6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, all I can say is thank-the-cake-fairies that Neapolitan will never be oh-so-vanilla. It’s nearly impossible to get tired of making, serving, seeing, or eating anything with the beloved trio of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. But since it’s such a classic, and many bakers love to create Neapolitan-themed treats, it never hurts to put a new spin on things. I’ve had some fun with this idea before with the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake, which was a combination of chocolate butter cake with a trio of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream flavours. I’ve also made it with a more classic flavoured cake layers variation with the Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting, which is perfectly delightful, but this time I wanted to kick it up a notch and make it a bit more unique and decadent. And since that’s what I love to do, I did!

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

This time I opted to split the layers into 6 (one of the easiest ways to add instant wow-factor to a cake), fill them with dark chocolate ganache, strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, vanilla Swiss buttercream, and whole neapolitan macarons. I frosted the entire cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, and then added a pink glaze for drama and topped with more of the macarons and a few small pink sugar beads. As with this lemony blueberry cake I made awhile back, the macarons add the most amazing texture inside the cake, as well as a unique visual when the cake is sliced. The distinct macaron crunch & chew factor is the perfect match for the rich and decadent ganache, satiny buttercream frosting, and of course the deep, dark, and moist chocolate cake.

Neapolitan Macaron via Sweetapolita

Okay, so let’s talk macarons. I know if you’ve had any type of macaron failure, like I had over the years, you might be somewhat traumatized and avoid them at all costs. Or, maybe you’ve never tried them but the baking world has freaked you out with all of this talk about how hard they are to make. Either way, I’m here to tell you that not only are they totally doable, but they are so quick to make as well. And while these facts are, well, facts, there is a trick to it. After trying many, many macaron recipes, I’ve discovered what works each and every time.

I’ve included the recipe below, but I thought it might be easier if I followed this post with one devoted to macarons. I will go ahead and make a little video as well, just to make it a little more visual. If you are comfortable with making macarons, and you’ve never made a neapolitan version, I know you will adore these! Dark chocolate macaron shell (which tastes just like a chewy brownie with a hint of almond) paired with strawberry macaron shell filled with vanilla buttercream. Simple and splendid.

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

For such a quick and easy step, I love how much drama the pink glaze adds. Of course you could use this technique for any cake and have fun with other color palettes. A simple whisk of confectioners’ sugar and milk and you’ve got yourself a sweet and versatile white glaze, or of course you could have fun with other colors, play with adding extract or flavor oil, and use this technique for any cake (just remember to chill the cake first, so that the frosting is firm to the touch).

Weneapolitan.

And while this cake does have several components, most of them can be made ahead (see Sweetapolita’s Notes), making this recipe much less daunting. I promise.

In other news, I’m so thrilled about the upcoming launch of my new & improved site coming early September! While the new design makes me giddy, one of the things I’m most excited about is the visual recipe index–finally! So all of my recipes are grouped with images, and not just the recipe names, and the index categories are easy to navigate and super functional. There are many other updates and changes in the new design, and I can’t wait to show you. My graphic designer, Melissa, did such an amazing job, and I just know you will adore what we came up with. I can’t stop looking at it. Counting the days until the launch! ♥

And if you missed my update in my last post, Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake, my first book, The Sweetapolita Bakebook, hit shelves April 7th, 2015, but it is already on pre-order on Amazon, Indigo, and many other online retailers. Yay! (Just thinking that this would be a good time for me to grasp that this whole book thing is actually happening. Oh my!) The book’s cover will soon be added to the listing, and I can’t wait to share it here on the blog when it’s ready to go.

So here’s the recipe for this towering delight:

6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 8 large fresh egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups (510 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 ounces (300 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree OR preserves
  • Few drops pink gel colour
  • For the Strawberry Macarons:
  • 135 g almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 125 g confectioners' sugar
  • 105 g egg whites, room temperature
  • 105 g superfine OR instant dissolving sugar (see Notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry flavor oil (I use Lorann)
  • Few drops AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste
  • For the Chocolate Macarons:
  • 1 recipe Strawberry Macarons (above) but omit the flavor oil and pink food color, and add 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • For the Ganache:
  • 10 ounces (300 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (440 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup (125 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Drop AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste

Instructions

    Make the Buttercream:
  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 125°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 15 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  3. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Keep in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, refrigerated for up to 7 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. !Make the Strawberry Macarons:
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Fit a large pastry bag with a large plain round tip, such as #1A.
  5. Into a medium bowl, use a fine mesh sieve to sift the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt, twice. It might take a little effort to push through the larger bits of almond flour, for which you can use a wooden spoon. Discard any bits that won't fit through the sieve.
  6. Wipe a stainless steel bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice to eliminate any grease (or beaters and bowl if you are using a hand mixer). Whisk the egg whites on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and add the superfine sugar one tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes Add a drop or two of pink color and the flavor oil to the meringue and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.
  7. Add one-third of the dry mixture to the meringue and fold in with a rubber spatula, but working deflate the meringue at the same time. It should take about 15 stirs/folds (strokes) before the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Add the remaining dry mixture to the bowl and fold/stir/deflate in the same manner until the batter "flows like magma," about 25 more strokes.
  8. Fill the pastry bag two-thirds full with the mixture and pipe 1-inch circles about 2-inches apart on each tray. Lift and drop the trays firmly on the counter a few times to rid of air bubbles.
  9. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Let the piped macarons sit while the oven preheats. Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool on trays. When completely cool, carefully peel the macarons off of the paper/silicone mat. If you find they are sticking even slightly, use a thin metal spatula to pry them off.
  10. Make the Chocolate Macarons:
  11. Repeat the steps for the Strawberry Macarons, but omit the strawberry flavor oil and pink color, and sift 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder along with the dry ingredients.
  12. Assemble the Neapolitan Macarons:
  13. Pair one of each strawberry and chocolate macaron with the closest in size and pipe a dollop of the vanilla buttercream on the flat side of each chocolate macaron. Sandwich each one with the strawberry macaron. Reserve the "best" macarons that are the most uniform for the top (8-10). For best results, let macarons sit in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a day. Bring macarons to room temperature when ready to use/eat.
  14. Make the Ganache:
  15. Place the chocolate in a medium saucepan or bowl with tall sides. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, corn syrup, and salt just until the edges start to bubble (watch carefully, as it's easy to scold the cream). Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then use an immersion blender to combine the mixture until glossy and smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and blend until well incorporated. Let sit at room temperature until spreadable, about 2 hours. Refrigerate for up until 5 days. Bring to room temperature on counter, or microwave in 10-second increments until desired consistency is reached.
  16. Make the Cake:
  17. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 7-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.
  18. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 8 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  19. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  20. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.
  21. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan (about 450 grams per pan, excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs, about 25 minutes.
  22. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  23. Assemble the 6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake
  24. Spread a small dollop of buttercream onto an 7-inch round cake board. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 thin layers.
  25. Transfer about 2 cups of buttercream to a medium bowl and stir in the strawberry preserves and a drop or two of pink gel paste color.
  26. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and spread one-fifth of the ganache using a small offset spatula, leaving about 1/2" around the edge. With a clean offset spatula, spread about one half of the strawberry buttercream on top. Place another cake layer to top, face-up, and spread another fifth of the ganache on top, followed by a layer of macarons. Press the macarons gently into the ganache.
  27. Place another layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by about 1 cup of the vanilla buttercream. Place the next layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by another layer of macarons, gently pushing them into place.
  28. Place the next layer on top and spread the remaining ganache followed by the strawberry buttercream. Place the final layer on top, face-down. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and use your hands to wiggle and straighten the cake into place, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  29. In a medium microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt the 10 ounces of dark chocolate in small increments, about 90 seconds total. Once the melted chocolate cools slightly add it to the remaining buttercream and beat to combine.
  30. Remove the cake from the fridge and place on cake turntable, if using. Frost the entire outside of cake with a thin layer of the chocolate buttercream to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Chill again until firm, about another 30-60 minutes.
  31. Make the Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and milk. Add the color until desired shade of pink is achieved.
  32. Use a small offset spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing it slightly over the edges to allow the glaze to drip down the sides. Top the cake with 8-10 neapolitan macarons, pushing them gently into the glaze to secure. Add sugar pearls or other decorations of choice, if desired.
  33. You did it! Hooray! Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made. Cake will keep for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature several hours before serving.
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Sweetapolita‘s Notes: 

  • When making a French meringue, as we do with the macarons (this is a meringue made without heating the sugar and/or egg whites prior to mixing), I splurge on instant dissolving sugar (aka fruit and berry sugar). This is basically granulated sugar that is even more fine than superfine sugar, and it dissolves much quicker than superfine sugar. You can make your own superfine and dissolving sugar by pulsing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for about a minute for superfine, and about 90 seconds for the fineness of dissolving sugar. I have to admit that for dissolving sugar I tend to buy it prepackaged, just to ensure it’s fine enough. For superfine sugar in everyday baking, I use the food processor.
  • For the chocolate cake, I used my favourite cocoa powder, Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute. It’s fabulously dark and lends an intense chocolate flavor to cake and tons of other desserts.
  • For the ganache and chocolate buttercream, I used Callebaut Semisweet Chocolate Callets.
  • For the macarons, I always use Bob’s Red Mill Flour Almond Meal–since we use such a small amount for each batch of macarons, the splurge is worth it, as this is the only almond flour I’ve had great success with.
  • True, having three 7-inch round cake pans on hand might be a bit of a stretch, but if you think you will be baking a lot of layer cakes (especially those from this blog), I do recommend investing in them (I love Fat Daddio’s brand, but any good quality pan would work). They are just the right size to bake up three layers that are easily cut horizontally into 2. If you are eager to make this cake and don’t have access to those pans, you can bake in three 8-inch round pans, but will likely find the layers a bit too thin to cut into two, so you could stick with a 3-layer cake.
  • To make this cake recipe a lot less daunting, I recommend making a few of the components ahead of time. Make the Swiss buttercream up to 5 days ahead, or up to 2 months ahead if you freeze; make the ganache up to 5 days ahead; and make the macarons up to 2 days ahead.
  • Just a reminder that I will be back soon with a macaron-devoted post!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Roshini says

    Deliciously wonderful cake and pretty as you are!
    I’ve had many many macaron failures and I hate the mere thought of baking them again! My macarons gets stuck to the parchment paper and never come off. then I bought a macaron mat and the bottom was never cooked enough! I bake longer only to get them all burnt. Grrr… But your post is so addicting that I want to give them a try.
    Happy to hear that you are working on a video version of it.

  2. says

    Oh my lord!! What are you doing to me??? this look so phenomenal! My stomach is actually crying wanting to try this out! Macaron’s intimidate me so much! Everytime I pick up the courage to try it, I chicken out!! I might wait until you macaron dedicated post comes out to attempt it! :D
    So excited for the new website too! :)

  3. Lori Nikitopoulos says

    Don’t know what the weather’s like where you are but it’s a cold rainy August day here in Kingston ON and a slice of this cake with a hot cup of coffee would be divine! So glad you’re back to blogging, and can’t wait for your new book and now your new website!

  4. says

    Can’t wait for the new design Rosie :) This cake like your others is simply stunning. I had my very first order for a cake this past week and whilst it’s nowhere near as beautiful as your cakes I aspire to be just as good as you one day.

  5. Gemma says

    Words cannot describe how beautiful this cake is!Simply gorgeous! I am a huge fan from the UK! I check this site and instagram everyday to see what new goodies are up!! So glad you are back to blogging and cannot wait for your book!!

  6. says

    Hi Rosie.

    A bit of a typo after your Buttercream title you are missing the title for Strawberry Macarons. This recipe looks devine!!

    Cannot wait for your delicious and decadent book. Very happy for you girl!!
    Jo-Ann

  7. Clary says

    i’m just like here feeling inferior and going googly eyed and drooling at the sight of all that… that deliciousness.

  8. Liz says

    Looks beautiful. Question whats the corn syrup for? Never heard of putting it on a ganache? Is this ganache good for piping or I need to beat it. Ty for sharing this yummy recipe. I will try it very soon.

  9. Juan says

    Perfect as always<3 Can't wait to see your macaron post!! And the new design!! And to try this cake!! And for the book! Everything is just good and exciting news✨

  10. Andrea says

    Love this cake and cannot wait for the Sweetapolita Bakebook and new site! I’m a huge macaron fan, but I just can’t seem to defeat the dreaded hollow shell!! I’d love to do this cake this weekend for my mom’s birthday party, but I’m not sure when your macaron post will be hitting the blog. Do you have any quick tips for avoiding hollow shells?? I’ve tried different levels of macaronage, oven temps, I bang the pans and pop the air bubbles. I just don’t know what else to try :\

    Thanks for another amazing cake post!!
    Andrea

  11. Yasmina says

    So happy to discover such an amazing site and what a gorgeous cake you made beautiful cake and it seems really tasty thank you very much for the recipe I’ll try it on the week end I certainly will enjoy doing such delicious and gorgeous cakes. Thank You again.

  12. Sarah says

    Thanks so much for another great cake!

    I tried making this yesterday and had a couple questions….

    You call for heating up the eggs for the SMBC to 125 in this recipe whereas most of your other recipes call for 160. Is this correct? (I heated mine to 125 per the recipe and they were fine, BTW.)

    Also, the instructions for the ganache have you adding salt and vanilla, but they weren’t listed in the ingredients for the ganache. Are they (and their quantities) listed somewhere else?

    • says

      Thanks, Sarah!
      To answer your questions, I have recently found that I prefer heating the eggs to 125F, rather than 160F, because it’s hot enough for the sugar to completely dissolve, but not so hot that it takes the extra time to beat the meringue until neutral in temperature. Anywhere between 125-160F will work well!
      Re: the ganache, I’ve added those 2 ingredients to the ganache ingredient list–sorry about that! While they’re not absolutely necessary for ganache, they heighten the taste and texture. Hope that helps! xo

      • says

        Was the 160 degree temperature to pasteurize the eggs to avoid the possibility of food poisoning especially for those who are pregnant or with compromised immune systems?

  13. Luisa says

    I have a question about the ganache, in the instructions, after pouring the heated cream etc over the chocolate and then using an immersion blender, it states to add the butter and vanilla but these items are not in the ganache ingredient list, can you clarify?

  14. Yvonne says

    Hi Rosie! Super excited about your new website layout. Your blog is one of my favorites and definitely the prettiest! This cake looks so appetizing and perfect (as all your cakes do). Any chance you have a conversion for the macarons instead of grams? Thanks so much either way, love your work!

  15. says

    The cake is beautiful and I can’t wait to try it. Have you ever tried to to make it using 8″ cake pans instead of 7″ and increasing the recipe to accommodate the change (X1.14 or more) and put 514g or more in each pan? I would prefer to not have another set of pans since I already have the 6″ and 8″ pans already. The visual proportions of the finished cake would not be the same but may be close enough to look good. Do you use a convection oven?

  16. AlexFS says

    Oh my gosh, thanks to you, I finally made successful macarons!! I can’t believe it! I couldn’t quite get the macaronage right on the chocolate ones, so I’m just going to do all pretty strawberry macs for the top, and my funky cracked chocolate ones inside the cake (because they still taste awesome). But I FINALLY made macarons! With pretty little pieds and smooth shells. Thank you!!

    Also, I have the same question as the above poster. I’m hoping to make this cake tomorrow, and I’m not sure what’s up with the ganache part of the recipe. Should there be butter and vanilla listed as part of the ganache ingredients, or is that an error in the instructions? Thanks!

    • AlexFS says

      Whoops, sorry, I see you’ve already responded! I’ve had this tab open on my laptop for a couple of days–should have refreshed! My mistake. :)

  17. Sara says

    Hi Rosie!
    Your cakes are so beautiful. They have really inspired me in my own baking! I’m very excited to purchase your book next year! Congratulations! I also love your nail polish! Can you tell me what brand/ color it is? Thank you!

  18. says

    This trio of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla is making me swoon. . this neapolitan-macaron-delight-cake is so gorgeous. I can’t even move away from this screen. Just beautiful. And love the new blog design and congrats on the book! April 7th, woot woot!

  19. Brenda says

    Such and awesome blog just love all the things you post here and hoping to try some of them myself they look scrumptious!

  20. says

    This brings me so much joy. I’m so happy for all of the awesome things going on in your life–you deserve it by making the world sweeter and cuter. :-)

    In addition to wanting to make this cake, I also have a desire to have a dress made inspired by it! It’s lovely!

  21. Laura says

    OH MY GOD!!! that is the most epic cake ever!!!…………. I just want it right now….. your recipes are awesome by the way :D

  22. StacieJayne says

    I made those Macarons today, I’m afraid that I wasn’t super successful. :( They taste AMAZING but are certainly not fit for the top of a cake (very rough looking no feet some are hallow), any hope you will be releasing that blog post about Macarons sometime soon??? Love Love Love your recipes though, seriously I tell everyone about your chocolate cake (it’s life changing)!

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