H’s birthday was this past weekend, but he didn’t want me slaving away in the kitchen to make him a birthday cake, insisting that I get some much needed rest during the New Year weekend because I’d been sleeping poorly the past 2 weeks.
Fortunately, I’d made a batch of macaron on New Year’s eve on a whim and decided to assemble a macaron tower for him instead! It would be experimental, but at least he would have some sort of a birthday dessert. Plus it would be way grander than any birthday cake if it worked out.
I’d always wanted to make a macaron croquembouche, but was concerned about a few things.
1. What to use for the cone base
2. How to attach the macarons to the cone
3. Whether the macarons would stay in place, given the weight of the fillings
4. Whether the macaron fillings would turn soft and melt before all the macarons had been attached
Concern #1 was easily resolved with a homemade cardboard cone covered with baking parchment paper. I’d originally considered using a styrofoam cone, but had no idea where to buy one.
I decided to go with caramel as the “glue” since traditional cream puff croquembouches are so constructed. I started attaching the macarons at the bottom and was really delighted when the 1st layer appeared to stick on to the cone really well. What I hadn’t counted on was the caramel not hardening well.
As it turned out, concern #3 was also a valid one, especially since the macarons in the upper layers began to slide downwards, resting on the bottom layers when the caramel started to soften, possibly from the condensation from the macarons, which had been refridgerated prior to being attached to the cone, or perhaps from a poorly made caramel.
Despite the air-conditioning being turned on, the macaron fillings also started to melt somewhat. This was particularly true of the buttercream fillings. I had originally contemplated filling the macarons with a simple jam filling to overcome the melting issue, but didn’t want to spend hours making the shells, only to end up with overly-sweet macarons that would then be unpleasant to eat.
And so it was that H’s birthday croquembouche stayed intact for a grand total of 10 minutes before I decided to take everything down, mainly because the assembled croquembouche was too tall to fit into my fridge and the bottom layers were getting squashed from the weight of the other layers sliding down and resting on them. I was miffed that many of my painstakingly-made macarons were now either somewhat squashed, smeared with sticky, non-hardened caramel on one side or had part of their delicate outer shells left hanging on the cone when I attempted to remove them. Fortunately, they still tasted good and H didn’t mind in the tiniest bit, especially since his favourite chocolate ones had remained intact.
Experiments to come
I’m determined to try this again some other time and I’ve got some other ideas on how to better attach the macarons to the cone (reducing the amount of macaron filling being one of them and possibly using only ganache), but I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any suggestions on how to solve the problems I encountered!