Useful Guide of Sugar Pastes: Fondant, Gum paste, Mexican Modelling Paste, Pastillage…

Hi there,

Sometimes choosing between the  different sugar pastes can be confusing if we don’t know the exact qualities and purpose of each one.

So today I bring you a useful and helpful guide about the most popular sugar pastes used in cake decorating, from covering a cake to modelling sugar characters. Click on the following links to go straight away to the paste you’re interested in or continue reading this post to learn more about sugar pastes in general.

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1) Sugarpaste = Rolled fondant = Ready to roll icing

2) Modelling paste

3) Gum paste = Florist paste

4) Mexican modelling paste

5) Pastillage

6) Marzipan

* Modelling chocolate

* Sugar Pastes: General Tips

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1. Sugarpaste:

• Other names: rolled fondant, ready to roll icing.

• Qualities: soft and pliable like play-dooh, easy to roll out.

• Main uses:

♦ Covering cakes and boards (also cupcakes and cookies).

♦ Small details and basic figurines.

Cake Covered with Pink Sugarpaste + The Three Wise Men Cupcakes, made of sugarpaste details (Resource:www.acup4mycake.com)

• Ingredients: Gelatine, water, glucose, glycerine, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ Cover your cakes JUST with sugarpaste (the softest one to eat), never with the other pastes.

♦ When modeling figurines and characters, rather than using just sugarpaste, many people prefer:

a) using a combination of 50% sugarpaste + 50% gum paste, since the figures keep their shape better and dry harder.

b) adding in some CMC* to get a basic modelling paste (more effective than just sugarpaste when modelling).

* CMC = carboxymethylcellulose

Some Brands: Rensaw, Culpitt, PME, Wilton, Silver Spoon, Satin Ice, Squires kitchen (SK), Dr Oetker, etc.

2) Modelling paste:

• Main uses: Modelling sugar figurines and novelty characters.

• Qualities: Firm but pliable, slight elastic texture, dries faster and harder than sugarpaste.

Modelling Paste Figurines (Resource: www.acup4mycake.com)

• Ingredients: Simplest modelling paste: Sugapaste, CMC*.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: You can make your own modelling paste by adding 1 tsp CMC* to 225 g sugarpaste and kneading thoroughly.

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK), etc.

Useful information: CMC (carboxymethylcellulose), also known commercially as Tylose powder, is the synthetic alternative to tragacanth gum. They both have the same purpose: make the sugar paste firmer and easy to work with when modelling, as well as make it dry faster and harder. You can choose any of them, taking into consideration that  CMC works straight away, whilst tragacanth gum has to be left working overnight. So if you’re in a hurry, always better CMC.

 

3) Gum paste = florist paste

• Other names: Floral paste, flower paste, petal paste.

• Qualities: Flexible, pliable, dries very quickly, hard finish, holds its shape very well, can be rolled out thin like a paper.

• Main uses:

♦ Modelling realistic sugar flowers (you can roll out the petals as thin as needed).

Modelling professional sugar figurines and characters that keep a perfect shape.

Gum Paste Flowers and Figurine (Resources: www.prettywittycakes.co.uk, www.cakejournal.com, www.cakecentral.com)

• Ingredients: Egg white, gelatin, water, tragacanth gum (or CMC), glucose, shortening, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ It can also be considered as a modelling paste, since it’s also useful to model sugar figurines, not just flowers. It’s important that you work quickly to prevent the gum paste from drying and cracking.

♦ When modelling, some people prefer using 50% gum paste + 50% sugarpaste instead of gum paste itself.  This option gives good results and it’s cheaper, as gum paste is more expensive than sugarpaste.

♦ Carlos Liscetti, a very well-know sugarcraft artist, suggests to use 50% gum paste + 50 % mexican modelling paste to model his amazing sugar characters.

♦ Never cover a cake with gum paste, as it dries too hard to eat. As I previously said, do it JUST with sugarpaste.

Some BrandsSquires Kitchen, Renshaw, Wilton, etc. (both ready to use pastes and powder mix)

 

4) Mexican modelling paste

• Qualities: Non sticky, smooth and hard finish (but soft enough to eat), can be rolled out ultra fine, less elastic than gum paste.

• Main uses:

♦ Making frills, drapes,  swagsgarlands, plaques(I usually use modelling paste or gum paste instead and it also works for me).

♦ Perfect to use with moulds and patchwork cutters (because it’s non sticky and can be rolled out paper thin).

♦ Fine sugar modelling work that requires a strong finish.

Mexican Modelling Paste Shoes (Resource: www.cakecentral.com)

• Ingredients: tragacanth gum, glucose, water, shortening, icing sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: Carlos Liscetti, a very well-know sugarcraft artist, says to use 50% mexican paste + 50 % gum paste to model his amazing sugar characters.

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK).

 

5) Pastillage

• Qualities: Less flexible, dries rock hard and extremely quick, keeps shapes perfectly, durable results, more resistant to humidity than other sugar pastes.

• Main uses:

Buildings, furniture, sturdy structures, rigid flat pieces (walls, fences…), architectural details, etc.

♦ Appliqués, plaques, 3D objects (cylindres, boxes…).

Pastillage Castle and Wardrobe (Resources: www.azucarycolor.blogspot.com, www.elhadadelastartas.blogspot.com)

• Ingredients:  

Pastillage type 1) Egg whites, gum tragacanth (or CMC), icing sugar.

Pastillage type 2*) Gelatin, water, icing sugar. 

• Recommendations/Suggestions:

♦ Work fast, as it dries extremely quickly.

♦ Despite this paste contains edible ingredients, it’s better not to eat the figures which are made of pastillage, as it’s completely hard and I’m sure you don’t want to break your teeth ; )

Some Brands: Squires Kitchen (SK) Powder Mix.

 * Pastillage type 2 is known is Spain as pastillaje Filipino. It can be done by also adding some CMC. 

 

6) Marzipan

 • Other names: Rolled marzipan

• Qualities: Soft and easy to handle.

• Main uses:

♦ Covering rich fruit cakes (it’s the previous step to icing them with sugarpaste).

♦ Modelling basic shapes,  figurines,  flowers…

Rich Fruit Cake Covered With Marzipan + Marzipan animals (Resources: www.dimasharif.com, www.confectionperfection.co.uk)

• Ingredients: Almonds, egg whites, sugar.

• Recommendations/Suggestions: Watch out for the nut allergies!

Some Brands: Silver Spoon, Dr Oetker, etc.

 

Modelling Chocolate *

Modelling chocolate, also known as candy clay or chocolate plastique, is not exactly a sugar paste, as it’s just made of two ingredients (melted chocolate and golden syrup (UK) or corn syrup (US)), but you can also cover cakes and model figurines with this sweet dough.

 

Modelling Chocolate Cake and Figurines (Resource: www.wickedgoodies.net)

General Tips

 COLOURING: There are both plain and coloured sugar pastes in the market. Anyway, all they can be coloured as you wish at home by adding some food colouring (I recommend gel/paste ones) and kneading thoroughly.

PRESERVATION:

♦ Whilst working and modelling: Keep the pieces of paste that you’re not using in a closed polyethilene bag to prevent them from drying. Take one piece at a time, depending on how much paste you need every time.

♦ Leftover pastes: Keep them tightly wrapped in a polyethilene bag (“zip lock”, reclosable bag) inside an airtight container at room temperature (except marzipan, which has to be kept in the fridge). They can keep in good conditions for few months (just 1 month for pastillage).

I hope you find this guide useful! Don’t hesitate to check it every time you need it.

See you soon,

Sara

Christmas Bell Cake Pops. Step-By-Step Visual Tutorial

Hi there,

I love Christmas days. Decoration, illumination, atmosphere, coziness, family, love, food, sweets… I adore everything in that season!

I made a funny Santa’s cake to celebrate the Christmas day. Now we’re getting close to New Year’s. Time flies!

To celebrate New Year’s Eve, I bring you these sweet and cute Christmas bell cake pops.

In Spain we have a peculiar tradition known as “The Twelve Grapes”, which consists in eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31st. According to the tradition, that leads to a year of prosperity and luck.

I always have to peel the grapes first and remove their seeds, as my mouth is getting full and full with each bell strike and I can’t swallow them if I don’t do it this way! The trick is to try to not laugh while eating them and try to make others laugh in the meantime! So funny ;D

The day I was making these cake pops, I wanted to prepare something a bit different and, after a little bit of on-line research,  I found that Christmas bells were not the main element in most of Christmas sweets and desserts.

How To Make Christmas Bell Cake Pops

Step-By-Step Visual Tutorial

These were the steps I followed during my “experiment”:

To make the bell shape, I just made a ball with the cake pop mixture and then, I rolled my finger through the bottom to get an indentation.

I guess that if you just make  balls instead of bell shapes, you’re going to get bell-shaped cake pops anyway because when you leave them to dry on parchment paper, a “foot” of melted chocolate is formed, which helps to give that shape. I need to try again and check!! ;)

Happy New Year!

Sara

Macarons. Completo Tutorial Paso a Paso con Imágenes

¡Hola a todos!

¿Cómo va?

Este es el primer post en castellano que voy a escribir desde que estrené mi blog (¡es lo que tiene haberse mudado a Londres!). Ya era hora, ¿no? De todos modos, hace unos días publiqué la versión en inglés de este tutorial sobre nuestros deseados macarons.

Son tan bonitos, tan monos, tan cucos, delicados, elegantes, divinos y parecen tan fáciles de elaborar… ¡Pero nada más lejos de la realidad! ¡Qué difíciles son de hacer hasta que no les coges el truquillo! ¿Verdad? Ésta es una de las recetas más desafiantes que he hecho hasta ahora.

Macarons

Los macarons son diminutas pero malévolas criaturas, jeje ;) ¡No son tan inofensivos como parecen! Conseguir unos macarons bien hechos depende de muchos factores, como la correcta proporción de ingredientes, la humedad ambiental, la textura del merengue, el proceso conocido como “macarronage”, la temperatura del horno… ¡hasta de tu paciencia!

No es mi intención asustaros, aunque parezca mentira, jeje. Lo que sucede es que es complicado conseguir unos buenos macarons a la primera, normalmente son necesarios varios intentos (¡la práctica es clave!). Pero, como dije en mi anterior post, no hay que tirar nunca la toalla. Incluso puedes tener la suerte del principiante y hacerlos bien a la primera :) Y a la segunda, y a la tercera… ¡Nunca se sabe! Sólo hay que atreverse y persistir : )

Es muy importante ceñirse a todos los pasos y consejos del proceso de elaboración, ser organizados y metódicos al preparalos, ya que los macarons son muy frágiles, tanto en su preparación como en su manipulación.

A pesar de mi anterior discurso, un tanto desalentador, los macarons son un bocado tan intensamente exquisito, suave y ligero que vale la pena intentarlo. ¡¡D-E-L-I-C-I-O-S-O-S!! ¡¡I-R-R-E-S-I-S-T-I-B-L-E-S!! En mi opinión, es imposible comerse sólo uno o dos del tirón… ; )

Macarons

Para aquellos que no sepan lo que es un macaron, básicamente consiste en la combinación de dos pequeñas conchas (una mezcla horneada de merengue, azúcar glass y almendra molida) y algún tipo de relleno.

Existen diferentes tipos de macaron, dependiendo del tipo de merengue con el que han sido elaborados: merengue francés o merengue italiano. La receta que os enseñaré está basada en el francés. Es mejor comenzar por éste, ya que los macarons hechos a base merengue italiano son algo más complicados de hacer.

El siguiente tutorial, el cual he elaborado con mucha dedicación y cariño, está basado en la información que he ido leyendo y aprendiendo acerca de los macarons a lo largo de estos meses, así como en mi propia experiencia con estos pequeños diablillos ; ) ¡Cualquier comentario y aportación serán bienvenidos!

Macarons Franceses. Tutorial Paso a Paso

Índice

1) Material

2) Ingredientes

3) Proceso

4) Conservación

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Material

Material Macarons

  • Báscula de cocina
  • Procesador de alimentos / picadora
  • Colador (o tamizador)
  • Bols
  • Batidora manual de varillas o batidora eléctrica de pie (tipo amasadora), con el accesorio batidor de varillas
  • Espátula de silicona
  • Manga pastelera
  • Boquilla redonda (nº 12)
  • Bandeja de horno
  • Papel de hornear o tapete antiadherente tipo “Silpat”
  • Plantilla para macarons (opcional)
  • Termómetro de horno

¿Por qué es esencial este material?

  • Báscula de cocina: Es imprescindible que la proporción de ingredientes sea la correcta, por lo que hay que pesarlos de forma precisa para utilizar la cantidad exacta. No sirve hacerlo “a ojo” ni usando las llamadas “cups” (muy utilizadas como instrumentos de medida en Inglaterra).
  • Procesador de alimentos / picadora: Es muy útil para mezclar, triturar e integrar la almendra molida con el azúcar glass. Obtendremos una mezcla más fina que nos permitirá conseguir una masa de macaron suave y homogénea.
  • Colador o tamizador: Es necesario para tamizar la fina mezcla de almendra molida y azúcar glass (previamente ya pasada por el procesador). De esta forma, aseguramos que la masa sea aún más suave y homogénea, libre de trocitos. Por lo tanto, conseguiremos unas conchas de macaron más uniformes, sin tropezones a la vista.
  • Batidor de varillas: Es esencial para montar las claras de huevo (añade aire a la mezcla) y obtener un bonito y consistente merengue francés. Yo uso la Kitchenaid con dicho accesorio para montarlas, pero se puede utilizar perfectamente una batidora manual de varillas (eso sí, tardarán un pelín más en montar).
  • Bols: Cuando se montan las claras es mejor utilizar un bol de acero inoxidable. ¡Montarán mejor!

Todos los utensilios empleados en la elaboración del merengue (varillas, bol…) deben de estar muy limpios, secos y sin restos de grasa.  De lo contrario, las claras no montarán adecuadamente. Si es necesario, limpia el bol restregando medio limón y secándolo con una servilleta. Así aseguramos una limpieza impecable, jeje.

  •  Espátula de silicona: Se utiliza para mezclar, mediante movimientos suaves y envolventes, los ingredientes húmedos (merengue) con los ingredientes secos (almenda molida y azúcar glass).  Este proceso es conocido como “macarronage”.
  • Manga pastelera + boquilla redonda (nº 12): Las conchas de los macarons se forman con la manga pastelera colocada totalmente en vertical y aplicando pequeños círculos de masa.  Si utilizas una boquilla redonda más grande que la indicada, te será más difícil controlar la manga (caerá más mása y más rápido) y las conchas tenderán a ser desiguales.
  • Papel de hornear o tapete antiadherente tipo “Silpat”: Ayudan a prevenir que las conchas se peguen a la bandeja durante el horneado.
  • Plantilla para macarons (opcional): Es útil para elaborar conchas uniformes, del mismo tamaño  (sobre 3 – 3.5 cm de diámetro). Os enseñaré como hacer y utilizar una plantilla casera en uno de los próximos pasos del tutorial.
  • Termómetro de horno: Cada horno es un mundo y muchas veces pueden hornear a una temperatura diferente de la indicada (ya sea por exceso o por defecto). Como los macarons son tan frágiles en general, es importante hornearlos a la temperatura correcta para evitar que se agrieten por arriba o se sequen (temperatura excesiva), queden crudos por dentro y se peguen al papel de hornear (temperatura demasiado baja), etc.

2) Ingredientes (salen unas 20 conchas, es decir, 10 macarons rellenos)

Basada en la receta básica de macarons de Annie Rigg:

Ingredientes Macarons

♦  50 grs Almendra molida

♦  100 grs Azúcar glass (mejor si es “icing sugar”)

♦  20 grs Azúcar granulado (mejor si es extrafino)

♦  60 grs Claras de huevo (unas 2 claras)

♦  1/6 chdita Cremor tártaro (o una pizca de sal)

♦  Opcional: Colorante alimentario en pasta (yo no usé en esta receta, sólo para colorear el relleno)

 

Tips útiles acerca de los ingredientes

♥  ¡Qué jaleo! ¡Cuántos tipos de azúcar!

•  El azúcar granulado es el azúcar blanco de toda la vida. Lo encontraréis sin problema en cualquier supermecado.

•  El azúcar extrafino es azúcar de grano más fino, lo cual provoca que se disuelva o integre más fácilmente. Es conocido como “caster sugar”. Se consigue en grandes superficies de alimentación y/o tiendas especializadas en repostería. De todos modos, puedes utilizar azúcar granulado en su lugar al montar el merengue.

•  El azúcar glass es azúcar en polvo. También se le conoce como azúcar impalpable o azúcar pulverizado. Se encuentra fácilmente en la mayoría de supermercados.

•  El icing sugar también es azúcar en polvo, pero aún más pulverizado y fino, ideal para conseguir una mezcla más suave y homegénea. En Londres es fácil encontrarlo en cualquier supermercado, pero creo que en España la cosa está más complicada. Lo podéis encontrar en tiendas especializadas en repostería.

♥  Sobre las claras de huevo:

•   Es mejor usar claras naturales, pero podéis utilizar las pasteurizadas (sección de refrigerados del supermercado).

•   Sepáralas por adelantado y asegúrate de que no quedan restos de yema en las claras. De lo contrario, las claras no montarán tan bien.

•   Déjalas reposar al menos durante una noche (mejor 2-3 días, incluso hasta 5 días), guardándolas ya separadas en un recipìente hermético dentro de la nevera. Cuanto más hayan “envejecido” las claras, mejor resultado obtendremos, ya que habrán perdido la mayor parte de la humedad,  y eso es lo que buscamos al usar claras “envejecidas”. La humedad es uno de los peores enemigos de los macarons.

•  Úsalas siempre a temperatura ambiente (montarán mejor). Sácalas al menos un par de horas antes de la nevera.

•  Cada clara de huevo pesa aproximadamente 30 grs.

♥  Sobre la almendra molida:

•  Es mejor comprarla ya molida y no picarla en casa, ya que de esta forma no quedará igual de fina. Una marca conocida que la vende ya molida y empaquetada es Vahiné.

♥  ¿Qué demonios es el cremor tártaro?

•   Este ingrediente, que es un polvo de aspecto similar a la levadura Royal y al bicarbonato,  ayuda a estabilizar las claras de huevo y a mantener su forma y “cuerpo” una vez montadas. Se puede encontrar en grandes superficies de alimentación o tiendas especializadas en repostería. Si no lo consigues, no te preocupes: puedes utilizar una pizca de sal o un par de cucharaditas de zumo de limón natural con el mismo fin. 

♥  Sobre el colorante alimentario:
•  Si decides dar color a tus macarons, es mejor que utilices un poco de colorante alimentario en pasta, ya que el colorante líquido puede afectar la consistencia del merengue y arruinar la mezcla.

 

3) Proceso

Sigue leyendo para una información más detallada de todo el proceso o haz click sobre la fase que te interese:

A) Combinando los ingredientes secos
B) Montando el merengue 
C) Mezclando el merengue con los ingredientes secos (“Macarronage”)
D) Formando las conchas
E) Dejando los macarons secarse
F) Horneando macarons
G) Rellenando macarons
H) Fase final

Fases del proceso – Paso a Paso

A) Combinando los ingredientes secos

1) Coloca la almendra molida y el azúcar glass en el mismo bol y remuévelos con una cuchara.

2) Tritúralos con el procesador alrededor de 1-2 minutos.

Blending Icing sugar and Ground almond

3) Tamiza esta mezcla 2 veces.

Sieve

4) Deshecha los restos y tropezones que no pasen por el colador.

Tamizar

Los anteriores pasos nos ayudarán a conseguir una mezcla lo más suave y uniforme posible, sin tropezones visibles.

5) Reservar.

Blended and sifted

Mezcla triturada y tamizada

B) Montando el merengue

6) Bate las claras de huevo con el batidor de varillas a velocidad media (vel. 4 en Kitchenaid) hasta que empiecen a salir muchas burbujas en la superficie (claras ligeramente espumosas, líquidas, sin “cuerpo”). Obtendremos una consistencia similar al agua con jabón.

Claras ligeramente espumosas

7) Es el momento de añadir el cremor tártaro (o la pizca de sal).

Cremor tártaro

8) Sigue batiendo a velocidad media (vel. 4 en Kitchenaid) hasta que consigas una espuma blanca y más opaca, con algo más de “cuerpo” y consistencia (aunque aún no será lo suficientemente firme y estable). Aún aparecerán algunas burbujas de aire en la superficie, pero menos que antes. Las varillas comenzarán a dejar rastros muy marcados en la espuma. Si retiras las varillas hacia arriba, se formarán picos suaves y débiles (la punta se doblará hacia un lado, no estará erguida).

Pico suave

Pico suave

9) Una vez alcanzada la ligera espuma con picos suaves, sube a velocidad muy alta (vel. 8 en Kitchenaid) y añade el azúcar granulado progresivamente, en dos o tres veces. Mezcla bien entre adiciones.

10) Sigue batiendo un rato a velocidad muy alta (vel. 8 en Kitchenaid) hasta montar las claras “a punto de nieve”. Es decir, hasta conseguir una mezcla cremosa, brillante, uniforme, consistente y estable, sin burbujas de aire visibles. Será tan firme que al meter y sacar las varillas del bol repetidamente se formarán picos consistentes y “duros” en la superficie de la mezcla, con la punta bien tiesa hacia arriba. Esta será la textura que estamos buscando: ya tendremos nuestro nuestro merengue francés listo.

El tiempo de batido hasta conseguir el merengue dependerá de la temperatura ambiente, la humedad, la potencia de tu batidora, etc. Cualquiera que sea el caso, deberás batir algunos minutos más después de haber añadido el azúcar granulado.

Pico duro

Merengue francés listo

PRUEBAS para saber si tu merengue está listo (a “punto de nieve”):

•   El merengue se acumulará dentro del batidor de varillas mientras éste está en funcionamiento.

•   Gira el bol y ponlo boca abajo: el merengue no se caerá, permanecerá en el bol.

•   Remueve el merengue con el batidor de varillas y levántalo enérgicamente: se formará un pico “duro”, lo suficientemente consistente como para mantenerse erguido. La punta no se doblará hacia un lado, cosa que sí sucede con los picos suaves.

Textura Merengue

Una vez consigas el merengue francés, es importante que no batas más. El sobrebatido puede “romper” el merengue.

Nota: Si quieres añadir colorante alimentario para teñir tus macarons, hazlo justo cuando el merengue comienza a ser consistente y firme y bate sólo hasta integrar el color.

C) Mezclando el merengue con los ingredientes secos (“Macarronage”)

11) Añade los ingredientes secos (mezcla triturada y tamizada de almendra molida y azúcar glass) en el bol donde está el merengue. Hazlo gradualmente, en 3 veces.

12) Coge la espátula de silicona y mezcla con movimientos suaves y envolvientes (circulares, de arriba hacia abajo del bol), integrando bien los ingredientes secos entre cada adición e intentando no deshacer el merengue. Si no eres delicado durante este proceso, el merengue puede perder mucho aire y “romperse”.

De media, se suelen necesitar unos 50 movimientos envolventes para conseguir la textura adecuada (ni muy compacta, ni muy líquida): sería una mezcla fluida, homogenea y brillante, sin rastros visibles de ingredientes secos (punto de lava)

Macarronage

PRUEBA para comprobar si la consistencia del macarronage es la adecuada:

•  Levanta una buena porción de crema con la espátula y déjala caer de nuevo dentro del mismo bol: ésta deberá caer fluidamente formando una “cinta” durante la caída (consistencia de lava) y plegándose sobre sí misma en la superficie, como si de una cinta que se dobla sobre sí misma se tratara.

Durante el “macarronage”:

•  No te excedas mezclando: de lo contrario, la mezcla acabará siendo demasiado líquida y las conchas no aguantarán su forma al aplicarlas con la manga pastelera, se expanderán o desparramarán. Además, saldrán completamente planas e irregulares una vez horneadas, incluso no habrán formado el característico pie.

•  No te quedes corto mezclando: de lo contrario, pueden salirte macarons irregulares y agrietados por arriba una vez horneados, así como macarons “abombados” sin apariencia de concha. En el mejor de los casos, pueden salirte bonitos macarons a simple vista, pero con una gran burbuja de aire en el interior.

•  ¡Nunca se te ocurra batir! ¡La mezcla se arruinaría!

D) Formando las conchas

13) Acopla una boquilla redonda nº 12 en tu manga pastelera y rellénala con la anterior mezcla, usando la espátula de silicona y siendo muy cuidadoso al hacerlo (¡al merengue siempre hay que tratarlo con delicadeza!). Puedes ajustar la manga en un vaso para rellenarla más fácilmente (ver foto más abajo).  Gira y aprieta el extremo superior de la manga para evitar que la mezcla se salga por arriba.

Plain nozzle (#12)

Boquilla redonda nº 12

Piping bag

14) Forra una bandeja de horno con papel de hornear o un tapete antiadherente. Si quieres conchas del mismo tamaño, sin tenerlas que hacer a ojo, coloca una plantilla debajo del papel de hornear o tapete.

Puedes hacer tu propia plantilla en casa. Sólo necesitas papel encerado (o papel de hornear en su defecto), un cortador redondo de 3 -3,5 cm de diámetro y un rotulador permanente.  No olvides dejar una separación de unos 4-5 cm entre cada círculo para que el calor se distribuya bien durante el horneado.

Vale la pena hacerla: es ecónomica , reutilizable y muy funcional.

Plantilla Macarons

Círculo

Macaron Template

15) Ejerce presión sobre la manga pastelera, que debe de estar complemente vertical, y forma las conchas sobre el papel de hornear o tapete. Al acabar, retira con cuidado la plantilla de debajo .

16)  Deja caer con firmeza la bandeja de hornear contra la encimera un par de veces. De este modo lograrás eliminar las posibles burbujas de aire y picos que se hayan formado. Si aún así visualizas alguna burbujita que no te gusta, puedes rebentarla suavemente con el extremo de un palillo.

Si los picos no desaparecen tras unos segunos (signo que indicaría que la consistencia de la crema no es la adecuada) puedes alisarlos suave y delicadamente con la parte plana de una espátula de metal (lo antes posible para intentar que no quede marca).

Piped macarons

E) Dejando los macarons secarse

17) Deja las conchas secarse en la misma bandeja de hornear alrededor de 1 – 2 horas, o hasta que ya no estén pegajosas. Se habrá formado una ligera y fina capa que notarás al tocarlas suavemente. El tiempo de espera dependerá de la humedad del ambiente.

No te saltes este importante paso, aunque requiera de espera y paciencia, ya que nos interesa que los macarons pierdan humedad y generen la mencionada capita externa. Esta capa ayudará a que el macaron forme el conocidísimo pie durante el proceso de horneado, pues el calor no podrá salir por arriba (debido a esa “barrera”) y tendrá que escapar por debajo. ¡De ahí el pie! Si no los dejas secar lo suficiente o directamente no lo haces, tus macarons podrían abrirse por arriba y no formar el pie durante el horneado.

F) Horneando macarons

18) En un horno precalentado a 150º (usa un termómetro de horno para ajustar la temperatura), hornea los macarons alrededor de 10-14 minutos. Es difícil establecer un tiempo de horneado fijo, así que estate atent@ a partir de los 10 min. ;)

¿Cuándo estarán nuestros macarons listos? Cuando el pie se haya formado y suenen huecos al darles toques con la yema del dedo. Puedes atravesar un macaron firmemente con la punta de tu dedo para saber si está hecho: si así es, una fina costra se romperá. También puedes probar a levantar un macaron con la espátula una vez bien formado el pie: si se desprende del papel de hornear fácilmente, estarán listos.

No dejes que tus macarons se doren en la superficie. Han de mantener su color original, no verse tostados,ya que más que cocerse deben secarse dentro del horno. Eso sí, hemos de evitar que se sequen en exceso (de ahí que tomen una apariencia dorada).

Puedes girar la bandeja a mitad del proceso de horneado para asegurar una cocción más uniforme.

Horneando Macarons. Formación Pie

Test horneado

Test sobre macaron horneado

Durante el horneado:

•  Temperatura del horno demasiado alta: macarons agrietados por arriba / macarons amarronados, tostados.

•  Exceso de horneado: macarons secos y crujientes, como los “suspiros” de merengue.

•  Falta de horneado: macarons crudos o poco hechos por dentro (incluso huecos) que se separarán en dos cuando trates de extraerlos de la bandeja de hornear, quedando la base del macaron pegada al papel o tapete y tú con el resto de macaron en la mano xDD

19) Sácalos del horno y déjalos enfriar durante 5-10 minutos en la misma bandeja. De esta manera será más fácil extraer las conchas del papel de hornear. Tras ello, colócalas en una rejilla para que se enfríen completamente.

G)  Rellenando macarons

20) Una vez completamente fríos, puedes rellenarlos con lo que te apetezca: ganache de chocolate, buttercream, mermelada, Nutella, leche condensada, dulce de leche, mantequilla de cacahuete… En esta ocasión, yo los rellené con butercream de vainilla teñido de rosa. ¡Mi favorito!

Es más fácil rellenarlos mediante una manga pastelera, aplicando el relleno sólo en la base de la mitad de las conchas (por ejemplo, si te salen 20 conchas, aplícalo sólo en 10 de ellas). Sé cuidadoso al manejarlas, pues son frágiles y se pueden romper fácilmente (¡repito! jeje).

Filling Macarons

Filling Macarons

21) Combina un par de conchas como si fueran un sandwich (una con relleno-una sin), aprieta ligeramente para repartir bien la crema, y ya tienes tus macarons listos.

H) Fase final

22) ¡CÓMELOS sin remordimientos! :)

23) ¡Disfruta!

24) ¡Repite! (¡vamos, que son pequeñines!)

Bocado Macaron

La prueba del pecado :O

Yummy Macaron

4) Conservación

Si no los vas a consumir inmediatamente, cosa bastante improbable, jeje, puedes conservarlos de la siguiente forma:

•  Macarons sin relleno (conchas sueltas): Se conservan bien en un recipiente hermético durante 3-5 días.

•  Macarons rellenos (ya formados): Consérvalos en un recipiente hermético dentro de la nevera hasta 2-3 días. Sácalos con antelación antes de consumirlos y déjalos a temperatura ambiente para disfrutar de todo su sabor.

Los macarons están incluso más ricos durante las 24-48 horas posteriores de haber sido elaborados, tras haberse asentado y combinado bien con el relleno. ¡Se me hace la boca agua sólo de pensarlo!

Macarons

Una vez te sientas seguro preparando los macarons básicos, podrás darles tu propio toque y añadir las modificaciones que quieras (diferentes colores, sabores,  incluso formas…). ¡Y atreverte con los macarons a base de merengue italiano! Son mi asignatura pendiente aún… Cuando experimente con ellos, ¡ya os contaré!

Gracias por haberme leído. Espero que este tutorial os haya sido útil.

Ahora sólo queda ponerse manos a la obra con lo aprendido… ¡Buena suerte!

P.S: Por cierto, no confundamos macaron con macaroon. No son lo mismo ; )

Sara

Macarons. Complete And Fully Illustrated Step-By-Step Tutorial

Hi there,

They look so cute, so pretty, so beautiful, so delicate, so elegant, so divine, so simple to make… but they’re actually quite difficult to prepare. It’s one of the most challenging recipes I’ve made so far. I’m not joking, I promise!

Macarons

They’re tiny but evil creatures, haha ;) Being successful depends on many factors such as the right proportion of ingredients, the humidity, the meringue texture, the folding process (“macarronage”), the oven… even on your patience!

It’s not my intention to scare you, although it might look otherwise. The thing is, that is unusual to get them right at the first attempt. But, as I said in my previous post, you don’t have to throw the towel ever ; ) Maybe you might have beginner’s luck, who knows?!

Having said that, it’s important for you to stick to all the steps of the recipe and follow each tip. Macarons are really fragile and we must be quite methodical when making them.

Despite my previous speech, they are such a tasty bite that it’s worth to give them a try. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! In my opinion, it’s impossible to eat just one or two…  ; )

Macarons

For those who don’t still know what a macaron is, it mainly consists of two small and round shells (a baked mixture of meringue, ground almond and icing sugar) with some filling at your choice.

There are different kind of macarons, depending on the meringue they are made of, such as French or Italian Meringue. The recipe I’ll show you is based on the French one (the Italian one is even more tricky!!).

The following tutorial is based on the information I’ve been reading and learning about macarons throughout last months, as well as on my own experience with them ; )

French Macarons Step-By-Step Tutorial

Index

1) Equipment

2) Ingredients

3) Process

4) Preservation

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Equipment

Macaron Equipment

  • Kitchen Scale
  • Food processor
  • Sieve
  • Mixing bowls
  • Hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • Silicone spatula
  • Piping bag
  • Round nozzle (tip #12)
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper or baking matt
  • Macaron template (optional)
  • Oven thermometer

Why is this equipment essential?

  • Kitchen scale: As I previously said, we must be really methodic when preparing this recipe. It’s really important to measure each ingredient in grams to get a precise mixture. Proportions are key.  Don’t add the ingredients roughly. Don’t use measuring cups either.
  • Food processor: It’s useful to blend ground almond in icing sugar and get an even and smooth batter.
  • Sieve: It’s needed to sieve the blend of ground almond and icing sugar and get a smoother batter, free (or almost free) of bits. Therefore, we’ll have a smoother and even macaron surface.
  • Whisk attachment: It’s essential to whip the egg whites by adding air into the batter and get a nice and thick French meringue.
  • Mixing bowls: When whipping egg whites it’s better to use a cold stainless steel one. They’ll whip up better!

All the tools we use to make meringue, including the mixing bowl in where we whisk the egg whites, have to be very clean, dry and grease-free. Otherwise, they won’t whip up properly. Clean the bowl by rubbing half a lemon if needed and dry with a kitchen towel.

  •  Silicone spatula: It’s used during the delicate folding process between wet and dry ingredients (also known as “macarronge”).
  • Piping bag + Round nozzle (#12): Macaron shells are formed by piping the batter in small circles. If you use a bigger nozzle, it’ll be more difficult for you to control the piping.
  • Parchment paper or baking mat: They prevent the shells from sticking on the baking sheet.
  • Macaron template (optional): Useful to make even shells, same size (around 3-3.5 cm /1.2-1.4  inches). I’ll show you how to make one by yourself at home in one of the next steps.
  • Oven thermometer: Each oven is different and sometimes they bake at a wrong temperature, different from the one we set. It’s really important to bake the shells at the proper temperature to prevent the macaron shells from cracking or drying (too high temperature), undercooking (too low temperature), etc.

2) Ingredients (yield around 20 shells, that is, 10 filled macarons)

Based on the  basic macaron recipe of Annie Rigg from her book chic & delicious French treats:

Macaron Ingredients

♦  50 grs Ground almond

♦  100 grs Icing sugar

♦  20 grs Caster sugar

♦  60 grs Egg whites (~ 2 egg whites)

♦  1/6 tsp Cream of tartar (you can use a pinch of salt instead)

♦  Optional: Paste food colouring (I didn’t add any to these macarons)

 

Useful Tips About Your Ingredients

♥  About the egg whites you’ll need:

•   It’s better to use natural ones, although you can use both pasteurized and dried egg whites.

•   Separate them from yolk in advance and make sure there are no egg yolk traces. Otherwise, the egg whites won’t whip up properly.

•   Leave the egg whites to settle at least overnight (better 2-3 days, even up to 5 days), keeping them in an airtight container inside the fridge. The “older” the egg whites are, the better result, since they’ll have lost most of the humidity, and that’s what we’re looking for by using “aged” egg whites.

•  Always bring them to room temperature before using. Don’t use cold egg whites.

•   Each egg white weighs around 30 grs.

♥  What on Earth is cream of tartar?

•   This ingredient helps to stabilize the egg whites and hold their shape once they’re whipped.  You can use a pinch of salt or 2 tsp of lemon instead for this purpose.

♥  About food colouring: If you decide to colour your macarons, you should use a bit of paste colouring, since liquid colouring can affect the consistency of the batter and ruin it.

 

3) Process

Keep reading for detailed information about the process or click on the stage you’re interested in:

A) Combining the dry ingredients
B) Whipping meringue
C) Folding meringue with dry ingredients (“Macarronage”)
D) Piping shells
E) Leaving macarons to dry
F) Baking macarons
G) Filling macarons
H) Final stage

Stages of the process – Step-By-Step

A) Combining the dry ingredients

1) Weigh the icing sugar and the ground almond precisely in your kitchen scale.

2) Blend them together with a food processor for around 1 – 2 minutes. This will help to get a smooth batter.

Blending Icing sugar and Ground almond

3) Sieve the previous blend twice. This will also help to get an even smoother batter.

Sieve

4) Get rid of large bits to ensure a smooth batter.

Get rid of bits

5) Set aside.

Blended and sifted

B) Whipping Meringue

6) Mix the egg whites with the whisk attachment at medium speed until frothy (lots of air bubbles on the surface).

Frothy egg whites

Frothy egg whites

7) At this stage (frothy), without stopping your mixer, add the cream of tartar (or a pinch of salt instead).

Cream of tartar

Cream of tartar

8) Keep mixing at medium speed until you get a beautiful and light foam, with still some air bubbles. The whisk will leave noticeable tracks on the surface of the foam. Soft peaks are formed when lifting the whisk from the batter. This consistency it’s not stiff enough, it won’t work. We should keep working the meringue.

Soft peaks

Soft peaks stage

Soft peak

Soft peak

9) At this stage (nice foam, soft peaks), without stopping your mixer at any moment, turn your mixer to high speed (8 in KA) and gradually add the caster sugar in 3 additions, mixing well between each.

10) Keep mixing for a while at high speed (8 in KA) until you get a really creamy, even, glossy and thick meringue, with no longer visible air bubbles. This is the French meringue texture we’re looking for. The mixing time will depend on the room temperature, humidity, etc. Whatever the case may be, some more minutes of mixing before adding the caster sugar will be required.

Stiff peak

Stiff peaks stage

TESTS to know if your French meringue is ready (stiff peaks stage):

•   Pay attention to your whisk: the meringue will clump inside it.

•   Lift the whisk from the meringue: you’ll get stiff peaks, that is, peaks that hold their shape with upright tips.

•   Turn the bowl upside down: the meringue doesn’t slide off. It’ll remain in the bowl.

Stiff peak

Stiff peak

When you get this texture, it’s important not to over-beat, as we can “break” the meringue!

Note: If you want to add some food colouring, do it right when start getting stiff peaks and mix just until combine.

C) Folding meringue with dry ingredients (“Macarronage”)

11) Gradually add the dry ingredients to your meringue in 3 additions.

12) Gently fold the mixture by means of a silicone spatula in order to get the right consistency (neither too stiff, nor too runny). Fold well between additions, around 50 folds in average (never mix!). You should get a smooth and glossy batter, with no visible dry ingredients (lava-like consistency).

How to fold the mixture? Slide gently your spatula from bottom to top and from top to bottom, making circular movements. Repeat this until the mixture is evenly blended.

Macarronage

TEST to know if the consistency of the batter after the macarronage is correct:

• Lift the spatula with a portion of batter and let it fall: a large “thick ribbon” of batter will flow downwards smoothly (lava-like consistency).

During the “macarronage”:

•  Don’t overfold: otherwise, the mixture will be too runny and the piped shells won’t keep their shape, they’ll spread and they’ll come out completely flat and irregular from the oven, even feetless.

•  Don’t underfold: otherwise, you may have uneven cracked macarons or macarons with an important pocket of air inside. They also may look like a meringue cookie instead of a nice and flatter round shell.

D) Piping shells

13) Attach a plain nozzle (#12) to the piping bag and fill it with the macaron mixture by scooping carefully with a silicone spatula. Tighten the piping bag on top after filling it.

Plain nozzle (#12)

Piping bag

14) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or place a baking mat on it.

You can use a macaron template to make evenly sized macarons. Make it by yourself at home by using wax paper, a 3 – 3.5 cm (1.2 – 1.4 inch) round cutter and a permanent marker. Don’t forget to leave a gap of 4-5 cm (1.6 – 2 inch) between each circle. Make sure the template fits on your baking sheet. It’ll be reusable.

Macaron Template

Lid

Macaron Template

 15) Pipe the shells onto the parchment paper or baking mat and remove the macaron template carefully.

16)  Tap the bottom of the baking sheet against your worktop in order to remove any peaks and/or large air bubbles (do it twice if necessary). In addition, you can remove the most rebellious air bubbles by means of a toothpick and/or flatten the peaks with a small palette knife. You have to proceed quickly when doing this, before the batter starts drying, in order to prevent the macarons from marks. Despite this useful tip, if peaks keep after tapping the baking sheet, it’ll mean that the consistency of the batter is not right.

Piped macarons

E) Leaving macarons to dry

17) Leave the shells to dry for around 1 – 2 hours or until no longer tacky. The time will depend on the ambient humidity. After this, a thin layer will be formed on top. You’ll notice it by gently touching the macaron surface.

You can’t skip this important step by any means, since we want the macarons to lose humidity and form the mentioned thin layer on top. This layer will help the macaron to form the well-known feet during the baking process, as the heat won’t be able to escape through the top and it’ll escape through the bottom. So don’t leaving them to dry before baking can produce both cracked and footless macarons.

F) Baking macarons

18) In a preheated oven at 150 º / 300 F (read an oven thermometer), bake the macarons for around 10-14 minutes. It’s difficult to set a steady baking time, since each oven is different and the temperature varies.

TESTS to know if the macarons are ready during baking (always once the foot is formed):

•  Tap a shell: it’ll sound hollow.

•  Crack a shell with your finger: a thin crust should be broken.

•  Remove a shell with a small spatula: it’ll come off easily.

Don’t let the macarons get brown on top, as we just want them to dry, not to cook. They have to keep the original colour.

Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking process to allow an even baking, if needed.

Baking Macarons

Baked Macaron Test

Baked Macaron Test

During the baking process:

 Oven temperature too high: cracked shells on top /Browned macarons.

•  Overbaking: dry and crunchy macarons, like meringue cookies.

•  Underbaking: macarons will separate when trying to lift them off the baking sheet / They’ll stick to the parchment paper after baking, breaking very easily / They can look hollow inside.

19) Let them cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet. It’ll be easier to remove the shells from the parchment paper if you do it. After that, place them on a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

G) Filling macarons

20) Once the macarons have cooled, you can fill them with chocolate ganache, buttercream, jam, toffee, peanut butter… Anything you fancy! In that occasion, I used pink coloured vanilla buttercream :) My favourite!

It’s easier to fill them by means of a piping bag, applying the filling just on the bottom of one shell. Be careful when handling the shells, since they’re really fragile and they can break easily.

Filling Macarons

Filling Macarons

21) Combine a couple of shells (one unfilled-one filled), press them gently to spread the filling, and you’ll have your macaron ready.

H) Final stage 

22) EAT THEM with no regrets! :)

23) Enjoy!

24) Feel free to have seconds! ;)

Yummy Macaron

Yummy Macaron

4) Preservation

If you’re not going to consume your macarons immediately, you can store them:

•  Unfilled macarons: can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

•  Filled macarons: keep them in an airtight container inside the fridge up to 2-3 days. Bring to room temperature before eating them.  They are even tastier 1-2 days after having been made!

Macarons

I’m aware that I must practice and practice to get the perfect macaron. And I will!

Once you feel confident with basic macarons, you’ll be able to apply your own twist (different colours, flavours, even different shapes…).

Good luck!!

P.S: don’t confuse macaron with macaroon. They’re not the same!

Sara

Meringue Cookies

Hey there!

Baking continues being my passion, my hobbie, my encouragement… Sometimes I make mistakes when making new challenging recipes and due to this I feel a bit frustrated. But I don’t give up, I don’t throw the towel. I carry on baking, I keep persevering until I get a better result. In general , things don’t always come out well at the first attempt! We must keep trying! : )

The recipe I bring today is a classic one. It’s the well-known French meringue; in this occasion, piped and slowly baked in order to make meringue cookies, also known as meringue kisses.

Meringue cookies

Meringue cookies are just made with 2 ingredients: egg whites and sugar. So fortunately they are fat-free and gluten-free. On the other hand, they are plenty of sugar! lol

Meringue cookies

These meringue cookies are really light, crisp, dry and melt in one’s mouth. They’re delightful! Give them a try.

Before starting with the recipe, here are some useful tips and information to consider before making French meringue:

♦ Meringue Tips

The egg whites have to be at room temperature, at least 1 hour outside the fridge before using (better overnight). Otherwise, they won’t whip up properly.

There should be no traces of egg yolk in the egg whites. Otherwise, they won’t whip up properly.

Use clean, dry and grease-free mixing bowl and tools. Otherwise, egg whites won’t whip up properly. You can spread half lemon through the bowl in order to remove any trace of grease, if any. Dry with a kitchen towel.

If you use a stand mixer, you need to use the whisk attachment in order to introduce air into the batter while whipping up the egg whites. No other attachment should be used for this purpose.

Independently of the amount of meringue we want to make, we always have to use exactly double the weight of sugar to egg whites.

One egg white weighs around 30 grs.

It’s useful to add a pinch of salt or cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites and hold the meringue shape once is whipped.

Add the sugar gradually when the egg whites start whipping (soft peaks), never before. Otherwise, it’ll be more difficult to whip the meringue and it’ll take longer.

 Don’t overbeat the batter! Otherwise we’ll get a dry, dull and grainy meringue, with little air.

Meringue cookies have to be slowly baked (low temperature, for a long time) and cooled inside the oven in order to remove all the humidity from the meringue, as we want to get dry and crunchy cookies.

 Preservation: They keep crisp for many days in an airtight container placed in a dark and dry place, since they’re really delicate and easily affected by humidity. Due to this, never keep them inside the fridge as they can become sticky because of dampness.

Meringue cookies

♦ Stages of whipping egg whites

1) FoamyRunny consistency plenty of large air bubbles (it looks like liquid soap combined with water). There are no peaks when lifting the whisk from the foam.

2) Soft peaks: Nice, beautiful and consistent foam. There are soft peaks when lifting the whisk from the batter.

3) Firm peaks: The meringue starts to be creamy and glossy, but not as thick as it should be. There are firm peaks when lifting the whisk from the batter, that is, peaks that hold but the tips fold back on themselves.

4) Stiff peaksThis is the stage we have to get. Our meringue is ready! It reaches its maximum volume, and it’s really glossy and thick. There are stiff peaks when lifting the whisk from the batter, that is, peaks that hold their shape with upright tips. The meringue doesn’t slide off when turning the bowl upside down.

5) Overbeaten: We get a dry, dull (no longer glossy) and grainy batter. Lot of air lost.

 Meringue cookies

And now let’s go with the recipe!

Meringue Cookies Recipe

 Ingredients (makes 8-10 meringue cookies, depending on the size)

 2 egg whites (60 grs)

 120 grs caster sugar

 A pinch of salt -or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar-

 1,5 tsp vanilla extract

Process

1) Mix the EGG WHITES at medium speed until frothy (foamy stage, lots of air bubbles on the surface).

Frothy egg whites

Foamy stage

2) At this stage (foamy), without stopping your mixer, add the PINCH OF SALT or CREAM OF TARTAR.

Cream of tartar

Cream of tartar when getting foamy stage

3) Keep mixing at medium speed until get a nice and consistent foam (soft peaks stage).

Soft peaks

Soft peaks stage

Soft peak

Soft peak

4) At this stage (soft peaks), without stopping your mixer, increase to high speed and gradually add the SUGAR in 3 additions.

5) After adding all the sugar, add the VANILLA EXTRACT.

6) Keep mixing at high speed until getting a really glossy and thick meringue (stiff peaks stage). Our meringue will be ready when becomes glossy, clumps inside the whisk attachment, just forms stiff peaks when lifting the whisk and doesn’t slide off when turning the bowl upside down because is thick enough. Be careful not to overbeat.

Stiff peak

Stiff peaks stage

Stiff peak

Stiff peak

7) Attach a star nozzle (#1M, #2D…) to the piping bag and fill it with the meringue by scooping carefully with a rubber spatula. Tighten the piping bag on top after filling it to avoid the meringue to come out.

8) Pipe your meringue cookies (rosettes, swirls… ) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave a 5 cm gap between each meringue.

9) Bake the meringue cookies slowly in a preheated oven at 120º for about 1 hour. Actually, we don’t have to cook the meringue itself, we have to dry it, evaporate all its water, remove all the humidity, in order to make it crisp and dry. To make sure they’re ready after the baking process, tap them gently: they have to be hard and sound hollow.

10) Leave them to cool completely inside the oven (preferably overnight). It’ll help to remove the remaining humidity.

 

Meringue cookies texture is amazing, you must try them: crisp… but they’ll melt in your mouth!

Meringue cookies

Happy week!

Sara

 

How To Make Your Own Cake Stand

Hello everybody!

I’m here again!

Every time I’m walking down the street and I see a shop window with lovely cake stands full of cupcakes or cakes, I can’t avoid stopping in front of them and stay admiring at the cakes for a while. Where everybody sees just a cake,  I try to see further than this: I examine all kind of cakes, cupcakes, ingredients, shapes, fillings, ornaments…  I imagine a bite of each cake in my mouth, mmmm… hahaha. Even I imagine myself making them happily in a huge kitchen…  Sara, stop dreaming! I say to myself. 

Speaking about cake stands… I have some cake stands at home, but not as many as I want. I don’t have enough space to store them. In addition, some of them are quite expensive. Do you experience the same? Would you like to have more variety of cake stands without spending a lot of money and without filling your cupboards with them? 

Let me show you a nice solution. Make your own cake stands! I got my inspiration from Bea Roque. You just need a plate, a small bowl and some blu tack. Have a look: 

Materials Cake Stand

You just have to stick some blu tack onto the base of the bowl and press the plate onto it. 

Materials Cake Stand

As the blu tack can be easily removed, you can return to use your bowls and plates in a normal way, as well as making different combinations to get different cake stands models. 

Home-made Cake Stand

Home-made Cake Stand

This idea is useful to have different cake stands when we take pictures of our cupcakes, for example.  We can make bespoke cake stands for every occasion. 

Home-made Cake Stand

Home-made Cake Stand

Look at this two tier cupcake stand:

Home-made Cake Stand

I got these plates and bowls from Sainsbury’s. I noticed they were in offer and I decided to give them a try. There were plates and bowls from just 0’60 to 1’5 pounds!! A bargain, isn’t it?

Easy, cheap and quick!

I hope you find this idea useful!

See you in the next posts.

Olympic Torch Cupcakes Tutorial

Hi there!

Did you watch the Olympic Games opening ceremony yesterday evening? It showed the British history (from the rural life to the Industrial Revolution and to the current urban world). It was really nice.

As I promised in the last post, here is the step-by-step tutorial to make Olympic Torch Cupcakes.

How To Make Olympic Torch Cupcakes

These Olympic Torch cupcakes consist of a soft sponge base (see Easy Vanilla Cupcakes) and tasty buttercream on top.

Materials (for 12 cupcakes)

For the Olympic Torches:

Materials

♠  Orange food colouring (paste or gel)

♠  Yellow food colouring (paste or gel)

♠  12 golden foil cake cases

♠  3 disposable piping bags

♠  1 nozzle (Tip #30 “closed star”)

♠  2 small bowls

♠  Optional: golden edible glitter + paintbrush

Tip #30

Decorating Tip #30

For the Flags:

Flag materials

◊  12 toothpicks

◊  12 Union Jack paper flags (1.4″ x 1″) –  (3.5 cm x 2.5 cm)

◊  12 Olympic paper flags (1.4″ x 1″) - (3.5 cm x 2.5 cm)

◊  Scissors

◊  White glue (non toxic)

♦  Process

Making the Olympic Torches

1) To make the sponges (torches base), you can follow the Easy Vanilla cupcakes recipe (click the link to see it). In this case, you have to use golden foil cake cases.  

2) To make a thick buttercream, which is quite hot resistant and useful to pipe the flames, you can use the following recipe (it worked for me): 

- 250 grs unsalted butter (room temperature)

- 625 grs sifted icing sugar 

- 6 tsp milk

- 2 tsp vanilla extract

–> Mix all the ingredients for 4 minutes. Once the buttercream is made, keep it for 10 min. inside the fridge to enhance its consistency. 

3) Take 2 small bowls and divide the buttercream between them both. Colour the buttercream:

>> 1st bowl: Add some yellow food colouring and mix with a spoon.

>> 2nd bowl: Add some orange food colouring and mix with a spoon.

Yellow & Orange Buttercream

4) Take 3 disposable piping bags (one of them should be big enough to contain the other ones).

>>  Cut the corner of the biggest one and fit the nozzle (tip #30 “closed star”). 

>>  Fill the second one with the yellow buttercream and cut the corner (about 0.4″ cut) – (1 cm).

>>  Fill the third one with the orange buttercream and cut the corner (about 0.4″ cut) – (1 cm). 

Yellow & Orange Piping Bags

5) Insert the two filled piping bags inside the biggest one, trying to fit the opened corner of each one into the nozzle. This way we will get our two-tone piping bag!

Two-Tone Piping Bag

Two-Tone Buttercream

6) Pipe the flames:

♦ 1st tier:

- Take the sponge base and pipe little peaks on the edges of the sponge, surrounding it. We will get the first circle.

- Pipe a second circle of peaks (next to the first circle).

- Keep piping peaks until covering the whole surface of the sponge.

Piping Flames

Piping Flames

Piping Flames

Piping Flames

♦ 2nd tier:

-Pipe a circle of peaks starting onto the second circle and proceed as in the previous steps (piping peaks until completing the 2nd tier).

Piping Flames

Piping Flames

♦ 3rd tier:

- Pipe peaks onto the 2nd tier until completing the 3rd tier.

Piping Flames

♦ 4th tier:

- Pipe peaks onto the 3rd tier until completing the 4th tier.

♦ 5th tier:

- Pipe a longer peak on the top of the “flames”.

Olympic Torch Cupcake

After this process, we will get a vivid two-coloured flames!!

7) Optional: Sprinkle some golden edible glitter by means of a paintbrush (tapping the paintbrush with your second finger, without touching the icing).

Proceed the same way with the remaining cupcakes .

Olympic Torch Cupcake

Making the Flags (12 units)

Union Jack & Olympic Flag Union Jack & Olympic Flag Union Jack & Olympic Flag   Union Jack & Olympic Flag

Union Jack & Olympic Flag Union Jack & Olympic Flag Olympic Flag Union Jack & Olympic Flag

1) Print on a white paper sheet 12 Union Jack flags and 12 Olympic flags (1.4″ x 1″ each one) - (3.5 x 2.5 cm). They have to appear in a row, alternating each type of flag: 1 Union Jack – 1 Olympic flag – 1 Union Jack – 1 Olympic flag… (see previous pictures). 

3) Cut the flags. Each piece must have both a Union Jack flag and an Olympic flag (one right next to the other one, in a row).

4) Fold the paper flags in the middle.

5) Apply 2 small drops of glue onto the white side of the paper flag, specially in the fold (one flag at a time to prevent the glue from drying).

6) Place a toothpick in the fold of the paper flag and press, sticking both sides togheter.

7) Let them dry. 

8) Insert one flag into each cupcake, by pressing the toothpick downwards.

Olympic Torch Cupcakes

And that’s all!! We have our Olympic Torch cupcakes ready to go!

Enjoy them and have a nice Olympic weekend!