Thursday, June 3, 2010

Komodo Drag-carons with Strawberry Arrack Jelly

The Mactweets challenge this month was to create a macaroon inspired by a favorite wild animal.  This is right up my alley.  I have been in love with exotic creatures my whole life.  To come up with an idea for my wild animal macaron, it was with pleasure I mentally revisited my animal encounters and jungle adventures throughout the years. And now I am going to subject you to some of it...

Me in a shark cage
Isla Guadaloupe, Mexico

Great Whites are probably my all time favorite wild animal. As an avid traveler, scuba diver and nature lover most of my vacations are booked around observing wildlife in their natural habitats. My most thrilling encounter to date was being surrounded by five Great White Sharks off Isla Guadaloupe in Mexico. However, since there was no mention of the sea in this challenge I will save that story about Bite Head, Patches, Salsa and her friends and my other numerous sea life encounters for other posts.

First I thought about all the animal experts I had produced on TV over the years, especially Jack Hanna

Wearing crazy earrings backstage with Jack 

His people were the best to deal with, extra friendly and professional. Through Jack I got to meet and greet many incredible animal ambassadors including jaguars, bears, gila monsters, cheetahs, alligators, lions, and one unforgettable exquisite Mandrill.

Backstage with a Lynx

Although there is something so wacky and incongruous to the point of wrong in seeing wild animals in a TV studio, they definitely bring a whole level of excitement to the energy of the place. The staff just loves it.  Jack, with his personality a cross between a big kid and a nutty professor, you never knew what would happen when he would show up. Sometimes all hell would break loose backstage, but always in a good way and no harm done to the animals he is so passionate about.

Molesting a Cheetah
I would take extra special care that the needs of handlers and their charges were met, separating them from the other guests as not to overwhelm the animals. However, unfortunately those poor handlers were subject to my relentlessly pelting of questions that definitely bordered my producer duties and crossed over into stalking. Most of the time they sparked to my avid (insatiable) interest and I was inevitably rewarded with being able to interact with the animal directly.

Tickling an Syrian Brown Bear Cub

I have produced many movie and pop stars in my career, but all those encounters and experiences are trumped by the opportunity to bottle feed a baby white tiger or hold a baby mountain gorilla in my arms.

Yellow& White Tiger Cubs

Then there were all the incredible creatures I met traveling....

I fell hopelessly in love with sloths in Costa Rica.

Flipped over orangutans after observing them up close at the Sepilok preserve in Malaysia.

Sepilok, Malaysia
Indulged in major baby elephant love in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Playing Tug-O-War in Thailand

Cuddling up to the locals in Laos

Bottle fed a baby bear in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Cost to Feed = 30 Cents
Experience = Priceless

Met many cranky and charismatic camels over several trips to Egypt including one named Michael Jackson at Giza (which is like Tijuana with pyramids)

Sinai Desert, Egypt

I've stalked huge tortoises, sea iguanas and snorkeled with penguins in the Galapagos.

And then there are the monkeys. The oh so many monkeys I had vacation flings Bali, on

several Caribbean islands, in Belize, in Marrakech. I am a monkey slut of sorts...

Monkeying around in Marrakech

But I have to say one of the all time fascinating land creatures to me is the Komodo Dragon and my unforgettable trip to Komodo Island in Indonesia to see them.

Komodo Dragon, Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo Island (and a few small nearby islands) are the only places in the world you can find the Komodo Dragon of which there are less than 5,000 existing in total. The dragons are mysterious and mesmerizing creatures. 

Some fast Dragon facts:

❀They Have Red Saliva.

❀Like other lizards, they smell with their tongues.

❀Females in captivity have been known to reproduce without help from males.

❀Smaller prey (like a small goat) they can swallow whole. If they are having trouble with this, they will ram the prey while in their mouths against a tree to force it down their throats. Sometimes they knock down trees doing this.

❀They can swim.

❀As young adults they live most of their lives in trees to avoid being eaten by other dragons, even their parents.

❀ Several types of nasty bacteria that live in their mouths will do various horrible things to you if you are ever bitten by one (if you survive the bite.)

As we disembarked from our dingy onto the island I was almost shivering in anticipation of spotting one of these exotic creatures. We met our guide. Armed with nothing but a long, fork ended stick, he herded us off onto the trail. 

A stick?
Ohhh kay?

I didn't have to wait long. Shortly after rounding the first corner, there in front of us was this huge creature. I was speechless. It looked like something out of a fairytale or a movie. I half expected it to be animatronic.
My first glimpse of a Komodo Dragon
See ya! 

While my heart was palpitating, the dragon nonchalantly glanced over its shoulder at us and then, with a bored look on it's face, ambled off down the path following another guide.

Unlike the non plussed dragon, for me, this was one of my most thrilling animal encounters. Obviously, it was not so memorable for the dragon, but to see this magnificent and rare creature on its home turf was a dream come true. We then took about an hour walk around the island and while observing many other dragons, learned all sorts of interesting things about them, their history, behaviors, social structure, reproduction...all fascinating.

Me -n- a Dragon
So onto the Komodo Drag-carons..

You kind and indulgent souls who read and commented on the saga of my first attempt at making macarons, thank you for your support and encouragement.  After making a few batches, I still was not able to achieve the perfect macaron but I definitely feel I am getting closer and I got feet every time!

In creating the filling, I decided to be gross and imitate the red spit of the dragon.  To add a bite of poison in the "mouths" of the macarons I added Arrack flavor and rum to the curd. 

For those of you not familiar with Arrack, it's a common Indonesian rum made from red rice and sugar. My bottle of Arrack I brought back has long been history, but since Indonesia is a popular German vacation destination, I was able to find Arrack flavor in the baking section of my local supermarket.

I added the tongues made out of fondant.

Sorry. Couldn't resisssssssst!

I mean after red spit filling, it was just a short hop to a lizard tongue. The only thing that stopped me from drawing eyes on them is the fact I can't draw.

For the Macarons
I used Tartelette's basic macaron recipe and added green and brown food coloring to achieve the dragon color.

For the Strawberry Arrack Jelly
(Adapted from Strawberry Jelly from  Closet Cooking. Very quick and easy to Make. He made a yummy looking panna cotta dessert with this. Definitely worth checking out.)


  • 1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 2 teaspoons Rum
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Arrack Extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • Mix the rum and the arrack flavor and set aside, for at least 30 min.
  • Combine the gelatin and water in a bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Bring the strawberry puree and sugar to a simmer.
  • Stir in the rum and Arrack combination and simmer a few minutes more.
  • Add the gelatin.
  • Remove from heat, let cool, and put in in the fridge until it hardens a bit.

I bought the wooden Komodo dragon from a local boy there who hand carved it. He sits on top of a shelf unit in my dining room, guards over the kitchen and reminds me of all things fierce and rare.

Again, a big thank you to Mactweets for the fun challenge.  I look forward to the next!

Komodo Dragon
Komodo Island, Indonesia


  1. What a fascinating post! And your "drag-carons" look fierce indeed!
    Congratulations on being the first one to meet this difficult challenge!

  2. fascinating indeed - loved this post!!

  3. wow, foodimals.... yummy and what a great story line!

  4. Never thought Komodo Dragons would be an inspiration for macs but you did a fantastic job. The colors, textures and the playfulness of it all, especially the tongue.

  5. Wow - you do love adventure. Love that you added tongues. Well done!

  6. Ha ha ha, the "tongues" really make this macaron. Well done on the challenge and great to meet you. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  7. I'm so very envious of your experiences with all those beautiful animals and travels.

    Very much enjoyed your post and creativity with the komodo-drag-carons and making the filling representative of their saliva color! Your macs turned out wonderful...they're quite a challenge (that I have yet to master!).

  8. Oh Lora, you got me here. WOW... I love your wild side, and am utterly envious of all the adventures you've had! Thanks for sharing them so beautifully! Love the Komodo Drag-carons... everything about them is WILD & delicious! The flavours, the Arrack, the filling...and the pictures! Thank you for joining us at MacTweets! Great having you on board!!

  9. I true adventurous spirit! Your macaron's show your adventure. How wonderful that you can travel to places to see the animals you love :)

  10. I am amazed that you chose only "one Macaroon based on Adventure. You could write a whole book. Your shell s look lovely and You really captured the spirit of the dragon, even the fillin is adventurous.

  11. We met you on that trip and now Sybil has 3 children. What a wonderful journey that was. OH MY GOD!
    Aidan is 8, Lucas is 6 and Lily is 18 months, how time flies.
    Love to you and Bernhard, Gail and Bill

  12. that's a very cool experience in Komodo Island! i'm from Indonesia but never been there yet (wish to go there one day)
    nice macs by the way :D

  13. Oh, oh, oh... I am amazed by your endless creativity. The komodo tongue on your macs made me laugh.. so cute and funny.

  14. Hah Hah. I thought they were legs (top photo).
    Thanks for this wonderful article and the beautiful photos.


Thank you for your comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!