Yes, you read that right!
The jobs that come out of the blue are always the most creative and inspirational. I was contacted by a really beautiful bride, about a week before her wedding, asking me if I could write guests’ names in calligraphy on salted caramel macarons. Wow!
I had never done such a thing before, and had no idea if it was even possible … so I immediately emailed the best bakers I know (Kadri of cakeophilia – check out her blog for some seriously impressive baking – and Suzanne of no-blog-but-who-really-should-make-one) – to ask a few important questions. Like: is there such thing as edible ink? Does it come in gold? And, even more importantly, with five days to go, where do I get it in Melbourne?
The answers were yes, yes, and West’s Cake Decoration in Burwood.
We trialed a few things and found that the pens they sell are useless for this purpose, but they have tubs of edible paint that’s only a little too thick to use a brush with – and that dilutes nicely with just a touch of water.
So, here’s the rundown:
- gold paint and deep brown paint from West’s Cake Decorations in Burwood, mixed (and with a little distilled water added to create the perfect consistency for painting;
- a taklon watercolour brush in a size 1, brand new and washed thoroughly first;
- food-grade silicone gloves and a face mask for handling;
- don’t be afraid to mix edible inks! I was, at first, but the combination of deep brown and gold ended up looking fantastic, where just deep brown would have been too stark and just gold would barely have shown at all.
- don’t work in the studio! I ended up doing these on my kitchen table. There’s just too much in the studio – I was working on a piece at the time that I was using lapis lazuli pigment to decorate, and trust me, you do not want that stuff in your food. But even if I wasn’t using mildly toxic pigments, I didn’t want to risk exposing food to anything I wouldn’t eat at all. The kitchen table was a much safer bet.
- EAT FIRST. I wore a face mask and a headscarf to keep my hair out of the way and my breath off the food (because ew) – but I still spent hours bent over delicious, delicious salted caramel macarons … I didn’t want to eat the mistakes, either, because it was the day before the wedding – you know who’s a lot more in need of a sugar hit than a calligrapher? A bridal party, that is who! – so my tummy definitely made some noises.
Care and handling:
- keep the macarons in the fridge as much as possible! I ended up just taking out one box at a time, working as quickly as I could, and putting the box straight back in. The filling will melt at room temperature and make the top half slide around – and that ends badly for calligraphy.
- don’t touch them! just don’t. macarons are so light and delicate that I did not want to risk one single crushing, or slip, or even fingerprint. I wore food-grade silicone gloves and the only thing that touched the macarons was the paintbrush – which I bought new for the job, and washed in dishwashing detergent first (and rinsed thoroughly) just to make sure.
HAVE FUN. I love doing things as unusual as this – and the lovely bride was so thrilled with the result. Working with someone who’s as excited as you are about what you’re creating is such a joy. This one has to go down as one of my favourite jobs for 2016 – I know it’s a little early to make that call, but I’m making it anyway!