Culture

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!



Dance Costumes Made to Wow!

Bring that va-va-voom and wow factor to the stage, because we’re featuring some of the most amazing dance costumes from past professional dance productions. Get inspired and add a bit of pizzazz to your next casual Friday outfit!

 

Puttin’ On The Ritz with all that Glitz

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Put on your chicest pair of sunglasses before you hit the theatre, because this costume glimmers, glares and sparkles! First staged by The Royal Ballet, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a spectacular ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The feet of eight dancers on pointe appear In the iconic scene where the caterpillar enters the stage. As if the synchronised movements of the ballerinas weren’t spectacular enough, they each wore a pair of royal blue pointe shoes embellished with crystals. The entire performance features the creative ingenuity of Bob Crowley’s costume designs. Besides the beautiful dancing and choreography that goes into a production, it’s important to recognise the role of the many artistic elements that bring this vision to life.

 

Borrowing from the Past

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Fashion is all about finding a balance between the past, present and future. When costume designers create innovative costumes for a dance production, they tend to borrow from the past and project the future. Hong Kong Dance Company’s production of Red Poppies featured a wealth of culture, heritage, and innovative designs. Borrowing elements of traditional Tibetan garments, Cui Binghua’s costumes incorporate intriguing designs while showcasing the beauty of Liu Lingli’s choreography. Chinese Dance costumes are known to marry fashion with function, creating a relationship in which the movement and the garments complement one another.

 

The Bigger, The Better

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“After all imagination is a beautiful thing” – Zora Neale Hurston

Reminding us where our creativity ignites, Alexei Ratmansky’s ballet Whipped Cream is all about releasing your wildest dreams. Performed by The American Ballet Theatre, this playful storyline is big and bold. The costumes designed by Mark Ryden are inspired by our favourite childhood candies, treats and pastries. Make sure to watch this ballet on a full stomach, or you’ll be growling for the next hour and a half.

 

‘Werk’ that Quirk

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Turning Hong Kong’s extreme working culture, into a technicolor ‘werking’ culture is Hong Kong Ballet’s 40th Anniversary ad campaign. It’s not easy to pull off these neon colours, let alone doing it in ballet tights and leotards. But Hong Kong Ballet brings out the fun and quirky characteristics of Hong Kong, while staying true to the strength, power and beauty of ballet.

 

Light it up!

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Kwok’s Kung Fu & Dragon Lion Dance Team is transforming tradition by lighting up local Hong Kong festivities with an LED Lion Dance. As the leader of the dance troupe, Andy Kwok is all about keeping up with the times while still honouring heritage and tradtion. The LED Lion Dance features lights on the costume that are coordinated to the rhythm of the music. These lions know how to break it down on the dance floor with some hip hop, and they can literally light up any party!

A dash of Pumpkin Spice

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Cinderella is notoriously known for her glass slipper and pumpkin carriage, two things that no one in their right mind would ever bring to a ball (though I’m sure someone from the Met Gala could prove me wrong). Nevertheless, Cinderella is a fairytale…which means that anything goes! James Kudelka’s ballet production of Cinderella performed by The National Ballet of Canada was filled with imaginatively fantastical costumes. David Boechler’s costume designs featured the classical elements of ballet, whilst adding light-hearted humour to this ‘all too serious’ art form. The mascot-like pumpkin heads that the male dancers wore during the waltz scene was just the right amount of pumpkin spice!

Thou Costume is Blazing

To dance or not to dance, that is the question. To dance, obviously! Crystal Pite’s contemporary choreographic work, The Tempest Replica is based on motifs of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Performed by Kidd Pivot, these dancers are transformed into unworldly beings by Nancy Bryant’s brilliant costumes. These designs are no basic plain white T-shirts, the details are in the seams from head to toe.

Fashion is not exclusive to the runway or red carpets, it’s everywhere we go, but it is also an important part of dance. So next time you catch a dance performance, pay attention to the other artistic elements of the performance and see what you discover!


Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet | 2. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy of The Royal Ballet © ROH / Johan Persson 2013 | 3. Photo by Crystal Kwok, Courtesy of Hong Kong Dance Company | 4. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre | 5. Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet | 6. Photo by Kyle Ford | 7. Photo by Bruce Zinger, Courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada | 8. Photo by Jörg Baumann, Courtesy of Kidd Pivot