With their rosy cheeks, golden horns and cascading purple manes, Anita Caswell Ng Hoi-ying’s distinctive unicorn-themed goodies are sure to get the social-media likes rolling in for the students of her Little Miss Macarons baking workshops in Wong Chuk Hang.
Sitting somewhere between a cake, a biscuit and a meringue, the macaron (not to be confused with the macaroon) originated in medieval Italy before being popularised in France in the 19th century. It has enjoyed a resurgence over the past decade, and Hong Kong baker Caswell Ng’s painstakingly decorated and photogenic treats are her signature creations.
“These days, people need dreams, and unicorns – whether for kids or adults – appeal to people all over the world,” she says.
Macarons are made by piping meringue and almond-flour mixture into circles and baking at low temperatures before two halves are sandwiched together with jam and butter icing. They are famously tricky to master, especially in a place like Hong Kong, where humidity plays havoc with the egg-white base.
Then comes the decoration.
“It’s very much like a make-up class,” Caswell Ng says. “We put some pearl powder on the macaron like foundation, then use a bronze powder to do the eyes, and then we have pink powder like blush on the cheeks. The hair is made from icing, and the horns and ears are made with fondant.”
Macarons should be savoured slowly to appreciate their flavour, Caswell Ng advises.
“A good macaron should be slightly crisp on the outside, then, once you bite into it, it’s soft and melts in your mouth,” she says. “The filling should give you an aftertaste; it’s very much like wine. You bite in, close your eyes and sense a beautiful aftertaste. That’s a good macaron.”
Caswell Ng enjoys teaching others and seeing what variations her apprentices come up with.
“It takes time, but I love it,” she says. “Seeing people smile makes it all worthwhile.”
Little Miss Macarons classes are held at Baking Maniac, in Wong Chuk Hang. Private workshops (for parties of eight to 15 people) cost HK$880 per person and include at least 20 take-home macarons. Visit littlemissmacarons.com.