Sunday, 17 January 2016

Barnyard Animals Assorted Macarons

Here are some barnyard animals macarons in assorted flavours!

There's salted egg yolk swiss meringue buttercream (smbc), lemon smbc with lemon curd, and chocolate and mixed berries smbc as fillings! These macarons appear at the same party as the barnyard animal cookies.

I have to confess that these macarons were made from leftover batter I had during my last macaron mania when I made full bodied Hello Kitties, guinea pig stuffed toy macarons and Christmas macarons all in one sitting! I was going to call it a day when I suddenly received news that I might not be able to bake these barnyard macs as planned in a separate session. Tired as I was, I pressed on to bake as many animals as I could. That's why the uneven numbers for each type of animal, based on whatever coloured batter was left.

For your convenience I will type out the recipe for macaron shells here, assuming same numbers of shells for each animal.

Ingredients (makes about 40-50 4cm macarons, 80-100 shells):
200g almond meal/ground almond, preferably superfine
200g icing sugar (with or without cornstarch is fine)
200g caster sugar
75ml water
160g egg whites, divide into two equal portions (preferably aged but not necessary)

Charcoal powder
Pink, yellow, red and black gel food colouring

1. Prepare baking trays with paper templates of the animal designs on it. Place a sheet of baking paper on top. Use some Italian meringue to stick the corners of the baking paper down when you have made the meringue. You may make your own templates by selecting images of animals you like from Internet, copy and pasting many times in a Word document.

2. Sift almond and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add half of the egg whites (80g) and mix well until a thick paste forms. This is the mass.

3. Divide the mass into ratio of 4:2:1:1 for white:pink:grey:black by weight. You will have excess black but it's easier to work with this ratio. Add a pinch of charcoal powder for grey. Use a combination of charcoal powder and black gel colouring for black to get a really deep shade of black.

4. Make the Italian meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat 80g of egg whites with an electric mixer at medium-low speed until foamy and opaque. Do not beat past the soft peak stage. Reduce mixer speed if necessary. In the mean time, heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until 115°C. Use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature. It's easier to work on the egg whites and syrup simultaneously with a stand mixer but it's possible with handheld mixer as well although what I used to do was to monitor the syrup temperature while whisking the egg whites manually until it's time to pour the syrup in. When temperature is reached, remove saucepan from heat. Turn up mixer speed to medium high and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites, avoiding the beater. Continue beating for another 10 minutes until meringue is stiff, glossy and cool.

5. Divide the Italian meringue into portions according to the ratio above or simply use the formula weight of Italian meringue = weight of mass x 0.55. Fold the meringue into the mass in two or three additions using the fold and press motion until batter flows in a slow-moving lava-like way. You may refer to this post for video tutorials of macaron basics like how to fold the batter and test the consistency.

6. You may create the dark pink features of the pig and red and yellow features of the chicken using macaron batter. If you are doing so, scoop out about 2 tbs of pink batter and add more pink colouring to get a darker pink. You can safely overfold this portion. Scoop out about 2 tbs of white batter for each of the colours for the chicken and colour accordingly. Alternatively, you may add on these using royal icing after baking the shells.

7. Transfer batter into piping bag fitted with round tips of appropriate size. I usually use Wilton #10 or 12 for larger features, #7 or 8 for medium sized features and #5 for small features. Pipe the batter onto baking tray. You may refer to this post for video tutorials on piping complex shapes. Remember to bang the tray on the table a few times after piping to release trapped air bubbles and flatten any peaks.

8. Dry the piped shells for 1-2 hours in air-conditioned room or under a fan until the shells are dry to touch when you run a finger across the surface. Preheat oven to 135°C towards end of drying time. Set oven rack to lowest position.

9. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate the tray. Reduce the temperature to 130°C and bake for another 7-8 minutes before checking on the shells. If the feet appear wet, bake for another 5 minutes at 120°C and check again. Cool the shells on the tray before gently peeling the baking sheet away from the shells.

Baked shells!

Prepare some royal icing to decorate the shells.

Freshly decorated!

You may refer to this post for my basic low-sugar smbc recipe and this post for lemon curd recipe.
For the respective flavours of creams:
Chocolate: Add 32g melted dark chocolate for every 100g of smbc
Mixed berry: Add 16g raspberry/blackberry/strawberry puree + 1/4 tsp strawberry paste for every 100g of smbc
Salted egg yolk:Add 3 steamed and mashed salted egg yolk + 1 tbs milk + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for every 125g of smbc
Lemon: Add 35g lemon curd for every 100g smbc

Note that smbc can be made and frozen in advance. If using defrosted smbc, whip the smbc until light and fluffy before adding the flavourings. Mix well with a hand whisk or electric mixer.

Adding salted egg yolk to smbc

Piping on the various flavoured creams

Always let the assembled macarons rest in the fridge in airtight container for at least 24 hours before serving if possible to let the flavours mature and shells to soften a little.

Thank God that these were very well received at the party! I was told that the macarons disappeared very fast from the dessert table at the party! Even elderly folk who do not like food that is too sweet loved it! The dear lady who ordered these was smart enough to sneak some for herself before serving at the party :)

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. I had my first taste of macarons at a wedding. It was a branded expensive macaron. It was dreadfully sweet and I didn't like it at all. I had a negative impression of macarons from then on. Reading your description of less-sweet macarons made me feel like trying them! I wonder how much it costs to order some for my girl's birthday?

    1. The secret of making macarons not too sweet is in the fillings (make it sour, salty or bitter), or if you have a choice, make the shells tea or chocolate flavoured as the bitterness will counter the high sugar content. Can't reduce the sugar in the shells as sugar is necessary for structural stability.
      I don't have a sweet tooth so my bakes have a tendency to be less sweet :). Drop me an email to discuss details for your girl's birthday :)