Celebration

Dancers' Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons

Dancers’ Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons: Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with MacaMOONS!


About the Dancers’ Cookbook

From heaps of leaps to bunches of munches, Hong Kong Dance Moms knows that there are plenty of dance foodies out there! That is why we are super excited to add this delectable page to our online dance magazine. The Dancers’ Cookbook is all about enlivening your taste buds and inspiring you to challenge your creativity. Covering mouth watering topics such as recipes, health & wellness, and food & beverage, we’re serving up some fantastic stories right to your screen!

Grab your aprons, because we’ve baked up a delicious story about macarons to kick off the Dancers’ Cookbook series!

Creativity is a bridge between the performing arts and the culinary arts. As dancers we may know how to tap our toes in the studio, but do we also know how to dabble our toes in the kitchen?

Seeking some new creative inspiration for all our dance fanatics out there, we went for a classic MJ moonwalk with macarons! And with the Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, we were introduced to a new spin on traditional Chinese Mooncakes. Something lighter and not too sweet, we found just the right treat to curb our holiday cravings. For all the sweet-tooths out there, Hong Kong Dance Moms sat down with Anita Caswell Ng, the founder of Little Miss Macarons for an an exclusive interview! Sharing her creative process on her mooncake alternative, the MacaMOONS, and giving us some tips on baking and exploring our creativity from the kitchen to the stage! 

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Escaping the humidity and rain of Hong Kong’s city streets, Hong Kong Dance Moms visited Little Miss Macarons and their beautifully vibrant kitchen. Anita welcomed us with a warm smile and exuberant energy! Before our interview, Anita surprised us with a macaron baking lesson! Though this may have not been a starring role as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, it came pretty close.

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The basic ingredients to make macarons are almond flour, sugar and egg whites. Don’t be deceived by the minimal amount of ingredients, because macarons take extreme care, practice, trial & error, patience, and steady hands to master. Just as a prima ballerina can make 32 fouettés look easy, Anita made it look easy to bake 32 macarons. As Hong Kong Dance Moms left our jazz hands at the door and put on our baking gloves, we learned just how challenging (but absolutely fun) it was to make macarons! Though our macarons weren’t perfect, they tasted delicious!

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After dabbling into the baking arts, we sat down with Anita to learn more about her love of macarons and her Mid-Autumn Festival MacaMOONS.

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How did you come up with the idea of making MacaMOONS?

A.C.: I was in the UK with my husband’s family, and for one moment I really missed my family in Hong Kong. And I spoke with my friends in the UK who like the idea of mooncakes, but don’t quite like eating it. I thought…well, I make macarons, can I somehow make them look like moons? So I had this idea two years ago, and last year I thought I should really have a go! Actually my son came up with the name. He said to me “macaroon, mooncake, MacaMOONS”!

 

How do MacaMOONS differ from traditional Chinese Mooncakes?

A.C.: It’s the same idea of bringing the family together, because the MacaMOONS are very big so you have to cut and share them. But the difference is that it’s more dynamic! We got a traditional Chinese flavour, we call it “芝麻姜湯圓” or “Ginger & Sesame Tong Yuen (Sweet Dumpling Soup)”.  Which brings the idea of Chinese tradition, as we do have it during Mid-Autumn Festival. We also have some flavours more familiar to the Western world, such as Sea Salt Caramel, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, and Tangy Passionfruit. So it gives people different options during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but it still embraces the idea of creating happy memories with the family together.

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Which MacaMOON flavours would you recommend for those with a lighter taste palette?

A.C.: Definitely Tangy Passionfruit to start with. It’s much lighter and refreshing. The other one is Raspberry Dark Chocolate. And we use real fruit, so you do taste it! We also use less sugar in our fillings compared to most traditional macaron recipes.

 

What was your process in making this dance inspired macaron tower?

A.C.: First of all we had to make the macarons the day before assembling the macaron tower. On the next day we made the cake, and decorated the cake with individually shaped fondant petals to create a tutu-like texture. And then we placed the macarons on the tower. For this particular tower, it took us 6 hours to finish! There is a lot o f love! I love tutus because there are so many details to it. And I wanted to keep it quite simple, as I believe simplicity is beautiful.

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How do you explore your creativity with baking?

A.C.: Just being alert of what is around you! For example, when you go on a holiday, try different types of food to get inspiration. Obviously I was self-taught, so I watched a lot of Youtube videos to see what other people do. Reading a lot of books, and lots of study. Be open minded, sometimes you don’t know until you try it. That’s something I learned over these last few years.

 

How does baking feed into your life as a mother? 

A.C.: The major reason I bake is just because I can do it with my son, as a mom. I would tell all the moms, it doesn’t matter how old their kids are, even if they are 1 or 2 years old you can bake with them. It’s all about the memories. Hopefully I can inspire him, and not necessarily to do baking. As he understands that everything requires hard work.

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How do you balance your passion and your career?

A.C.: Time management. You can always make it work! If you want to do something, you will make it happen.

 

What is your favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory?

A.C.: When I was a kid, I was the eldest of three, and my parents who are local Hong Kong Chinese were great parents but also quite strict. So I was never really allowed to go out on my own. The only day I could take my younger brother and sister to the park and burn some candles and walk around at night, was Mid-Autumn Festival. That was my favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory.

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What advice do you have for our dancing bakers?

A.C.: If you’ve never baked before and you want to do it, the first thing to try baking is scones! This is how I started my journey in baking. Because it is very easy to bake and easy to make very nicely! I think it is a great thing to start with!

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Baking macarons may very well be the pointe shoes of dance, glamorous on the outside, yet filled with passion, time, patience and practice on the inside. Plus, they are both extremely difficult to master. Whether exploring your creativity in dance or in baking, take some time to try something new! And most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself with a little treat and something sweet!

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The Mid-Autumn Festival is almost here, and to celebrate HKDM has teamed up with Little Miss Macarons to give our readers a chance to WIN a box of the scrumptious locally made macaron set, Macamoons! What’s your most memorable Mid-Autumn Festival memory? Let us know in the comments section of our social media posts on Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win these delicious holiday treats! Click here for more information!



Perfecting the Father Daughter Dance

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Whether it’s a wedding, birthday celebration, or a dance class, you never know when you’ll need to be ready to do a father daughter dance. With Father’s Day just around the corner, we’re sharing our noteworthy tips to perfect your next father daughter dance and build beautiful memories.

He’s Got Class & Style

Don’t forget to smile and choose a dance style! Whether you’re taking a dance class or choreographing your own routine, find out what dance style you like. A great way to find this out, is to make a playlist of different music genres and get groovy with your moves. Let the music guide you towards your natural way of moving.

The simple two-step slow dance is a classic go-to for a father daughter dance, but you can always step outside the box! With a world of dance styles to choose from, here are just a few suggestions:

·      Hip-hop Dance Mashup

·      Retro Swing Dance

·      Funny Dad Dance Routine (check out “The Evolution of Dad Dancing” for inspiration)

·      Tip Tapping Tap Number

·      Royal Waltz

·      Ballet Pas-de-deux

Turn up the Tunes

Music is such a motivator, so make sure to choose a song that really speaks to you. Who says you have to pick just one song? Get crafty with Garageband and make a music mash-up of your favourite songs! Here’s a playlist of some of our favourite father daughter dance tunes:

1.     Isn’t She Lovely By: Stevie Wonder

In celebration of the birth of his little girl, Stevie Wonder wrote this beautiful song with an infectious beat. This tune is easy to dance to, and you can choose to do the “Carlton” dance or keep it ‘Dad Dance’ free with a Jive or Foxtrot.

2.     Lean On Me By: Ady Suleiman

Originally written by Bill Withers, this acoustic cover by Ady Suleiman is a soulful song for those who want something soft and slow, but with a little bit of a back beat.

3.     I’ll Be There By: The Jackson 5

If you want to surprise your audience with a classic slow dance that breaks into a whole dance routine with synchronised arm gestures and grape-vines, this tune is the one for you!

4.     The Way You Look Tonight By: Frank Sinatra

Croon to this tune, with some classic Sinatra. Perfect for a swing dance, or some classy, jazzy, and Gatsby-esque moves.

5.     Do You Believe in Magic By: The Lovin’ Spoonful

Written by John Sebastian, this feel good song will be sure to bring out dad’s groovy moves.

6.     You’ll Be In My Heart By: Phil Collins

Whether or not we’d like to admit it, Disney has probably been responsible for many of our favourite father daughter memories. A father himself to the famous actress Lily Collins, singer-songwriter Phil Collins wrote this song for the film Tarzan, and you can clearly hear that he sings from the heart.

7.     My Little Girl By: Jack Johnson

Though this song may not be the easiest to dance to, its lyrics run deep. Suitable for a sweet slow dance, or maybe even some interpretive dance moves (à la Napoleon Dynamite), you can be sure that there won’t be a dry eye in the room.

8.     Unforgettable By: Nat King Cole

One of the most memorable tunes that just so happens to be a waltz! If you want to glide across the dance floor, hand-in-hand, then Nat King Cole will accompany you step-by-step.

9.     Turn up The Love By: Far East Movement

This one is for all the dads who like to party! If you like to pop n’ lock and prefer to jump to the beat, then start the party with this irresistible song.

10.  My Girl By: The Temptations

Turn any cloudy day upside-down with this tune. Dad can move it like it’s 1964 with this timeless masterpiece.

A Few Last Tips

1.     Stepping on Toes: I know it’s hard if you have two left feet, but don’t step on your daughter’s toes! However, when your little girl steps onto your shoes for a nice slow dance, well that’s just a precious moment!

2.     Function over Fashion: Dress up for the occasion, but make sure that you can still move comfortably. Confidence and comfort make for a successful dance performance!

3.     Bring a Hankie: The pocket square on a suit or jacket is there for a reason, so be sure to bring a handkerchief. Even if your daughter is not in tears by the end of the father daughter dance, you might need to wipe away those tears of joy.

4.     Power of Presence: Be present in the moment. Remember that the more you enjoy dancing, the more your daughter will too! No one is expecting you to be a backup dancer for Beyoncé or a principal dancer for The Royal Ballet, so have fun and dance like no one’s watching!

Don’t know where to begin? The simple act of placing your palm out to invite your daughter to dance is all you need to show your little girl just how much you love her. Continue being that amazing dad who takes his daughter to dance class, breaks in her pointe shoes with hardware tools, or makes a mean French braid and exquisite ballet bun. To all the dads out there, we would like to wish you a Happy Father’s Day!