Pre-heat the oven to 130-135'C 
  • Prepare 2 oven trays with silicone mats


  • 150g ground almond
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 egg whites (105-110g)
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • approx 12-14g of red food colouring gel
 1) Place the egg white in a stand mixer with the whisk attachement

2) Begin to whisk hard, and slowly add the caster sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk to soft peaks

3) Add the food colouring and vanilla extract, and continue to whisk until firm peaks are formed.

4) Sieve the ground almond and icing sugar together

5) Fold the icing sugar mixture into the whisked egg whites carefully. I normally do it in quarters, carefully combining it each time. The end result should be a very sticky paste.

6) Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a round nozzle

7) Pipe ~40 1 inch circles over the 2 trays. To do these point the nozzle straight down, and then press out the paste until a circle of the correct diameter is formed. Pull the nozzle away slightly sideways to minimise the peak

8) Tap each tray 5 or 6 times to remove large bubbles

9) Leave them trays out for at least half an hour (room temperature dependent) to allow them to dry out slightly. They are ready to bake when your finger does not stick to them when gently touched.

10) Place in teh oven for 22-24 minutes (again, oven dependent). I tend to give the lower shelf an extra couple of minutes

11) remove from the oven, and leave on the trays for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 150g full-fat cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 50g room temperature butter
1) Place the icing sugar and butter in a  stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Mix hard until pale and fluffy. You'll need to scrape the sides down a few times

3) carefully fold the cream cheese into the butter mixture

4) Transfer into a small piping bag with a small round nozzle

5) Pipe a generous swirl into half the shells, and sandwich with the other half.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Top Cake - Attempt 1

So the cupcakes are pretty much sorted, so time to work on the top cake. This is both easier, and's just one thing, but it meeds to be a bit more dramatic. I had an idea in mind, and decided to use Easter to see how it looked. Rather than work through the recipe normally (there is nothing new here, just construction), thought I'd do an annotated picture.

Chocolate Cake

This was another variant of the Dobos Torte receipe that I've re-used many times now. This was a larger batch again, and chocolate flavoured
  • 6 eggs
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 40g cocoa
I then did;
  • 6 x 18cm discs (100g of mixture each) - bake for 6 minues
  • 4 x 8cm discs (25g mixture each) - bake for 5 minutes
While I like this style of cake, I think it didn't work as well as I hoped. Firstly, the volume of the mixture was so great that the folding in of the flour and cocoa was tricky, and I had dry blobs. Secondly, 18cm discs are right on the limit of me fitting 2 on an oven tray, and it made getting the discs done a bit slow. The cake itself is lovely, and goes well with the buttercream, however I think I may be able to make life easier on myself.
Next Time : I'm going to try doing 2-3 larger less layers. This will require use of tins (I'll need 2-3 deep 18cm cake tins). The top tier shouldd be slightly wider (~10cm), and a bit lower (3 layers)...mainly to sort out the scale on the cake, and partly as the cake is just too tall to fit in my largest cake carrier!

Chocolate Meringue Buttercream

This is one of my staple icings for larger's nice and light, and sets well. It's actually quite simple to make as well;
  • 3 egg whites
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 320g butter (room temperature)
  • 200g dark (50%) chocolate
So I had some discussion on Facebook around this...this icing is lovely, though possibly a bit too light coloured to get serious constrast against the white chocolate ganache.
Next Time : This will be a white chocolate ganache, so swapping the base colour of the cake to white/ivory. Thi is more to do with how fiddly white chocolate gaanche is to work with, however I think that brown/white stripes inside will be more impactful anyhow. The main change here will be using a different chocolate, and some vanilla extract.

White Chocolate Ganache

So, I'll be frank about this, I don't like working with white chocolate's got a gloopy texture that makes it very hard to get a smooth layer on. You also have to be very careful with the amount of cream, or it never properly sets...
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 45g double cream
Next Time : This is going to be dark chocolate ganache (75g/75g dark chocolate and cream). It's easier to work with, and will give a high contrast agains the (now) white icing.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

This is my standard 50/50 mixture, however next time I won't be using a second ganache
 Next Time : The contrast piping will be done using the (white) chocolate buttercream. I used this to edge the cake, hide the joins, and stick the decorations on, using a small star nozzle, and mainly doing rosettes (simple, but effective). Using the buttercream will give more colour consistency across the cake.

Top Strawberries

These are simply two matched strawberries, with a cocktail stick to attach them and stand them upright. The intention is to have one dipped in dark chocolate, and one in white to act as a cake topper (along with the plinth). The only change here is actually dipping them,

Cut Strawberries

These are a decoration to add some height and colour to the cake. They are....OK, however I think I'd prefer something a little different. Options are;
  • Small macarons (red)
  • Small french meringues (red)
  • Small cupcakes (red)
So something red. The ledge they sit on will be slightly smaller (as the plinth is slightly wider). I'll have a think on this...there is no big time pressure, and strawberries are a decent fallback.
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