After having Christmas at our house last year, the hubby was pretty keen to host it again pretty well deciding that day. So the hunt began for a new dessert to top the Bûche de Noël from last year. I toyed with a couple of different “trees”, being macaron or meringue as well as a cake decorated with fondant from the front of the Creative SugarCraft magazine. Given the hubby’s immense dislike of fondant the last idea was thrown out the window but then I recalled a post on Raspberri Cupcakes’ blog for a red velvet cake with snowman macarons. It was very much reflecting a white Christmas, which we do not have here in Australia (although my parents inform me they did have snow many moons ago on Christmas Day) but it was still a winner in my books.
The overall menu was pretty similar for last year, but in case you are wanting to compare we had:
- Individual Yorkshire Puddings
- Cold meat
- Stuffed roasted turkey breast
- Hot meat
- Roast potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, corn and onion
- Green beans with smoked paprika almonds
- Broccoli and capsicum quiche
- Spiced apple sauce
(blog post to follow on that one)Done!
- Spiced apple sauce
- Red Velvet Snowman Cake
So onto dessert. I’ve said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, I love red velvet and will make it any time I can not only because it tastes scrumptious, but the added bonus of using up the extra red food colouring purchased for My Best Friend’s Wedding Cake. When I came across the post on Raspberri Cupcakes’ blog, I fell in love with the little macaron snowmen as they were so gosh darn cute! I also found some little sparkly Christmas trees made out of ice cream cones, white chocolate and sugar decorations and decided to combine the two into a little white Christmas scene.
There are a few components so I will try not to make this a ridiculously long post which you may not make it to the end of. First up, the cake.
It was the same red velvet recipe that I have used previously from Magnolia Bakery and I made two batches as I was making a 12″ cake. Well, actually I ended up making three because one failed completely. Tip from the super coach, split the batter between the two pans rather than a full batch in each as the cakes tend to sink back on themselves. Plus it is much easier to level the cakes. I was also sticking to the raspberry filling but instead of using the creamy vanilla frosting as my base, I stuck with the swiss meringue buttercream (SMB) and folded through the raspberries. The two reasons for this are so I only had to make one kind of icing and simply because I am addicted to SMB.
I got to use a few more of my new toys I purchased from Latorta. My previous turntable had seen better days and it was quite small so I purchased the Wilton Tilting Turntable which is significantly higher, able to be locked so it doesn’t move unexpectedly and can obviously tilt when piping. To cut the cake into layers, I bought a new cake leveller as my last had some problems cutting through the sides of the cake and the Wilton one has a serrated blade which made life SO much easier. The last toy was a Zenker piping bag holder as before I was using a jug which wasn’t the right size and it made filling a little annoying.
For the snowman macarons, again I stuck with what I know and used the Zumbo recipe as I did for my Popcorn and Malteser Macarons. Because I am a little obsessive and wanted to try to get my snowmen to be the same size, I adapted my previous 4cm and 5cm macaron templates into a snowman one with a 5cm bottom, and 3.25cm top (you can download the template from the template library if you like). To try to remove some of the yellow that would come through from the almond meal, I also added some Americolor Bright White food colouring to the sugar syrup and it did the job very well. You will notice some of the macarons have a golden tinge but that was from spending a little too much time in the oven (oops!). Pipe the macarons onto the baking paper and before the skin starts to form, place three cachous/dragees on the body to simulate the buttons. I had a bottle of multicoloured cachous in the pantry, but feel free to keep them all the same colour if you would prefer and make sure you only decorate half of the shells as they don’t really need buttons on their back.
Bake the macarons and leave them to cool on the baking sheet. Once cool, gently remove the macarons and then it is time to decorate! For the eyes and mouth I used an edible ink pen to draw on the detail, and cut little triangles from an orange StarBurst lolly for the “carrot” nose. To apply the nose, I touched the base on a dry warm knife to get it a little tacky and then it adhered to the macaron shell. Be very careful when decorating as the shells are quite fragile and too much pressure will make their face implode… trust me.
Once again, I stuck with the SMB to fill the macarons as well. At the end of the day, you really only need a few macarons for the top of the cake and I ended up with 36 snowmen after a few were taste tested and broken along the way. I placed the remaining on a plate for people to grab when they had the cake, or whenever they felt really.
The final piece of the puzzle is the sparkly Christmas trees. I used two different sized cones and the smaller ones had a flat bottom which was quite handy but I also made one of them a little bit smaller by breaking off some of the base. The large cones did not have a flat base so I inserted one into the other and using scissors shaped the base of the inside one to make it sit as flat as possible.
If you look at those on the original post, they look quite awesome and my pearl and snowflake ones are disastrous in comparison. After a few attempts, I found the best method to be painting the cone with a very thin layer of the melted chocolate and then sprinkle the sanding sugar over the top. It is also important the chocolate isn’t too hot and runny as it will just drip down the sides and make a complete mess.
Now onto assembly. When the final layer of SMB has been applied to the cake, make it as smooth as possible. If you would like to continue with the white Christmas theme as in the original post you can leave the buttercream a little rough and cover it with desiccated coconut to give the illusion of snow.
Feel free to assemble the scene as you see fit, but how I arranged it was by placing the five Christmas trees on the back/left hand side and then three of the snowman along the front/right hand side. If the SMB is a little firm from being in the fridge, allow it to soften slightly and/or use some additional SMB on the base of the trees and snowmen.
I must say I was super-impressed when I sliced the cake as it cut absolutely perfectly. The red velvet cake was really moist and looked dense like a mud cake, but was still really light and the layers were very distinct.
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!