Learn how to make your own birthday cake macarons! I'll show you the Swiss meringue method of macarons, which is so simple and gets you perfect macaron shells. They are filled with a cake batter buttercream that only takes 7 minutes to make.
Tell me about these macarons!
- Flavor: the birthday cake macaron shells are flavored with clear vanilla - this is what gives you that birthday cake taste. The buttercream is made with cream cheese and more clear vanilla. Basically, funfetti cake batter!
- Texture: The macaron shells are nice and chewy while the buttercream filling is smooth. Just make sure to keep these in the fridge because of the buttercream.
- Ease: This isn't a beginner recipe, but I'll show you that macarons are possible (as long as you read all the instructions carefully!) You will also need to have a weighing scale for this recipe.
- Time: The shells only take about 20 minutes to put together and then 15 minutes to bake.
- Would I make these again? Definitely! They're so much fun to make and I love using food coloring to get a pop of colour.
Handy Macaron Terminology
- Macaronage: this stage is when you fold the meringue with the almond flour/powdered sugar.
- Stiff Peak Meringues: at this stage, the meringue is glossy with stiff peaks.
- Resting: this is when you've piped out the shells and let them rest to develop a 'skin'
- Feet: a small, delicate ruffle at the base of each macaron.
How to make macarons using the Swiss method
I have made macarons using both the French and Swiss methods. The Swiss method only has one additional step, but will give you a stable meringue to work with. I've found that using the French method I was much more likely to have ruffled feet.
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature beforehand. I age my egg whites, this means that 24 hours before, I separate my egg whites and put them in a bowl together. I keep them in the fridge overnight and then let them come to room temperature 2 hours before starting my macarons. This isn't an essential step, but I think it helps.
Take a small saucepan and fill it with an inch of water over medium-low heat, until it is just about to start simmering. Pour the egg whites and granulated sugar into a heat proof bowl and set it above the water. Make sure it isn't touching the water or you'll get cooked eggs!
Whisk the mixture constantly for about 2 minutes. It is ready once the sugar has dissolved. You don't need a thermometer to do this, just lift the whisk up and touch some of the mixture with your fingers. If you can't feel the sugar, then it is ready to use!
Whipping up the meringue
Now it's time to pour the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on low for about 30 seconds, it should be foamy and white.
Increase the speed to medium-high, and whisk until it turns glossy and you have stiff peaks. You'll know the meringue is ready when you pull the whisk out, it should stick up with a slight bend at the tip.
Sift together your almond flour and powdered sugar twice. A lot of commercial ground almonds/almond flours aren't fine enough for making macarons, which is why I recommend sifting it twice.
You can now add your almond flour mixture to your meringue. This is also when you add your vanilla and any food coloring.
Gently fold the two mixtures together, then keep folding until your batter is ready. You'll know the batter is ready when it is flowing from the spatula like lava. The best trick I have found is you can trace a figure 8 with your spatula without the batter breaking. If you fold it too much, the batter will be too liquidy when you pipe it out.
Piping out macarons
For this stage, you can pipe out the macarons on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. These macarons are about 1.5 cm wide. You can print out templates online and trace out the circles on parchment paper.
Carefully fill your piping bag with the batter and use a medium tip to pipe them out. Pipe at a 90 degree angle. Once you've piped them all out, hold on to the tray and bang it twice on your countertop. This will get rid of a lot of air bubbles - if you didn't do this, you would get air bubbles which would crack the shells. You can then use a toothpick to pop any other air bubbles.
At this stage you can decorate the macarons with sprinkles. We then want the macarons to rest for half an hour so they can develop a skin. You'll know they're ready when you gently touch a shell and it is firm, not wet. Depending on the weather, it can take longer than 30 minutes!
Once you have baked and filled them, leave them to rest overnight. The flavor matures overnight and will taste much better the next day!
This is a tricky one! It is always better to under mix rather than over mix, as once you over mix there isn't anything you can do to correct. When I'm in the macaronage stage, I know my batter is ready to use once the batter flows like lava and I can make a figure 8 with the batter without it breaking.
This is either because you over mixed the meringue batter, over mixed during the macaronage stage, or your oven temperature was too high. But guess what - they're still going to be delicious!
Unfortunately, there are so many reasons as to why your macarons are hollow. Oven too hot or too cold, under mixing and over mixing the batter, letting them rest too long, even the weather can impact it. But I wouldn't focus too much on hollow shells, some macaron experts say holes in the shell improve the overall texture. I do recommend getting an oven thermometer though! My oven is 5 degrees colder than it should be, and 5 degrees can make a huge difference when it comes to baking macarons.
I recommend using nonpareils, the little circular sprinkles. I have used long sprinkles in the past but depending on the brand, they may melt in the oven. When that happens, it melts through the macaron shell leaving a big hole on top.
The best food coloring to use is gel, like Americolor food coloring. If you use oil or liquid food coloring, it will effect the batter more and make it too liquidy.
I use a Silpat mat, which means I don't go through as much parchment paper with all my baking. You can buy Silpat mats that have the macaron circles traced on them. Some people say that baking macarons on parchment paper can lead to wrinkles on the underside of the macaron, but I haven't found that happening to me.
Other macaron recipes to try:
Birthday Cake Macarons
- 100 grams egg whites
- 100 grams sugar
- 100 grams almond flour
- 105 grams powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon clear vanilla extract
- gel food coloring
Cake Batter Buttercream
- 56 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 56 grams cream cheese room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoon heavy cream
- 126 grams powdered sugar
- Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Sift together your powdered sugar and almond flour, twice. Set aside.
- Whisk together the egg whites and granulated sugar in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler. Whisk for about 2 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. You can tell it is ready when you pull the whisk up and touch the mixture with your fingers, you shouldn't feel any granules. Do not let the bowl touch the water or it will cook the eggs.
- Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whisk on low speed for 30 seconds, it should begin to foam. Increase the speed to medium for 2 minutes, until it becomes white and fluffy.
- Increase the speed to medium-high, it should turn glossy and when you stop the mixer and pull the whisk out, you should have a stiff peak at the end of the whisk which only slightly bends at the end. This is how you know it is ready.
- Pour in the powdered sugar/almond mixture as well as your vanilla and food coloring.
- Gently fold them all together. Continue to fold and press the batter against the sides of the bowl. It is ready when it flows like lava from the rubber spatula, and you can make a figure 8 in the air without the batter breaking.
- Carefully transfer the batter into a piping bag with a medium circular tip.
- Pipe out 72 macaron shells, piping at a 90 degree angle. Once they have all been piped out, bang each tray twice on your counter. Use a toothpick to pop any remaining air bubbles. Sprinkle over your sprinkles.
- Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes until they form a skin.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F/162°C. Bake them one tray at a time for 15-17 minutes. Let them cool completely.
- Sift your powdered sugar and set aside.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream cheese and butter for 2 minutes, until smooth.
- Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract and salt. Beat together for 30 seconds.
- While the mixer is running on a low speed, slowly pour in half of the powdered sugar. Then add in your heavy cream. Add the rest of the sugar.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer to a piping bag and pipe a dollop on half of the macaron shells, then sandwich each of them.
- Let the macarons rest overnight in your fridge.
- I do not include cup measurements for this recipe, as you do need to be precise when making macarons.
- If you want to age your egg whites (not a requirement but it can help!), separate your egg whites 24 hours before and place in a bowl in the fridge. Take them out 2 hours before making your macarons so they can come to room temperature.
- Clear vanilla extract is what gives you that birthday cake taste, but you can substitute regular vanilla extract. Almond extract also brings out that cake mix taste, but if you don't have any then you can leave it out.