The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 13 Challenges.
Since replicating Season 8 of the Great British Bake Off wasn’t enough, I decided to try my hand at a different season! This time, I am working on season 13 which is the most recent season! This season had some great bake ideas as well as some not-so-great ones (but we’ll get there when we get there).
So, I figured, let’s do this all again! One of the big challenges I wanted to attempt this time around was coming up with original ideas for the signature and showstopper challenges instead of doing a recreation. On your mark… Get set… Bake!
I made it to week two, Biscuit Week! Or cookie week depending on what region you’re in. That’s how I interpret biscuits to be anyway. The Signature challenge of biscuit week is decorative macarons!
What makes these macarons decorative? Well, they are supposed be decorated like something other than a macaron. There were several burger interpretations, some shaped like flowers, carrots, yarns, and animals!
There is a wide range of ideas that macarons can fit into. I’m going to take mine into the animal direction: a bee macaron! A bee macaron was the first idea that popped into my head because I thought I could make it cute and tie together the idea with flavor.
This is a lemon macaron with a blackberry filling, glass sugar wings, and icing detailing. Sounds like a lot but it felt relatively simple! The blackberry filling was the most challenging aspect. I really wanted a filling that was like one you would find in an Oreo cookie. There was a lot of testing to figure my own recipe out!
Check out the Season 13 Great British Bake Off Page to see other bakes from this series or the Make section for more recipes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and how the recipe works for you!
There was a lot of ingredients needed for this recipe but nothing to crazy. Everything could be found at my local grocery store. I always find it interesting that macarons need almond flour. It is one of the few recipes I like to use that has that ingredient.
One deviation I did was using meringue power instead of egg whites. Icing can use either ingredient interchangeably. I prefer to use meringue powder because the idea of eating raw uncooked egg whites weirds me out a little bit. I’ve done it before, but I don’t like to think about it.
Lemon Macaron Batter
I started by making the lemon macarons for my bee macaron because they are the core part of this recipe. Macarons require a couple extra steps in comparison to other cookies. They have a meringue base which makes them even more difficult to do correctly.
Before working on the meringue, I sifted my powdered sugar and almond flour into a small bowl. This is the one cookie where I will cave and sift the ingredients. Clumps in a macaron are a very big no go.
Then it’s on the meringue! I started by whisking the egg whites. The whites should become frothy from the whisking which will be the start of pump air into them. Then I added the cream of tartar and salt. The mixture became opaquer and started to look more like a foam.
Now it’s time to add the sugar. I like to add the sugar one spoon at a time because I want the sugar to dissolve into the egg mixture. Also, the sugars weight can depress the foam, so I don’t like to add too much at once.
The mixture should whisk to soft peaks once all the sugar has been added. Then I added the lemon juice and food coloring before allowing the mixture to whisk into stiff peaks. At this point I like to throw in the lemon zest as it shouldn’t mix into the mixture too much. Just enough to get the flavor.
Then it’s time to fold the almond mixture into the meringue. Ah fold, you are my nightmare. I do not have the arm strength for folding but I will do almost anything for cookies. A rubber spatula is the best tool for folding. Be extra careful not to knock out too much air during this step!
Shaping the Cookies
After the mixture is sufficiently combined, I put it in a piping bag with no nozzle. I just want to pipe the batter into and oval shape to make me bee macarons. Two halves will make a whole cookie, so I was sure to pipe in pairs of two.
Now the next step always feels weird. I gently tapped the baking sheet against the counter to knock any loose air bubbles out of the cookies. I’m always terrified of knocking the baking sheet too roughly. It might cause the cookies to collapse!
Then it’s time for the cookies to rest. This should be about thirty minutes or until a skin has formed over the tops of the cookie. Resting is key to making a macaron. Once the skin has formed, it’s time for the cookies to go into the oven.
I prefer to cook only one baking tray at a time because it’s better for the temperature distribution in the oven. And after the cookies are done baking, let them cool completely before doing anything with them!
The blackberry filling was something that took me some time to develop. I wanted it to be like an Oreos filling; tasty and rigid. I didn’t want a filling that would ooze out of the side. That seems to be an issue with so many sandwich cookies!
To start, I determined what ingredients I wanted to use by looking at cookie packaging. After cross-referencing and narrowing down the scope, I landed on using canola oil, light corn syrup, powdered sugar, and blackberry extract. I didn’t include other ingredients due to availability or complexity.
Then I decided to whip all of these ingredients together. I started by whipping the canola oil (I would have used palm oil, but it was not available), light corn syrup, and blackberry extract. Next, I added in the powdered sugar a little at a time. And then finally, I added some black dye into the mix to get a dark color.
The mixture started to turn kind of crumbly at this point but eventually kneaded together to become smooth blob. I then rolled out the mixture to be about 3 mm thick before stamping circles out of the mixture. While kind of weird, this mix was absolutely delicious and had a great texture.
Glass Sugar Wings
Since I am making bee macarons, they must have wings! Glass sugar felt like the perfect medium to create the bee wings. And the process to make the glass sugar is really simple which is even better.
In a medium sized saucepan, I threw together granulated sugar, water, and light corn syrup. The granulated sugar melted into the water and corn syrup mixture. Then I let the mixture boil and come to about 300° Fahrenheit.
Any more heat and the sugar would caramelize. Which is delicious but I don’t want browned wings. I poured the mixture onto a baking tray and let it cool at room temperature. After about an hour, the mixture what tacky but relatively solid. I wanted to manipulate the mixture when it was flexible but not liquid.
Using a small round cutter, I cut out little circles of the glass sugar (which would later be used for the wings). Then I left the sugar to fully harden which took about thirty minutes.
The last item I needed for decorating the bees was icing. I wanted them bees to have their classic black lines. And a little smiley face also would look really cute.
Icing is simple to make. I started by placing some meringue powdered and water in a large bowl. Then it’s time to whisk! The mixture should become foamy, almost as if egg whites were being beaten. Then it’s time to add in the powdered sugar.
I usually add one spoon at a time to avoid flinging powder everywhere. If the icing it too thick at this point, add more water. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. I also added the food coloring at this stage.
The icing color should be black which is a very hard color to achieve. In the end, I settled for a gray-ish color since I was practically out of dye. The icing was put in a piping bag for later decorations (I used a fine tip for piping).
Assembling the cookies was probably the easiest part! I started with one half of the lemon macarons. Then I placed the cut out of the blackberry filling. After that, I took two glass sugar wings and pushed them into the filling.
To cover this connection, I put another lemon macaron on top to complete the cookie. But now it’s time for decoration. I piped the icing into two lines and a small smiley face to complete my cartoon bee macaron.
I adore this recipe. Sometimes when I make cookies, they stay around because I only want a little bit per day. These were gone in a day (and I wasn’t the only one eating them!). The bee macaron cookie was tangy and bright while the blackberry filling added a fruity layer. And the wings were a nice hard sugar treat at the end!
This is a recipe I want to make again. I am so glad that I got the idea for this filling because it had a great amount of flavor while being complimentary to the cookie shell. And the filling stayed still when being bitten into. My dream of a non-messy sandwich cookie is complete!!
Soft Peaks vs. Medium Peaks vs. Stiff Peaks
There are three types of peaks that can be found when talking about whipped liquid: soft, medium, and stiff (or firm).
Soft peaks barely hold their shape. The peaks will flop over as soon as the beaters are lifted out of the mixture, but some essence of the peak will remain.
Medium peaks will hold their shape well, but the tips of the peaks will slightly curl when the beaters are removed from the mixture.
Stiff peaks will stand straight up when the beaters are lifted from the mixture. The tips should show no sign of curling. This is the best soft structures that need to hold a specific shape.
Lemon Bee Macaron
- 1 Cup Almond Flour
- ⅔ Cup Powdered Sugar
- 2 Egg Whites
- ¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Lemon Juice Fresh
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
- Yellow Food Coloring
- 2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- ½ Cup Canola Oil or Palm Oil
- ½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
- ½ Teaspoon Blackberry Extract
Glass Sugar Wings
- 2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- ¾ Cup Water
- ⅔ Cup Light Corn Syrup
- 2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoon Meringue Powder
- 4 to 5 Tablespoon Water
- Black Food Coloring
- Preheat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit
- In a small bowl, sift together almond flour and powdered sugar. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt and whisk until combined.
- Add granulated sugar, one spoon at a time, to the egg mixture while continuing to whisk. The mixture should reach soft peaks after all the sugar has been added.
- Add lemon juice and yellow food color. Whisk until stiff peaks have been achieved.
- Whisk in lemon zest.
- Fold the almond mixture into the egg mixture (meringue). The batter should be runny enough that small peaks will dissolve into the batter.
- Using a piping bag, pipe 36 oval shapes (more or less). Tap the baking sheet gently against the counter to get rid of any air bubbles in the battle.
- Let rest for 30 – 45 minutes or until a skin has formed over the top of the cookies.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, one baking sheet at a time. Let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil and light corn syrup.
- A tablespoon at a time, add the powdered into the large bowl while mixing. The mixture should become crumbly.
- Knead Mixture until smooth. Flatten into a disc. Wrap and set aside until ready to use.
- Roll out to approximately 3mm thick. Using a circular cutter, cut out 18 circles.
Glass Sugar Wings
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil
- Let the mixture reach 300° Fahrenheit while stirring consistently.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a baking pan.
- Allow to cool until softened but not hard (about 10 minutes)
- Using a small circular cutter, cut out 36 circles and then allow them to harden (about 10 to 20 minutes)
- Remove wings from sheet and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together meringue powered and water until foamy.
- Add in powdered sugar, one spoon at a time, and whisk until a smooth liquid is formed.
- Add in food coloring and mixture into a consistent color.
- Place icing in piping bag and set aside.
- To assemble the cookies, lay down a lemon macaron with the flat side facing up.
- Add a circle of blackberry filling.
- Place two sugar wings on the top edge of the blackberry filling so that they are held firmly in place.
- Lay a lemon macaron on top with the curves side facing up.
- Pipe bee details.
- Repeat 17 times.