Aren’t these colours pretty? These macarons were individually packaged and were a feature at the Revitalising Newcastle booth at the International Convention Centre Sydney.
I’m used to colouring chocolate and fondant to a T, but macarons are harder to colour. Because of the almond content, there is a cream-ish tinge to start with. You also can’t colour correct mid-way through a batch, as you could with the other mediums.
I am not a naturally very creative person. I know people who just have it in their bones, and can whip up designs in their sleep. I am not one of those people.
My best subject in school was chemistry. I graduated with a business and economics degree. I spent a good part of my career in financial journalism.
I do love pretty and clever things, and it is this love which has pushed me to try and constantly make beautiful food. It still doesn’t come easy. I spent a lot of time at the planning stage. I go through several rounds, where I do something, not fall in love with it, ditch what I make, and start over.
So when I make something I do like, I am pretty chuffed. These Christmas cake pops and Christmas cookies are my ode to the Aussie Christmas. We don’t have snowflakes. We don’t have penguins. We do have great beach and party weather!
I’m a bit clueless, but when my teenager saw this, he said, “Hey, that’s the grumpy cat!”
“The Grumpy Cat?” I asked. I just followed a pix that was sent to me, of A grumpy cat.
“Yes, it’s all over Instagram,” he said, rolling his eyes at my lack of education.
I was struggling with it, so was fairly happy he recognised it. Making animals are pretty easy, making animals with expressions are super tough. How do you make a face grumpy? It’s harder than one would initially think, and not as easy as just putting a mouth with sides turned down. A state of ‘grumpy’ is reflected not only in a mouth, but in the shape of the eyes, the frown, the mouth and the contours of the face.
I’ve been admiring all those gorgeous watercolour buttercream cakes that I see, and finally got a chance to try my hand at handpainting my own watercolour cake pops. I love how they turned out! They key to the watercolour effect is diluting the edible paints, till they get that watery, almost washed out look, and then blending in the paints just at the edges.
I have a problem with cakes. I can’t stop fiddling with them. Until it is picked up, I’ll be ironing out the flaws, adding more flowers, moving the stones, etc etc etc. And then when they are picked up, I feel like someone took my precious away and there is a gap in my life.
Cakes can be terribly expensive because the materials are not cheap (which you will know if you have tried to make a fondant cake yourself and added up the cost) and some decorations or shaping and moulding are very time consuming. Fondant figurines, are in my opinion, are not necessary if you are on a budget. Complex ones take hours to make, and if you input the minimum wage per hour, plus materials, you are looking at a very expensive topper that won’t be eaten anyway.
So I often recommend placing a toy. You even get to play with it after!
I buy stuff all the time, just because I think they may come in handy. In this case, I bought these anchor moulds just because they happened to be the right size for a cake pop. I had a play with them with some leftover chocolate one day, and this is what emerged.