Macaron Cupcake Toppers
Macaron Shaped Gum Paste Cupcake Toppers
Macarons -- those delightful little French (and Italian) confections, are like a cross between a meringue and a cookie. They're made with fluffy egg whites and finely ground almond flour, and come in just about any flavor combination you can imagine! Macarons have a delicate, crisp shell which gives way to a tender almost cake like interior.
The appearance of a macaron is simple but beautiful, which makes it perhaps one of the most recognizable treats.
We decided to add something new to this blog of ours, and try a gum paste sculpting tutorial. The pretty macaron was miniaturized -- and just about immortalized, as dried gum paste can last almost indefinitely, when stored in an airtight environment away from moisture.
These little gum paste macarons make charming cupcake toppers -- a quaint addition to any party or tablescape.
A bag of premade gum paste
Food coloring (gum paste is naturally off-white)
Powdered Sugar (to keep the gum paste from sticking to your hands)
A small dish of water
A paintbrush (for brushing the water onto the macaron shells)
I highly suggest using premade gum paste for two reasons: you don't need to figure out the proper consistency like you would with the powdered gum paste, and the resealable bag is the ideal place to store gum paste after it's been colored, to prevent it from drying out.
(!) Something to keep in mind when sculpting the macarons is that you should keep the scale smaller than life-sized, so that they're not confused with real macarons, and are less tempting to take a bite out of. While it is completely edible, a mouthful of rock-hard gum paste is not a pleasant surprise for you guests -- especially not if they're expecting an actual macaron.
The macaron I'm making in the step by step photos is larger than it should be, for the purpose of demonstration.
Cake decorations come in contact with food, so please make sure your hands are thoroughly cleaned before you start.
Sculpting the Macaron Shells-
Begin by lightly coating your hands with powdered sugar, take a section of gum paste from the bag and knead it well in your hands. (!) Use as little powdered sugar as you can, as too much will compromise the consistency of the gum paste. Make sure you seal the bag between uses. If you're making colored macarons, take this time to color the paste, and knead thoroughly for a uniform color. Barely knead the color in for a marbled effect. If you wish to achieve a pastel color (like in the photos), you only need a very little bit of food coloring. Use your discretion though, and color the paste however you'd like.
Next, tear off pieces from the paste, and roll them into balls. You need two for each macaron, but make sure you have a spare, to reference how much gum paste you need for each ball, if you're planning on making all of the macarons the same size.
With a ball resting on your work surface, gently press two fingers into the ball to start flattening it. Try not to flatten it too much. Hold the disk between your thumbs and index fingers with both hands. Delicately stretch the disk by slowly pulling both of your hands away from each other, outward. To ensure a round shape, stretch and rotate the disk; repeat this a few times, taking care not to thin the disk a whole lot. To make the shape more realistic, gently push the center in, so that the shell has a bit of a convex top. Depress the edges with a light touch of your fingers to create a soft beveled edge.
Before proceeding onto the next step, let the disks dry out a bit -- at the least 25 minutes. You can make several disks and store them for finishing later.
(!) If the gum paste starts to form a dry outer skin while you're working with it, roll it between both palms to prime it and get it supple again.
Creating the Iconic 'Feet'-
The 'feet' are those little bumpy ridges that form on the bottom edge of a macaron shell. If you've ever made real macarons, you know you can breathe a sigh of relief when you see that your macarons have feet -- it's a good indicator that all is well and that the baking process went according to plan.
Start with a small piece of gum paste and roll it into a ball. Put the ball on the work surface, and with very light pressure, carefully roll the paste into a rope with four fingers -- with your hand straight in front of you and fingers pointing forward, follow an imaginary zigzag extending out to the side of the hand you're using. As the rope thins, use only your index and middle finger to roll a consistent length of gum paste. You need a relatively thin rope for the feet. Before disconnecting the rope from the rest of the gum paste, wrap it around the shell to see how long the rope needs to be. When the rope can wrap completely around the shell, cut it with a toothpick or sculpting tool.
With the paintbrush, apply a modest amount of water to the lower edge of the shell. Allow this to dry a little bit before adhering the rope.
(!) Water causes the gum paste to become quite sticky. To avoid messes, only brush water onto areas you want to stick another piece of gum paste to. It's okay if you accidentally get water somewhere you don't want it to be, it doesn't ruin it, but it will take while to dry. Don't touch the surface while wet.
Stick the rope to the macaron shell, wrapping it around the circumference. Ensure the rope is completely adhered before starting the next step.
Poke, rough up and drag the toothpick through the rope's surface, to make a bumpy texture. It helps to use a reference photo of a real macaron while you're getting the hang of it.
With the macaron shell on your work surface, carefully push the foot down with the toothpick. Create a delicate visual distinction between the rope and shell. Finally, hold the top and bottom of the shell between your index finger and thumb; with the same two fingers on your other hand lightly pinch the surface of the foot all the way around, to tame some of those marvelous peaks and bumps you created with the toothpick.
That completes the shell! Repeat these steps for every shell you make. Remember, you need two shells for one macaron.
Choose a contrasting color of gum paste to be the filling of the macaron. Roll a ball slightly smaller than the ball used for the shells. Flatten and stretch a disk much in the same manner as for the shells, without the extra shaping and beveling.
Check to make sure you like the way the filling looks between two shells.
Brush water onto one side of the filling. Adhere the filling to a shell. Apply water to the other side of the filling and adhere it to the second shell. Squeeze the sandwich a little bit to manipulate the filling and to make it fill any gaps there may have been.
You're done! Now you can pop these onto cupcakes for a cute and whimsical decoration.
We hope this tutorial was useful to you! As always, feel free to comment your thoughts or questions about this post.
- The Grey's Posy Team