How to Make the Spiny Cactus french macaron
I am willing to bet that someone in the desert woke up one day and decided that he or she was going to create a cactus macaron. I don't know why, how, or when this trend came about, but it is seriously super cute. This is the perfect macaron for a themed, summer, or child's birthday party! Although there are a few more steps in this creation, it is relatively easy to produce.
It is best when making macarons to pre draw your circles onto parchment paper and slide this under a good quality silpat. The silpat brand, itself, is on the pricier side, but worth every penny spent. TRUST ME. I have gone through silpat nightmares. You get what you pay for! Biscuit cutters are the way to go to measure your circles, or you can go old school and use a protractor. Start with a 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch macaron circle as your base for the cactus. Then, you are going to want to go one circle down in measurement (the next smallest biscuit cutter) and then another circle down in measurement. These will be your tiers or branches to your cactus. Begin with coloring your batter a lighter green. I used a combination of green food gel coloring and just a drop of lemon yellow gel food coloring. I then placed half of my batter into a piping bag to pipe the smaller circles (these should be the same color in a lighter green). Once I piped the desired amount of macaron shells for the smaller ones, I added a few more drops of the green gel food coloring to the batter to create a noticeably shade darker green for the larger macarons. I piped these, allowed them to set, and baked them off.
Royal icing can be a magical thing when made correctly. Remember the horror stories of building gingerbread houses when you were younger and the royal icing provided was so god awful that the whole structure fell apart leaving you and your mentality in shambles? Well, the secret to creating a sturdy and adhering icing is about a 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar to 1-2 tablespoons of pasteurized egg whites. Pasteurized egg whites are egg whites that are heated just to a point where it kills off all bad bacteria making them harmless to you and I. This is done so we can use them in a raw state like we are doing. I also add a bit of white food coloring to this royal icing. Otherwise, the icing tends to try clear. You can also color this a very light pale green if you desire as well. Mix your icing to the desired consistency, transfer to a piping bag, cut off just a tiny bit of the tip, and pipe until you see small hard peaks come about. This is what you want to create the spines, ribs, spikes, whatever you want to call them. A little royal icing truly goes a long way. Reserve the rest of the unused royal icing, which can hold in the refrigerator in its piping bag for many days.
Fill your shells. I used a chocolate buttercream, because I really liked the contrast to the green. Allow to sit in the refrigerator until set.
In the meantime, I wanted to create a pot for the cacti to sit in and hold. Go big or go home, right? I used the recipe from William Sonoma to make little tart shells:
You can make your pots look as rustic or as perfect as you would prefer. To create the dirt inside of the pot, I used a combination of Nutella hazelnut spread with crushed up oreo cookie shells and ground up graham crackers.
Place one of the largest macarons in the pot. Using the reserved royal icing, adhere and hold the second largest macaron to the left side top of the largest macaron. Once this is set, adhere the smallest macaron to the right side of the top of the largest macaron with the royal icing. Once this is set, I used these adorable little white icing daisy flowers by wilton with the royal icing to place on the top of the smallest macarons, found here:
They also come in an assortment of sizes and colors. As far as flavoring this fun little guy, I chose a combination of pistachio and hazelnut chocolate.