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Mythological Munchies

Unicorn macarons can be made by those who aren’t pastry chefs with magical powers, superhuman patience, and the finely tuned motor skills of a surgeon.

Article
Tiffany Duncan
Photos
Tiffany Duncan
Posted
July 28, 2019

Remember how last month I made macarons for the first time? Well, they are my new obsession. I’ve made them two or three more times since then, and I can’t get enough of their brightly colored adorableness. So this month, I thought I would attempt something genuinely next level: the elusive unicorn macaron.

And I am so glad I did. How freaking cute are they?! I am utterly obsessed. Those colors. The flower crowns and sprinkles. Their eyelashes and rosy cheeks. (It’s a little disconcerting that I can do the makeup of a mythical cookie creature better than my own.)

Never in a million years did I think these would turn out. When I’ve seen photos of these types of designs on Instagram, I’ve always assumed they were made by pastry chefs with magical powers, superhuman patience, and the finely tuned motor skills of a surgeon. But I’m here to tell you that if I can do this, you definitely can do this.

Because here’s the thing about life this side of the 21st century: With the help of YouTube, anything is possible. Install a ceiling fan? YouTube. Change your oil? YouTube. Make the most adorable macarons in the universe? Yep, that’s right  —YouTube. I searched “unicorn macaron tutorial,” and clicked on the first video that has over 2 million views. The YouTube channel is called Nerdy Nummies, and apparently, the girl who hosts it — Rosanna Pansino — is something of a viral baking star. She explained exactly how to achieve these little unicorn cuties with clarity and pizzazz.

The first thing I did was trace a unicorn macaron template I printed from Google onto parchment paper. This is an essential step for these little guys because there’s no way I could have free-handed them.
The first thing I did was trace a unicorn macaron template I printed from Google onto parchment paper. This is an essential step for these little guys because there’s no way I could have free-handed them.

Under Pansino’s peppy tutelage, I made a trip to the craft store for supplies I didn’t have in my pantry: black food-safe markers (for eyelashes), colored food-safe markers (for flower crowns), bright white food dye (I didn’t even know this existed), an edible gold paint pen (for horns and ears), food-safe pink luster dust (for their rosy cheeks), and some decorating brushes to apply the “blush.” Surprisingly, some of it was even Pansino’s line of baking supplies! (I guess when you have over 4 million followers on Instagram, companies want to sell products under your name.)  Also very important, I bought a size 4 piping tip. The size of this tip is small and allows for a lot of control when piping the macaron batter, which is essential for minute details like the unicorn horns and ears.

I happened to make these on the same night my husband was in the kitchen also working on a massive food project. He’s been really into smoking meat lately, and he was trimming three huge briskets in preparation for a potluck we were attending the next day. We were vying for elbow room and pans like crazy, but I won out to use the pans first because #happywifehappylife, right? Between the two of us, we effectively covered every inch of counter space and dirtied nearly every dish we owned, but it was also just a lot of chaotic fun.

The first thing I did was trace a unicorn macaron template I printed from Google onto parchment paper. This is an essential step for these little guys because there’s no way I could have free-handed them. Then I whipped up the same macaron recipe I have had a lot of luck with that I found on Pinterest (“Birthday Cake Macarons” by sprinklesforbreakfast.com). When my batter was ready, it was the moment of truth — piping time. I was most nervous for this step, as I have never attempted to pipe out something so detailed as little ears and horns. I didn’t think my piping job looked great, but the good news is that they get painted anyway, which can make up for a lot of the flaws.

Once I piped them out, I let them sit out for an hour, as it is essential for macarons to form a layer of “skin” before popping them in the oven. I was elated when I pulled them out and saw that they looked like they were supposed to. It was at this point that I started to believe I was going to pull this off.

As soon as they cooled, it was time for the fun part: decorating. To me, few things are quite as fun as getting lost in a mess of sprinkles, icing, and metallic gold food paint. I copied exactly what Pansino did, and although hers are just a bit more perfect than mine, I have to admit that I think I came pretty dang close. I’ve never been more proud of something I’ve made in the kitchen. And if you feel like trying your hand at them, I promise you that with a bit of patience and a chunk of time to kill, you can make these too.

August 2019 Cover