Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ballerina Dreams Macarons with Standing Ovation Rose Buttercream - A Mactweets Challenge

This month's Mactweet's Challenge was Long Ago and Far Away.  Jamie and Deeba tasked us with creating a macaron inspired by a favorite childhood summer memory.

I grew up by the beach in a city located on a sandbar outside of NYC but my childhood summers were spent in the Berkshire mountains in Lenox, MA.

While other kids were working summer jobs, horseback riding and swimming at the lake, the summers of my youth were spent in a leotard and tights stretching and sweating and losing myself in the music.

So proud of my 70's "wings" hairstyle, I would wait until the last minute to gather it all up into a ballet bun.

With exception of the summer I worked as an Assistant Baker at Alice's Restaurant, I was in ballet camp or taking classes all day with a local ballet company for the entire summer.

I would stretch and practice BEFORE going to dance classes all day. Obsessed much?    

I took dance classes during the year as well but my winter life was filled with school activities like theater and cheerleading. Ballet was my summer life and I loved it, sometimes dancing up to six and a half hours a day. Modern and Jazz dance classes were thrown in the mix as well.

Ballet was my oasis, my refuge, my secret power, my love..

My teachers were an an eclectic group they ranged from those I admired, worshipped and feared. Each shaped a part of who I am today. I cannot even begin to count the life lessons I received from this period of my life.  Discipline, confidence, flexibility, observation, respect, agility, balance, an appreciation and eye for artistry are just some of them.

I carried Ballet with me for many years. It was always a way of centering myself, physically and emotionally. I danced my way through college, taking at least one class every day and performed in dance concerts. After leaving college and working in Broadway show production in NYC, I took lessons with Alvin Ailey and other renown studios dancing along side Broadway dancers. When I switched careers to television I continued to dance as much as I could, a feat in itself considering the killer hours I put into my job.

Ok, I over filled these a tad

After moving to LA, I found another amazing teacher. Even though I was in my 30's, the gifted Elspeth Kuang taught me how to point my feet for the first time, provided new techniques for controlling my hyper extended knees and managed to get me back on pointe for the first time in years.

As an adult, Ballet took on a new meaning in my life. It was still an escape but also a fixer. With adulthood comes stresses and pressures of job and personal life. In class, every bad or frustrating thing in my life melted away with that first plié. My world and my focus shrunk down to movement and music, executing the steps correctly and pushing my body to it's limit. There was no room for anything else in my head.

Recently I realized a parallel between my love and dance and my love of scuba. Both take you to another world. One of grace and beauty. One where every time I immerse myself in music or water, I find weightlessness, I fly, and I find myself in another world.

Here in my little village in Germany, I miss those dance days. As long as I am not dancing, there will always be a little piece of me missing. For now I will have to settle for my NYC Ballet work out videos.

So in tribute to my former ballerina life I created these Ballerina Dreams Macarons. Like the song from A Chorus Line goes, everything IS beautiful at the ballet...

These macarons are everything a little girl loves about ballet, light and pink and sprinkled with fairy dust...

I was still traveling when I made these, so they were done is someone else's kitchen without (gasp!) a kitchen scale. So the big ironic embarrassment about this post is my ballerina macarons have funky feet which is extra horrible considering how ballerinas obsess over having beautiful pointed feet with deep high arches. However, I had to go through three batches in humid weather  before I got these so I decided to quit while I was relatively ahead, or...wait for it...............afoot.

One batch was left in the oven a little longer than the other so I ended up with two different shades of pink, but to my surprise they were both beautiful and very Ballet looking.

For the filling I made rose buttercream to represent the armfuls of bouquets of roses ballerinas receive at curtain calls.

Pretty Ballerina Macarons with Standing Ovation Rose Buttercream 

For the shells I used the Tartelette's recipe. (Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements)

  • 3 egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let hem sit out on the counter uncovered.
  • 25-50 grams of fine granulated sugar
  • 200 grams of powdered sugar
  • 110 Grams of almond flour*

*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.

  • Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces and set aside. 
  • Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. (I also add a pinch each of salt and cream of tartar)
  • Add the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down.  No more than 50 strokes all together. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Here is where I added a dab of pink gel food coloring. 
  • Fill a Pastry bag and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a silpat. When I first started making macarons, I used to trace circles using a small cookies cutter onto the parchment. Then I would flip it over and use it as a guide for piping perfect circles.
  • Let the macarons dry for about one hour until they harden.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes and here is the hard part - refrain from obsessively peeping though the oven window or opening the oven door to see if they get feet. 
  • Let cool completely.

Rose Buttercream:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • Rose extract to taste. I had to use several teaspoons (and then had to add more powdered sugar to adjust the consistency) before I tasted the rose flavor but this may have been because of the brand I used. It did not have an intense rose flavor.
  • Pink gel food coloring

  • Beat butter until creamy
  • Add powdered sugar one half cup at a time
  • Add extract
  • Add one or two dabs of pink gel food coloring.

To assemble the Macarons:
  • Fill a piping bag with the rose buttercream.
  • Match up the macarons into identical sized pairs (for those of you like me who are never able to get every macaron shell the same size)
  • Pipe the buttercream in a swirl starting in the center of the shell leaving an edge around the outside.
  • For the glitter I used an Ultra Color Disco Dust in pink. I bought it at NY Cake but unfortunately cannot find the pink version on their website. I am sure Rainbow Disco Dust would work just as well, or light pink. 
  • Using a small paintbrush, dilute the dust with a little vodka and lightly brush the macarons all over, including the filling, with the dust. 

Macaron with Tutu


  1. Girl after my ♥ you are! These are utterly charming, and I love the connect with your dancing days. Those were the days indeed, and I love the pictures you've posted! Tutu girl... well done!

  2. I love these ballerina macs! Wonderful memories and so impressive! And you captured the beauty and the girlishness of those tutu days in these graceful macs! Very cool photos of you! I was not so lucky to have been so beautiful or have feathered hair in the 70s!

  3. Jamie and Deeba - Thanks for all your lovely encouragemnt.

  4. oh, a rose buttercream sounds gorgeous. Loving these pink glittery macs.

  5. hoe hum gosh golly.
    I find your blog to be rather swell.
    The fancy display of pretty pictures here there and everywhere make
    me smile <3
    x x x

  6. Without a scale?! Oh you are da macaron bomb! humidity scares the bejezus outta me - I wouldn't even try this. Love the pink and especially, the fairy dust!! If I did wear socks, they would be so charmed off.....

  7. So so beautiful! I'd love to serve these at a party (or just shovel them into my face while watching tv at night)

  8. I love them!!! I'm doing my first ever Mac Tweet this month, tomorrow I think! I'm a little nervous, these look stunning and I love love love your ballerina idea. Ballerina Macs are so going on my list x

  9. I love the glitter! such pretty macarons, I'm looking forward to trying rose buttercream.

  10. Lora lovely post, I was thinking of doing ballerina mac's but I could not compete with the cool pic's of you practicing. Very pretty all round.

  11. What a wonderful inspiration for those dreamy delicious macaroons!

  12. A macaron with a tutu! and pink!and sparkly!How adorable!
    Thanks for stopping by to see my colourful macs Lorna, I think I am about as proud of them as I am of my 9 month old baby :)

  13. Your macarons are so pretty! Nice work :D

  14. Oh wow! These are gorgeous macarons! I love the slight pink colour with the glittery sparkle and the frilly rose buttercream peeking through - these look so girly! Would be a great treat to make with my nieces sometime. - Jen =)

  15. Your macarons look so delicate, feminine and beautiful! Love the sparkle of the glitter!

  16. Oh my! This cookie looks like heaven! You captured your story perfect in your mac. I think any little girl would feel magical eating one!

  17. Wow, wow, wow, Lora, I'm in awe! I took ballet lessons as a kid but never to this level. You are inspiring. Perfect and pretty macarons to match such a delightful memory.

  18. Beautiful, perfect macarons! I love the glitter and the delicate shade of pink. Your macarons are always amazing!

  19. These are so elegant. They look just like a pink leotard and I love the glitter.


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