Sugar Rebels is the book that fans of The Scran Line and its host and creator Nick Makrides have been waiting for! It includes Nick’s signature delicious and sometimes outrageous cupcakes, macarons, and cakes—some favourites, some new recipes—presented alongside the story of The Scran Line and Nick’s path to success as a YouTube star and role model for the LGBTQI community. It reflects his distinct approach to baking, colour, design—and life.
Nick Makrides is a YouTuber who dedicated himself full-time to his channel The Scran Line four years ago. He has a design background but also spent time in the navy—hence the name, a reference to standing in line for food (scran). Before going full-time with his channel, he worked for two years in a commercial kitchen as a pastry chef. His inspirations are Beyoncé, his grandmother, and his mother, and he considers himself an ambassador for the LGBTQI community.
Each week he uploads two new recipes to his YouTube channel, showing his combined audience of 824k how to make cupcakes, cakes and macarons. In his words, his mission is to celebrate positivity and strength through teaching his audience how to bake amazing treats and how to have fun being creative in the kitchen.
Birthday Cake Macarons
MAKES 30 SANDWICHED MACARONS
1 batch Vanilla macarons (recipe below)
1 teaspoon bubblegum flavouring
4 drops pink food gel colouring
1 teaspoon bubblegum flavouring
3 drops blue food gel colouring
1 batch Swiss meringue buttercream frosting (recipe below)
95 g (3¼ oz/½ cup) rainbow caviar sprinkles
½ batch Vanilla cake (page 37) or use a 20 cm (8 in) store-bought cake, sliced into 1 cm (½ in) slices
Guys! These were the first macarons I made on The Scran Line, and they’re still some of my fave macarons, and yours! They’re just so cute and bubblegum pop, it makes me sick! Speaking of bubblegum, these are bubblegum-flavoured, but you can pretty much flavour them with any food flavouring you like.
When making the meringue for the macarons, add the bubblegum flavouring and pink food gel at about the 3-minute mark.
Once the macarons have been piped, sprinkle with the rainbow caviar sprinkles. Allow to dry before baking.
Add the bubblegum flavouring and blue food gel to the frosting and mix until well combined.
To assemble the macarons, use the wide end of a piping tip – about 1 cm/½ in in diameter – to cut out small rounds of vanilla cake.
Fit the end of a piping bag with a Wilton #32 tip and fill with the frosting. Pipe small rings of frosting on the flat side of half the macaron shells. Fill the centre of the frosting rings with the rounds of cake and sandwich with the remaining shells.
MAKES 30 SANDWICHED MACARONS
150 g (5½ oz) almond flour
150 g (5½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
110 g (4 oz) liquefied egg whites (see note)
150 g (5½ oz) granulated sugar
37 g (1¼ oz) water (yes, grams!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Note: Guys, for all my macaron recipes, I’ve asked that the ingredients are given in weight measurements only. This is because you must weigh everything out precisely to get great, consistent results. Check out Macaron troubleshooting (page 19) for the most common problems.
If you’ve ever felt defeated by this little French cookie, this recipe will make it feel less intimidating for you.
There are two ways to make the meringue for macarons: the French meringue method, where you simply add the sugar to the egg whites, or the Italian meringue method, where you make a hot sugar syrup and add it to the egg whites. I prefer the Italian method, as I find it yields much more consistent results.
I recommend that you measure everything out before you start this recipe because everything moves quickly when making macarons and you won’t have time to stop and measure things once you’ve started. After a couple of goes, it’ll feel as easy as making cupcakes. It’s really not that difficult, promise!
Line two baking trays with silicone baking mats or baking paper(not greaseproof paper). If you’re using baking paper, you can dab the baking trays with a little of the macaron batter once you’ve
made it. This will help the paper stick so that it doesn’t fly around
in the oven and ruins your macarons.
Combine the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse 4–5 times, or until well combined. (Take care not to pulse too much, otherwise, you’ll risk releasing the oils in the almonds.) Pulsing these ingredients does two things: it helps to get rid of any lumps in the sugar and helps to grind the almond flour to a finer consistency. Once you have pulsed the ingredients, sift them once through a fine-mesh sieve. Alternatively, you can sift the two ingredients together without first pulsing in a food processor, but make sure to sift them at least three times.
Transfer the almond mixture to a large, clean glass or metal mixing bowl. Add half the liquefied egg whites and use a spatula to mix everything together until the mixture forms a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
To make the sugar syrup, combine the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Give it a gentle stir with a teaspoon to make sure they’re well combined. After this point, don’t mix the syrup again. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce the heat a little and simmer. As the syrup bubbles away, it will splatter small bubbles of sugared water on the side of the pan. Use a pastry brush dipped in a little water to brush the bubbles back into the syrup. This will help prevent the syrup from crystallizing.
For this recipe, you’ll need a sugar thermometer to help you measure the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches115°C (239°F), add the remaining egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on a medium-high speed to help break them apart and get them frothy.
When the syrup reaches 118°C (244°F), carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a slow and steady stream. Start by whisking on a medium speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and whisk until the egg whites become frothy. Please be careful when doing this part, firstly because the syrup is hot, but also because if you add your syrup too quickly, you’ll cook the egg whites and they’ll turn to soup. Once you’ve poured all the sugar syrup into the egg whites, continue whisking on high speed for about 3 minutes before adding the vanilla extract. It’s at this point that you can also add any food-gel colouring or food flavourings to the meringue.
Continue whisking on high speed for another 4–5 minutes. Once the meringue has become thick and glossy and has cooled down almost to room temperature, stop the mixer and gently scrape down the bowl, then whisk on high speed for another couple of minutes.
The next part is the mixing stage, otherwise known as ‘macaronage’, and is super important. It’s where most people go wrong – including me until I took a trip to Paris and was physically shown how to do it by a French pastry chef.
Grab a spatula full of the meringue and fold it into the almond-sugar mixture until well combined. This allows the mixture to thin out a little before you add the rest of the meringue. Different people mix macaron batter in different ways; some count the number of times they mix, but I think it’s better to know what consistency to look out for. I like to go around the bowl with my spatula and then through the middle. You want to continue doing that until you reach the ‘ribbon stage’ (see note). That’s when you know the batter is ready to pipe.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe 60 rounds of batter, about 3 cm (1¼ in) in diameter, on the prepared trays, being sure to space them 2 cm (¾ in) apart. Gently tap the tray on your work surface. This will help remove any air bubbles that might be lurking in your batter. It’s at this stage that you can add any small sprinkles or freeze-dried berries on top.
The next thing you want to do is let your macarons dry out in the open air for about 30 minutes to 1 hour (the drying time depends on the weather, or how much humidity is in the air). Drying your macarons helps them to form a skin. The skin is super important because it means that when you bake your macarons and the steam escapes from the shells, it will escape from the bottom, not the top, forming the iconic ‘feet’ on your macarons. So, when you can gently prod your uncooked macarons and they’re not sticky to the touch, you know they’re ready to bake. Ten minutes before the end of the drying time, preheat a fan-forced oven to 140°C (275°F) or a conventional oven to 160°C (320°F).
Place each tray of macarons, one at a time, in the centre of the oven and bake for 12 minutes. If you feel your oven is causing the macarons to brown on one side (usually the side closest to the fan), turn the tray around about halfway through. Once they’re baked, let them cool completely before you try to remove them from the tray.
To finish your macarons, you can fill them with any number of fillings: lemon curd, chocolate ganache, buttercream or different frostings; the filling options are endless. For a plain vanilla macaron,
NOTE: Try to steer away from using freshly laid eggs for macarons because they don’t whip up as easily as store-bought eggs. If you want to get the best results, separate your egg whites from their yolks and refrigerate the whites for several days, preferably a week (make sure to keep them covered to avoid contamination). This process is known as ‘liquefying’. During this time, the albumen (egg whites) lose their elasticity and break down, which makes them much easier to whisk to soft peaks without turning ‘grainy’.
NOTE: Ribbon Stage
Mixing your macaron batter, otherwise known as ‘macaronage’, is really important. A lot of people like
to count the number of times they mix. I think that’s silly. I think it’s better to know what consistency to look out for when mixing your batter. The way I like to mix mine is by going around the bowl with a spatula and then through the middle. This slightly deflates the air in the mixture, allowing you to thin out the batter. You’ll know when to stop when you reach the ‘ribbon stage’. The ribbon stage is when the batter falls off the spatula in a ribbon when you hold it up, before disappearing back into the batter in the bowl after about 10 seconds. While you’re mixing, and when you think you’re nearing that stage, start testing the batter for that ribbon consistency. As you get closer, you’ll need to mix less and less. When you reach that magic stage, stop mixing immediately. If you continue mixing beyond the ribbon stage, you’ll thin out the batter too much and that causes a whole heap of problems. If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t stress, it can take a bit of practice.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
MAKES 1 BATCH FROSTING
200 g (7 oz) fresh egg whites (usually
about 6 large eggs)
200 g (7 oz) granulated sugar
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/2 cups) unsalted butter,
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla
To make chocolate-flavoured buttercream, add 40 g (1. oz) sifted unsweetened (Dutch) cocoa powder when you add the vanilla extract. My cake recipes often call for more than one batch of frosting.
Depending on the size of your mixing bowl, you may need to split the frosting into two batches when flavouring and colouring it.
OK, this frosting is in direct response to all the people who message me asking for frosting that isn’t too sweet or grainy. If that’s what you’re after, then this frosting is for you! This frosting looks silky, which makes it perfect for frosting smooth cakes. Be careful though, because it can be a little softer than the firmer American buttercream frosting (page 45).
So, if it’s a warm day, I’d use American buttercream frosting instead. Begin by filling a large saucepan one-quarter of the way with water.
Let it come to a gentle boil over a medium–high heat. Separate your egg whites from your yolks in a large, very clean, glass or metal mixing bowl. We only need the egg whites for this recipe, so you can store the yolks in an airtight container in the fridge to use for something else. (My go-to recipe for using up egg yolks is custard. Yum!) Add your sugar to the egg whites and use a hand whisk to mix them together.
Place your bowl on top of the pan of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This is called the double-boiler method and is a very gentle way of cooking or melting something.
Gently whisk your egg white and sugar mixture for about 3–4 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Check that it’s dissolved by running it through two fingers. If you can’t feel the sugar granules, then it’s time to take it off the heat. If you can, then continue whisking for another 2–3 minutes and keep testing until you can no longer feel any granules.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed for about 4–5 minutes.
The mixture will become thick and glossy and will begin to cool.
Gradually add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is on high speed. At first, your egg whites will deflate and look like the butter is causing them to split, but don’t panic! It will come back together. It takes a couple of minutes for the butter and meringue to become best friends.
Once you have added all the butter, add the vanilla extract and mix first on low speed to combine, then on high speed for 5 minutes.
You’ll know it’s done when the frosting has come together, has turned pale in colour (if you’re making vanilla) and is nice and fluffy. If you find your frosting is too aerated, then mix at the lowest speed for about 10 minutes and it will become perfectly smooth again.
Excerpted from Sugar Rebels: Pipe For Your Life – More than 60 Recipes from Instagram’s Kween of Baking (C) 2019 by Nick Makrides. Reproduced by permission of Hardie Grant. All rights reserved.