Le Cordon Bleu London's Head Pâstisserie Chef, Julie Walsh, shares the factors to consider before you start to produce a macaron tower or any showstopper:
Timescale: Often, producing a showstopper requires a disproportionate amount of time. This is due to having to test the elements to ensure they will fit together seamlessly when you assemble them. This can involve drawing things to scale or even making a 'dummy' version to ensure a seamless assembly.
Experience: Some of the techniques required may be out of your comfort zone or area of expertise. This is great for expanding your repertoire but can prove to be incredibly nerve-wracking. You also need to consider the time it will take you to master this technique before applying it to your showstopper. An example of this would be when I worked with Royal icing on the huge cake for 'A Very Royal Wedding'. I had only previously worked with Royal icing on average-sized cakes, so to make something on this scale required practice!
Equipment required: Firstly, you need to decide if it is an edible piece or a display piece (not for consumption). If it is intended to be eaten, then all elements and internal supports need to be edible or of food-grade material. Sometimes bespoke supports will need to be made to order in specific sizes; these can add a lot to the cost. If the showpiece is edible, then storage needs to be considered.
Transportation: As with refrigeration, the transport of the showstopper will be dependent on whether it is edible or non-edible, and whether it is assembled before transportation or on-site upon delivery. If it is edible, then you may need to use cool boxes or hire a refrigerated van. For very large bulky showpieces specialist packing and transportation companies are ideal.
For the macaron tower showstopper...
What type of support is required?
These towers were made for an exhibition so they're built on a polystyrene base, but it is possible to replace the polystyrene with a firm pound cake masked with ganache for an edible version.
How many macarons were used in these two showstoppers?
The size of the showstopper can be scaled up or down depending on requirements. In each one of these, there are approximately 300 macarons!
What colour scheme should I consider?
The colour scheme can be adapted to suit the occasion. I find solid colour schemes are very eye-catching, whereas the ever-popular ombre tone scheme, although more time consuming, adds a more delicate look.
How long might it take to put together?
For an edible creation, you would need to allocate time for the production and assembly of the cake bases as well as the macarons themselves. On average the production will take between 12-18 hours, depending on the level of decoration required.