Introduction: Quackaroons: Duck Macarons and Pond Cupcakes
These duck macarons on pond cupcakes are so tasty and would be perfect for a baby shower or a young child's birthday party. You can read more about these on my blog here - http://www.craftstorming.com/2012/05/quackaroons-and-pond-cupcakes.
To make the macarons you will need;
200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
2 x 80g egg white (at room temperature)
200g caster sugar
yellow and orange food colours
some royal icing
duck template (included in this Instructable)
For the buttercream (to fill the macarons and decorate the cupcakes) you will need;
130g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
600g icing sugar
yellow, blue and green food colours
For the cupcakes you can use whichever recipe you want to.
Step 1: Make Your Macaron Batter
Before you start, print out your duck template. I find two copies most helpful. Also, get at least 2 large backing trays ready and place on top of the baking paper to flatten it out. Finally, weight the mixing bowl of your food mixer. Now you can start making your macarons.
Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times until well combined.
Sieve this into a large mixing bowl, discarding any lumps that don't pass through the sieve easily.
Place the caster sugar and water in a large saucepan. Place over a high heat and do not stir.
Meanwhile place 80g of egg white in the bowl of a food mixer and (with the whisk attachment) along with just one small drop of lemon juice. Mix gently to soft peaks.
When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 105° increase the speed of the mixer.
When the sugar syrup reaches 115° remove from the heat and pour in a thin ribbon onto the beaten egg whites, continuing to beat white you pour. I find a low speed helpful while pouring so the syrup doesn't splatter up the bowl. Continue to beat it on a high speed for a further 10 minutes until it is cool.
Take the remaining 80g of egg whites and stir into the almond and sugar until it forms a smooth paste.
Using a flexible spatula mix about a third of the Italian meringue mix into the almond paste, then add the rest of the meringue.
At this stage I took out about 10% of the mix and placed it in a separate bowl. Place 10% of the remaining meringue into this bowl and the other 90% into the original mix. To do this weigh your mixing bowl and deduct the weight you took at the beginning. Now divide this figure by 10.
Without mixing yet, add orange food colouring into the small amount of mix (i.e. the 10% bowl). I use powder colours and found I needed at least half a teaspoon. Don't leave it too late to add enough food colour as you will end up overmixing.
For the large (90%) bowl add at least 1 teaspoon of yellow food colour.
Be very careful not to overmix here (otherwise your macarons will not rise much and won't have feet). You should get it to a consistency where it will just drop the spatula smoothly and without being too runny. There are lots of resources on the internet that can show you how to achieve the perfect consistency.
Step 2: Pipe Your Duck Macarons and Bake
At this stage I will turn my oven on to 155°.
Arrange your baking trays with the templates on top then the baking paper over them.
Place your macaron batter into piping bags. For the yellow mix I used a nozzle about 8mm wide. For the orange mix my nozzle was a lot smaller, maybe 2-3mm wide.
Using the yellow batter pipe out the duck shapes. I’d recommend piping the body of the duck first – start from the front and pipe in a straight line then when you reach the tail ease off the pressure on the piping bag and twist while making a slight upward motion. Then you can then pipe the head easily, ensuring it meets with the body.
Now you can pipe on the orange beaks.
Allow the macarons to sit for a while until they form a crust. I normally find 15 minutes is enough.
Place in the oven for 14 minutes.
Allow to cool then remove from the baking paper. It helps to pair them with the best matching ones at this stage, ready for filling them.
Step 3: Make Your Butter Icing and Finish Macarons
Place the butter, vanilla extract and milk in the bowl of your mixer and beat until well combined.
Sift the icing sugar then gradually add to the mixer. Continue beating until you reach a smooth consistency.
It is easier to add the eyes to the ducks before you fill them. Prepare two piping bags with royal icing, one black and one white. If possible, use a no. 1 piping tip for both bags.
Pipe on the eye details and leave to dry.
Place about a third of your butter icing into a piping bag with a large nozzle. Fill and pair the duck macarons.
Step 4: Decorate Cupcakes and Top With a Quackaroon
Bake your cupcakes and allow them to cool completely.
Colour about 3/4 of the butter icing you have left with blue food colour. Colour the remaining butter icing green. I used paste colours here - be careful to only add a bit at a time with these as they can be very strong.
Using a palette knife spread the surface of the cupcake with the blue icing. I wanted it to be fairly flat, like a pond, but didn't worry about it being too perfect.
If you have a grass piping nozzle then add it to a bag and pipe green around the edges of the cupcake / pond. If not you can try and replicate the grass effect by spreading the green around the edge carefully then touching the flat of a small palette knife to it and pulling up sharply.
Spread a little butter icing to the bottom of the duck macaron and place gently onto the cupcake.
You have finished. Serve and enjoy :)